Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Dracula - The American Hippy Bloodsucker that Brings London to its Knees [ SUPER SPOILERS]

So this past weekend, I was hunting for a new show to get hooked on while waiting for The Walking Dead, Once Upon a Time, and Game of Thrones to come back. Even though I have How I Met Your Mother, their short episodes are not cutting it with my addiction for story and therefore I've been throwing quite the temperamental fit lately due to withdrawal.

Crosses are so retro Dr. Van Helsing...
Enter Dracula, a new series from NBC that came out this past year. I had seen the advertisements at Comic Con and had quickly forgotten about it afterward since I don't have cable. However I was lucky enough to find all ten episodes on Hulu. Mind you, it is RARE to find an entire season free on Hulu, so this one has to suck. The advertisers are probably dieing for fans. Maybe. At least those were my initial thoughts.

Although I discovered its not as bad as one might think. If you are a Dracula fanatic, you would be highly disappointed in this series. It is not only just another retelling, but it strays far off the beaten path. The only resemblance is simply the names, the vampire and the Order of the Dragon. But if you are more the adventurous type [or you are simply just an average vampire fan], its actually quite fun to watch.

Johnathan Rhys Meyers stars as Dracula/Alexander Grayson [Joy!]. We all know about his fabulous acting as King Henry VIII in the Tudors. Johnathan has a flair for the dramatic and he does a fine job as the mysterious, sophisticated Grayson. Alongside him is his tall and dominating servant, Renfield who is considerably well spoken and educated for the times. As well as Abraham Van Helsing, a sworn enemy in many adaptions, now his ally if not for the short term.

The moment Harker realizes he is not getting married...
But there is more, a hungry journalist, Johnathan Harker who is trying trying to claw his way up the ladder [and we all know him as the protagonist of Bram Stoker's novel]. He is paired with Miss Mina Murry who is trying to become a female doctor. By her side is her friend Lucy, a seemingly over-involved friend who we later find out is in love with Mina and tries to get closer to her.

There are many other characters, mainly those who run the Order of the Dragon that Dracula is trying to destroy. The most important would be the huntsman [I have no idea why they don't call her huntress] Lady Jayne who is sworn to hunt and destroy any vampires that stalk the streets of London. She plays a dangerous game when she acquaints herself with Mr. Grayson without really knowing who he really is. It takes a while before she figures out Mr. Grayson's identity, but we never truly know until the end.

Acting/Character Dynamics:

Sing it!:  People let me tell you bout my best friend...
Superb on most fronts. I would say that Johnathan Rhys Meyers is significantly more interesting to watch than anyone on screen. The cast is quite good and entertaining to say the least.

I really enjoyed the dynamic between Dracula and Rensfield since they are more than just Master and Servant. You can see that they are friends and quite good friends at that. Rensfield is the type of friend that would take Dracula's secret to the grave. His friendship is absolute and Dracula therefore tolerates Rensfield's slights without a single retaliation and is even considerably gentle when he had to put him back in his place the one time he overstepped his boundaries.

What is more interesting is Van Helsing's relationship in all of this. A professor of medicine, a rogue anti-hero and a bitter soul. This is the man who is responsible for the return of the mighty vampire lord if only for his own purposes. Van Helsing though is not really a likable character, usually cold and aloof. He is not beyond torture, murder or black mail. An odd touch to such a man.

Two gentleman, no cup
The rest of the characters I feel is fodder unfortunately. Pawns in a much larger scale game, a deadly game these men play. Mina is simply clueless to the insanity, Lucy is stuck in her own little world, Johnathan Harker is a tool that ends up getting used in the end, and the huntress, she seems very distracted with her man eating love affairs and political dabblings. Only a few times does she go out and hunt vampires and yet her fighting scenes seem so rushed to be anything significant.

Story Flow/Writing:

I would have to say the story is paced very well until the last two episodes. It seems the writers were in a hurry to end the season and it was disappointing how many characters were murdered all at once. It feels like they might have found out around episode 8 that they were losing their jobs, so decided to burn the whole thing to the ground. I'm fairly disappointed in that since I had hope for a second season up until then.

What I did like about the series was that Dracula had so many amazing lines that really struck me deeply. The writers really had great wit among their team and I loved how truthful they were. Tons of quotable lines is still not a substitute for such a rushed ending [probably assuming they will not have another season].

What didn't strike my fancy:

1. The Opening Sequence - 

Adore the visuals, but the intro music is lacking to say the least. Im not sure if that is typical, but I am fond of good openings. Maybe its just me...but there aren't many that strike me that well. I think the only ones Ive liked lately were Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead.

LUCY. You got a lot of esplaining to do!
2.  Harker's sudden evil - 

I understand they were building this for a while, but it still seemed rushed. Why would he just do all of this out of spite? The enemy of my enemy is my friend? I mean he could do a lot more than what he did and still had been a free agent. Hes kind of a terrible character in my eyes.

3. Lucy's Turning - 

I'm not even sure why Dracula turned Lucy. Regardless of his haphazard reason...it seemed a pointless type of revenge. And you just left a cliffhanger thread for a series that might be cancelled. CURSE YOU NBC!

