Two episodes in, Dracula has real bite, as it’s a well crafted and finely tuned TV drama. Starring Jonathan Rhys Meyers as the fanged Count, Dracula is set in late 19th Century England. Dracula, having been released from his centuries long slumber, is ready to take revenge on those who gave him immortality and burnt his long time love, Ilona, at the stake. A vengeful Dracula has teamed up with none other than Abraham Van Helsing, who needs the blood sucker to enact his own revenge. Both have mutual enemies as vengeance makes strange partnerships. Dracula comes to England masquerading as American entrepreneur, Alexander Grayson. His mission: to destroy the powers of a vampire cult who reign supreme with industrial power. All is going great for Dracula until he sees a woman named Mina Murray. She is the clear incarnation of Ilona, setting Dracula’s blood boiling with passion and rage.
Although Bram Stoker’s story of Dracula, or Vlad the Impaler to his closest friends, has been told many times, it never gets old. New life is injected into it as the show’s production is of high quality. The costumes and sets are next to none; the viewer is completely immersed in the late 1800’s. The quality and effort put into the work is clear. There are no holes in the casting either as each actor is believable and strong in their own ways. Of course, Rhys Meyers steals the show as the Count, and rightfully he should. Dracula is the central figure, the tortured man who is drawn to love yet repelled by its pain. Although we all know things do not go well for Vlad, we can’t help but feel for him; he is both hero and villain in one.
There is much passion, lust, and ferociousness with this Dracula. While the series is far from scary, it does have a decent amount of gore, whether it is Dracula ripping into the necks of one of his victims or him slicing someone’s throat. Note: many throats are getting bloody attention from this Dracula. The one draw-back has been the use of slow motion. I’m not a fan of its use in action sequences as it detracts from the story and feels a little hokey. Thankfully its use is minimal; the violence is not gratuitous.
Although Dracula is seen in North America on NBC and its affiliates, it is essentially a British production and it shows. Produced by Carnival Films in London, the series has an air of sophistication; something which works for such an elite figure as Count Dracula.
Interestingly, a short animated web series titled Dracula Rising was released providing the back story to Dracula’s rise and fall prior to the events in the TV series. Trying to tap into a hipper demographic, the web series is incredibly violent with beheadings and blood galore. The idea is a crafty one. Instead of delving into any significant back story within the series, the web shorts offer Dracula’s life prior in a creative and intriguing way. No screen time is lost in the past, and a separate story can be told via a different medium.
I have to say, I was very skeptical when I heard another version of Bram Stoker’s Dracula was being produced. How could this version be any different? It’s not, but it doesn’t have to be. The story works time and time again. The general public has consistently been fascinated with vampires. From The Lost Boys to Twilight, from Dark Shadows to True Blood, vampires have continually captivated. They are powerful, sexual, and devious. Vampires are the true bad boys… and girls; they are the rock n roll of monsters. There is a definite allure to them, some intangible spell placed over us, imploring us to keep watching them. Heck, their popularity has even gone into children’s shows. Who can forget Sesame Street’s The Count? No one is immune to the power of the vampire.