Hollywood, 1928: talking pictures vs. silent movies, all-night parties, prohibition and all that jazz! But not everything is fine and dandy in the Tinsel Town, as Lady Penelope is about to find out, following the mysterious suicide of a desperate actress. Behind the walls of the Dream Factory, bright light cast long shadows and dreams can easily turn into nightmares.
This episode featured the return of Lady Penelope’s arch-enemies, the Porphyrs of Carcosa, dreadful psychic vampires she had already encountered and battled in quite a few episodes and in all her incarnations so far, so our Sixth Penelope HAD to run into them at some point… In a way, Porphyrs and Lloigor are to Penelope what Daleks and Cybermen are to the Doctor – but while the Doctor’s ever-returning nemeses are clearly robotic / mechanical in their nature, Penelope’s own arch-enemies are firmly rooted in the psychic territory.
As suggested by its title, it could also be considered the final and third part of a very loose “Porphyrs looking for a city to devour” trilogy, composed of City of Chimeras (episode 1.4), City of Sighs (episode 9.1) and City of Dreams (episode 12.11).
After these last showdowns, the peril of Carcosa was supposed to be banished forever into nothingness – but some Porphyrs did manage to escape the final cataclysm and in order to survive, they had to adapt and change… so the creatures Penelope encountered this time were actually “Porphyr hybrids”, humans possessed and remolded (read: psychically as well as physically warped) by some of the (normally ethereal) Porphyr survivors.
Visually, I had based the classic Porphyrs on the Pau’an species from the Star Wars universe – but I naturally wanted something different for this new variation. The four “hybrids” featured on this episode looked like the creepy Gentlemen from the Buffy episode “Hush” – I had considered using the Strangers from “Dark City” but the overall look of the Buffyverse Gentlemen seemed more consistent with the story I had in mind.
Basically, this mysterious “Circle of Four” wanted to turn Hollywood into the New Carcosa, a vampiric city of dreams, decadence and nightmares, using specially-produced films to feed on the emotions of an ever-growing audience…