4. America - 

I am super confused how Dracula got to America only to return to London. So he gets resurrected to help Van Helsing...but when in God's name did he find time to board a train in America to buy up the property of some rich yahoo only to meet Rensfield? It makes no sense how or why he would go there in the first place. In the beginning Rensfield coaches him stating "You are an American Industrialist" as if this was the first time he ever heard it. Trying to cover his accent maybe a good start...but bloody hell...England English must have a LOT more words to remove or alter than just "schedule."

Free cars and sex for everyone! I got that vampire money.
5. Gold - 

Dracula is like Tony Stark rich, but we never really were explaiend where the money came from. Its hinted he some how made his wealth in America, but we still don't understand why he was there in the first place. The problem is, he's a little too wealthy. Tossing money left and right as if he shat this stuff out every morning. How can a man be that damn wealthy? Please tell me!

6. Mina/Ilona - 

Mina spends most of her time denying whatever affection she has for Dracula, but in the end tells him she dreams about this dead version of herself all the time. If she knew this, why didn't we spend more time on her understanding who Ilona was instead of sitting around studying medicine, arguing with Harker or partying with Lucy? So many missed opportunities to develop that dream Ilona and get to know her for more of a person...instead of a screaming, burning woman.

7. The vampire chick - 

How in the world did Dracula get the vampire chick out of the Huntsman's dungeon without her noticing? It seems she strolls down there every now and then to check up on the crazy monster just for amusements sake. Was the sex really that good?

8. Turning the Huntsman - 

Dracula's most powerful enemy could have easily been turned to serve him and yet he honorably killed her instead. Confusing and also disappointing considering how powerful and useful she would have been.

9. Confusing powers - 

So Dracula's blood can turn anyone into a vampire, yet he bites Lucy and she is now a vampire. Please brush me up on my vampire knowledge...but I feel some how that is wrong. Also he can sense seers watching him but doesn't sense the last seer watching him? And now hes like a dog and can pick up on any scent to track some one down? What can't Dracula do? And if he could easily do that...why didn't he just track the Order wait until they had a meeting, lock the doors from the outside and BURN them alive inside? Why go through so much of the Order's political BS if Drac and friends were going to kill them all at some point?

Worst weapon ever, you morpheus wannabe!
1O. The special weapon that....didn't do a thing? -

The Huntsman was given an ancient weapon from the seer and....we still have no idea what it does because she stabbed him with it and he was totally unaffected. Its strange that her toys don't work on him, but Van Helsing's toys do. What makes Van Helsing's weapons better than hers? Also WHAT in God's name does the Blood of Christ thing do for the seer? That bleeding trick is creepy. 

11. The Wire Switch Deception - 

During the big demonstration, Kalwoski, the chief engineer noticed the press that Harker let in messing with the panel. They chalked it up to them bending over to fixing their camera. My question is, why didn't Kalwoski wait until they left to recheck the panel they were near? I would have if I was that suspicious to take action and demand to know what they were doing.

Also when Harker found out they were going to blow up the whole place, why didn't he wait for Mina to arrive at the demonstration so he could grab her? Why rush all the way to the hospital when he already knew she would be there because she TOLD HIM earlier. He had ample amount of time to stop the whole thing from blowing and yet he wasted it rushing to a place he knew she wouldn't be at.

The future! IT MUST DIE.
12. Time Period Accuracy - 

I feel like the shows producers REALLY took liberties in this world and made an underline steam punk feel. That's fine if you establish that in the beginning, but it was seriously trying hard to disguise that fact. So now I'm left wondering throughout most of the episodes which devices actually existed during 1896 England. And I am PRETTY sure rave lights was not one of them.

13. Too Progressive? - 

As much as I loved the progressiveness of the characters, I felt it was too modern 21st century to really justify why there wasn't more racism/sexism within the story plot. I mean, Rensfield IS the only black guy in London, England it seems. And he runs free like a commoner which I am unsure how progressive England was at the time, but I figured he would look out of place and get more dirty looks than he had. Also women in this time period. Sure they did have "some" sexism, but not nearly enough. A woman like Lucy would have been married off a long time ago instead of playing around with boys [or girls, tee hee!]. Mina would have been disrespected constantly in her testosterone filled class of future doctors. Heck, Harker would have never dropped his pride so easily to accept Mina. But strangely, even though this has bugged me, it didn't really deter me from enjoying the show.

Can we at least get more vampire porn?
Final Thoughts: So if you are looking for an interesting show and are bored on a Friday, I would say give Dracula a try. All ten episodes are free on Hulu. However, don't take this too seriously, or your brain can hurt quite a bit. Even though it has its flaws, I really found myself drawn in by the characters. Or at the very least, Dracula. Johnathan Rhys Meyer is a fabulous actor and I hope he gets treatment in time to make a second season. Come on John...get it together. For the fans!

What did you think of the new NBC show, Dracula? Reply in the comments below!

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DnD Rating: 7/1O

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