Penny Dreadful Series Premiere Shows Promise


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Penny Dreadful, Showtime's entry into the supernatural category, had a relatively strong formal debut Sunday night.

Going up against genre heavy weights such as AMC's The Walking Dead and FX's American Horror Story, Penny Dreadful attempts to set itself apart "with a combination of literary allusion, fine acting, patience and fearlessness" according to a review in The New York Times.

The series was created by John Logan, who is known for his Oscar-nominated work on films such as The Aviator, Gladiator, and Hugo. Sam Mendes (American Beauty, The Kite Runner, Revolutionary Road) is executive producer. Logan and Mendes previously collaborated on Skyfall.

Set in Victorian London, 1891 to be precise, Penny Dreadful stars Timothy Dalton, Eva Green and Josh Hartnett as a mishmash trio of explorers searching for Dalton's character's daughter. Classic horror characters such as Frankenstein, Dracula and Dorian Gray are woven into the story line.

"Penny dreadful" was a term used to refer to dime novels and horror books in Victorian-era England.

According to The Toronto Star, the series premiere "did a fantastic job at setting the series’ dark, gothic tone while making it accessible to both new and seasoned horror fans alike."

Penny Dreadful debuted in Showtime's 10:00 pm time slot immediately after network strongman Californication and drew in 872,000 viewers. After accounting for multiple plays Sunday night, the total number of viewers came in at 1.443 million.

Breaking down the stats even further, 895,000 - or 62% - of the 1.443 million were in the highly-sought-after 18-49 age demographic. This made Penny Dreadful's premiere the best in that younger age group since Dexter's in 2006, which set a network record of 65%.

Impressively, Penny Dreadful topped the series premieres of Homeland and Masters of Sex by about 5%.

Further evidence of the premiere's success is the fact that the numbers above don't include the 900,000 Showtime subscribers who watched online when the network made the premiere available two weeks prior to Sunday night's formal debut.

Image via Penny Dreadful, YouTube