Sam Mendes is to reunite with his James Bond screen-writer to create a “psychosexual” horror television series, featuring Dracula and Dr Frankenstein, set in Victorian London.
The James Bond director and his Skyfall writing partner John Logan, will assemble literature’s most chilling figures in Penny Dreadful, a new drama series to be screened by Showtime, the US cable channel behind Homeland.
Described as “very psychological and highly erotic”, Penny Dreadful promises to be a horror-flavoured detective drama featuring various fictional characters investigating supernatural events in turn-of-the-century Victorian London.
Mendes will bring his vision to Dr Frankenstein and his creature, characters from Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Oscar Wilde’s creation Dorian Gray and possibly Jack the Ripper.
David Nevins, Showtime entertainment president, said: “John Logan and Sam Mendes are two of the great storytellers of our time. The visual spectacle combined with the psychological insight in their reimagining of these iconic literary characters seems totally mesmerising to me. This promises to be a wholly original television show.”
The series, produced by Mendes’ Neal Street Productions company, will be filmed in London later this year. The scenario appears similar to The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen comic book series, written by Alan Moore, which featured Dracula and other literary figures from Victorian England.
Nevins said: “It’s very grounded. This is not Bela Lugosi. The characters are all in very human form, all existing around the turn of the century London. It’s very psychological. I think it’s going to be highly erotic.”
Mr Nevins said there would “probably be one central point-of-view character, a little more than the others, but it’s an ensemble, in the way that Downton Abbey is an ensemble.”
The Showtime executive praised John Logan, who he called “really one of the great writers. He wrote Skyfall, Gladiator, Hugo and The Aviator. He’s a very interesting brain, and has written in all sorts of genres.
“He’s going to write every episode of the series, and he has been obsessed with monsters in literature since childhood. It’s a show that he’s always wanted to do, and I’ve been wooing him to Showtime for a very long time. He presented this to me, and it’s very realistic.”
Mendes is expected to direct episodes written by Logan, with Pippa Harris, who brought the hit BBC1 series Call The Midwife to the screen, producing.
Mr Nevins also suggested that Homeland, which swept the drama categories at the Golden Globes awards, could continue without Damian Lewis’s central role as Brody, the conflicted former US marine.
Asked if he would consider a third series of Homeland without Lewis, Nevins said: “I would have to, yeah. Everything on that show is vigorously debated, but if, after the end of that vigorous debate, that’s what made sense, story-wise, I could conceivably say yes to that, absolutely.”
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