What to Watch Before Penny Dreadful: City of Angels

Penny Dreadful: City of Angels and others

Penny Dreadful: City of Angels is nearly upon us and as the series debuts this weekend, here is a short list of five series that are in a similar vein to the supernatural drama.

Though not exactly a sequel to the original series, Penny Dreadful: City of Angels tackle the same themes. The official synopsis reads:

“A spiritual descendant of the original Penny Dreadful storyPenny Dreadful: City of Angels opens in 1938 Los Angeles, a time and place deeply infused with social and political tension. When a grisly murder shocks the city, Detective Tiago Vega (Zovatto) and his partner Lewis Michener (Lane) become embroiled in an epic story that reflects the rich history of Los Angeles: from the building of the city’s first freeways and its deep traditions of Mexican-American folklore, to the dangerous espionage actions of the Third Reich and the rise of radio evangelism. Before long, Tiago and his family are grappling with powerful forces that threaten to tear them apart. Penny Dreadful: City of Angels explores an exciting mix of the supernatural and the combustible reality of the period.”


Penny Dreadful posterThe original series starred Eva Green as Vanessa Ives, a remarkable young woman with a unique connection to the supernatural. She was joined by a host of characters from horror literature such as Victor Frankenstein, Dorian Gray, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Dracula, and the werewolf. Vanessa herself possesses a power and importance that she is not fully aware of and as she struggles to reconcile the light and dark forces raging inside her.

The series wrapped up after three seasons and though Penny Dreadful: City of Angels isn’t exactly a sequel, hopefully, there will be more of the elements that made the original show so engrossing. At the very least, Rory Kinnear is in the cast of Penny Dreadful: City of Angels although whether he will be reprising his role as Caliban still remains to be seen.

Read our coverage of Penny Dreadful HERE.


Carnival Row posterThis original series is a combination of several fun elements. It’s a unique cross between a fantasy epic and a steampunk detective show with some touches of political intrigue and even a Regency-style romance. The world building is impressively intricate as one is plunged into a realm where humans and fae struggle to co-exist. There is a lot of discrimination against the fae and other mythological creatures who are referred to with the derogatory term “critch.” Carnival Row is ambitious in its scope and tries to tackle themes of immigration, tolerance, discrimination, and equality while also creating a rich and multi-layered fantasy world.

Orlando Bloom and Cara Delevingne are star-crossed lovers Rycroft Philostrate and Vignette Stonemoss, a human and a fairy, whose paths are irrevocably intertwined when they meet during the war. While they are involved in the main detective drama plot, other members of the cast deal with the grander political machinations within the city. My personal favorite subplot, however, is the slow burn romance between Tamzin Merchant’s Imogen Spurnrose, a spoiled heiress who finds herself fascinated by her new neighbor, David Gyasi’s Agreus Astrayon, a wealthy faun who struggles to be accepted in genteel society.

Maeve Dermody is in the cast and as you read through this article, you will see why this is relevant.

Read our coverage of Carnival Row HERE.


Ripper Street posterRipper Street is set in London during the time that Jack the Ripper committed his crimes. Though that historical criminal gave the series its name, Ripper Street is really centered on the lives of three detectives of Leman Street, Edmund Reid, Bennet Drake, and the American Homer Jackson as they work tirelessly to bring justice to the streets of Whitehall. Beyond the cases they need to solve, these three men also have to contend with their fair share of tragedy as the series progresses. The script is poetic and philosophical and the series often explores the complexities of human nature and the darker impulses that cause people to do terrible things.

MyAnna Buring also plays a pivotal role as Long Susan Hart, a brothel madam and Jackson’s wife, and she drives many of the show’s important plots. She’s a fascinating and complex character and Buring’s compelling performance is one of Ripper Street‘s highlights and probably a reason why she makes such an engaging character on The Witcher.

Maeve Dermody was part of the cast in the final season, I feel I must mention.

The show aired for five seasons on BBC One and Amazon Prime.

Read our reviews of Ripper Street HERE.


The Frankenstein Chronicles posterThe Frankenstein Chronicles was billed as a re-imagining of the classic novel by Mary Shelley. The series is a period police drama with supernatural elements, like a combination of Ripper Street and Penny Dreadful, although sadly less well-known. Sean Bean stars as a Thames River inspector named John Marlott who investigates a corpse made up of various body parts strewn together. As he continues to seek the truth, he is drawn into a complex world where science and necromancy are dangerously entwined.

Anna Maxwell Martin stars as Mary Shelley herself and Vanessa Kirby appears here too before she took up her duties on The Crown.

And Maeve Dermody is in this one too. I had not meant this list to be a snippet of her filmography but she does seem to fit so well in the period-supernatural genre.

Two seasons of the show are available on Netflix.


Taboo PosterTom Hardy’s passion project is a dark and twisted tale set in 1814 where the protagonist, James Delaney (played by Hardy himself) returns to London after twelve years in Africa. Delaney is a shady figure, as one expects of Hardy, and the series also shows a vicious side of London full of corruption, poverty, and violence. Delaney’s motives are uncertain and he sometimes has strange visions that add the supernatural element to the series.

Oona Chaplin plays the tragic figure of his sister with whom he has a complicated relationship. The most engaging characters of Taboo are Jessie Buckley’s Lorna (James’s stepmother) and Tom Hollander’s Dr George Cholmondeley.

So far, only one season with eight episodes has aired and that was back in 2017. A second season has already been commissioned but there is no news yet on when it will air since Tom Hardy is so busy these days.

Watching any or all of these series get you in the mood for the supernatural horror of Penny Dreadful: City Angels. Don’t miss the season premiere on Showtime on April 26.

Check out the trailer below: