The CBS Home Entertainment and Paramount Home Entertainment separate September 29, 2020 DVD and Blu-ray releases of the first season of "Penny Dreadful: City of Angels" proves that the failures of the powers-that-be and their misguided supporters to learn from the past doom the rest of us to repeat horrible histories.
This Showtime supernatural drama is set in late-30s Los Angeles and focuses on the dawn of WWII. A scene that explains how a "racist demigod" can be elected president is one of many elements that rings sadly true in 2020.
Another common theme is walling in the working-class Mexican population that is at the center of the action. Creator John Logan and his team doubles down by conveying how black people, Jews, and a laundry list of other "undesirables" are next.
The real sin is that the Showtime "suits" cancelled this must-see series after one season. One can only hope that streaming service CBS All Access gets with the program.
The following trailer highlights the BD-worthy cinematography and compelling concept of the aptly titled "Angels."
The creepy Doomsday monologue, which evokes thoughts of a more comedic version in the orginal "Ghostbusters' film, at the beginning of S1E1 perfectly sets the tone for the rest of this truly never a dull moment season. This exposition leads to a true good v. evil confrontation in which "evil" sets a field full of Mexican migrant workers ablaze and "good" spares a young boy who witnesses his father get engulfed in flames. The climatic end, which works equally well as a season or a series finale, perfectly bring things around full circle.
The traumatized boy grows up to be newly minted LAPD detective Tiago Vega, who is the first Mexican-American to have that position with that force. He is partnered with veteran Jewish detective Lewis Michener (Nathan Lane) merely because Michener is the only person who is willing to work with him.
Tiago gets a literal rude awakening on the day before he is scheduled to start his new job. Michener abruptly disturbs his slumber to bring this rookie to the grotesque murder scene of the wealthy Hazlett family. The staging of the bodies and the literal writing on the wall strongly points to the perp or perps being Mexican.
The blatant order to close the case, rather than to actually solve it, is part of an abundance of cynicism by the LAPD that rings just as true in this Defund the Police era.
The apparent act of Mexican aggression occurs on the day before the bulldozers are set to begin freeway construction right through the run-down neighborhood where the mother of Tiago lives with his three younger siblings. For her part, mom Maria is the full-time maid for German doctor/literal closet Nazi Peter Craft and his alcoholic wife.
Meanwhile in another part of the city, weak-willed TFB Los Angeles council member/future mayoral candidate Charlton Townsend is increasingly goaded into working with more openly Nazis as to manipulating the freeway system to literally pave the way for Hitler to parade down Wilshire Boulevard.
This nefarious group is on the radar of Michener and his band of middle-aged Jewish civilians who are doing their best to thwart the Nazi incursion into Los Angeles County. Sadly, we do not get anything close to a "welcome to the OC, Bitch" moment.
The wonderfully dense plot thickens with the Hazlett investigation bringing Tiago together with evangelist superstar Sister Molly, who has had to contend with the mother of all stage parents for decades. The series finale showing the bottomless pit of that ruthlessness is one of many "Angel" highlights.
A more predictable memorable moment comes in the form of a scene that relates to the oft-discussed question of whether someone who has a chance to kill Hitler before his rise to power would do so.
The overall theme of the intense "us v. them" that strongly impacts every relationship in "Angels" shows that no good can come from the prophesized hatred and intolerance in which evil revels. One can only hope that these reel events and the real ones that have tormented us for seven months and are sure to do so for another seven stops the next racist demigod with asperations of occupying the White House not get another further than his or her deluded loyal television audience.
CBSHE supplements this with a plethora of home-video extras. These include a few "making-of" features, a look at the hard work behind the awesomely energetic and happy dance scenes, and documentaries on the highly successful efforts to recreate late '30s Los Angeles.