The Originals

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I can openly admit I am biased toward supernatural drama TV shows compared to “normal” human TV shows. I can’t explain why this particular genre really appeals to me. Over the past 11 years, I’ve devoured supernatural fantasy genre that usually contained the element of vampires. The CW’s The Vampire Diaries and HBO’s True Blood were my first vampire-centric TV shows. Prior to this, I’d only read YA or adult fiction supernatural fantasy novels that mainly involved vampires.

The Vampire Diaries (TVD) introduces Niklaus Mikaelson and his siblings in Season 3. The Original family. The first ever vampires. These characters brought a wonderfully different dynamic to The Vampire Diaries plot arc. They really caused havoc and chaos for the Mystic Falls gang. Audiences fell in love with the characters of Klaus, Elijah, Rebekah, and Kol Mikaelson. TVD fans wanted them to have their own spin-off TV show. There is plenty of rich storylines to be play out for these complex characters. They are millennium old vampires. Plus, I loved how the historical flashbacks are seamlessly incorporated into the modern-day storylines of TVD.

TVD and TO

The Vampire Diaries aired the back-door pilot for The Originals in episode 4.20 on April 25, 2013. It had solid view ratings. 2.24 million. The CW network gave the greenlight for a full season order for TVD spin-off for the 2013-2014 show schedule line-up. The official The Originals pilot aired on October 3, 2013.

The Originals S1Compared to TVD, The Originals is drastically different. It revolves around the vampire-werewolf hybrid Klaus Mikaelson and his vampire siblings becoming deeply enmeshed in the supernatural politics of New Orleans. There has always been a power imbalance among the vampires, werewolves, and witches. These supernatural communities don’t usually get along well. Of course violent power struggles frequently ensue in New Orleans. Understatement of the century. The human community are almost always oblivious to it. On the other hand, The Vampire Diaries mainly revolved around dynamics and drama among the Mystic Falls gang. It stayed far away from politics among the supernatural communities. The Originals has much darker undertones interwoven throughout the storylines. Also, the violence is a smidgen more intense and gory. This TVD spin-off is aimed at a slightly older age group.

Klaus Mikaelson can easily carry his own show. Yet, the plethora of multi-faceted and complex characters add more richness to the plot arcs. Vampires, werewolves, and witches galore. Pretty early on you get emotionally attached to many of the characters. But some take time to grow on you. You will form love/hate relationships with certain main and supporting characters. I immediately fell in love with the concept of The Originals after the back-door pilot episode. It can firmly stand on its own while still having enough overlap to tie back to TVD world.

Very few shows can reduce me to rivers of tears from intense emotional feels. Tears of sorrow. Tears of joy. The Vampire Diaries and The Originals joins these elite ranks. The final season of The Originals has been especially emotional for me. Pretty sure I’ve cried at least once or twice in every episode. The cast ensemble are such talented actors in their own ways. They brilliantly convey a plethora of emotions in all the scenes. Every actor in the main and supporting cast was impeccably chosen for their role. Immense chemistry among them on and off-screen. It is what enhances or ruins the success of a TV show.

Just like every TV show, the first few seasons have strong storylines and character development. It needs to build and establish the world for the audience. One or two latter seasons will have weaker plot arcs and character development. Despite its flaws, I love The Originals too much to completely give up on this TV show. I’ve invested too much time to walk away from it. For better or worse, I must see it through the end.

The Originals title screenThe Vampire Diaries series finale aired on March 10, 2017. Time to mourn yet another of my beloved long-running TV shows. Yet, I was comforted to know The CW had renewed The Originals for a fifth season in May 2017. My joy soon became short-lived. In July 2017, it was confirmed that Season 5 would be the final season with only 13 episodes. Not enough time to get over losing The Vampire Diaries. Now, I must also say farewell to The Originals only one year after TVD’s series finale. I don’t wanna say goodbye to Klaus, Elijah, Rebekah, Kol, Freya, and Marcel…but all good things must eventually come to an end. The series finale aired on The CW on August 1, 2018. I’m losing too many of my beloved supernatural drama TV shows within a short span of time.

