Halloween Monster Binge

(Above: Sean Bean in ‘The Frankenstein Chronicles.’ Source: YouTube screenshot)

Looking for something to binge this Halloween?

The Frankenstein Chronicles (2015-2017) is a British variation on man’s misguided and blasphemous quest to intervene with God’s plan and resurrect the dead (whether the dead like it or not).

Its two-season production (artfully set in 1827 London), is available on Netflix with an additional third season under consideration.

However unlike Showtime’s Penny Dreadful, whose writers never met a famous monster they didn’t like, Frankenstein Chronicles actually has no Dr. Frankenstein, nor his iconic monster and manufactured bride – let alone a nostalgic assist from Igor.  But fear not. There are plenty of other man-made monstrosities.

And there’s Inspector John Marlott (Sean Bean). In episode one, Marlott uncovers a deceased young girl on the bank of the river Thames.  The gruesome discovery becomes the catalyst for a murder mystery overflowing with cut-throats,  political intrigue, medical malfeasance and financial corruption at the highest levels in both the British government and the Church of England.

But it’s medical malfeasance that initially horrifies Inspector Marlott — for not only has he discovered an unknown Jane Doe, but an actual amalgamation of Jane Does into a single corpse, stitched together with body parts from up to eight children.

As part of his investigation, John Marlott interviews Mary Shelley, the real-life author of the 1818 gothic novel Frankenstein: or, The Modern Prometheus. Unlike Shelley’s carefree appearance in the opening of Bride of Frankenstein (1935), Inspector Mariott wants to understand if Mary originally created or imagined a supernatural story out of whole cloth. Or, he persists, did she spin her tale based on actual, blood-curdling events?

Once again, Bean expertly plays a stoic, incorruptible (with some deep moral lapses and psychologically scarring) hero – not unlike his characters Boromir in Friendship of the Rings and Ned Stark in Game of Thrones. As in the first Lord of the Rings movie and season one of Game of Thrones, Bean’s character faces an early demise. Would the writers really do that again to poor Sean – and us? You’ll just have to stream the series to find out.

You can watch both seasons (12 episodes) of the Frankenstein Chronicles with a Netflix subscription.

(The preceding is an updated version of a previously published article.)


About Charlie Greenberg

Charlie Greenberg is a NY-based theater and instrumental composer.

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