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Aplausos, Penny Dreadful: City of Angels

Written by on October 29, 2020

Story by Chuck Tackett

Aplausos, Penny Dreadful: City of Angels

 “It’s not just a freeway, it’s population control. You conquered the Chicanos with barriers of concrete and steel. You put them in the ghetto. Then you put up another freeway around the Coloreds, then the Jews, then the Chinese. They are not building roads they are building walls. This is not the United States of America.”

Tiago Vega

Penny Dreadful: City of Angels

  “You would build a motorway that would cut through the heart of Belvedere Heights… through the house where my mother lives, through her kitchen, through the shops and the cannery that are our jobs, all so that you could drive to Pasadena with no stop signs. What sir would you say if I was to put a motorway through your kitchen?” 

Raul Vega, Union activist/leader

Penny Dreadful: City of Angels

“Te LLevas Nuestro Corazon Tonamas El Tuyo” (You’ll take our hearts, we’ll take yours)

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Penny Dreadful: City of Angels

Since last year, there seems to be a new trend developing in the horror genre in film. I first started to notice it last year on the second season of AMC’s horror anthology, “The Terror”

In that second season, titled “Infamy,” it focused on some shapeshifting demon ghost, that was haunting Japanese Americans in a World War 2 prison camp, following the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Then, in that same year (2019), HBO came out with the series, “The Watchmen,” that infused history with horror. This time, it was the Tulsa Race Riot Massacre of 1921.

Fast forward to 2020. HBO again infused history with horror in their new series, “Lovecraft Country.” Again, they utilized the 1921 Tulsa Race Riot Massacre.

Earlier this year, Showtime jumped on that horror/history infusion bandwagon in their new series, “Penny Dreadful: City of Angels.” This series is a successor to the original Penny Dreadful that had moved from Victorian England to the 1938 era Los Angeles. This time, the history being dealt with in the development of the Arroyo Seco Parkway that displaced thousands of Los Angeles residents, mostly the Hispanic population.

Other history that was infused with horror was the threat of World War 2, Nazis, and Nazi sympathizers, hiding in plain sight throughout Los Angeles and in their police force.

All of this mayhem is seen through the lens of the city’s 1st Latino detective, Tiago Vega, portrayed by actor Daniel Zovatto. He is caught, divided between loyalty to the Los Angeles Hispanic community, and his career with the police department.

All the conflicts and characters are connected in a battle between Mexican folklore deity Santa Muerta, and the shapeshifting demon Magda, who is manipulating situations throughout the series for her own selfish amusement.

While critics have felt actress Natalie Dormer was the breakout star of the series, I disagree. While I am far from being a professional movie critic, I know what I like. I thought LGBTQ actor, Nathan Lane, was brilliant. I am so used to seeing him in comedy, it was bizarre seeing him play a no-nonsense character in a drama. Mr. Lane pulled it off quite well. 

My favorite character in the series was Raul Vega, played by actor Adam Rodriguez. Raul is Tiago Vega’s older brother, who is a Union activist and Community Leader, He tries fighting City Hall with a Trump-like, greedy, power-hungry, selfish ass City Councilman who has his own agenda, namely trying to set his sights on becoming Mayor.

Much to my disappointment, it was announced that Showtime would not renew the series for a 2nd season.

I was so hoping to see how this new history/horror infusion would address the 1943 Los Angeles Zoot Suit Riots, where White USA sailors were brutally attacking Mexican Americans in East Los Angeles, and Blacks in Watts neighborhood for wearing zoot suits. I was anxious to see what kind of demons/ghosts would manipulate that scenario.

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