The Vampire Diaries and The Originals achieved an impressive feat. Longevity to still remain successful even when vampire genre’s popularity had long faded from mainstream pop culture. The Vampire Diaries aired from September 2009 to March 2018. The Originals will have aired from October 2013 to August 2018. On top of this, TVD world is expanding to spawn another spin-off called Legacies. This particular spin-off would focus on Klaus’s daughter, Hope Mikaelson. It was fascinating and exciting to explore New Orleans but we shall be returning back home to Mystic Falls. A new generation in Mystic Falls. I’m willing to give Legacies a chance.

Legacies

 

 

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Penny Dreadful

 

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I’d like to say I’m generally open-minded when it comes to movie and TV show genres. But usually I avoid psychological thriller or horror genres. Just ain’t my cup of tea. Yet, I’ve made few exceptions. This is applicable to more TV shows than movies.

Despite being behind on many of my prime time shows, I decided to start an entirely new TV series. I had no idea what at the time…except that it had to be fairly short. I wasn’t willing to commit to another long-running TV series. Showtime’s Penny Dreadful was one of the options. I’d heard of this show but just never had time to get around it. Plus, my friend gave high praise for Penny Dreadful. This further cemented my selection. In the end, I decided to check out Showtime’s Penny Dreadful.

First, I must give some historical context. There were many social changes during the Victorian era in Britain including increased literacy rates and technological advances in many industries. The working-class readers desired for more affordable popular literature circulated on a larger scale. This gave birth to 19th century publishing phenomenon of penny dreadful literature. Compared to popular serialized novels of the time, penny dreadfuls cost only one penny. These stories would be published in weekly parts. They were printed on cheap wood pulp paper. Penny dreadful literature included over-dramatic and highly sensational subject matters. Often, these stories included criminal or supernatural themes. This particular type of literature mainly appealed to working-class citizens.

I safely assumed Showtime’s Penny Dreadful would have an overall dark, somber tone. So I wasn’t going into this with unrealistic expectations. Beyond this assumption, I had no idea what to expect with this TV series.

After watching enough premium cable network shows, I’ve developed coping mechanism to deal with gory violence, sexual content, nudity, and profanity. I was hooked after watching the pilot episode. Penny Dreadful is an addictively heartbreaking show. The three seasons takes place between 1891 and 1892. Late Victorian era in London, England.

I’m pleasantly surprised that profanity wasn’t much of an issue. Only a total of 15-20 times “fuck” is used over 27 episodes. Of course mainly Ethan Chandler, the only American character, drops the f-bombs. Even scenes involving nudity were mostly tasteful. Scenes with sexual content is far and few throughout the entire series. Although, some sex scenes were pretty intense. Gory violence is  a common theme with this particular show. It can be tough to stomach at times. Yet, I’ve seen enough premium cable network shows to find a way to deal with it.

I love the opening credits and beautifully haunting theme song. The intense imagery used in opening credits brilliantly represents the show’s essence.  The main actors were perfectly cast for their roles. Each of them deliver incredibly powerful performances individually and collectively.

Penny Dreadful explores an overall theme among the characters. Everyone has their inner demons and we all have different coping mechanisms to deal with it. “There is some thing within us all” is Season 1’s promotional tagline. The show features captivatingly complex characters. Sir Malcolm Murray, Vanessa Ives, Victor Frankenstein, Sambene, Lily Frankenstein, The Creature, Ethan Chandler, and Dorian Gray. Of course there are reoccurring characters that play an important role in the seasons’ plot arc. Each character combats the dark forces that pervading their intertwined lives. I was so emotionally invested in these characters.

