How did this series get so dark so soon?

How did it get so late so soon? It’s night before it’s afternoon. December is here before it’s June. My goodness how the time has flewn. How did it get so late so soon?
Dr. Seuss

Yesterday I did finish watching “Penny Dreadful“, a show on Netflix. In many regards it was a beautiful show, at least during the first and second season. Victorian England combined with fictional monsters (and not so fictional ones, i.e., human beings), hell yeah!

But the third season was a curious downturn. It got dark, almost nihilistic. They had great material (the best!), but somehow, it all went down. And I wonder, is this a trap our current series seem to fall into? I haven’t seen “Star Trek Discovery” (the reviews of trusted people were enough to break my heart), nor “Picard” (again, hearing about the humanism of Star Trek dying is worse enough, I don’t have to be a spectator), but I wonder whether many series go down a wrong path.

Just compare this “let’s have the main character die and invert the themes of the series” with some very good series who went dark without becoming dark. Series like “Star Trek DS9”. Just look at “In the Pale Moonlight” — an incredible almost “intimate play” like episode that starkly contrasts the values of the Federation with the imposed reality of a bloody war, or heck, just look at “Babylon 5”, how they fared:

«There were times … I thought none of us would get out alive. Some of us didn’t. But, we did everything we said we were gonna do and nobody can take that away from us, or this place.»
Zack to Sheridan in Babylon 5: «Sleeping in Light»

or how Earth itself fared:

«Are we on? This is … this is the President. I have just been informed that the midrange military bases at Beta Durani and Proxima 3 have fallen to the Minbari advance. We have lost contact with Io and must presume they have fallen to an advance force. Intelligence believes the Minbari intend to bypass Mars and hit Earth directly. They say the attack could come at any time. We have … we have continued to broadcast our surrender and a plea for mercy. They have not responded. We can only conclude that we stand at the twilight of the human race. To buy time for more evacuation transports to leave Earth, we ask for the support of every ship capable of fighting to take part in a last defense of our home world. We will not lie to you: survival is not a possibility. Those who enter the battle will never come back. But for every ten minutes we can delay the enemy advance, several hundred more civilians may be able to escape to neutral territory. Though Earth may fall, the human race must have a chance to continue elsewhere. No greater sacrifice has ever been asked of a people. But I ask you now to step forward one last time, one last battle to hold the line against the night. God go with you all.»
The United-Earth-President in Babylon 5: «The Beginning»

especially if people enjoyed seeing them fall:

«Why is that we always break up our history by the … the wars, not the years of peace? The hundred years war, war of 1812, the first three world wars, the Dilgar war, the war of the shining star, the Minbari war, the Shadow war. Why the war and not the peace? Because it’s exciting, and because on some level people like to see something big fall apart and explode from the inside out. And right now, John, we’re that something.»
Garibaldi to Sheridan in Babylon 5: «A Tragedy of Telepaths»

Yes, these shows went dark, but they always kept the light on, even if it was just a tiny spark. And that tiny spark is the difference between soul-destroying nihilism and … something else.

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