“The Frankenstein Chronicles” is a Netflix original series starring Sean Bean, Richie Campbell, Vanessa Kirby, and so many more wonderful British actors.
A few years after the publication of Mary Shelley’s famed novel, Frankenstein, a detective named John Marlott discovers the dead body of a young girl on the banks of the Thames. Upon closer examination, Marlott finds the body has been stitched together with needle and thread, crudely assembled like a rag doll. Fearing a scandal, Home Secretary Robert Peel puts Merlot on the case to discover the culprit.
During the investigation, Marlott finds himself knee-deep in a much bigger plot involving body snatchers, local gangs, and the city’s medical society. The closer he inches towards the truth, the more people push back.
With only six episodes in the first season, “The Frankenstein Chronicles” is a pint-sized television series. Originally aired in the UK on the ITV Encore channel, Netflix picked up the series and slated it for release and continuation in the United States in early 2018.
I love period drama, and I studied Mary Shelley in college, so this series gripped me from the very beginning. I must warn you- it is a slow starter. The pace of the first episode is glacial. But this is the type of series that lays it on thicker and heavier with each passing moment, sure to entertain anyone with an open mind and an enthusiasm for gothic storytelling.
The series begins in a typical fashion: a murder occurs on the streets of a 19th-century English town, and an unsuspecting but capable detective stumbles upon a conspiracy that has infected every faction of the city. Think of the movie “From Hell” and you will be in the right wheelhouse. Fun fact about Sean Bean’s character, John Marlott: he happens to be battling an advanced case of syphilis during the investigation. Per doctor’s orders, he consumes mercury orally at the end of each day, which elicits strong hallucinations and confusion. If a doctor bestowed a diagnosis of syphilis upon you in the 19th century, it was as good as a death sentence. Marlott understandably hides his condition from everyone, but his gruff nature and explosive behavior begin to raise eyebrows from those closest to him.
Bean is incredibly gifted at playing likable, sympathetic characters. His portrayal of Ned Stark rocked my world. His performance in this series is vastly different than his GoT character, but he evokes the same amount of emotion and pain that makes him memorable in any role he plays.
Richie Campbell plays Marlotts’s partner, Joseph Nightingale, and is the most honorable character in the series. His devotion to those around him is almost heartbreaking, and his demeanor is a spot of light in what is otherwise a completely dark and dreary setting.
My only complaints about the show stem from poorly timed dramatic music and over-the-top acting from Vanessa Kirby. If you watch the show, you will most likely know exactly what I’m talking about…
If you are looking for something funny to watch on a warm, sunny afternoon, this isn’t it. “The Frankenstein Chronicles” is a grim and dramatic reworking of Mary Shelley’s classic novel, about a scientist who wants to reanimate corpses in order to cheat death (or control life, depending on your point of view). This series turns into a spellbinding thriller once the story takes off, but it’s definitely not for everyone.
Rating: 3 out of 4 stars
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