A fairly nice homage to Poe’s work, 8 episodes which for once seems somewhat justified. None of the episodes are strongly based on a specific story or poem, but they do work most of them in. Occasionally people burst out in poetry like Cop Rock.
Carla Gugino is great as “Verna” the psychopomp, Raven, spectre of death that hangs over the doomed Usher family. The rest of the cast are fine, some of the older/younger alternate actors are better (Bruce Greenwood/Zach Gilford as older/younger Roderick Usher) than others (Mary McDonnell/Willa Fitzgerald incoherently playing older/younger Madeline Usher). Mark Hamill plays Arthur Gordon Pym (of Nantucket!), hero of a round-the-world exploration (I bet!), now lawyer/assassin for the Ushers; I love that Luke Skywalker just grew up to be the best villains.
We know from the start that the pharmaceuticals business empire Roderick Usher has built has a body count, and then all his six children (by a variety of mothers) start dying in thematically appropriate ways. Roderick recounts this to Auguste Dupin, here an insurance investigator/prosecutor, in a decaying ruin of a house. I tended to get bored by the exposition in the house, the set doesn’t feel like a terrible storm is raging until it’s needed for plot. But the vignettes of each episode are better.
The Masque of the Red Death is just dumb scene kids, but builds to a good level of horror, and a doom for one that should be avoidable… Murder in the Rue Morgue is an ambitious surgeon, some angry chimps, a trick and speech by Verna.
The Black Cat takes an idiot stoner vtuber and some guilt, but I don’t think built up his crime enough, I mostly laughed at his suffering all ep. The Tell-Tale Heart gives us the unintended murder and the guilt that was deserved in the last ep. Goldbug is the weak point, mostly exposition and an idiot getting themself killed. The Pit and the Pendulum finally delivers punishment to the most insipid bastard of the Usher kids, the one nobody will ever miss; as Verna says, she doesn’t usually intervene, but he’s a special case.
The Raven finally wraps it up, the Ushers’ exact deal with Verna revealed. I somewhat resent the misuse of Lenore here, she should be a tragic romance following the poem, but instead is just a sacrifice, very weak writing choice. Roderick’s scene changes in the end of this don’t make a lot of sense. Animal House-ish “where are they now” bit of exposition. Fin.
The music occasionally is heavy-handed and ’80s, and I love that. “We Built This City” is being used, I think to troll the Kids Today™, but I love the song and Jefferson/Starship/Airplane, it was the first or second concert I ever went to, so that makes The Black Cat even funnier. “Total Eclipse of the Heart” during an operatic-level screaming argument, just like the vampire opera it’s from.
They only rarely got any kind of moody, gothic feeling, even when shooting in dark places, they don’t understand building up someone’s crimes and then hurting them for it, the series is more shoving it in your face. But reading poetry at all is nice. If you’re a big fan of little Edgar Allan Poe, if you find thatsbelievable funny, you ought to watch this.