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Pennyworth, Alfred Pennyworth

Pennyworth Alfred Pennyworth Epix DC Comics

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#1 G-man

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Posted 10 July 2020 - 09:07 AM

Set in the 60s … I’m guessing sometime between 1960-1963 maybe.  This is the period of the Profumo Affair, Kim Philby (as part of the Cambridge 5) was still active as a mole for the USSR in MI6, and just before the start of Doctor Who.  And the guy they have playing the [unnamed] Prime Minister, kind of resembles Harold Macmillan, who was in office during that period.  However, we catch glimpses of dirigibles overhead, public executions (televised live, with the condemned spared the travesty of a trial), and a Tower of London that still serves as a prison.  

Britain is striving to ride out a secret war between the Raven Society (who wish to overthrow the government to set up a fascist utopia) and the No Name League (who wish to overthrow the government to set up a socialist utopia).  There is a Turing-equivalent to be rescued, and he apparently invented a self-powered “computer” whose CPU and energy source core can be pulled out and carried in the trunk of a car and doesn’t require punch cards or magnetic tape to store data and programming :rolleyes:  

They mentioned Alfred (sounding very much like Michael Caine) is an SAS war veteran … probably from the Malayan Emergency, which would make sense, as it did occur in the Far East, ended in 1960, and probably received relatively little press back home.

Anyhow, Alfred, son of a butler, wants to start his own business (security firm), fall in love and get married, and generally become his own man.  Alas, he’s starting out living with his parents, has fallen in love with an heiress whose father doesn’t approve of such a match, and falls afoul of the machinations of both the Raven Society and the No Name League.  During this, he becomes entangled with a pair of Americans, a Dr. Thomas Wayne (MD, and forensic accountant) and a Ms. Martha Kane (before she has met Dr. Wayne), both of whom are favorably impressed by his skill set.

Admittedly, I am only the first three episodes in, however I am enjoying it – pleased to see the showrunners actually telling the adventures of Alfred, as well as the untold adventures of the once and future Mr. and Mrs. Wayne long before Bruce was even born.  Of course, we have the typical comic book tropes being enhanced by the semi-historical setting, with notable liberties being taken with the history.

Has anyone else caught this series?

If so, what did you think?

/s/

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Edited by G-man, 10 July 2020 - 09:58 AM.

Let me strive every moment of my life to make myself better and better, to the best of my ability, so that all may profit by it.
Let me think of the right and lend my assistance to all who may need it, with no regard for anything but justice.
Let me take what comes with a smile, without loss of courage.
Let me be considerate of my country, of my fellow citizens, and my associates in everything I say and do.
Let me do right to all, and wrong no man.
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#2 Cybersnark

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Posted 10 July 2020 - 10:53 AM

I got about halfway through before I lost interest. It's by Bruno Heller, who also developed Gotham, and feels like it fits in the same vaguely anachronistic universe --like Gotham, it started strong, but then fell victim to its own excesses (Epix is a "premium" station, meaning that they can get as bloody and sexually explicit as they want).

Edited by Cybersnark, 10 July 2020 - 10:53 AM.

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#3 G-man

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Posted 10 July 2020 - 01:12 PM

(Wince) Ooooo …

OK, I hadn’t followed Gotham, so it is good to know Pennyworth’s pedigree :angelnot:  I’m going to gather that they’re treating this 1960s London as something completely divorced from actual history to allow themselves literary license to tell their stories.

Anyhow, since Season One is only 10 episodes, I’m going to try to stick it out.  I’ll decide on Season Two accordingly.

/s/

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Edited by G-man, 10 July 2020 - 01:13 PM.

Let me strive every moment of my life to make myself better and better, to the best of my ability, so that all may profit by it.
Let me think of the right and lend my assistance to all who may need it, with no regard for anything but justice.
Let me take what comes with a smile, without loss of courage.
Let me be considerate of my country, of my fellow citizens, and my associates in everything I say and do.
Let me do right to all, and wrong no man.
-- Doc Savage

Few people want to be moderated, most people see the need for everyone else to be moderated. -- Orpheus

#4 Christopher

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Posted 10 July 2020 - 01:26 PM

Yeah, Gotham was set in a "timeless" era that was basically '70s New York City but had smartphones and such, presumably as a reflection of how Batman is an era-spanning character. Sort of like how the Tim Burton Batman, B:TAS, and the 1990 The Flash had '40s stylings alongside modern technology. Apparently the producers decided to do Pennyworth the same way, though I'm unclear on whether it's a literal prequel to Gotham (I think it is, but I'm not certain).
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#5 Virgil Vox

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Posted 10 July 2020 - 05:12 PM

