Right from the start, it’s clear that Dracula isn’t going to be a standard retelling of the classic story. It’s not just going to be Jonathan Harker travels to Transylvania and gives Dracula the means to come to England. Instead, the series starts with a man bringing Dracula back to life. Cut forward to, I assume, a few years later, and Dracula, calling himself Alexander Grayson, hosts a party for the rich of London. Posing as an American entrepreneur (yes, the Brit plays an American, of course) he strives to bring a more modern way of living to the people of London.
It has a sort of Prestige feel to it, with the use of electricity and Grayson’s attempts to impress the crowd. And it works well. I think there’s a strange fascination at the moment with this time period, and maybe that comes from the fact that everyone was experiencing new things that must have been amazing to see. Compared to now, when a new IPhone or console of smart TV is released and we just go “Meh. Whatever. It doesn’t have x, y and z!”
Anyway. Back to the point.
The pilot introduces all the main players. We have Renfield, Mina, Lucy and Jonathan Harker. And of course, Van Helsing. But though their names are the same, the characters seem to have been reinvented for show. Renfield isn’t some crazy guy cooped up in a mental asylum. Instead, he’s Dracula’s personal servant, elevated above the novel’s character. Mina is more…progressive, which I’ll come back to in a moment. Harker is a journalist, who gets invited to Dracula’s home to interview him, and Helsing isn’t a vampire hunter. Instead, he’s revealed as being more of an ally to Dracula, rather than an adversary.
Okay, so, Mina. ‘Progressive’ female characters in period pieces…they kind of annoy me. I can understand it, of course. No one wants to watch a passive heroine just waiting around for a man to save her. But at the same time, she’s literally the only woman on her medical course. And she’s made to seem like the most intelligent person in the room. It just doesn’t fit. At the very least, I wish characters like this weren’t just on their own. Maybe throw in a couple of other women in the course, just so she doesn’t stick out like a sore thumb wearing coloured clothes when all the men are in black/grey. And with characters like this, we’re never really shown why they’re the only woman like that around, when others are obsessed with money and men and all that. Come on!! (Rant over)
Alongside these familiar characters, there is the Order of the Dragon. These guys seem to be fulfilling the role of the vampire hunters, and have a conversation about that vampire a few years back who stalked Whitechapel and yeah, they make that reference very painfully obvious.
To be honest, it does look good. The first episode wasn’t overly exciting, though there was a decent fight scene on rooftops. But it did well to set up for the series, to introduce the characters and ground us in this turn of the century world where electricity is still a novelty. And, of course, Grayson/Dracula is awfully nice to look at. One to watch if you want to see a slightly different take on the brilliant story of Dracula.