Sunday, June 28, 2020

Pennyworth Premieres on Warner TV Asia, 29 June and It's A Wierd Ride in an Alternate Bat-verse

It has taken almost a year for the TV series “PENNYWORTH” to be (legally) available to fans in this region. Finally, the show about the origin story of DC's Universe iconic and beloeved butler of Wayne Manor, Alfred Pennyworth, will premiere on Warner TV (Starhub Channel 515/ Singtel Channel 306) on 29 June at 9 PM SG Time. Season 1 has 10 episodes, with new episodes on air, every Monday at 9 PM SG Time.

The “PENNYWORTH” series is kind of a prequel for the Alfred of the DC comics. A much younger Alfred Pennyworth (Jack Bannon) in his mid-20's is back home after serving in the British SAS for 10 years. To set himself for a better future, ‘Alfie’ decided to form a security company together with his soldier buddies Bazza (Hainsley Lloyd Bennett) and Dave Boy (Ryan Fletcher), while also working as a bouncer at the Golden Slipper nightclub.

Red Dot Diva thinks this backstory about Alfred is such an awesome nod to the popular incarnation of Alfred played by Sir Michael Caine in Christopher Nolan's Bat-verse. Actor Jack Bannon even imbued his version of Alfred with Caine's trademark Cockney accent and easy charm.

What stands out in a striking fashion in “PENNYWORTH”, is the era in which the series is set in. It is the Swinging 60's London, but with a very violent, macabre edge. Public punishment is carried out openly in the streets, with criminals locked in stocks and pillories for all to see. Citizens eagerly tune on the telly to gawk at gruesome public executions. It is like a comic bookish Gotham-esque version of London, but with all the trademark British politeness, stiff upper lips, and of course, tea.

Not surprisingly, the threesome Alfie, Bazza and Dave Boy, suffer from varying degrees of PTSD after having been in the Queen's Service. They each have to learn how to deal with their own personal nightmares, and how violence has become an inescapable part of their lives.

As the story unfolds, Pennyworth gets to know young billionaire Thomas Wayne (Ben Aldridge) and spunky Martha Kane (Emma Paetz). The two have yet to become the famous Wayne couple of the Batman comics, and in the series, they work for a left-wing organisation called the No Name League, the rivals of another secret group called the Raven Society. Both factions are vying for control of power in the current government.

Produced by Bruno Heller (Gotham, The Mentalist, Rome) and Danny Cannon (Gotham, CSI series), there is a lot to like in “PENNYWORTH”. Other than the affable Pennyworth, there are also the spirited Sykes sisters - the sadistic, psychopathic Bet (so wonderfully portrayed by Paloma Smith) and her resourceful, dominatrix sister Peggy (Polly Walker). The siblings bring such gleeful wicked villainy to the episodes.

To get a peek of what's in store for this intriguing series, here are the synopsis of the first four episodes of “PENNYWORTH”:

Episode 1: “Pilot”
Debut date: Monday, 29 June at 9pm on Warner TV

In the series premiere, security consultant/bouncer Alfred meets Thomas Wayne and Esme Winikus (Emma Corrin), an actress/dancer at the Golden Slipper nightclub that employs him. In a much darker part of London, Lord Harwood (Jason Flemyng), leader of the Raven Society, is having a man tortured for a name. Courting Esme, Alfred brings her home to meet his doting mother and often-disapproving father (Dorothy Atkinson and Ian Puleston-Davies), but the night ends in disaster when Esme is brazenly kidnapped by Bet Sykes (Paloma Faith). Working for Harwood, Sykes offers to trade Esme for Thomas Wayne. When Alfred is betrayed in the exchange, he and Thomas realize that Harwood and Sykes cannot be trusted, and that they'll have to work together to rescue Esme.

Episode 2: “The Landlord's Daughter”
Debut date: Monday, 6 July at 9pm on Warner TV
After fate dragged Alfred and Esme into a plot against the government, they escape relatively unscathed and decide to get engaged, despite their ups and downs. While Lord Harwood is arrested and tortured mentally and physically in the Tower, his lethal operative Bet Sykes takes the fall for the murder of Lord Fairfax and is sentenced to execution in Tyburn. But Bet gets some help from her older sister, Peggy (Polly Walker).

Episode 3: “Martha Kane”
Debut date: Monday, 13 July at 9pm on Warner TV
After meeting Esme's wealthy family, Alfred calls off the wedding. Burying his heartbreak in smalltime work, Alfred accepts a high-paying, seemingly low-profile job from American heiress Martha Kane (Emma Paetz) to transport a scientist out of the country. But the job is complicated by Raven Society gunmen. When the dust settles, Martha reveals that she has been working for the No Names. She agrees to not deceive him again, if he agrees to work freelance only for her - that way, he's not pledging his loyalty to one side or another. Desperate to reunite with Esme and finance a better life for her, he somewhat reluctantly agrees.

Episode 4: “Lady Penelope”
Debut date: Monday, 20 July at 9pm on Warner TV
When Inspector Aziz (Ramon Tikaram) from Scotland Yard offers Alfred a job, he abruptly refuses, but feels guilty for working with Martha Kane and the No Names. Meanwhile, Thomas Wayne meets Martha for the first time as the designated leader of her No Name cell. He assigns her and Alfred a dangerous mission – to uncover the new leader of the Raven Society, who’s been betrayed by an informant. Although Martha and Alfred bond during the mission, tragedy strikes when Alfred returns to London.


WTV - Pennyworth from WarnerMediaAsiaPac on Vimeo.

PENNYWORTH” is a great expansion of the DC Universe, with some unexpected twists and turns. The series has already been renewed for Season 2, and has added new cast members including James Purefoy, Edward Hogg, Jessye Romeo, Ramon Tikaram and Harriet Slater. Production was halted due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but hopefully, fans will get more news about the next season during the upcoming DC FanDome in August 2020!

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