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Review: 'Penny Dreadful - City Of Angels: Season One' a Fanciful Drama

by Michael  Cox
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Thursday Oct 15, 2020
Review: 'Penny Dreadful - City Of Angels: Season One' a Fanciful Drama

When solving a murder turns into a sexual obsession with an Evangelist, when protecting your sister's honor turns in to a polyamorous three-way, rich in CFNM eroticism, and when fulfilling your responsibly as a healthcare professional turns into banging your patient's mother on the grave of her murdered husband—you've got the dark fantasy series "Penny Dreadful: City of Angels." This spin-off of the popular neo-Victorian speculative fiction series "Penny Dreadful" jumps forward 50 years or so, taking place in Depression Era Los Angeles on the brink of World War II.

Somewhere at the heart of this series is the theory that mankind is inherently evil, and even when we successfully hide this fact, it only takes one small slight, one tiny temptation, one soft satanic whisper to push us over the edge. In this case the evil that can take down the world is racism.

Although the action takes place in a primarily realistic world (apart from the musical and dance sequences, the plethora of anachronisms and the ahistorical storytelling we've come to expect from "Penny Dreadful"), this story has been framed in Mexican-American folklore—the core myth being a battle between the deity, Santa Muerte (Lorenza Izzo), the caretaker of the dead and her demonic sister Magna (Natalie Dormer).

Magna materializes in various forms to tempt mortals into socially destructive behavior—a German Jew with Nazi sympathies, a desperate housewife and her young son, and a polyamorous pachuco gang member who pushes her tribe toward anarchism and vigilante justice.

But the central story concerns Tiago Vega (Daniel Zovatto), the first Mexican-American detective in the Los Angeles Police Department. Along with his veteran partner Lewis Michener (Nathan Lane), a man with ties to a Jewish secret society, Vega is tasked with solving the murder of a family. Bodies brutally decorated in Día de Muertos costumes, this ritualistic murder looks like it was perpetrated by Mexican militants and was probably intended to ignite a racist community. Vega must not only solve this puzzle but balance his volatile family, his place in a bigoted white police force and his infatuation with a sexy suspect (Kerry Bishé).

Many special features are included in the complete series DVD collection, including an introduction to the series, a behind the scenes look at the dance sequences and a look at the various characters and costumes of Natalie Dormer.

Unfortunately, this Showtime series has been canceled but you can own "Penny Dreadful: City of Angels" on DVD, available now.

"Penny Dreadful: City of Angels"
DVD $29.99

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