Over the three seasons, we learn more background story about the main characters except Dorian Gray. Basically we know nothing of his origins. Dorian Gray remains an alluring conundrum up till the series finale. My first impression of him was formed when he set up a private erotic photo shoot with Brona Croft. I found him uber-creepy until halfway through Season 1. Suddenly, I found him stunning beautiful and inexplicably charming. My impression didn’t change so drastically with the other main characters. (Side note: Dorian ain’t picky with whom he chooses as his lovers. Very experimental with both genders. He certainly gets around in three seasons. Basically he is the man whore out of all the Penny Dreadful male characters. Now that speaks volumes. But it makes sense for Dorian Gray’s characterization.He seeks out adventures of extravagant debauchery to make life interesting.)

Detailed and nuanced elements are intricately woven into each episode’s plot and sub-plots. In terms of the settings and costumes, I was vastly impressed by the accuracy of late Victorian era component inserted within the storylines. One of my favorite reoccurring sets was Dorian Gray’s Portrait Gallery. What extravagant detail in that one room alone. Each character had their own unique fashion style. No two main female or male characters had similar outfit concepts. Although, the characters’ costumes usually used darker color palettes. Very rare occasions were the characters in light color clothing. Most of all, the show’s storylines transports the audience to reputable and scandalous areas of London. Penny Dreadful heavily incorporates symbolism into the storylines. Abel Korzeniowski composes the soundtrack music for this show. The music brilliantly captures the dark themes of the show. Plus, the soundtrack music wonderfully captures the mood of the scenes. There are definitely over-the-top theatrical aspects  sprinkled throughout the three seasons. All of these devices exceptionally enhance your viewing experience. It immerses you into this show’s elaborate universe.

Season 1 gives you a feel for what to expect with this horror drama. Penny Dreadful is not for the faint-hearted. That’s safe to say. With every season, the sub-plots brilliantly ties back into to overarching plot arc. Season 1 introduces you to the dark universe of the show. Each character is richly developed through the intense storytelling. You’ll find yourself growing attached to the characters no matter how much you resist the urge. That’s the point of no return. At this point, you’ve got to see the show through the end. For better or worse. Often, plot twists don’t give me a surprised reaction. Usually I see it coming from miles away. Yet, this show threw numerous plot twists that really took me by surprise. Now that is quite impressive.

Season 2 overarching plot with the nightcomers was difficult to get through at times. I’m not a huge fan of witchcraft storylines in my books, TV shows, and movies. Yet some of my fantasy genre shows (ex. True Blood, The Vampire Diaries, and Supernatural) portray it in a manner that doesn’t entirely freak me out. Not the case with Penny Dreadful. Often, I skipped any scenes involving rituals or spells of any nature. Not my cup of tea.

Season 3 decently wrapped up the entire show. I still have mixed emotions over some sub-plots. In the previous two seasons, the overarching plot arcs typically revolve around London. More than half of the final season swaps between New Mexico territory in America and London, England. I felt the Ethan Chandler origin story dragged on too long. Also, I didn’t like how the crew was split up until the last two episodes. I much prefer the whole gang working together to defeat the dark forces. Not separately. Most of the final season, Vanessa battled the dark forces all by herself. She didn’t have anyone to lean on for comfort and emotional support. Poor Miss Ives. Thank goodness I watched the final two episodes by myself. Overwhelmingly tumultuous emotions. Tears and snot everywhere. I was a hot mess…not in a good way either. Very few show series finales have brought me to legit wretch sobs. Congratulations Penny Dreadful. You join this exclusively elite club.

To put this in context, I intensely binged all 27 episodes of Penny Dreadful over 16 days. I cannot even describe the whirlwind of tumultuous emotions I experienced watching all three seasons. This premium cable show has absolutely no chill with its storytelling. (WARNING: Don’t expect happy endings for any of the main characters.) It will put you through the emotional ringer multiple times in each episode. The season finales especially made me ball like a baby. Yet the overwhelming feels were so worth it! I’d highly recommend Showtime’s Penny Dreadful.

I wish I’d started this fantastic cable TV show sooner. Sadly, Penny Dreadful was not renewed for a 4th season. It has officially ended. The series finale didn’t give full closure for almost all the characters. On the bright side, there might be hope for a spin-off series.

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