What's Dracula going to do next, organize an "Occupy Transylvania" movement?
It's not a ridiculous notion for the new series Dracula, which teaches us that vampires are way less evil than oil executives.
As you surely can tell, this fresh-faced Dracula - which debuts Friday on NBC and Global, and stars Jonathan Rhys Meyers in the title role - provides some bloody new perspectives on this classic tale. The most notable of which is that Dracula apparently is fighting the good fight. Evil for evil's sake? Naw, that's passe.
Set in Victorian England, Dracula this time is hell-bent on righteous revenge, not only for the killing of his wife, but against some ancient order of power-brokers who cursed him to immortality and have controlled much of the world's wealth for eons and are poised to control the 20th century through their oil interests, blah blah blah. Or something like that, it was a little hard to sort out in the first episode.
Dracula is posing as an American industrialist named Alan Grayson. No word on whether he's an ancestor of the Grayson family on Revenge, but maybe we'll clear that up in future episodes. Seriously, though, Alan Grayson has his "sights" set on the illuminating scientific possibilities of geo-magnetic technology - wireless electricity - which threatens to put the petroleum magnates of the day out of business.
Dracula has partners in his overt and covert endeavours, some of them surprising. In a modern twist, he also has something of a Victorian Morgan Freeman at his side, i.e., a wise, advice-providing black assistant named R.M. Renfield, played by Nonso Anozie. And Dracula must be cautioned not to lose his head when he becomes infatuated with a woman named Mina Murray, played by Jessica De Gouw, who appears to be a reincarnation of his dead wife.
Portrayals of Dracula go back 100 years, and everyone has their favourites. I think one element that has to be present, though, is fear. You have to be scared of Dracula. And in this case, I'm not sure if I really am.
It's not just genre prejudice, because I like scary stuff. I realize that vampire shows now are as common as doctor shows or lawyer shows or cop shows on TV, but that doesn't bother me on principle. Maybe part of it is Meyers, who - at 36 - just might be a tad too young for this role, his piercing eyes notwithstanding.
Yes, Meyers' Dracula has the power to extinguish lives on a whim, as all vampires do. But this Dracula seems weighted down by reasons and justifications. It kind of feels like what would result if a vampire tale and The Da Vinci Code had a baby.
Now the first episode of Dracula was slowed by a ton of "set-up," so I'm open-minded to it getting better. But it needs to, I think.
The first episode just wasn't all that frightening. And I assume frightening the audience at least partially is the point when a show is called Dracula.
This Dracula wants to take down "big oil." Maybe you're in favour of that and you'd be keen on "Occupy Transylvania." But does it terrify you?