I have long believed in the adage that you should only expend energy on the things over which you have an element of control. But there are times when you have to make your voice heard. This post will not make a difference to the status quo but it will allow me to share my thoughts on the title of the post. So on this note I recently received an email from a friend thanking me for recommending season 3 of Penny Dreadful and then going on to wish that...well, to wish that I suffered, horribly, and all because of the ending. This is how Penny Dreadful touched some people, to the point that they got angry/annoyed/frustrated/peeved/miffed enough to believe that the friend who recommended it is somehow happy with or responsible for the way it ended.
If, by any possible chance, you have yet to watch season 3, then know that this blog entry will contain a number of spoilers, enough to probably convince you to never begin watching it in the first place!
Still here? Then good, we can continue....
TV shows come in a number of varieties including; Anthologies, Procedurals, Event Series, Companion Pieces, etc and all are subject to being squashed at a moments notice. The usual reason is falling/small viewing figures as these are closely linked to the advertising revenue that companies need to keep making the show (Forever). It may also be about salary demands by key stars (Castle) but could also easily be the removal of a key character via resignation or sacking (Two and a Half Men) that may well be enough to do the trick.
Alternatively it is the network itself that decides if the show is cancelled and it's a proven fact that another network might come in to continue the series with Longmire and Supergirl being recent examples of this
Penny Dreadful seems to be of the former variety, but not if you listen to the showrunner. John Logan, the creator and writer of the show, would have you and I believe that he only ever planned three seasons and that they're leaving the story at the exact point that he wished to. Here is a quote from the man himself, published by Variety
"This is a show about Vanessa Ives and her struggle with faith - how one woman grapples with God and the devil. Midway through the second season, when we were filming it - so about two years ago - I realized where we were heading. A woman who loses her faith in the second season, she has to grasp her way back. What would it take? To me, that was an apotheosis - she would find peace finally with God. I realized that's where the show was heading, and so I talked to Eva about it and then I talked to David."
He speaks eloquently enough and who am I to suggest that his his words are hollow. No, if |I were to do that I'd need some sort of proof such as how they could have concluded at the end of Season Two as easily as at the end of Season Three (and neither of those things were or would have been easy!). Like the storyline, direction, introduction of characters, lack of resolution to certain character arcs that had been developed, and of course the viewing figures.
Well it just so happens that I was invested in this series enough to have some thoughts on all of those things related to the story and characters. As for the numbers? Well there's always the internet.
Let me ask a few questions. What became of Ethan and Kaetenay? Sir Malcolm? Dracula? The devil? Dorian? Why tease us with Lyle's trip to Egypt and the 'disturbance' there? For a show that happily killed off characters (Sembene, Van Helsing) it also painstakingly created rich backstories for the protagonists and antagonists alike. This was why we loved the show so much but why do this if the plan was to end it? Except there was one noteable occasion when they didn't do this, it came in season three and her name was Catriona Hartdegen. Hardly had we got to meet this new character than the credits rolled on episode nine of the third season and we were presented with the words The End. Was she supposed to fill the void if Eva Green left the show? Was she going to wind up the antagonist in season four ala Madame Kali in season two? Whatever the plan was, she alone makes me feel that the final episode was rushed and most likely due to the series being cancelled by Showtime.
The shame of it is that here was a clever take on the characters of Victorian gothic horror. A show that made you think instead of just an inane compilation of events, was populated by an impressive cast, and just looked awesome! I'm sure that the show really was meant to end with Eva Green,s Vanessa finding peace, I just refuse to believe that it was to be at the expense of such a cleverly worked story that was ultimately left with so many loose ends.