Get Stoked for “Dracula”

In NBC’s “Dracula,” the most infamous vampire of all time returns on a new take of the classical novel, “Dracula” by Bram Stoker.  Johnathan Rhys Meyers plays Alexander Grayson, an upper-class gentleman from the United States, who moves to London in order to spread his electrical business ventures to British aristocracy.  However, little does anyone know that the new American arrival is actually Dracula, a dangerous vampire who hungers for revenge. While Grayson is the protagonist, he can only be described as an anti-hero as he punishes evil forces while feeding on the innocent.

Courtesy of NBC Universal

Courtesy of NBC Universal

Long ago, Dracula was wronged by an organization called Order of the Dragon, who brutally ousted him and burned his beloved wife, Llona (Jessica De Gouw), at the stake. Now resurrected, his sole mission to publically humiliate and destroy members of the Order. He runs into one problem that could be his downfall:  Llona has been resurrected into a woman named Mina Murray, who has no recollection of her romantic past with Dracula.

Instead, Murray is in love with Jonathan Harker (Oliver Jackson-Cohen), a journalist who makes his mistrust with Grayson known.  An aristocratic woman named Lady Jayne (Victoria Smurfit) also displays some interest in Grayson, where her attraction for him grows.

While trying to keep up appearances with his new acquaintances, Grayson must carry out his plans to suck dry the Order’s vast wealth, and stay clear of his worst enemy: the sun.

Meyers does an excellent job portraying the brooding Dracula, however his American accent was somewhat distracting.  Even though Dracula is known for having a Transylvanian accent, the show tweaks that aspect a little too much.  In order to fool the Order, Dracula decides to entirely alter his background, including Americanizing his accent. This background change proves to be unnecessary, and is not a credible story element to the character.  Despite the questionable accent however, Meyers portrays sexy and scary well.

Despite Meyers’ well-executed role, the writing is still in its infancy stage.  There are occasions where revelations are announced at the most awkward times that the situation becomes unnatural very fast.  There are some instances where there are conflicts between characters but, because the issue was not set up earlier, the arguments seem unwarranted.

The show utilizes slow motion quite often where it’s meant to intensify the drama and sword-fighting scenes.  Much like the writing, the slow motion occurs sporadically in some scenes where it should not be implemented.

Meyers’ co-stars initially prove to be somewhat lackluster and uninteresting in the pilot.  However, in the following few episodes, the characters develop stronger roles that relate more to the overall plot, justifying their relevance to the show.

What definitely remains to be the biggest attraction to the show is the high production value. The setting of London presents a duality where it can appear beautifully manicured during the day yet spooky and sinister during the night. The costuming is stunning, where it adorns the high-class society in ballroom gowns, petticoats and suits.

As to be expected with any vampire show, there is a lot of blood. There are also some sex scenes that definitely leave little to the imagination. The violence and sex pushes the boundaries that the show almost feels like HBO programming. However, because they are within the limitations of NBC, the show is sometimes caught in-between playing it safe and scandal.

Overall, “Dracula” proves to be enticing with aesthetically beautiful settings and cinematography, in addition to Meyers, who carries the show and does enough to keep the audience guessing. However, the plot and writing needs a tune-up before it can completely sell Dracula’s revenge scheme. The pilot starts off rough with a cast of bland characters that Grayson surrounds himself with, however, as the episodes continue, “Dracula” shows improvement and potential for its series run.

 

RECOMMENDED: Though it starts off a little rough, “Dracula” shows promise for its series run with the improved quality of its most recent episodes.