Even throughout its preposterous narrative and wildly fluctuating tone, HBO's “True Blood” has nonetheless still garnered a consistent audience every week. Now in its sixth season, the erotic melodrama has laid down the working template that premium channels aspire to create, and with the Sam Mendes-produced series, “Penny Dreadful,” Showtime believes it has a prime contender, and also two newly-cast leads to front the enterprise.
Mendes will serve “Penny Dreadful” in a trio of executive producers, alongside Pippa Harris (“Revolutionary Road”) and “Skyfall” screenwriter John Logan (who also wrote and created the show), and now the “psycho-sexual horror series” has added actors Josh Hartnett and Eva Green to its lineup of considerable pedigree. The eight-episode drama — the first two of which will be directed by “The Orphanage” helmer Juan Antonio Bayona — is pitched as weaving together the origin stories of classic horror monsters; Frankenstein's creation, Dorian Gray, and Dracula all get the treatment, and Hartnett and Green's characters appear to be the connective tissue at its core.
Hartnett will play Ethan Chandler, described as a “charming and brash” man of “action and daring,” while Green's character Vanessa is “enigmatic with haunted eyes” and the main heroine of the series. Their descriptions are quite brief and cagey, so considering the established source material from which it's drawing inspiration, don't be surprised in the end if their roles have a John Harrison red herring quality. But it's always nice to see Green in a prominent series role (even if her last cable effort was “Camelot”), and Hartnett has displayed some horror panache before in “The Faculty” and “30 Days of Night.”
Certainly some intriguing elements swirling together around “Penny Dreadful,” and after production on the series begins this October, we'll see how the final product fares when it hits TV screens in spring 2014. [THR]