Fans of James Bond films finally have a clear home on television in "Penny Dreadful."
What do tales of the supernatural have to do with the iconic 007, you ask? Well, for starters, the Showtime series features Timothy Dalton as aging adventurer Sir Malcolm, who surrounds himself with a team of people ready to punch, stab, and shoot vampires and whatever else 19th-century London's underground has to dish up.
But it's not just a similar taste for action that "Dreadful" shares with the Bond films; the connections go much deeper. Dalton — who told Yahoo TV it's "a joy" to play a character who gets called "weak, foul, lustful, and vainglorious" — portrayed James Bond in "The Living Daylights" and "Licence to Kill." He hasn’t appeared onscreen since the cancellation of NBC's "Chuck" in 2011, where he played the villainous Alexei Volkoff.
Dalton is joined by Eva Green, who plays Sir Malcolm's confidante, Vanessa Ives. Green was Vesper Lynd in 2006's "Casino Royale." Rory Kinnear — Frankenstein's Creature in the show — has appeared in both "Quantum of Solace" and "Skyfall" as M's chief of staff, Bill Tanner. Helen McCrory (Madame Kali, who doesn't show up until the second episode) played a member of Parliament in "Skyfall."
What are all these Bond people doing here? Maybe it's just because the pool of British actors is so small. After all, a number of the cast have also appeared in "Doctor Who" (Billie Piper, Dalton, and McCrory), so this kind of crossover isn't uncommon.
But it might also be because at the core of the series are executive producer Sam Mendes and series creator John Logan. Mendes and Logan were the director and writer, respectively, of "Skyfall." Logan, while speaking to NPR, said that a breakup led to him reading the Romantic poet Wordsworth, which led to Keats, which led to Shelley, which led to "Dracula" and the supernatural tales of the 1890s. "There was something going on there that was extremely kinetic," he said. The guy who's writing the next two James Bond movies would know what that looks like.
So, while you probably shouldn't expect laser beam wristwatches and cars with ejector seats in "Penny Dreadful," if you feel like it's so Bond-like that they ought to be ordering martinis "shaken, not stirred," it's a safe bet that it's intentional.
"Penny Dreadful's" eight-episode run airs Sundays at 10 p.m. on Showtime.