This article focuses on the reimagining of Victorian London central to
two recent, high-profile television adaptations, NBC / Sky Living’s
Dracula (2013–14) and Showtime / Sky Atlantic’s Penny Dreadful
(2014–). Paying attention to the series themselves and paratextual forms
such as posters and title sequences, the article argues that both productions
are more interested in responding to the popular Victorian Gothic image
of the city than in carefully reconstructing a straightforward facsimile of
nineteenth-century London. It shows, in fact, that this adaptation of the
Victorian cityscape is presented in heightened, performative terms.
Dracula and Penny Dreadful’s self-conscious approach to their Victorian
London settings is related, on a textual level, to the playfully anarchic
response of these adaptations to their literary sources and characters.
More generally, it reflects recent contextual developments affecting the
practice of adapting nineteenth-century texts.