Dracula: A Catch-up
This review covers what happens in episodes one to three of Dracula.
After daring to follow Hannibal Lecter's bloody footsteps, NBC have looked for another hit from the horror canon. Dracula re-imagines the fanged one as a newly arrived American entrepreneur, Alexander Grayson, pitched into Victorian London and taking on the oil-rich industrialists of the Order of the Dragon. Played by everyone's favourite rogering royal from the Tudors, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, the story is part steam-punk, part Coppola's vampire and full of romantic and political intrigue.
Here Jonathan Harker is a journalist working as Grayson's eyes and ears in high society, Mina is a qualifying doctor working for Professor Van Helsing, and the mainly British supporting cast make up the great and good of the Order, including Victoria Smurfit as a butt kicking vampire hunter. This is all surprisingly fresh and far from slavish to Stoker's novel, a relief to those of us who have read it and felt it was not that great a text.
Three episodes in, Van Helsing has posed a threat to the Order's oil interests by demonstrating a geothermal alternative and is taking on each one of them that are foolish enough to get in his way. Here Van Helsing is his ally, looking for a solution to help him walk in light and, Renfield his PA - arranging and fixing for him. Of course, Mina and Dracula feel a chill when their eyes meet and her plans to marry Jonathan hit a rocky patch through his chauvinism. Despite Grayson's attempts at marriage counselling, she starts to doubt whether his intentions are honourable.Meanwhile, Grayson has bewitched the huntress Smurfit and managed to avoid suspicion as the current vampire ravaging women in London. He has forced suicides and made an enemy of Lord Davenport, something that will figure large in episode four. There's been ravishings, lots of CGI blood and decapitations but nothing like the excess of Hannibal.
Rhys Meyers is hardly a towering hero of the action but his broody Machiavellian Dracula is a really good addition to the canon. Seeing De Gouw in such a decorative role is a shame after her efforts in Arrow, but she and the vampish, implicitly sapphic Lucy is a good choice for Katie McGrath whose cartoonish pouting performances in Merlin are perfect here. Still the real star is the production and well managed writing which avoids soap opera and keeps the setting front and centre. It's just very well produced and performed and pretty entertaining so far. This season has 10 episodes and the audience has dropped in the States after a good opening, it'll be a shame if NBC don't invest in this show's future as they did with Hannibal.
You can catch Dracula on Sky Living on Mondays at 10