Review: PENNYWORTH 1×01 – “PILOT”
[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Director: Danny Cannon
Writer: Bruno Heller
Starring: Jack Bannon, Emma Corrin, Ben Aldridge, Ryan Fletcher, Hainsley Lloyd Bennett, Paloma Faith, and Jason Flemyng.
Reviewed by: Tony Farina
Pennyworth, the new series from Epix, is set in the DC Universe’s version of London sometime before now. We know that there are blimps, cars, machine guns, criminals locked in stockades or hanging in cages above the street, drag shows and that Queen Elizabeth the II is still pretty young. Since she became queen in the early 50s one could argue this show takes place thenish. It is hard to tell, but that isn’t important. Alfred Pennyworth is young, in love and a total bad ass.
In this first offering of Pennyworth, we meet a PTSD suffering Alfred “Alfie” Pennyworth who lives with his parents, his father is a butler and his mother has great one liners, while he works as a bouncer at a burlesque hall. He has dreams of starting Pennyworth Security company. He meets Thomas Wayne who is in town on “business.” Alfred meets and falls in love with a dancer at the club, Esme.
Things are looking up except that there is horrific group of monsters called The Raven Society who have plans for Thomas Wayne. There is a kidnapping and a lot of fisticuffs. To say more would go beyond spoilers.
The best part of this so far is Paloma Faith’s terrifying turn as Bet Sykes, the number 2 hench-person for the Raven Society. She eats up every scene she is in and she seems to have no drive other than insanity. A good villain makes a good story. While the Raven Society is a great idea and Pennyworth will benefit from it, Faith is going to be the breakout star.
There is some excellent chemistry between Bannon’s Pennyworth and Emma Corrin’s Esme. While the romance is a bit of a whirlwind, they play off each other nicely and the viewers are going to care.
Additionally, Ben Aldrige’s Thomas Wayne is multi-layered and rife with possibilities. He and Bannon have some good report and the show will do well when they are on screen together.
The story itself is a spy thriller and full of just enough action to keep viewers interested. The fight scenes are clean and well lit. Unlike many Batman stories on screen, Pennyworth does not suffer from too many cut-a-ways and swinging camera shots.
Pennyworth is a Batman prequel in name only so far. This could have easily been a reboot of The Man from U.N.C.L.E. Honestly, that is not really a knock against it, but if you are tuning in to see a Gotham like show, you will be disappointed.
The inclusion of Alfred’s two pals from the army are a bit out of place for now. One can assume they will come into their own, but for now, they function only as guys who save Alfred in a pinch. It makes sense, but there is not a lot going on there.
This is TV MA. Seriously. Really a hard MA. Do NOT let kids watch it. There is a pretty gruesome torture scene. If you do not want to hear Alfred drop an F-Bomb, this may not be for you. If you like a good spy thriller this one is for you. Honestly, you don’t even need to be a Bat-Fan for Pennyworth to be your thing. This show has a lot of promise.