5. The Production Value
Unlike HBO, who spend serious cash, Showtime shows tend to look a wee bit on the cheaper side. As good as shows like Dexter and Californication have been in the past, aside from their content, they could easily be regular network shows based on the way they're filmed and edited. Penny Dreadful, on the other hand, is shot exquisitely. Look closely at everything from costumes to set design to make-up, and you can see where every one of those dreadful pennies was spent (I'm sorry, I had to.)
6. They've Got Some Bi-Sexy Action Happening
It seems the premium cable shows are always getting either praised or lambasted for having too much gratuitous sex and nudity, specifically shows like Game of Thrones, True Blood and Boardwalk Empire. Most of the sex and nudity on those shows tends to be of the strictly hetero kind, and although those shows have had prominent and high-profile gay characters (and should be applauded for it) we rarely see their sex lives shown in the same way as their straight counterparts. And when we do, those characters are almost always then promptly killed off (especially on True Blood and Game of Thrones. Of course, Game of Thrones kills off lots of people, but I digress.)
In the most recent episode of Penny Dreadful, we get to see pretty boy Dorian Gray, he with the aging portrait that's locked away, and Josh Hartnett's red-blooded American gunslinger character make out passionately. The show didn't hang a lantern on how these two characters are bisexual; they just seemingly are. Although shows like True Blood and Game of Thrones have gay characters, they are almost never the main characters, and certainly don't have their sex lives depicted with much frequency. Outside of Timothy Dalton's character of Dr. Malcolm Murray, Hartnett and Reeve Carney are arguably the two other male leads of the series, so having them be bisexual and sexually active is a pretty big deal.
7. The Show Has Excellent Pedigree
This series just has a high-class pedigree, both behind and in front of the camera. The primary creative force behind this show is John Logan, who wrote The Aviator and Hugo for Martin Scorcese (and was nominated for an Academy award for both) as well as Skyfall for Sam Mendes, who is also a producer on this series. (Logan also wrote Star Trek: Nemesis, but hey, nobody's perfect.) The first two episodes were directed by Juan Antonio Bayona, who's the man behind the Spanish film The Orphanage, one of the creepiest horror films from the past decade.
As far as the acting talent goes, I've already mentioned Eva Green and how awesome she is on this show, but aside from her this series has an excellent ensemble cast; you've got former James Bond Timothy Dalton, Josh Hartnett (who, it turns out, has become quite a decent actor, and who, much like Dorian Gray, apparently doesn't age much) David Warner as Van Helsing, and Harry Treadway as Victor Frankenstein. All things being equal, Penny Dreadful is a very classy affair, and a good way to feel better about your television viewing habits after binge-watching some awful guilty pleasure reality series that evokes the very opposite of talent. (Don't feel bad, we all have at least one of those.)
8. There Is So Much Potential For the Future
Sure, the first season has already used characters and concepts from some of the most well known Victorian horror novels like Bram Stoker's Dracula, Mary Shelley's Frankenstein and
Poe's Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray, but that's just scratching the surface of where they could go; there are the other 19th century vampires who inspired Dracula like Carmilla, Sir Francis Varney and Lord Ruthven,who was the star of the very first English language vampire story The Vampyre, not to mention Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, H.G. Wells' The Invisible Man and many more. The show has already proven it can juggle all these characters and combine them into a coherent narrative, far more than LXG: The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (I refer now to the hideous movie and not Alan Moore's classic comic.) The sky's the limit on this one.
Previously by Eric Diaz: