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GRADE:  A

The Frankenstein Chronicles

The legend goes that Mary Shelley, along with some of her friends, were holed up in a castle or some sort of rich man's paradise and were bored.  So, to pass the time, they created a contest.  The one who could write the scariest story would win.  I can't remember if it was for one day or longer, but Mary Shelley wrote the story "Frankenstein" and won the contest.  Here is a link to a better retelling of that event:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frankenstein

"The Frankenstein Chronicles" takes the story and imagines a reality where Mary Shelley was actually revealing the world of surgeons who were trying to raise the dead.  In the show, we learn about Galvanism, or the thought that electricity can be used to bring back life to dead flesh.  So, the show posits that Mary Shelley knew the real Frankenstein and that there was a scientific community during her time that were putting body parts together and creating animate life from dead material.

This show really grabbed me.  In fact, I binge watched it and finished it within two weeks (I could have finished it faster, but I wanted the show to last a bit longer).  For one, I love TV shows and movies that weave historical realities into a fictional story.  While watching the two seasons on netflix, I kept pausing the show to do a bit of research on what I just saw or heard.  For instance, the TV shows mentions an epidemic that hit London during the 1850s, and it weaves this real event into the story line.  I had read about that historical event before, so I paused the show to do a bit of a review of the historical facts.  That, for me, is a sign of a great show!

As well, the show piqued my interest because it was a retelling of something that I had already come across.  Mary Shelley might have written her tale over the backdrop of an old, Jewish folk tale of the Golem (please follow this link for that:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Golem).  A friend of mine back in 2005 or so had given me a DVD of the movie "The Golem" (1915) that puts the Jewish folktale on film.  He had given it to me because he knew that MA in Intercultural Studies had an emphasis in the Jewish cultures.  So, the TV show incorporates so many of my interests. 

The only thing that keeps it from an A+ is...well...I can't say too much without spoiling the show.  Yet, I can say that some of the "facts" in the show were a bit far-fetched.  Of course the show isn't stuck so much in reality that it has to all make sense, but I prefer historical dramas that try to stick as close to the historical accounts and reality as they can.  "The Frankenstein Chronicles" had some parts that stretched reality a bit too much for me.

All in all, this was a tremendous hit for me.  There were times I was watching the show through the spaces between my fingers because it got scary in some parts (yes, I'm a baby when it comes to scary TV shows or movies).  That adrenaline rush did keep me glued to my Kindle as I watched it in bed before falling asleep (a mistake, I tell you!).  As well, the show was similar to the old British series called "I, Claudius" (based on the book by the same name).  This was the series that my history teacher in 9th grade showed our class and enlivened history so much that I actually considered majoring in it in college.  More importantly, though, I finished the show wanting there to be more episodes.  Twelve episodes are not enough!  Where are the next episodes?  That is definitely a sign of a great show!

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