Lately, one could say that there has been a tendency to portray vampires in a more modern, teen-oriented way. Most people would admit that they've become quite sick of vampires. And I'd tend to agree.
Dracula is trying to capture the essence of cruelty, monstrosity and old world class. Especially the last element contributed to the portrayal of vampires as truly ancient beings, watching the world change.
NBC's Dracula did precisely that.
What you can expect from tonight's premiere is a mixture of vampire mythology meeting industrialization. The show certainly isn't a classic retelling of Stoker's Gothic horror novel, but it combines familiar elements and tries to tell its own story.
Dracula (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) goes by many names. He takes on the identity of a man called Alexander Grayson in order to properly influence and control this new "old world" society he's confronted with. He becomes an "American industrial", or as Renfield would say "as American as God, guns and Bourbon".
We see him struggling with certain power dynamics and supposedly starting a revolution with the use of geomagnetic technology; of course, at the cost of other people.
Particularly interesting to me is the new interpretation of Stoker's legendary character. Keep in mind that this Dracula is not a calm, collected or patient being, bidding his time. He's very much present and full of life, if you could call it that.
Jonathan Rhys Meyers infused this ancient creature with a sense of arrogance, impatience, ruthlessness, but also a playfulness that deceives people. He's not distant or obscured in the shadows. He flaunts his abilities, his persona and style and purposefully subjects himself to public scrutiny, no matter what they might say.
And he's making enemies because of that.
His first "adversary" is Jonathan Harker, who struggles with class differences while working as a journalist. He also makes a quick profile of Grayson during an interview between them. It isn't particularly flattering, but even he is unable to resist a tempting "offer" that Grayson eventually makes. During this meeting, we will also witness the inner struggles of both characters, although Dracula's issue with sunlight might become a bit more of a problem.
If you're familiar with the historical background of Dracula, you might also remember the name "Order of the Dragon" or the Societas Draconistrarum. According to lore, Vlad Tepes (Dracula) was once a member of the order, but in this case we will be seeing Grayson ruthlessly working against the order.
Alexander Grayson is not alone in his fight. His "associate" is another quite famous literary figure. And his interactions with Grayson are highly entertaining and charged with quite the chemistry between the actors. Sorry, Mina.
We can't talk about vampires and the most legendary vampire in existence without talking about love. Of course, it always intrigued people to see a relationship between monstrous characters and people who are the exact opposite of that. I'm not too fond of the innocent maiden being seduced by a dangerous temptation, which is why I hope that Mina's character will develop further. She's certainly an ambitious student fighting against a sexist society, but it should be perfectly fine for her to have a bit of an edge. The same goes for Dracula. Both characters are allowed to have lapses in judgment instead of being labeled completely dark or light. It prevents them from being too one-dimensional.
I prefer the setting and the contrast between industrial progress and opulent ballrooms. It underlines Dracula's mythology and supports the idea of him being more than just an irrational monster. When I hear the name Dracula, I want to be reminded of a dark character surrounding himself with outdated grandeur. And not a sparkly teenager. Moreover, the violence and gore is appropriate, considering the circumstances. As a long-time Hannibal fan, I'd even go as far as to say that the show could certainly go further.
We are aware of the setting and social climate at that particular time, but I would appreciate if the show called out the very blatant racist structures of the Order of the Dragon. Secondly, one has to point out that Dracula constantly preys on women and makes it his mission to seduce them, which is a bit over the top. We do know that Dracula is a connoisseur and flirt, but less sex is sometimes better. Blood, seduction and sex goes hand in hand, but seduction works on more levels than just a physical one. I would also immensely enjoy seeing his prey fighting back and succeeding. As for the actual fighting scenes? Dracula is not 300, which is why one can certainly do without these constant slow motion movements for the sake of dramatic effect. Be prepared to watch a show with certain stylistic devices that can remind you of other shows and movies.
Favorite Quote: Visionary, Delusional, Egomaniac.
NBC Dracula premieres tonight, October 25, 2013, and will air on Fridays 10/9c.