Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

The Frankenstein Chronicles

(UK, 2015)

This British ITV series easily sustained us through two six-episode series, the second one coming in 2017. It seems unlikely there will be a third, as things wrap up pretty neatly at the end. I will issue a SPOILER WARNING, because at the end of the first series there is a considerable surprise.

The premise is a good one. It is 1837 and William IV is dying, soon to make way for Victoria. Sean Bean is John Marlott, a police officer back in the day when they had little real authority, but were being organized by Sir Robert Peel into the beginnings of a modern police force. (To this day, cops in England are often called “peelers,” as well as beaks and bobbies.) One day the body of a child washes up on the shore of the Thames, and it seems to have been sewn together from several young corpses.

It seems that Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley’s 1818 novel Frankenstein: or, The Modern Prometheus was not entirely a work of fiction. She and her weird husband and the even weirder Lord Byron had been involved in some experiments with reanimating dead bodies. That’s over, and she was frightened off, as she eventually reveals to Marlott. But now someone has resumed the work.

The big surprise is that, at the end of the first series, having been framed for a murder, Marlott is hanged by the neck until dead, dead, dead! At the beginning of the second, he is revived, and the story goes on from there.

Bean is quite good, as are all the rest of the cast. Mary is played by Anna Maxwell Martin, who we liked a great deal in the two seasons of The Bletchley Circle. Wish there were more seasons. There is William Blake, a major loon who was friends with my possible relative, John Varley (1778-1843) the painter. There is also a reporter who calls himself Boz. Though he is never identified by name, it is clear that this is Charles Dickens.