NBC’s Dracula

Lately it seems like the Spellbound Scribes have been on a bit of a television kick. Shauna’s been documenting her experiences watching all seven seasons of Buffy (here’s a link to her #BuffyWatch Part Four post) and Mandy made a compelling case for watching Arrow in The Awesomeness that is Felicity Smoak. In the interest of finishing out the trilogy, I figured I’d do a post about one of my own television favorites.

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NBC’s Dracula.

Hush, you. I can hear your eyes rolling from here.

(I tried not to make this post too spoiler-ish, but there might be one or two things you want to avoid if you plan on watching.) Now, I found a lot to like in the series’ first season, beyond just the handsome young man who played Dracula (ahem, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, ahem). They’ve completely reimagined the story, giving Dracula a new persona as American businessman Alexander Grayson. His overarching goal is to take down the Order of the Dragon, the nefarious group who turned him into a vampire back in the day. The only people who know his true identity are his ally Van Helsing and his man Renfield, and his biggest challenge is subduing his growing emotional attachment to Mina, who appears to be the reincarnation of his former wife.

It’s all very complicated.

There were some pseudo-Steampunk moments in Grayson’s lab, with his new electrical technology designed to make the Order’s oil resources obsolete, and there were some interesting ideas about a woman’s role in the Victorian era, as Mina struggled to be taken seriously as a medical student.  And of course, the costumes and sets were absolutely gorgeous, giving me an hour every Friday night – or more often Sunday afternoon On-Demand – of pretty fabulous visual candy.

I love the way the writers remodeled stale characters. Van Helsing becomes a fractious ally after he resurrects Dracula in order to wreak revenge on the Order, and Renfield’s a black lawyer who goes to work for Grayson after no one in America will hire him, and who is the only one his boss even begins to listen to. I also really love the honesty in their take on the vampire myth. Dracula kills. There’s blood. He drains pretty shopgirls who are innocent and good, and he makes a mess when he does it.

And no one can stop him.

He’s fiercely loyal. When some offshoot of the Order kidnaps and tortures Renfield, the gore’s a’flying when Dracula tracks them down. He’s tormented by his need to have revenge on the Order for turning him into a monster, and blackmails a business associate to chip away at the Order’s strength, which results in the man’s death and the suicide of his lover. Oh well. He seduces the Order’s chief hunter and imagines it’s Mina in his bed. He welcomes his long time (as in hundreds of years) right-hand guy, and then set him up to be killed in order to reach his goal.

Not a nice guy.

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But SO compelling.

And possibly that’s why the ratings weren’t what NBC had hoped for, and why they still haven’t committed to a second season. I mean, JRM is as pretty as they come, and I love the way he flips between a cultured English accent and a broad American drawl, but this is not your grandmother’s Dracula, and the evil almost but not quite overtakes the sympathy I felt while watching him.

It’s a fascinating study in creating a difficult hero, and for that alone I’d LOVE to see a second season. But I also want more episodes because…

  • OMG what happened to Renfield?!? The finale left him bleeding on the ground. He can’t die! He’s my favorite!!
  • Mina and Grayson finally did the deed, after an entire season of waiting, and while I admit to finding the scene a little anticlimactic, I wonder what a strong-minded young woman like Mina would do with a vampire lover. That’s if she even knows he’s a vampire, which isn’t clear from the finale.
  • Lucy the naughty lesbian – and newly turned vampire – promises to be so much fun to watch.
  • Both Van Helsing and Jonathan Harker are now enemies, and there are plenty of ways Dracula/Grayson could mess with them.
  • MORE STEAMPUNK. Instead of just hinting, bring it out more. Just sayin’…

So now it’s your turn. Did you watch Dracula? Would you like to see a second season? Or would you rather use the time to catch up on last week’s episode of Supernatural?

Peace,

Liv