penny dreadful: so damn wonderful

Penny Dreadful promotional shot

penny dreadful promotional shot

I spent the whole weekend binge-watching seasons one and two of Penny Dreadful. It’s been a long time since I was so into a show, it speaks to my little black heart. If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend that you do.

I hadn’t had a chance to see it before this weekend because I don’t have Showtime, but they offered a free weekend of shows on Hulu, so I dove in. I wasn’t so sure I’d like it as I got into the first episode – it seemed they relied a lot on the big blood sprays for impact, and I hate that. I don’t want the whole budget spent on gratuitous effects, you know? Shock value is not my thing, I much rather have a great script and intriguing plot. Luckily, those things came through enough for me to stick with it, and I wasn’t disappointed.

I love that it plays with all those primal, mythical dangers and fears that keep us tense and looking over our shoulders – vampires, werewolves, mad scientists and monsters, god, the devil, witches, and ill wishes. It respectfully references classics like Frankenstein and Dorian Gray, and stories based on fact like that of Hungarian Countess Elizabeth Báthory, while remaining true to the character of the original stories. It doesn’t over do, because these things have impact enough in their primal state without beefing up from over-enthusiastic writers and directors who don’t have faith in their audience’s appreciation of well-told tales. In fact, the stripped down impact of these stories are what make them that much more believable, and keep our senses on alert.

Penny Dreadful has very good actors, interesting and fully developed characters, wonderful sets, and great atmosphere. The language is not dumbed down, and they do their research. These aren’t the cheap, melodramatic stories of the original penny dreadfuls, these are classic and classy. It’s just so much FUN! I’m looking forward to season three.

And I think I’ll add an appreciative little post script here for one of the most beautiful, most sensual and real lovemaking scenes between two beautiful boys that I have ever seen.

less of a drag, more of a race

a tribute to jinkx monsoon as little edie

a tribute to jinkx monsoon as little edie

So far I’m still on with season six of RuPaul’s Drag Race. I enjoyed the first two seasons, but three, four, and five left me tepid so I wasn’t counting on six to hold my interest. But I’m on board with this one, the queens are diverse enough to keep things interesting and I find redeeming qualities in most of them.

Last night was the Snatch Game episode, everyone’s favourite, although usually there’s really only one or two on the panel who have any chops at all, so I never got that. We made out better this time around, though there could’ve been a few little tweaks. Time for my unsolicited and too-late opinions.

Bianca as Judge Judy and Adore as Anna Nicole were wonderful. I was more impressed with Adore’s performance because Judge Judy was an obvious fit for Bianca. Courtney should’ve been Ukrainian Human Barbie, don’t you think? She could’ve switched out of her naturally bubbly spirit and taken things into plasticville, talked about her air and light diet, and pulled it off beautifully. Milk is the personality twin of Phyllis Diller – she could’ve even brought that pinocchi-nose of hers into play! And Laganja should’ve channelled personality twin Mariah Carey. I love Darienne, she has chops but I don’t think we’re seeing the best of her. If she would’ve gone a little more pop culture forward with someone like Rebel Wilson, she would’ve stood out more. She could’ve at least focused on a parody of current day Paula Deen, apologizing awkwardly over and over again for everything she said, and sticking her fingers up some cream filled Twinkie holes for a new ladyfinger dessert. Oh, Gia. I don’t know about her. She needed someone to whom she could apply her natural snark, but I can’t think of a celeb fit. Which I guess kind of sums things up. I liked Joslyn as Theresa Guidice, but she proved she could’ve been a better Fran Drescher than Courtney. And Ben was surprisingly the perfect Maggie Smith. I think Trinity could’ve pulled off Nicki Minaj if she had focused on her twitter personality.

So here’s where I think we’re headed with the top three: Ben and Bianca, of course. For contenders for the third spot, at this point it’s a four-way between Darienne, Adore, Milk, and Joslyn. Courtney will win Miss Congeniality, she’s such a package of sweet cheerfulness and girl power support.

I miss April.

looking for now, losing out later

Jonathan Groff as Patrick, Raúl Castillo as Richie

Jonathan Groff as Patrick, Raúl Castillo as Richie

I caught up with Looking last night, thanks to my free-for-three months gift of HBO due to a cable billing boo-boo. Damnit, I’m getting hooked on this program so when my time is up, I’ll be facing some serious withdrawal. Program pushers. They aren’t being generous, they’re being sneaky! But I can’t afford it, so although I was glad to hear that Looking has been renewed for a second season, I’m already grumbling about missing out.

I wasn’t completely sold for the first few episodes, and I was especially unhappy with Mister Patrick’s shady reaction to Richie, the charming guy he meets on a bus. Patrick is supposed to be from Colorado, and yet, he has an oddly ignorant reaction to Richie being Latino. What? Realistically, Patrick would have had a much greater chance of meeting and dating Latino men in Denver than he would in San Francisco. So why is he acting like he’s from Ohio? It’s inaccurate, and frankly, a very off-putting aspect of his character. He’s either completely oblivious, or a complete dick.

But overall, I found these men to have potential for developing into complex and complete characters. I like the quieter tone the show is taking, because we don’t need more riotous and goofy shows about gay people. I got my fill of that in the 90s. This is a fresher take on friendships and relationships, and doesn’t shy away from the many facets of these characters’ personalities, good and bad. Could Patrick be racist in spite of what we presume, having grown up in Colorado, would have been wide exposure to Latino culture and people? Yes. And I’m interested in seeing what he does with that, having met a perfectly sweet and adorable man who happens to be very attached to and proud of his culture.

Russell Tovey

Russell Tovey

I am pleasantly surprised to see Russell Tovey on the series, and find it kind of amusing that everyone is gushing over how hot, hot, hot he is, considering his previous roles in a number of British programs as the awkward one, sweet but definitely not gush-worthy. The boy had grown up nicely, though. Great guns!

I’m interested in all of their stories, and find the secondary characters as filled with potential for development as the core group is. Too bad I won’t be seeing series two as it happens. Damn you, evil enabling cable provider. Damn you.