Ten years ago, fans of Alan Moore’s comic book The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen, which featured a host of iconic 19th Century genre characters – Hyde, Nemo, Mina Harker et al – foamed at the mouth at the prospect of the movie version. Sadly, that particular blockbuster proved something of a cinematic abomination – but the concept remains a good one.
The new series Penny Dreadful, which is on Sky Atlantic on Tuesday night at 9pm, takes another stab at the gothic monster mash-up. Victor Frankenstein’s rambunctious boy, Dorian Gray, Mina Harker and other public domain characters all pop up along the way.
Josh Hartness is in it, and Timothy Dalton – we like him – and Eva Green, we certainly like her – and it looks lavish and atmospheric. The writer is John Logan, a successful screenwriter who penned Skyfall and Hugo. Penny Dreadful – the title, of course, refers to the lurid Victorian magazines that peddled cheap and sensational thrills – runs for the next eight weeks, so it’ll be good fun to guess which horror icons make an appearance.
There’s a new crime drama on Sunday night which ticks all the right boxes. It’s got lots of hats because it’s set in the ‘50s, in this case Dublin – tick! The protag is a charismatic loner who likes a drink – tick! He’s got lots of dark secrets – tick! And he’s only got a surname – tickety-tick!
Quirke is about the chief pathologist in the city morgue and is based on the books of Benjamin Black, who’s the crime pseudonym of John Banville. It stars Gabriel Byrne. I’ll watch Byrne in anything – and he’s wearing a hat which makes me doubly-excited. He was, of course, in Miller’s Crossing, which was full of hats.
You’ll be wanting the blurb for the first episode, so you will:
Late autumn in Dublin 1956, and city pathologist Quirke stumbles in late one night from a party in the nurses’ quarters, with a view to sleeping off his hangover in his pathology lab.
To Quirke’s surprise, he finds obstetric consultant Malachy Griffin, his adoptive brother, at his desk completing some paperwork for a recently deceased patient named Christine Falls. Mal is not thrilled to see Quirke, a fact that troubles Quirke when he returns the next morning to find Christine’s body gone.
Consumed by curiosity over what Mal may have been up to, Quirke calls the body back from the morgue and performs a full post mortem. There is little love lost between Quirke and Mal, so Quirke is determined to call his brother to account, and as he closes in on Mal’s secret, he stirs up a hornets’ nest of trouble for himself.
As the trail turns darker and more violent Quirke’s investigations take him to Boston, and to the very heart of his complicated extended family. During his trip, Quirke uncovers the truth about a family secret that has remained buried for nearly 20 years, and begins to understand that there are some truths that may be better left unspoken.
Quirke will be looking unimpressed on BBC1 on Sunday night at 9pm.