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Review: Undead 'Dracula' is the Walking Dull

 

Dracula NBC

 

Last night, NBC debuted 'Dracula,' the latest incarnation of the globally-famous vampire created by Bram Stoker in the 1890s. This version of the character is reawakened from his tomb in 1890s London, as well, but you would never know it considering all of the glaring anachronisms present on screen. It's one thing to suspend the viewer's disbelief that we're watching an undead creature on screen, but the fact that the characters in 'Dracula' all own technology and clothing from a far more recent time is an annoyance that viewers will have to seemingly put up with. Still, I was kind enough to ignore the flagrant anachronisms present when I reviewed 'Reign' for the CW, so I will extend the same courtesy to NBC's monster fare. 

'Dracula' opens with a mysterious man reawakening the title character from his tomb, buried for years beneath the earth. Dracula (played by the handsome Jonathan Rhys Meyers) is woken up to... become an American petroleum magnate named Alexander Greyson. This is a confusing move right from the start, not only because it's curious why an immortal vampire would care about petty economics, but also because it causes Meyers to have to fake an awful American accent throughout the majority of the program. Dracula is not the only character who has taken on a new identity in this version; all of Dracula seducingStoker's famous characters appear in the NBC pilot, however they exist in very different forms. Dracula's reincarnated lover Mina Murray appears (played by Jessica De Gouw, fresh off of her recurring role on 'Arrow'), however in this show Mina is studying to become a surgeon (despite the fact that at the time, Elizabeth Garrett Anderson was the only woman in the BMA, but let's try to forget these things...). Johnathan Harker is Mina's lover, but he is an investigative journalist. Even the fan-favorite character Abraham Van Helsing appears, but rather than a swashbuckling vampire hunter, Van Helsing is a lecturer in medicine at the University and--you guessed it--Mina's professor. 

So, essentially, NBC has taken all of the characters from the thrilling, suspenseful horror novel 'Dracula'... and made them all very dull, ordinary people. THRILL when you see Dracula (as Alexander Greyson) hob nob with oil magnates at a party! CHILL when you watch Dracula get interviewed for a puff piece in the newspaper! SPILL when you see him discuss economic strategy with his butler, Renfield! It's an extremely odd decision to turn Dracula into something so dull, however there is an explanation offered: this Dracula is intent on taking down The Order of the Dragon, an old Christian Jonathan Rhys Meyersorganization that secretly controls London's wealth. This amounts to precisely what it sounds like: Dracula has his own Blacklist and is intent on taking down all of the members on it... via economic means. So, Dracula has a Blacklist, but is very polite about it. 

This is a difficult pill to swallow for any fan of Dracula. In one scene, Dracula decries the Order of the Dragon because "murder, torture, rape and wholesale slaughter" were their stock in trade. Um... sort of like his stock and trade? In every previous incarnation, Dracula was a Voivode, a brutal warlord who would slaughter all in his path... but apparently NBC's Dracula doesn't like murder or torture. His motto? "Free, safe, wireless power!" Seriously. And it plays very strangely. 

I can't begrudge any series for trying to reinvent a classic or go in a new direction. Trying something new is to be applauded. The problem with 'Dracula' on NBC is that it is painfully, horribly dull. It was a chore to get through the first episode which is an inauspicious start to any series. 

The best aspect of 'Dracula' is that the production values are high and the scenes play out beautifully. It's a shame that no one put the same time and effort into writing things like a plot into the pilot. 

FINAL GRADE: D+. 'Dracula' needs to be put back in the ground. 

 

 


Details
Show:
- Dracula (2013)
Person:
- Jonathan Rhys-Meyers
- Jessica De Gouw
Network:
- NBC

Written by: bad_subject
Oct 26th, 2013, 6:30 am

Images courtesy of NBC

Anonymous

Message Posted On Nov 5th, 2013, 8:13 am
I loved the show! It was better than anticipated!
Anonymous

Message Posted On Nov 5th, 2013, 8:10 am
I loved it! I was not only thrilled but surprised by how much I liked it.
Anonymous

Message Posted On Nov 1st, 2013, 10:51 pm
Did you even watch the show? All that you you wrote about..was there..but you didnt mention WHY that was done! Also, you did not talk about the 3 people we saw dracula kill..the old man that insulted him, the young girl for a snack...and the fight scene with the agent of the Dragon Society..and that is the WHOLE point of all you talked about. He is trying to take down that society..in every way he can..mostly where it will really hurt..their money! And..he is working WITH Van Helsing, that was a great twist. Too bad the plot and the reasoning behind what and why he was doing it was over your head..try watching it again with an adult, so they can explain things to you.
saffronsghost

Level 1 (26%)
Since: 28/Oct/12
Message Posted On Oct 28th, 2013, 12:17 pm

After seeing a preview, I didn't even download this, and I download almost every 1st episode....just to see.

Anonymous

Message Posted On Oct 28th, 2013, 1:56 am
I believe in at least watchin 3 or 4 before commentin on a series but this was crap crap actin crap story crap fightin what more can I say,what a massive disapiontment
Anonymous

Message Posted On Oct 27th, 2013, 4:14 pm
We've seen teenage werewolves, various incarnations of vampires (most recent being The Originals... wouldn't Dracula be ticked off about that one), and no less than three 3 variations on the Sherlock Holmes character. As someone once said, Sacred Cows make the best hamburgers. It's fiction/fantasy so it's not set in concrete. Do you have any idea how many universes Dracula could exist in? (Just look at S. Holmes, ex-Junkie in modern day NY; brilliant and self-acknowledged sociopath in modern day London; and an adventurer in 19th century London). No plot? You might want to re-watch the show again and listen to the dialogue a bit closer for some of the clues about how they got to where they are. What I suspect is that there will be some more of the back story thrown in in future episodes. Saying its boring when you've only watched one episode is like going into a restaurant and complaining that a meal was bad because you didn't like the appetizer. It's a series and a series should be accorded the right to evolve over more than just one episode. If it doesn't get better after a few episodes then slam it. Right now, its just novel enough to hold my attention despite any perceived anachronistic shortcomings.
ROSIEWOLF

Level 1 (2%)
Since: 09/Sep/12
Message Posted On Oct 27th, 2013, 4:00 pm

ZZZZZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzz..   huh? what? i fell asleep, what did i miss?  apparently nothing. laffin.

Deejay7Up

Level 1 (25%)
Mood: cooky/wacky
Since: 23/Feb/12
Message Posted On Oct 27th, 2013, 11:44 am

This was such a disappointment!  Sheesh!

Bloodloss

Message Posted On Oct 27th, 2013, 7:26 am
I totally agreed with everything said. if this were say the first a relative of Dracula that was turned by him in within this era and he was an idealist, then i would say ok...but DRACULA himself..you must be kidding. Dont get me started on the fight scene on the roof top with a mere mortal. Dracula would have had him within a second, instead we are seeing sword fighting...really. Twilight already tried to change the boundaries of vampires and werewolves, now this...i don't think so.
Buzbybumble
(Crazed Contributor)

Level 5 (77%)
Points: 1384.4
Since: 03/Jul/13
Message Posted On Oct 27th, 2013, 5:54 am

I totally agree with this review, I watched it with high expectations and was floored by the lack of research done. It is visually beautiful but trying to add 21st Centuary storylines to 19th Centuary England just stretched the boundaries of believeability

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