TV Review: NBC’s ‘Dracula’ Doesn’t Suck

Dracula Television Review

Clever reworking of mythology casts Jonathan Rhys Meyers as revenge-seeker with a 'death wish'

Concocting some playful twists on the well-worn Dracula mythology, NBC’s international version of Bram Stoker’s bloodsucker transforms him into a revenge-seeking schemer — someone with a “Death Wish” in more ways than one, waging war against a shadowy group of One-Percenters known as the Order of the Dragon. It’s a reasonably clever conceit in terms of exploiting the character’s name while erecting the scaffolding to support serialized intrigue. And if the inordinately crimson-drenched doings threaten to become strained over a long haul, in the short term, anyway, “Dracula” is pretty tasty. Besides, nothing in TV lives forever, right?

Jonathan Rhys Meyers is an apt choice for the title role, since this Count doesn’t stray far from the thesp’s portrayal of Henry VIII in “The Tudors” — inasmuch as both are aristocratic fellows with larger-than-life, unquenchable appetites.

Set in the late 19th century, the handsome premiere opens with a slain Dracula being revived from the dead (don’t get too attached to one of the guys who helps dig him up), and promptly heading to London. There, he poses as a wealthy American industrialist named Alexander Grayson (no relation, presumably, to the latter-day barons on ABC’s “Revenge”), adopting a stiff accent as part of the charade, and proceeding to rub sometimes-pointed elbows with the moneyed Victorian elite.

As for other familiar names from the “Dracula” mythology, Grayson is interviewed by an ambitious young reporter named Jonathan Harker (Oliver Jackson-Cohen), whose fiancee, Mina (Jessica De Gouw), is a dead ringer for Dracula’s murdered beloved, whom the Order took from him centuries earlier. Showing prescience for a journalist of his time, Harker is quickly entranced by the lure of big money, drawing him, and thus Mina, into the mogul’s orbit.

In addition, the cast of characters includes Renfield (Nonso Anozie), Grayson’s able right-hand man; and Professor Van Helsing (Thomas Kretschmann, an excellent choice), though neither in quite the guise those well versed in the tale have come to expect.

Overseen by Daniel Knauf (“Carnivale”), created by Cole Haddon and counting “Downton Abbey’s” Gareth Neame among its exec producers, “Dracula” clearly benefits from its international auspices, with a brooding Gothic look and ornate period trappings. Despite its leading man’s fearsome powers, the producers have also established the Order — an ancient cabal built on an “empire of lies,” we’re told — as a formidable adversary, one acquainted with vampires and methods designed to neutralize them.

Like “Hannibal” (another NBC drama built around an antihero with a peculiar diet), this series pushes boundaries in terms of gore, torture and sex, flourishes that feel both organic and perhaps a bit less jarring given the fantastic setting and situations.

Scheduled on Friday nights after NBC’s unexpectedly durable “Grimm,” the stakes for “Dracula” aren’t quite as high as they might be in a midweek timeslot. That said, should the series exhibit signs of life, it’s not farfetched to think the network’s schedulers might give it a try somewhere else where they could use a Nielsen transfusion.

Given the eye-popping ratings for “The Walking Dead,” every network has to be looking at the supernatural with more welcoming eyes right now. By that measure, NBC might have dug up “Dracula” just in time — before the old-monster graveyard is filled with shovel-wielding network executives.

TV Review: NBC's 'Dracula' Doesn't Suck

(Series; NBC, Fri. Oct. 25, 10 p.m.)

Production

Filmed in Hungary by Flame Ventures, Sky Living, Playground Entertainment, Universal Television, NBCUniversal International Television and Carnival Film & Television.

Crew

Executive producers, Daniel Knauf, Tony Krantz, Colin Callender, Gareth Neame; co-executive producers, Cole Haddon, Reese Pearson, Harley Peyton; producer, Jonathan Rhys Meyers; director, Steve Shill; writer, Haddon; camera, Ousama Rawi; production designer, Rob Harris; editor, Paul Knight; music, Trevor Morris; casting, Suzanne M. Smith. 60 MIN.

Cast

Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Thomas Kretschmann, Victoria Smurfit, Jessica De Gouw, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Nonso Anozie, Katie McGrath

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  1. RedInDenver says:

    I sat through (and I had to force myself) most of the premiere of “Dracula”, based on the ads promoting it. I just couldn’t finish watching it; and haven’t gone back in subsequent weeks to see if it’s gotten any more entertaining. I liked Rhys Meyers in “The Tudors”; not so much in “Dracula”. In fact, I found the entire program, including the cast, a big snooze fest.

  2. Sylvia Guzman says:

    I love Jonathan Rhys Meyers, especially his performances in The Tudors. However, the American accent is too hard as is the color of his eyebrows.

  3. I don’t understand why he does not have a stronger accent. Considering the time frame, most Americans did have accents, and I certainly would expect Dracula to have one.

  4. “….one of the guys who helps dig him up” should be “….one of the guys who help dig him up.” The subject of the verb “help” is “guys,” not “one.” Transposing: Of the guys who help dig him up, he is one.”

  5. Diane Addair says:

    I love the Dracula mythology always have. I’ve been fascinated by vampires since I was a young girl.,
    I also love, love, love Jonathan. All that being said I’m just hoping that DRACULA will stick to it’s mythology and not have sparkly vampires, nor alcohol drinking vampires, nor day walking vampires.
    I think the time slot is a good one as well as the night it’s on.We have to give it a chance. I hope they push the envelope [so to speak] ever chance they get because anyone who knows anything about Dracula at all knows he was very seductive. Jonathan is a wonderful choice for the lead part , he was wonderful in The Tudors [which I never missed an episode]. The location they will be shooting at, and all the elaborate sets should be an indicator as to how well this show is GOING TO DO! I’m already your number one fan………………….. I hope you have very high Nielson ratings the very first night.

  6. victor says:

    If this turns out to be another vampire diaries I’ll stop watching the entire lineup. Don’t know about the rest of y’all but I’m kinda tired of all these shows that change almost every aspect of the vampire mythology. Day light used to be their enemy and what’s with all the mating with humans and the drinking alcohol. I would love a good horror show about vampires not another soap opera.

  7. Tamara says:

    Это будет Бомба !!! Это будет Захватывающее зрелище, потому-что Дракула, Александр Грейсон и Влад Цепеш-Джонатан Рис Майерс в одном лице !!!! Очень жду выхода и мечтаю скорей увидеть в России )))) Буду стараться найти просмотр онлайн, но пока не знаю как и где ))) Сериалу желаю Успехов, а Джонни высокую награду за его вклад в кинематограф !!!!

  8. dryedmangoez says:

    Grimm definitely needs a partner on Fridays and Dracula could be it. They could definitely help each other.

  9. angela says:

    i luv luv jonatahan meyers..i luv anything Dracula …it is about time they put a great show
    like blood sucking dracula…cant wait to check it out

  10. JOE S HILL says:

    Really? this is NBC’s idea to improve its dismal ratings situation-making a TV series about “DRACULA”?
    that’s about as inteligent as letting go of Jay Leno,and replacing him with Jimmy Fallon. the last time NBC
    had anything to do with vampires,was with its 1991 remake of “DARK SHADOWS”,which was actually quite good-but obviously not enough punch in the Ratings! so with two shows already cancelled,what even makes NBC think that a series about “The Master Bloodsucker” himself,will do any kind of improvement to their ratings now? this,and the “HANNIBAL” series,are supposed to be the network’s
    finest? we’ll see-but i still don’t give this network very good chances,so best of luck to them,because they’ll really need it!!

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