I forgot this was even a thing. I don't have Epix but they do offer a free 7-day trial via Amazon Prime. I might have to sign up and check it out.
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#6 RJDiogenes

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Posted 12 July 2020 - 05:10 PM

View PostG-man, on 10 July 2020 - 09:07 AM, said:

Set in the 60s … I’m guessing sometime between 1960-1963 maybe.  This is the period of the Profumo Affair, Kim Philby (as part of the Cambridge 5) was still active as a mole for the USSR in MI6, and just before the start of Doctor Who.  And the guy they have playing the [unnamed] Prime Minister, kind of resembles Harold Macmillan, who was in office during that period.  However, we catch glimpses of dirigibles overhead, public executions (televised live, with the condemned spared the travesty of a trial), and a Tower of London that still serves as a prison.  
Sort of a 60s Steampunk. Interesting.

Quote

Anyhow, Alfred, son of a butler, wants to start his own business (security firm), fall in love and get married, and generally become his own man.  
This is one of my pet peeves.  I hate how they now have to make every character a "badass."  It's okay for characters to just be themselves.  Let Alfred just be the best butler ever.  And yes, this isn't the mainstream Batman continuity, if there even is such a thing anymore, but still....
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#7 Christopher

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Posted 12 July 2020 - 06:31 PM

View PostRJDiogenes, on 12 July 2020 - 05:10 PM, said:

This is one of my pet peeves.  I hate how they now have to make every character a "badass."  It's okay for characters to just be themselves.  Let Alfred just be the best butler ever.  And yes, this isn't the mainstream Batman continuity, if there even is such a thing anymore, but still....

Alfred's military intelligence background has been an established part of his character since at least the early '80s, and it's been featured onscreen before in Batman: The Animated Series, the Nolan trilogy, Beware the Batman, and Gotham (and possibly others).
"You don't use science to show that you're right, you use science to become right." -- xkcd

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#8 G-man

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Posted 13 July 2020 - 07:23 AM

For me, and the showrunners, the suggestion of Alfred’s military background came from Michael Caine’s depiction of him in the recent Batman Trilogy.

This notion was definitely emphasized in Gotham, where the showrunners (the same people who would produce Pennyworth) felt that he’d probably had a hand in training young master Bruce.  That decided, the showrunners wondered how a British ex-soldier came to be a butler for the Waynes, and so this show came about.

Anyhow, I did watch the rest of the season (the show is definitely binge-worthy).

We had something of a side-plot where Alfred discovers he has an arch-enemy from his past, whose motivation was spite over a perceived slight, and he and Bet Sykes (who held a torch for Alfie’s fiancé) track down and finish the guy off, triggering a crisis.  Said crisis isn’t helped by the resurrection of the leader of a resurgent Raven Society who is determined to take over the Government, by hook or by crook, to establish a fascist utopia.  Meanwhile, Martha Kane falls into the clutches of Aleister Crowley, and recovers from the experience in the company of Thomas Wayne.  And we’re presented with a cast of rather grey characters, some better than others, but still it is interesting.

OK, I confess I had to keep on reminding myself that this is a fantastical, rather than historical Britain, and to ignore any anachronisms, and what not.  I still think it a shame that they’re ignoring the Cold War – and the depiction of Britain is a very American one, which ironically makes this into something a generic world as opposed to a distinctly British one.

Alfred is the man with a plan, a quick thinker who is quite successful with the ladies (from barmaid to queen of England), and at this stage does strive to do what is right in a rather murky and amoral world.  They fleshed out his parents nicely, and we have some wonderfully grey characters being depicted in the series.

So, in the end, overall, I liked it, and was pleased to note the lack of Batman villains or characters I was familiar with, being introduced into the series (which was why I stopped watching Gotham).  

/s/

Gloriosus
the G-man Himself
Let me strive every moment of my life to make myself better and better, to the best of my ability, so that all may profit by it.
Let me think of the right and lend my assistance to all who may need it, with no regard for anything but justice.
Let me take what comes with a smile, without loss of courage.
Let me be considerate of my country, of my fellow citizens, and my associates in everything I say and do.
Let me do right to all, and wrong no man.
-- Doc Savage

Few people want to be moderated, most people see the need for everyone else to be moderated. -- Orpheus

#9 RJDiogenes

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Posted 13 July 2020 - 05:19 PM

Eh, it's just always better to do something original, otherwise it's not likely to rise above the level of a curiosity.  Otherwise, most aspects of it sound good.  I like 60s Steampunk vibe, and the Fascist Utopia versus the Social Utopia conspiracies plot is pretty on the nose.  I don't think I have any way to watch it, though.
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