The 1% Meets Dracula

 Watched the first episode of NBC's Dracula last night...not what I expected.

I was looking forward to the show, having seen and enjoyed the period soap Downton Abbey (one of its show runners is behind this program) and also been a fan of the over-the-top bratty Henry the 8th performance Rhys-Meyers delivered in The Tudors -- I was thinking this would be kind of a Downton Abbey with a vampire in it -- if not a full adaptation of Dracula, it might at least be like a new Dark Shadows.

I will not spoil it, other than to say that in this show, Dracula's soul motivation is apparently fighting the Victorian version of "The 1%" by destroying their personal fortunes and providing free electricity to everyone. He also has slow motion katana fights on rooftops. 

I'm usually a little more reserved, but my first impression was that this was outrageously, jaw dropping bad. Like a boardroom had a brainstorming session to list every played out element from both vampire movies (and a few psuedo-steam punk movies for good measure) from the last 20 + years, then crammed it into one script. It's not quite "VanHelsing: The Series" but it was only about one automatic crossbow away.

Even if they wanted to have all this plot nonsense, they could have at least done something with the characters -- which also seemed like a missed opportunity. In this show, they have Dracula masquerading as an American industrialist -- who is pretty straight forward. To my mind, Dracula is all about subtle manipulation behind the scenes, mystery, seduction that quickly turns into total mental and emotional domination...

I don't think Dracula is some kind of sacred text or anything, so a lot of the liberties that they're taking with the story don't really bother me as much as all the anachronistic nonsense (at one point, Dracula shows that he as pictures on paper of all of these rich dudes to go with his FBI-type files on all of 1898 which was when all photographs would be essentially one of a kind objects, very likely on metal sheets and definitely not something that you could easily get copies of), and what is seeming like a pretty significant mus-interpretation of the character.

I don't think Rhys-Meyers is a great actor, but he can give some great performances by just sort of going for it (Tudors and Velvet Goldmine come to mind). When he goes for it as an earnest American, its pretty boring and occasionally silly. If he was given a script where he could play Dracula as a flirty, Victorian rock star this show would have something.The first episode had a moment where it was almost like that (Dracula is told by a horny aristocratic lady that she wasn't sure if Americans knew the meaning of "discrete" when he meets her in her opera box. Dracula replies that he "had to look it up" and then proceeds to put his hand up her skirt). I'm willing to give the show a shot at redeeming itself, but they've dug themselves a pretty deep hole to climb out of.