The Confessions of Dorian Gray takes the idea that Dorian was a real person who made a Faustian bargain to remain eternally young and beautiful while a portrait of him absorbed the ravages of time and his own excesses, his life and character inspiring Oscar Wilde’s novel.
Now on the fourth series, Alexander Vlahos (Merlin’s adult Mordred) has long settled into the title role, perfectly capturing the essence of a man who is arrogant, narcissistic and borderline sociopathic, yet somehow still manages to remain sympathetic. Despite having a protagonist of a lone and effectively unkillable wanderer who regularly encounters supernatural creatures, the series is in no way ‘Dorian Gray: Demon Hunter.’ Haughty and conceited, Dorian’s actions instead extend to little more than self-preservation, with anyone he saves along the way merely being on account of remaining in his vicinity.
Each episode is more or less a standalone tale, and while there are a few references to the events of previous series, they are relatively minor and not required to understand current goings on. With the dual conceits of Dorian being immortal and independently wealthy the episodes can take place anywhere in the world at any point in the last 130 years, and the writers take full advantage of this, setting stories in locations such as an Irish country manor at the turn of the last century, a frozen Scandinavian forest in the mid-1970s, or the London of the Roaring Twenties, each hiding something in the shadows specific to the locale.
Despite the dark tone of the escapades, the series still finds room for the odd flash of humour, most memorably in the hospital-set Human Remains where Dorian spends the entire time stoned out of his gourd on painkillers and his thoughts are interrupted by an ominous roar (“Excuse me! I’m narrating here!”).
A hallmark of the whole series so far has been the consistency of Dorian’s characterisation, his personality subtly altering from one episode to another depending on when in his life it’s set. Those taking place soon after his deal portray him as still displaying a degree of immaturity you’d expect of a privileged young man who has experienced little of real life, while in those closer to the present he begins to become weary with the eternity beginning to stretch before him and human emotion becomes increasingly hard for him to feel.
The Confessions of Dorian Gray is chilling and frequently violent assortment of horror tales featuring ghosts and traditional monsters alongside esoteric creations and things with no name at all, each also offering a different take on the nature of humanity and what it truly means to be alive.
THE CONFESSIONS OF DORIAN GRAY SERIES 4 / DIRECTOR: SCOTT HANDCOCK / STARRING: ALEXANDER VLAHOS, KATHERINE PEARCE, YASMIN BANNERMAN, AARON NEIL, AYESHA ANTOINE, JACQUELINE KING, BRUNO LANGLEY / AUDIOPLAY: ROY GILL, SAM STONE, JAMES GOSS, GEORGE MANN, XANNA EVE CHOWN, DAVID LLEWELLYN, MARK B OLIVER, MATT FITTON / PUBLISHER: BIG FINISH / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW