Chris Perron, Business Manager
If you are looking for another Netflix binge, look no further than 19th century London and “The Frankenstein Chronicles.” The cast is a good mix of stars and up-and-comers who tell the story of a series of murders that may or may not be related to a renegade group of doctors who practice the science of Galvanism, which involves reanimating dead corpses. River Police inspector John Marlott is enlisted to assist in the murder investigation after he discovers what appears to be a composite corpse along the River Thames in episode one.
Sean Bean is superb as the tormented and determined protagonist John Marlott. Bean’s character is an interesting one who seems to personify society’s struggle in the early stages of the industrial revolution. His dark history involves the death of his daughter and later, wife, by suicide. Marlott struggles with the question of faith while also being a man of science and logic by nature. He is plagued by visions brought on by his illness and the mercury that is prescribed to treat it. The show creators Benjamin Ross and Barry Langford masterfully use the visions as a gateway to Marlott’s past as we start to piece together his dark history.
There are flashes of one of Bean’s previous characters, Boromir (Peter Jackson’s “The Fellowship of The Ring”), as he is clearly a man of duty but faulted by his past and personal desires. Bean goes back and forth in the first few episodes as he grapples with the grotesque nature of the crimes he is handling and the question of a just and righteous God who, in a decent world, would not allow such things to exist. The show tackles the same questions that Mary Shelley’s novel does. How can we exist in a world determined by God but try to change the fate that we believe he has laid out for us.
Another great feature of the show is the inclusion of the Frankenstein story, and the author (along with a few others) as a character is wonderful. Shelly is first introduced caring for the dying poet William Blake. There is a bit of history here, as we see some suggested connections drawn between “Frankenstein” and Blake’s “Prometheus Unbound,” and for the most part “The Frankenstein Chronicles” stays quite true to history. True, some fantastic lines are drawn suggesting that Shelly and Blake may have known each other. But after doing a little research, you would find that Blake did in fact illustrate for Shelley’s mother Mary Wollenscraft. So there you go, maybe not so fantastic after all?
For those who do know their British literary history, however, this is not that far-fetched. “The Frankenstein Chronicles” again masterfully depicts the lives and times of 19th century London at the crossroads of the age of enlightenment’s closing number and the emergence of the age of science.
Susan Scott and Lindsey Pugh do a stand up job of recreating the fashions of the times. One of my biggest complaints of period dramas is that they never really seem to get the look right. “The Frankenstein Chronicles,” in my opinion, gets it. Marlott’s overcoat is covered in mud half the time and the junior constable Nightingale (Richie Campbell) first shows up in a tattered suit that would most likely be accurate considering his status. Another nice touch is the depiction of how cold this place really must have been. The men are bundled in several layers and you can see breath almost anytime someone is speaking. London’s market district, where most of the show takes place, is in the winter of 1827, which was documented as one of the coldest on record and would have been a very cold place indeed.
That being said, the realism of the show is not the only reason I suggest watching it. It is a nice touch though, as it is important to try and stay somewhat true to history, especially when you are dealing with things that did in fact actually happen.
Sadly, I have recently learned that apparently we will not be graced with a third season of “The Frankenstein Chronicles” unfortunately. However, the first two should most definitely be on your list this weekend. The story flows easily with a wonderful cast that will keep you on your toes. Both seasons are currently available for streaming on Netflix.