Tag Archives: Billie Piper

Showtime’s Penny Dreadful a lively monster mash

'Penny Dreadful'

Josh Harnett, Eva Green, Danny Sapani and Timothy Dalton (from left) star in ‘Penny Dreadful,’ premiering tonight on Showtime.

Penny Dreadful, the hugely entertaining new eight-episode Showtime series premiering tonight, takes its title from the lurid serialized horror stories that sold for a penny at Victorian newsstands (the Stephen Sondheim musical Sweeney Todd is based on one such yarn). Happily, there’s nothing either cheap or dreadful about this lavish and completely unpredictable new period drama.
John Logan, the Chicago-born Tony-winning playwright and Oscar-nominated screenwriter (Skyfall), strives to capture the spooky, often gory spirit of those vintage chillers by weaving together recognizable figures from literature, such as ageless lothario Dorian Gray and obsessed Dr. Victor Frankenstein, with original characters of his own, whom he brings together and sends off on a delightfully macabre mission.
Penny Dreadful opens in 1891 London, in the aftermath of the unsolved Jack the Ripper murders. As the police turn their attention to a new spate of gruesome crimes, celebrated explorer Sir Malcolm Murray (Timothy Dalton) comes to enigmatic spiritualist Vanessa Ives (Eva Green) with a plea for help: His daughter, Mina (the name is a tip-of-the-hat to Dracula), has gone missing. Both Malcolm and Vanessa suspect that supernatural forces are afoot, so they enlist the assistance of American Wild West sharpshooter Ethan Chandler (Josh Hartnett) and, sure enough, soon stumble into a nest of feral vampires.
As their quest takes one unexpected turn after another, their party is joined by Dr. Frankenstein (Harry Treadaway), whose own studies into the thin veil between life and death dovetail nicely with Malcolm’s mission. Not long after that, the group encounters Dorian Gray (Reeve Carney from Broadway’s Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark) and Brona Croft (Billie Piper, Doctor Who), a consumptive Irish beauty. Other distinguished guest stars include a hilarious Simon Russell Beale as Ferdinand Lyle, a flamboyant Egyptologist, and Helen McCrory as Madame Kali, a (probably fake) clairvoyant.
Beyond that, I won’t spoil any of the surprises awaiting Penny Dreadful viewers – partly because, two episodes in, I honestly don’t know where the hell Logan is going with this nutty narrative. Suffice it to say that both episodes I’ve seen feature absolutely top-tier special effects and, much like those old horror tales snapped up by titillation-hungry Victorians, each episode ends with a jaw-dropping twist that will leave you jonesing for the next installment.
Harry Treadaway

Harry Treadaway stars as Victor Frankenstein in ‘Penny Dreadful.’

Look, ‘Who’’s turning 50 with ‘Day of the Doctor’

'The Day of the Doctor,' Saturday's special 50th Anniversary episode of 'Doctor Who,' will air as a global simulcast in more than 75 countries.

Allons-y! Matt Smith and David Tennant somehow interact in their roles as, respectively, the Eleventh and Tenth Doctors in ‘The Day of the Doctor,’ a 50th Anniversary episode of ‘Doctor Who’ premiering Saturday.

The venerable British sci-fi series Doctor Who airs what promises to be a very special 50th anniversary episode of the program Saturday as a global simulcast to more than 75 countries. In the United States, BBC America will carry “The Day of the Doctor” (as the episode is titled) live at 2:50 p.m. ET, followed by an encore broadcast that evening at 7 p.m. ET.
As usual, the BBC is cloaking this special episode in the kind of secrecy that usually is reserved for nuclear launch codes, although the network has released the following brief (and enigmatic) summary:
“In 2013, something terrible is awakening in London’s National Gallery; in 1562, a murderous plot is afoot in Elizabethan England; and somewhere in space, an ancient battle reaches its devastating conclusion. All of reality is at stake as the Doctor’s own dangerous past comoes back to haunt him.”
Here’s what else is known about the episode, which is penned by lead writer and executive producer Steven Moffat. First, and most bafflingly, the episode will feature both the current 11th incarnation of The Doctor (Matt Smith) as well as his previous embodiment, the Tenth Doctor (David Tennant), sharing scenes together. As if that’s not enough, John Hurt, who was seen very briefly in the final moments of the Season Seven finale, will appear as The War Doctor, a “forgotten” past incarnation of The Doctor.
Fans who are searching for further clues also can view a related and very tantalizing mini-episode prequel of sorts called “The Night of the Doctor,” with Paul McGann reprising his role as the Eighth Doctor online here: http://youtu.be/-U3jrS-uhuo.
The other big news is that “The Day of the Doctor” also will include an appearance by fan favorite Billie Piper as Rose Tyler, former traveling companion for the Ninth and Tenth Doctors. Jenna Coleman also co-stars in this special episode in her current ongoing role as the Eleventh Doctor’s traveling companion, Clara Oswald. Joanna Page guest stars as Queen Elizabeth I.
Moffat has said in related interviews that “The Day of the Doctor” will “change the narrative” of the series in a big way. Fans are speculating this may involve a long-standing conundrum built into the basic premise of Doctor Who: namely, the notion that any Time Lord can regenerate only 12 times. (Actor Peter Capaldi is scheduled to begin appearing as the Twelfth Doctor sometime after Smith’s upcoming Christmas Day episode. If we count Hurt’s appearance as a regeneration, which is how it is described in “The Night of the Doctor,” that would mean Capaldi’s Doctor would be the 12th time the character has regenerated).
In addition to their joint appearance in “The Day of the Doctor,” Smith and Tennant also are scheduled to appear together late Saturday evening on BBC America’s The Graham Norton Show. That show was taped and aired in the UK earlier this week, however, so expect their comments to be fairly guarded.
Fan favorite Billie Piper guest stars in Saturday's 50th Anniversary episode of 'Doctor Who.'

Former series regular Billie Piper feturns in ‘The Day of the Doctor.’