Penny Dreadful (TV series)

Penny Dreadful
Created by John Logan
Written by John Logan
Andrew Hinderaker
Krysty Wilson-Cairns
Theme music composer Abel Korzeniowski
Tom Kitt (series finale)
Opening theme "Demimonde" by Abel Korzeniowski
"A Prayer" by Sophie Meade (series finale)
Composer(s) Abel Korzeniowski
Country of origin
  • United States
  • United Kingdom
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 3
No. of episodes 27 (list of episodes)
Executive producer(s)
  • Pippa Harris
  • Sam Mendes
  • John Logan
  • Karen Richards
Producer(s) James Flynn
Morgan O'Sullivan
Sheila Hockin
  • Xavi Gimenez
  • Nigel Willoughby
  • P. J. Dillon
  • Owen McPolin
  • John Conroy
  • Geoff Ashenhurst
  • Aaron Marshall
  • Michele Conroy
  • Christopher Donaldson
Running time 47–60 minutes
Production company(s)
  • Desert Wolf Productions
  • Neal Street Productions
Original network
Original release May 11, 2014 (2014-05-11) – June 19, 2016 (2016-06-19)
External links
Official website
Production website

Penny Dreadful is a British-American horror drama television series created for Showtime and Sky by John Logan, who also acts as executive producer alongside Sam Mendes. The show was originally pitched to several US and UK channels, and eventually landed with Showtime,[1] with Sky Atlantic as co-producer.[2] It premiered at the South by Southwest film festival on March 9 and began airing on television on April 28, 2014, on Showtime on Demand.[3][4] The series premiered on Showtime on May 11, 2014, the first in an eight-episode season.[5] After the third season finale on June 19, 2016, series creator John Logan announced that Penny Dreadful had ended as the main story had reached its conclusion.[6][7]

The title refers to the penny dreadfuls, a type of 19th-century British fiction publication with lurid and sensational subject matter. The series draws upon many public domain characters from 19th-century British and Irish fiction, including Dorian Gray from Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray; Mina Harker, Abraham Van Helsing, Dr. Seward, Renfield, and Count Dracula from Bram Stoker's Dracula; Victor Frankenstein and his monster from Mary Shelley's Frankenstein; and Dr. Henry Jekyll from Robert Louis Stevenson's Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.

Cast and characters

Main cast

Supporting cast

Introduced in season 1
Introduced in season 2
Introduced in season 3

Notable non-recurring cast include Mary Stockley as Dr. Frankenstein's mother Caroline, Anna Chancellor as Vanessa's mother Claire, and Frank McCusker as Dr. Christopher Banning, overseeing Vanessa's treatment while institutionalized, all appearing in flashbacks during the first season, as well as Oliver Cotton as Father Matthew, performing an exorcism on Vanessa in the first season's penultimate episode.

Production and development

In January 2013, it was announced that Showtime had made a series commitment for the project. Logan and Mendes previously wrote and directed Skyfall, respectively. Production began in London in the second half of 2013. Showtime president David Nevins stated that the tone of the ensemble series will be "very realistic and very grounded, not Bela Lugosi. All exist in human form in turn-of-century London." This was also reflected during production of the sound for the show, where Logan would often pull things back towards more realism.[18] Logan, a lifelong fan of literary monsters, wrote the project on spec and scripts the majority of episodes of the series. It was intended that Mendes would direct episodes, but scheduling prevented this.[19]

Juan Antonio Bayona was announced as director for the first two episodes.[20] The remaining episodes of the first season were directed by Dearbhla Walsh, Coky Giedroyc, and James Hawes.

In March 2013, it was announced that the series would be filmed in the United Kingdom; eyeing the new UK tax credit for high-end TV productions that offers a 25% rebate.[21] However, it was reported in August that production would instead take place in Bray's Ardmore Studios and other locations around Dublin, Ireland, because of the country's section 481 tax incentives. Filming began on October 7 and lasted 5 months.[22] Reports indicate that the change was made as no stage space of a sufficient caliber was available due to the filming of major motion pictures in London.[23]

In December 2013, Showtime announced its first production blog for a series with the launch of The Penny Dreadful Production Blog. The venue gives viewers an online, behind-the-scenes look at the series' production from its early stages of filming in Ireland through the end of the first season, featuring interviews with cast and crew.[24] In February 2014, Showtime released a full-length trailer for the series.[25]

Logan revealed at the 2014 San Diego Comic-Con International panel that one of the texts he thought about while planning the series that he would like to use in a future season is The Island of Doctor Moreau.[26] In an interview with Entertainment Weekly prior to the premiere of the third season, Logan stated that the addition of Dr. Henry Jekyll was implemented because the rights to Doctor Moreau were not available.[16]

Showtime announced shortly before the end of the first and second seasons that another season (of 10 and 9 episodes, respectively) would debut the following May.[27][28][29][30] However, Logan had decided during the middle of the second season that the third season should be the last, and he pitched the third season to Showtime president David Nevins accordingly. They did not release this information until after the final season had completed, as Nevins stated, "given what I knew the ending of Penny Dreadful was going to be felt like a massive spoiler and it felt disrespectful to the experience that people were having with the show." Logan said regarding not releasing the information: "That's what the ending of this series is, it is meant to be a strong, bold, theatrical ending because I think that's what our fans like and to water that down with an announcement or having them know I think would be an act of bad faith."[6]


SeasonEpisodesOriginally aired
First airedLast aired
18May 11, 2014 (2014-05-11)June 29, 2014 (2014-06-29)
210May 3, 2015 (2015-05-03)July 5, 2015 (2015-07-05)
39May 1, 2016 (2016-05-01)June 19, 2016 (2016-06-19)


Critical reception

Season Critical response
Rotten Tomatoes Metacritic
1 79% (56 reviews) 70 (37 reviews)
2 100% (19 reviews) 77 (14 reviews)
3 100% (11 reviews) 83 (9 reviews)

The first season of Penny Dreadful received positive reviews from critics, with a Metacritic rating of 70 out of 100 based on 37 reviews.[31] It holds a 79 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with an average score of 7.4 out of 10, based on 56 reviews, with the site's consensuses stating, "Skillfully shot and superbly acted, Penny Dreadful is perplexing in a good way – even if it's a bit silly at times."[32] The first season was described "as riotous as it is ridiculous, taking the macabre to new heights (or depths)" by The Guardian reviewer Ben Hewitt.[33]

The second season also received positive reviews from critics. On Metacritic, it has a score of 77 out of 100 based on 14 reviews, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[34] On Rotten Tomatoes, it holds a 100 percent rating with an average score of 7.6 out of 10 based on 19 reviews, with the site's consensus stating, "Penny Dreadful's second season maintains the show's intense, bloody drama, utilizing a vast array of fascinating characters and locales to tell a unique story."[35]

The third season received very positive reviews from critics. On Metacritic, it has a score of 83 out of 100 based on 9 reviews, indicating "universal acclaim".[36] On Rotten Tomatoes, it holds a 100 percent rating with an average score of 8.1 out of 10 based on 11 reviews, with the site's consensuses stating, "Penny Dreadful is back for a beautifully bloody third season of ever-expanding mysteries and Gothic horrors."[37] Ben Travers of Indiewire gave it a "B+" grade and wrote, "Season 3's American-set storyline breaks things up nicely with some classic western elements mixed in with the show's established creature horrors, and the aesthetics of the production have never looked better.[38]


The series debuted to 872,000 viewers (1.44 million including re-runs). This number does not include the 900,000 viewers who previewed the series on Showtime on Demand and the Showtime app.[39]


