Dracula, Season 1

Universal Studios Home Entertainment
Star Rating
Reviewer's Rating
Oct 19, 2016

The DVD says Dracula, Season 1. There is no season two. The series ran on NBC in the 2013-2014 season and didn't get renewed. Which is a shame because although it's hilariously campy (in a brooding, gothic way) and takes extreme liberties with the source material, it's also a tremendous amount of fun for fans of melodrama, stylish visuals, steamy sex scenes, and Grand Guignol violence.

The craziness starts with the premise: Transylvanian Count Dracula is in London posing as an American inventor/entrepreneur, Alexander Grayson (and played by Irish actor Jonathan Rhys Meyers--like I said, craziness), who claims to be bringing free, wireless electricity to London. He's opposed by a group of wealthy oil magnates who also happen to be involved with the Order of the Dragon, a secret society of vampire hunters. Jonathan Harker is a journalist for an English newspaper, his fiance Mina Murray is a medical student, and Mina's professor and mentor is Dr. Abraham van Helsing. Renfield, traditionally a gibbering lunatic in Dracula's thrall, is an Afro-European lawyer in this version, a devoted aide to Dracula because the vampire saved his life from a group of racists while traveling through America.

From that interesting but nothing-at-all-like-Bram-Stoker's novel set-up we get 10 episodes of soapy romances and breakups, sex and jealousy, tangled conspiracies, weird science, weird occultism, and scenes of bloody violence that would be disturbing if they weren't so over the top that I clapped and laughed. And we get a centuries-old vampire aristocrat with very modern attitudes towards gender equality, racism, homosexuality, and the exploitation of the poor by the wealthy and powerful.

Although I usually like my adaptations to be faithful to the source material, my historical fiction to be true to the times (even when the historical morality clashes with my own), and my stories to be not so violent, I loved watching Dracula when it aired. It didn't take itself too seriously, but it still played everything straight rather than veering into campy parody. It's one of those "it's crazy enough that it just might work" TV series. Sadly, it didn't work enough to get more than one season, but there's still enough here to enjoy.

Reviewed by Josh N.
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