Redhead Temper: My Summer TV Picks– Dark, Bloody, and Brooding

Most people who know me personally know that I find it extremely difficult to “bingewatch;” the phenomenon of retreating to a laptop and watching a series from start to finish in a short span of time was never something I was very good at or interested in, and that is a fact I’ve mentioned about myself here on a number of occasions. So, while everyone else uses the summertime to bingewatch a series streaming on Netflix, like Orange is the New Black, for instance, or Arrested Development (which was my failed undertaking of last summer, only having gotten through about half of season one), I have come to terms with the fact that I need my real television set, a tangible, physical cable box, replete with DVR and premium channels. With that in mind, I’d like to take the rest of this space to talk about a couple of TV shows that are already, or will be, airing this summer that I love or am looking forward to– and not surprisingly at all, they are all genre shows.

For one thing, I already sometimes (half-jokingly) consider myself the Scrooge of summertime– my pale, ginger skin merely freckles or burns in the sun, and my curly red locks basically explode with even the slightest percentage of humidity, and extreme heat basically nauseates me. Beyond all this though, my preexisting love for all things horror requires me to maintain a healthy dose of dreariness– the ultimate vitamin D, as far as I’m concerned.

penny-dreadful-season-1_98921400062006

Penny Dreadful has, thus far, been this vitamin for me. I love its Victorian-era goth aesthetic, and the way it cleverly pastiches together a number of familiar characters from legendary horror literature, weaving their stories into one larger narrative that is similarly reverent and referential, while also unique and mysterious. Airing on Showtime at 10 pm on Sundays, the show is named after cheap and somewhat seedy serial publications that were produced in this era and which told tales of horror. This particular tale of horror contains Dorian Gray, Victor Frankenstein, and hints of Dracula, not to mention something vaguely Egyptian going on too. Then there’s Vanessa Ives, played by Eva Green, who seems to be a medium, but there is a lot we have yet to learn about her, and Sir Malcolm Murray, played by Timothy Dalton, whose daughter Mina has been taken– presumably by the show’s vampires.

So, there is a lot going on, and yet the show does a pretty good job of keeping a careful balance, even if not within each episode then definitely from one to the next, so far anyway. Next week’s episode seems to center mostly upon Vanessa, which is exciting because she is definitely the most intriguing of the original characters. I am, however, biased when it comes to the literary story lines: the show’s representation and adaptation of Shelley’s Frankenstein is simply amazing. I took an entire course on Frankenstein and have read the original text and have encountered countless adaptations, both literary and cinematic; I’m not saying I’m an expert, but I am a huge fan. This show has, so far, remained impressively and refreshingly faithful to so many aspects of the novel that are so oft ignored or forgotten about, while still changing things just enough to fit into this new patchwork.

True-Blood-S7-Premiere-HBO

Speaking of a patchwork of horror creatures, I can’t abandon True Blood as we approach its final season on HBO. The series has wavered in the past few years, admittedly– last season was certainly better than that of two summers ago (all the Lilith stuff got really old for me, really fast), but allegedly, last season veered away from the trajectory of the novels way more than any previous season had. I cannot attest to this personally, because I did not read the novels, but I can say that the strange flash-forward of last season’s finale felt random and tacked on. This upcoming season appears to be as apocalyptic as ever, and I can only begin to wonder how they will choose to end the beloved series. That, and my level of commitment up until this point has been far too great for me to give up on it now; I have loved dearly almost every other season, and it has come to symbolize summer for me. I’ve always appreciated how campy it is, and that, at least, hasn’t changed much.

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Finally, a new show which has not aired yet but which I am immensely excited for is The Strain. Guillermo del Toro is, after all, one of my favorite human beings on the planet, and I have no doubt that his creepy, gory, twisted vampire tale will translate flawlessly to the small screen. I have read two out of four of the graphic novel adaptations, and intend to read the original trilogy of novels that initially sparked those comics and this new series. It will be airing on FX in early July, and I have high hopes for this unique, grotesque take on the classic creature, and look forward to seeing this wholly original vampire mythology unfold in serial fashion.

Well, there you have it. While normal season shows are on their summer vacations, these bloody and broody programs get to take center stage– which is just how I like it.

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8 thoughts on “Redhead Temper: My Summer TV Picks– Dark, Bloody, and Brooding

  1. Hey I just realized something – my sister has red hair and is obsessed with horror movies. You two might be long lost twins or something. She’s doing the Cinefessions summer screams challenge via FTS and basically binge watching horror movies all July.

    I really need to get into Penny Dreadful. Lindsay has been watching and keeps telling me to do it so we can talk about it.

    Another True Blood fan – it seems like there are so few of us these days. I’m with you that TB = summer in my mind. I will definitely miss it, but it really needs to wrap things up before it just starts dragging out. I hope it continues last years upward streak and this is another good season.

    And lastly, you’ve reminded me that I need to check out The Strain. Considering FX’s shows are usually pretty good + GDT’s involvement this show should be solid.

    • Sorry for my delayed response! I’m glad you’re a trubie like myself, I just hope Eric comes back one way or another this season– he’s always been my favorite. I’m definitely loyal and hope it’s another good season like the last one, as opposed to ending on a lower note like the season before that, so I agree that wrapping it up now is probably a good thing.

      You MUST get into penny Dreadful! It’s so great; still finding its footing in certain ways, but really wonderful nonetheless. And I’m hoping we can say the same for The Strain next month! I have no doubts that it’ll be faithful, fascinating and frightening!

      And lastly, I’ll definitely check out the Cinefessions thing you mentioned on FTS; your sister sounds like my type of person! I should really binge watch some horror stuff that I haven’t seen. I watched a cool documentary on Netflix tonight about horror movie makeup and effects that really reminded me why I love the genre so much.

      Thanks for commenting!

  2. I’m loving Penny Dreadful. As I write this a new episode is about to come on (unless it’s a repeat) but I can’t watch it because I don’t get Showtime! I’ll have to watch it tomorrow online. I used to really love True Blood but I haven’t watched it in years. I could see myself watching it all on DVD someday, however. Pretty excited for The Strain, just based off the promos. I haven’t read any of the source material.

  3. I lost focus in the Strain. I wanted an Outbreak-type medical thriller than it became a vampire/supernatural film and that wasn’t what I signed up for. Also, you don’t have to bingewatch OiTNB or Arrested Development or House of Cards to enjoy it and I’d recommend you don’t let the all-in-one format sway you from missing out on something you might otherwise like. Just watch one ep. at a time.

    • Oh that’s too bad! I’m a fan of the source material so I knew what I was getting into and so far I just adore it and love how they’re going about the adaptations.
      And yeah I know what you mean abut binge watching, I can do it if I’m actually embarking on the endeavor with someone, somehow it needs to be a social activity versus a solitary one. I have seen most of season 1 of House of Cards with my parents and really liked it but haven’t gotten around to finishing it with them or without them. As far as Orange is the New Black, as another example, that’s actually going to be the first show I binge watch with my boyfriend when we eventually move in together! So yeah I definitely agree with you and I’ve been warming up to the activity lately especially if it’s with someone else who hasn’t seen the series. Thanks for your comment!

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