Year Ceremony Category Recipient(s) Result
2014 4th Critics' Choice Television Awards[40] Most Exciting New Series Penny Dreadful Won
2015 19th Satellite Awards[41] Best Television Series – Genre Won
Best Actress – Television Series Drama Eva Green Nominated
Best Supporting Actor – Series, Miniseries or Television Film Rory Kinnear Won
2014 IGN Awards[42] Best TV Actress Eva Green Won
13th Annual VES Awards[43] Outstanding Supporting Visual Effects in a Visual Effects-Driven Photoreal/Live Action Broadcast Program James Cooper, Bill Halliday, Sarah McMurdo, Lorne Kwechansky (for: "Séance") Nominated
Outstanding Created Environment in a Commercial, Broadcast Program or Video Game Matthew Borrett, Lorne Kqechansky, Graham Day, Jason Gougeon (for: "Séance") Nominated
62nd MPSE Golden Reel Awards[43] Best Sound Editing – Dialogue and ADR for Short Form Television Jane Tattersall, David McCallum, Dale Sheldrake (for: "Séance") Nominated
Best Sound Editing – Sound Effects and Foley for Short Form Television Jane Tattersall, Oriol Tarragó, Andy Malcolm, Goro Koyama, David Rose, Marc Bech (for: "Night Work") Nominated
2015 Dorian Awards[43] Campy TV Show of the Year Penny Dreadful Nominated
11th International Film Music Critics Awards[43] Best Original Score for a Television Series Abel Korzeniowski Nominated
2015 Fangoria Chainsaw Awards[43] Best TV Series Penny Dreadful Nominated
Best TV Actor Josh Hartnett Nominated
Best TV Actress Eva Green 2nd place
Best TV Supporting Actor Rory Kinnear Nominated
Best TV Supporting Actress Billie Piper 3rd place
Best TV Makeup/Creature FX Nick Dudman Nominated
2015 BAFTA Television Craft Awards[44] Best Costume Design Gabriella Pescucci Nominated
Best Production Design Jonathan Mcknistry, Philip Murphy Won
Best Titles Erik Friedman, Rudy Jaimes, Ray Burris Nominated
Best Make Up and Hair Design Enzo Mastrantonio, Nick Dudman, Stefano Ceccarelli Won
Best Original Television Music Abel Korzeniowski Won
5th Critics' Choice Television Awards[45] Best Actress in a Drama Series Eva Green Nominated
67th Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards[46] Outstanding Prosthetic Makeup for a Series, Limited Series, Movie, or a Special Nick Dudman, Sarita Allison, Barney Nikolic (for: "Grand Guignol") Nominated
Outstanding Music Composition for a Series (Original Dramatic Score) Abel Korzeniowski (for: "Closer than Sisters") Nominated
Outstanding Main Title Theme Music Abel Korzeniowski Nominated
2015 Canadian Cinema Editors Awards[43] Best Editing in Long Form Television Series Christopher Donaldson (for: "Closer than Sisters") Won
12th Irish Film & Television Awards[43] Best Director – Drama Dearbhla Walsh Nominated
2016 20th Satellite Awards[47] Best Television Series – Genre Penny Dreadful Nominated
Best Supporting Actress – Series, Miniseries or Television Film Helen McCrory Nominated
73rd Golden Globe Awards[48] Best Actress – Television Series Drama Eva Green Nominated
6th Critics' Choice Television Awards[49] Best Drama Series Penny Dreadful Nominated
Best Actress in a Drama Series Eva Green Nominated
Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series Helen McCrory Nominated
Best Guest Performer in a Drama Series Patti LuPone Nominated
18th Costume Designers Guild Awards[50] Outstanding Period Television Series Gabriella Pescucci Nominated
2015 IGN Awards[51] Best Horror Series Penny Dreadful Nominated
2016 Make-Up Artists and Hair Stylists Guild Awards[52] Television and New Media Series – Best Special Make-Up Effects Nick Dudman, Sarita Allison Nominated
Television and New Media – Best Period and/or Character Make-Up Enzo Mastrantonio, Clare Lambe Nominated
14th Visual Effects Society Awards[53] Outstanding Supporting Visual Effects in a Photoreal Episode James Cooper, Bill Halliday, Sarah McMurdo, Mai-Ling Lee (for: "And They Were Enemies") Nominated
2016 Fangoria Chainsaw Awards[54] Best TV Series Penny Dreadful Nominated
Best TV Actor Josh Hartnett Nominated
Best TV Actress Eva Green Won
Best TV Supporting Actor Rory Kinnear Nominated
Best TV Supporting Actress Billie Piper Nominated
13th Irish Film & Television Awards[55] Best Drama Penny Dreadful Nominated
Best Actress in a Supporting Role – Drama Sarah Greene Won
Best Director – Drama Brian Kirk Nominated
2016 BAFTA Television Craft Awards[56] Best Make Up and Hair Enzo Mastrantonio, Nick Dudman, Ferdinando Merolla Nominated
68th Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards[46] Outstanding Production Design for a Narrative Contemporary or Fantasy Program (One Hour or More) Johathan McKristy, Jo Riddel, Philip Murphy (for: "Fresh Hell, Evil Spirits in Heavenly Places, And Hell Itself My Only Foe") Nominated
Outstanding Music Composition for a Series (Original Dramatic Score) Abel Korzeniowski (for: "And They Were Enemies") Nominated
Outstanding Makeup for a Single-Camera Series (Non-Prosthetic) Enzo Mastrantanio, Clare Lambe, Caterina Sisto, Lorraine McCrann, Morna Ferguson (for: "Glorious Horrors") Nominated
Outstanding Hairstyling for a Single-Camera Series Ferdinando Merolla, Sevlene Roddy, Giuliano Mariano, Orla Carroll (for: "Glorious Horrors") Nominated
Outstanding Special Visual Effects James Cooper, Bill Halliday, Sarah McMurdo, Mai-Ling Lee, Greg Astles, Ricardo Gomez, Matt Ralph, Alexandre Scott, Kyle Yoneda (for: "And They Were Enemies") Nominated
Outstanding Prosthetic Makeup for a Series, Limited Series, Movie, or a Special Nick Dudman, Sarita Allison, Barney Nikolic, Paul Spateri, Dennis Penkov (for: "And Hell Itself My Only Foe") Nominated


