January 12, 2013 2:09pm PT by Michael O'Connell, Lesley Goldberg
Showtime Gives Series Commitment to Horror-Thriller From 'Skyfall' Duo
Showtime has given a series commitment to a new drama from Skyfall duo John Logan and Sam Mendes.
Penny Dreadful, which starts shooting in London later this year, is a period piece the network is describing as "psychosexual horror." Logan, the creator and writer, is joined by Neal Street's Mendes and Pippa Harris as EPs.
The series draws from famous works of literature, posing that some of the most terrifying protagonists -- Dr. Frankenstein and his creature, Dorian Gray, Dracula's Van Helsing and more -- come together in Victorian London.
"John Logan and Sam Mendes are two of the great storytellers of our time," said Showtime entertainment president David Nevins. "The visual spectacle combined with the psychological insight in their reimagining of these iconic literary characters seems totally mesmerizing to me. This promises to be a wholly original television show."
It marks the first television collaboration for the in-demand writer and director.
"[Logan] has been obsessed with monsters in literature since childhood. It's a show he's always wanted to do, and I've been wooing him to Showtime for a long time," Nevins told critics. "It's very realistic; it's very grounded. The characters are in very human form in turn-of-the-century London. There will be one central point, but it's a fairly ensemble series in the way Downton Abbey is an ensemble."
Nevins told reporters Saturday at the Television Critics Association's winter press tour in Pasadena that the drama would be fast-tracked for a 2014 premiere and film in London with a cast that would likely include familiar faces and newcomers alike.
For its part, NBC -- under former Showtime boss Robert Greenblatt -- already has a Dracula series in the works. Its entry, starring The Tudors' Jonathan Rhys Meyers, is described as a new version of the classic Bram Stoker tale and sees Dracula living a double life in the 1890s as an American businessman who wants to exact revenge on those who burdened him centuries ago. His plan, however, is derailed when he falls in love with a woman who looks just like his late wife.
The drama, like Penny Dreadful, was picked up straight to series and will likely bow in the fall.