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Title: Penny Dreadful: The Complete 3rd and Final Season

Movie: :3.5stars:
Video: :4.5stars:
Audio: :4.5stars:
Extras: :2.5stars:

HTS Overall Score:82

Well, the series I never thought would make it off the ground has actually made it to its third and final season. And before someone says that it should have lasted longer, the creators have actually come forth and said they weren’t cancelling the show because of ratings, but rather because they wanted a three season arc and to send the show out on a high note (something I’m very slightly skeptical of and will explain my reasons later in the review). What looked like a “mature” version of “League of Extraordinary Gentlemen”, morphed into a unique and disturbingly dark fantasy series that incorporates werewolves, vampires, witches, warlocks and all sorts of other nasty beasties of fantasy lore (and be assured that none of them sparkle or are dateable). Season 2 was a distinct increase in quality to the rough season 1, but season three sort of stays on a stable plane, with only a few issues crop up during the final few episodes (the reasoning behind my suspicions about actually planning a three season story arc from the beginning).

Season three picks up after the events of season two’s fantastic finale. Vanessa (the luxurious Eva Green), the medium of untold powers, is off living by herself as a hermit after trying to imbue a doll with her powers in the previous season. The first episode of the series plays off a bit awkwardly, letting us know that the main cast was probably separated for a while and not about to come back together as a group for some time. Something that leaves the viewer a bit frustrated as the comradery and close-knit nature of the freaks was one of the major pulling factors for the show. It’s the idea of “breaking up the band” that has pushed so many good shows over the edge (“The O.C.”, “X-Files” and others like “Parks and Recreation”). Still, season three ends up being way better than I honestly expected it to be.

The show should have dived bombed with the breaking up of the core group, but what saves the show is the fantastic acting of the group. Even alone they are wonderfully unique and well nuanced characters that can thrive in any situation. Evan Green plays Vanessa with a gleeful and twisted style that is intoxicating to watch. Vanessa has suffered so much in her life and this season she gets to suffer a little bit more after she tries to return Ethan’s advances only to realize that she’s too late as he goes back to America to hang/stand trial for his crimes. The addition of the western storylines with Ethan back home make for some awesome storylines and Rory Kinnear shines as John Clare, the companion for Frankenstein’s famous titular monster.

I could gush about the actors for pages, but that gets a bit old, don’t you think? All this being said, I really enjoyed the slightly shortened 9 episode season 3, but here’s where I’m slightly skeptical about creator John Logan stating that a 3 season arc was originally planned. While the show flows nicely and brings some fresh new storylines, the ending of the season doesn’t wrap up all the loose plot lines like it should. In fact it almost feels like there was plenty of setup for a 4th season even! You can tell that the show was definitely winding to an end, but I have a sneaking suspicious that they were actually going to try and add a 4th season but thought better of it and went back to their original idea of three seasons (or at least tentative idea of 3 seasons).

Now, even that is a flaw, I have to say that the addition of the “big bad season villain” was more than enough to make up for that slight season ending faux pas. I won’t spoil the actual identity of who they’re facing off this season, but it’s a powerful foe indeed and his episode inclusions are some of the best in the entire show. I won’t say that it’s better than season 2’s peaking, but season 3 manages to keep on just about the same plane on enjoyment and makes for a good ending season for the show.

The episode rundown:

The Day Tennyson Died
Predators Far And Near
Good And Evil Braided Be
A Blade Of Grass
This World’s Is Our Hell
No Beast So Fierce
Ebb Tide
Perpetual Night
The Blessed Dark


Rated TV-MA

Video :4.5stars:
The Third and final season of "Penny Dreadful" keeps up with the truly fantastic Blu-ray encodes that CBS/Paramount have given us the last two seasons. Sticking with the traditional blue and yellow filter (although there is a distinct green one being used in conjunction with the blue at times) the 1.78:1 framed Blu-ray looks marvelous. Detail is superb throughout, whether it be in the old west with Ethan and his dusty outfit, or the intricate lace designs on Vanessa's dress. Every crease and curve of the actor's faces are visible for the world to see, and sometimes that acts as a slight detriment to the show (you can usually see the makeup line where John Clare's prosthetic scars meet his real face). Blacks are deep and inky, though they suffer from medium levels of crush here and there. It's a great looking set of three BD-50's and with only 3 episodes per disc, it has a decently high bitrate to give plenty of breathing room for the encode

Audio :4.5stars:
"Game of Thrones" was the first TV show to have a Dolby Atmos object based track for it's re-releases, but others seem to be picking up the reins and adding the new format to their lineup. While many movies have already adopted the next generation of audio, "Penny Dreadful: The Complete 3rd and Final Season" is only the second TV show besides "Game of Thrones" to actually adopt it. "Penny Dreadful" has always had a very nice 5.1 Dolby TrueHD track that shines, but the Atmos addition kicks it up a notch and brings the immersiveness of the show that much better. The addition of the heights and object oriented shifting isn't used as well as they COULD have been, but the show has more than enough action and directionality to really make an enveloping experience on Blu-ray. The low end is appropriately aggressive and the dialog is never under any sort of fault. Overall a great sounding track that gets a little boost with the addition of the Atmos channels.

Extras :2.5stars:

• Hecate’s Witch Prosthetics
• The Making Of Dr. Jekyll’s Lab
• Character Profiles:
- Ethan Chandler
- Sir Malcolm & Kaetenay
- Dr. Sweet
- Dr. Seward & Renfield
- The Creature
- Dr. Victor Frankenstein & Dr. Jekyll
- Dorian, Lily & Justine
- Catriona Hartdegen
• Vanessa's Costumes
• The Dead Zoo

Overall: :4stars:

“Penny Dreadful: The Complete 3rd and Final Season” is a very solid ending to a fun TV series. I'm always a fan of a show ending the run on a high note rather than stretching on and on forever until the series has run itself into the ground. Although it's not nearly as bad as a show getting cancelled in the first season *cough*Firefly*cough* and we're always left wanting. There were a few hiccups with the loose ends being left there to dangle in the wind, but there weren't so many that it left you with an egregiously obvious cliffhanger for a season that was never destined to be. The technical specifications for the disc are more than great, although the extras are just fair to middling (something that is all too common in modern releases). Definitely worth picking up if you've enjoyed the previous two seasons, and if you haven't seen it, then I would recommended grabbing the first season to see if you like it. With all the mediocre "adult" or "mature" TV shows out there, it's nice to find one that is consistently good across the board.

Additional Information:

Starring: Josh Hartnett, Eva Green, Timothy Dalton
Created by: John Logan
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 AVC
Audio: English: Dolby Atmos (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 Core), Spanish DD 2.0
Studio: Paramount
Rated: TV-MA
Runtime: 482 minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: October 6th, 2015

Buy Penny Dreadful: The Complete 3rd and Final Season Blu-ray on Amazon

Recommendation: Solid Watch

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