In 2015, Titan Books announced a graphic novel series based on Penny Dreadful, written by co-executive producer Chris King, and writers Krysty Wilson-Cairns and Andrew Hinderaker.[57] The first issue was released on May 11, 2016.[58] In October 2016, Showtime announced that a new series would be released in 2017, set six months after the finale of the TV series. The project will be written by King, illustrated by Jesús Hervás, and published by Titan Books.[59]

See also


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  2. Tartaglione, Nancy (September 16, 2013). "Sky Atlantic To Co-Produce Showtime's 'Penny Dreadful'; Billie Piper Joins Cast". Retrieved April 20, 2015.
  3. "Penny Dreadful". South by Southwest. Retrieved April 20, 2015.
  4. "Showtime(R) Samples the Premiere of Its Highly-Anticipated Series "Penny Dreadful" on Multiple Platforms Now" (Press release). Showtime. April 28, 2014. Retrieved April 25, 2015.
  5. Reiher, Andrea (January 16, 2014). "'Penny Dreadful,' 'Nurse Jackie' and 'Californication' get premiere dates". Zap2it. Retrieved January 17, 2014.
  6. 1 2 Patten, Dominic (June 20, 2016). "'Penny Dreadful' Ends After 3 Seasons, Series Creator & Showtime Boss Confirm". Retrieved June 20, 2016.
  7. Connolly, Kelly (June 20, 2016). "Penny Dreadful will not return for season 4". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved June 20, 2016.
  8. Goldberg, Lesley (August 26, 2013). "Spider-Man's Reeve Carney Nabs Key Role in Showtime's Penny Dreadful (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved August 27, 2013.
  9. Marechal, AJ (August 23, 2013). "Timothy Dalton Added to Showtime's 'Penny Dreadful' Cast". Variety. Retrieved April 30, 2014.
  10. 1 2 Goldberg, Leslie (July 30, 2013). "Eva Green, Josh Hartnett to Star in Showtime's Penny Dreadful". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved July 31, 2013.
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  13. 1 2 3 Rigby, Sam (September 16, 2013). "Penny Dreadful: Helen McCrory, Simon Russell Beale join cast". Digital Spy. Retrieved September 16, 2013.
  14. Goldberg, Lesley (September 9, 2013). "Showtime Horror Drama Penny Dreadful Casts its Frankenstein". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved September 9, 2013.
  15. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Friedlander, Whitney (September 1, 2015). "Patti LuPone Cast in a New Role for 'Penny Dreadful' Season 3". Variety. Retrieved September 1, 2015.
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  23. Tartaglione, Nancy (September 30, 2013). "Hollywood Pics Pack UK Soundstages As Space Crunch Starts To Squeeze". Retrieved October 12, 2013.
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  25. Kondolojy, Amanda (February 14, 2014). "Showtime Releases Full-Length Trailer for 'Penny Dreadful' (Video)". TV by the Numbers. Retrieved April 20, 2015.
  26. Goldberg, Lesley (July 24, 2014). "Comic-Con: 'Penny Dreadful' to Play Up Helen McCrory's Madame Kali in Season 2". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved April 23, 2015.
  27. Fienberg, Daniel (June 4, 2014). "Showtime renews 'Penny Dreadful' for an expanded second season". HitFix. Retrieved August 2, 2014.
  28. Fowler, Matt (February 6, 2015). "Penny Dreadful: Season 2 Premiere Date Moved". IGN. Retrieved February 6, 2015.
  29. Littleton, Cynthia (June 16, 2015). "'Penny Dreadful' Renewed For Season 3 By Showtime". Variety. Retrieved June 16, 2015.
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