TV review: “Dracula” is dreadfully boring

  • Photo courtesy of NBC
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From the October 24, 2013 edition

Whenever TV networks (or movie studios for that matter) get lazy and reboot an established property, I immediately groan. But I was willing to give NBC’s new spin on the Dracula story a chance, if for only one reason.

NBC produced a surprisingly great reboot earlier this year by restructuring the tale of Hannibal Lecter in “Hannibal.” It was one of the best dramas of the year, utterly breathtaking with its visual aesthetic and haunting in its storytelling. Unfortunately NBC’s “Dracula” is not “Hannibal.”

“Dracula” is basically a reimagining of the Bram Stoker classic, putting Dracula (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) in late 19th century London. Many of the names from Stoker’s work are present in Renfield (Nonso Anozie), Van Helsing (Thomas Kretschmann) and Jonathan Harker (Oliver Jackson-Cohen), but they’re all mostly changed.

The main difference is Dracula pretending to be an American industrialist named Alexander Grayson — who sounds exactly like Christian Slater with his accent — in order to exact revenge on a mysterious cabal, The Order of the Dragon. While Dracula originally planned to take revenge for the order’s past misdeeds, he hits a snag when a women who looks just like his former lover (Jessica De Gouw) appears. Sound familiar?

On paper this could be a fun concept for reinventing the Dracula tale, but this is anything but fun. “Dracula” is boring. The early episodes rely too little on bloodletting and vampire badassery and too much Victorian atmosphere. Oh, and there’s a weird theme about alternative energy — in the 19th century.

I imagine this “Dracula” could appeal to period piece/Steampunk enthusiasts. And anyone who liked Rhys Meyers in his previous series “The Tudors” will probably enjoy him here, minus the terrible accent.

Still, “Dracula” suffers greatly from its boring, often slogging, narrative. There’s some talent in executive producers Daniel Knauf (“Carnivale”), Tony Krantz (“24”) and Gareth Neame (“Downton Abbey”), but the story needs more drive and less poorly executed meditation.