True Blood is ending next year, Twilight films are no longer hogging Thanksgiving weekend, and NBC has made a show about Dracula. It's official, folks, vampires are over. With this new interpretation of Bram Stoker's iconic blood-sucker, creator Cole Haddon proves that the undead can be frightfully dull.
The series begins with Dracula (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) arriving in London in the late 19th century. He's adopted the name Alexander Grayson and is posing as a wealthy American businessman. This is part of a master plan to destroy a secret organization called the Order of the Dragon. This group of rich, stuffy, English dudes dates back centuries and were responsible for killing Dracula's wife, burning her at the stake. Now they're a bunch of oil tycoons who just happen to have vampire hunters and seers on retainer. Dracula's plot involves attacking the Order's financial interests by unveiling a new form of clean, wireless and free energy.
That's right, Dracula's a green energy tycoon in the 1890s.
Dracula's riveting alternative energy scheme is compromised when he meets a young medical student named Mina Murray (Jessica De Gouw). Mina is the spitting image of his dead wife and the two feel an instant connection. Unfortunately, she already has a fella in reporter Jonathan Harker (Oliver Jackson-Cohen). Drac's approach to wooing Mina is novel in that he basically decides not to, arguing that losing her a second time would be too much to bear. However, this doesn't stop him from following her, bestowing gifts and manipulating himself into her and Jonathan's lives whenever he can. What results is a romantic subplot that trades passion for tedium.
While shows like True Blood and The Vampire Diaries use undead characters to gin up stories full of sex and death, Dracula takes a different road. Sure there are a few scenes of seduction and the occasional kill, but Rhys Meyers spends far more time engaging in boring back-room business deals than he does ripping people's throats out. There's a multi-episode arc involving the vampire king's attempt to gain a majority share in a coolant company owned by the members of the Order of Dragon that is sure to drain the life out of viewers.
Dracula's relationship to its source material is tenuous, at best. While the cast of characters is populated with names from the novel, but they often bear little resemblance to their namesake. This is especially true of Van Helsing (Thomas Kretschmann), who, rather than a vampire hunter, serves as a co-conspirator of Dracula's, and Mina's professor. This is less an adaptation and more an act of slapping a familiar name on a new show to attract eyeballs.
There's nothing spooky, fun or remotely interesting about Dracula. But if you're looking for something to lull you to sleep on a Friday night, it's sure to do the trick.