You would think that a supernatural series involving mediums, one set in the 19th century and the other in 1938, would be cosmically connected. But Showtime’s Penny Dreadful: City of Angels, won’t have any callbacks, Easter Eggs or direct connections to the original 2014-2016 series. That show starred Eva Green as medium Vanessa Ives as she teamed with Sir Malcolm Murray, American gunslinger Ethan Chandler, scientist Victor Frankenstein to combat supernatural threats in Victorian London.
“As fond as I am about that series, that was a complete novel. It closed at the end, appropriately with that story, that poetic sad story we were telling,” says Penny Dreadful franchise creator/EP and writer John Logan about the mother show.
City of Angels is set in 1938, and while there will be black magic and the macabre, with Game of Thrones alum Natalie Dormer as Magda, a supernatural demon who can take on the appearance of anyone she chooses, it’s all about now and what’s going on in a Donald Trump-led divided nation.
The set-up for City of Angels is a grisly murder that rocks L.A which detective Tiago Vega (Daniel Zovatto) and his partner Lewis Michener (Nathan Lane) become embroiled in, delving them into the city’s Mexican-American folklore roots, the rise of radio evangelism and the Third Reich’s dangerous espionage acts at that time.
“What John (Logan) is dealing thematically with this show, as he says, it’s set in 1938, but it’s about 2020. It’s about the dangers of demagoguery, it’s about the demonization of the other, it’s about nationalist fervor, it’s about people being terrified, it’s about new transportation, new technologies, the constant threat of war, it’s about people being at this moment in history and not being able to see what the next ten years is going to be and they’re terrified. And that’s why 1938, right bang smack a year before the second World War, is relevant for everything that is happening right now,” explained Dormer at TCA this morning.
“It’s, like, now I’m scared,” responded one journo to her logline, off which Dormer said, “Let’s all be grateful that Iran isn’t throwing bombs at us right now.”
Logan put up two maps of Los Angeles County at the start of the session, one from 1938 and one from 2020, the big difference being the highways in the latter.
“What strikes me is the free exchange of ideas, information and culture,” explains Logan in regards to the older map.
“The first thing you note is the freeways. What began as a civil engineering project, turned into sort of a de-facto social engineering. We no longer have Sugar Hill or Bunker Hill or Sonoratown. We created quarantine zones,” said the creator referring to the rise of East LA and Watts, “This pattern that began in Los Angeles was replicated across the country.”
“If you live at Cesar Chavez avenue, and you were to walk to Los Angeles County General hospital, less than a half mile away, you’d have to cross 41 lanes of freeway. I found that to be a compelling story to tell, and that’s where it came from,” said Logan as one of his chief inspirations for the follow-up series.
City of Angels also stars Kerry Bishé, Rory Kinnear, Adriana Barraza, Michael Gladis, Jessica Garza and Johnathan Nieves. Lorenza Izzo, Adam Rodriguez, Amy Madigan, Brent Spiner, Lin Shaye, Thomas Kretschmann, Dominic Sherwood and Ethan Peck are set to recur as guest stars.
Penny Dreadful: City of Angels will premiere on Showtime on April 26 at 10 pm ET/PT.