Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Pilot Review: Dracula

Dracula (NBC)
Premiered October 25 at 10pm

I’m not much one for horror, but vampire shows don’t really seem to fit into that category these days anyway. This series resurrects probably the most famous vampire in literary history, and brings him to the screen in a modified, modernized attempt at revitalizing the story with a whole new spin on a classic character. Positioning the awoken Dracula as an American impersonator trying to bring down his enemies in England is somewhat intriguing, as is casting Jack the Ripper as a myth spun by the Order of the Dragon to cover up a string of vampire murders. The show as a whole isn’t quite as competent, creating a dark, moody feel but not managing to capture the energy of its protagonist’s mythology. Jonathan Rhys Meyers, who anchored “The Tudors” for four years on Showtime, is a decent fit for the role of Dracula, putting on a convincing American accent as Alexander Grayson and letting him chew scenery when speaking with his loyal confidante, played by Nonso Anozie, last seen on “Game of Thrones.” The other main players in the cast are familiar faces: Jessica De Gouw, the Huntress on “Arrow,” as the reincarnated love of Dracula’s life, Thomas Kretschmann from “The Pianist” and “24” as Van Helsing, and Robert Bathurst, Lord Anthony from “Downton Abbey” as Lord Davenport. Nothing about this show feels original or groundbreaking enough to merit checking back into this particular story, and it actually seems rather simplistic in design, despite the apparent layers of the relationship between Dracula and his allies and the Order of the Dragon. I wasn’t likely to have been interested in this to begin with, but I’m certainly not after seeing this pilot.

How will it work as a series? The show does have many complex characters, all of whom know so little about each other, and the dynamics between each of them should prove productive for the sake of plot, enabling Dracula to continue his quest for electric domination while seeking his true love and trying to take down his enemies. Whether that makes a good vampire show is another question, but it should do the trick for cranking out the scripts.
How long will it last? Friday night is never a good night to launch a show, but maybe it’s just what this one needed. Premiering after the return of “Grimm” was actually great, and the ratings for the pilot were pretty decent. This show doesn’t seem like it will be a sustainable hit, but I think NBC is going to gamble on it for a bit and let it run out the rest of the season.

Pilot grade: C-

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