Just when you think vampires are over, here comes another. This time it’s NBC’s Dracula. Unlike his literary predecessor, this Dracula (Jonathan Rhys-Meyers) is a newcomer to Victorian England posing as American industrialist Alexander Grayson (complete with a ridiculous American accent) and seeking revenge. The pilot was a mostly enjoyable hour with sex and murder, a soupy, sexy reimagining of Bram Stoker’s work that abandons are attempts at horror in favor of eroticism. The vengeance plot didn’t have much steam, but Dracula did well with introducing its core cast of characters especially its charismatic lead.
When we first meet Dracula he’s being awoken from a long slumber, drinking the blood of some poor soul who got tricked into being a meal. It’s the most disturbing image we have of this new Dracula, and it’s the last time he looks unattractive in the entire pilot. The next time we see him he’s shirtless and dripping wet as he emerges from a bath. Nevermind his plot to ruin the Order of the Dragon by attacking their funds because that’s not interesting. That being said it almost got me with the wireless, magnetized electricity, but then I forgot about it. The bulbs and the technological difficulties get set aside after Alexander Grayson cements himself as desirable to every woman in the room and a threat to the Order. It also provokes Dracula to kill.
It’s not as brash a move as it first appears as the death of the Order member leads to another important thing (which they only say is important but really doesn’t seem to be). More important to me is Lady Jane (Victoria Smurfit) whose initial characterization, that of a beautiful and flirtatious woman with what may be a damning interest in Dracula is quickly (and enjoyably) expanded. Lady Jane is not only beautiful and proudly sexual, she’s part of the Order. She even has a vampire, presumably one of Dracula’s brides, imprisoned. Though her sexual relationship with Dracula (their dalliance at the opera was strangely delightful) looks as if it’ll be important, it’s unlikely Lady Jane, with her intense physical training, is going to be an easy mark.
The same probably isn’t true of Lucy (Katie Mcgrath) who becomes a vampire herself in the source material. Her coarse personality doesn’t exactly scream for us to like her, but I hope this televised version lasts longer than her literary counterpart.
Also hanging out is Mina, the reincarnation of Dracula’s dead wife. Though she feels as drawn to Dracula as he is to her, she’s in a very serious relationship with Jonathan Harker (Oliver Jackson-Cohen) which is only going to get more serious. She’s also one of Van Helsing’s students – his best one, in fact. So far her interest in Alexander Grayson is simply curiosity, intrigued by his ambitions and his charm, but she’s more focused on Harker and her medical aspirations than Dracula. Her indifference definitely won’t last, not when she’s the one thing that could sidetrack Dracula from his mission of vengeance.
If Van Helsing’s concerned that Dracula’s rashness is causing problems now, I can’t imagine his reaction once Dracula’s interest in Mina becomes clear. She’s already drawing his attention, and Dracula’s showing a pattern of throwing himself into sex after seeing – and while staring directly at – Mina. If she’s who he truly wants, and if Dracula was set on his task by his wife’s murder, will he be he drawn away from it now that she’s back in his orbit? Will it even matter if he is? I was far less interested in the vengeance and way more interested in everything else so if it got dropped somewhere in the next nine episodes, I wouldn’t be too upset about it.
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