Pilot Perception: Dracula

Welcome to Pilot Perception, our feature in which we break down the first episode of each new show in order to help you decide whether it’s worth your time.

The Show: Dracula, NBC in the U.S. and Global in Canada, Fridays at 10/9c

The Pedigree: The show was created by newcomer Cole Haddon and written by Haddon with Daniel Knauf (Carnivale), who executive produces with Tony Krantz (24, Sports Night), Colin Callender (The White Queen), and Gareth Neame (Downton Abbey). The pilot was directed by Steve Shill (Dexter).

The Cast & How You Know Them: The show stars Jonathan Rhys Meyers (The Tudors) as Dracula, along with Oliver Jackson-Cohen (Mr. Selfridge), Jessica De Gouw (Arrow), Thomas Kretschmann (The River), Katie McGrath (Merlin), Nonso Anozie (Game of Thrones), and Victoria Smurfit (Trial & Retribution).

The Premise: In this new take on the classic Bram Stoker novel, Dracula is living in Victorian London pretending to be an American entrepreneur trying to introduce electricity to society. He’s trying to get revenge on the people who turned him into a vampire, but gets sidetracked when he meets a woman who seems to be the reincarnation of his wife.

A Taste:

What Works: This show is completely insane, but in a way that I personally found pretty enjoyable. There are all sort of things at play here, in a delightfully wacky combination – Industrialism! Opera! Tabloid journalism! Victorian lady doctors! Alternative energy! Social climbing! Steampunk! And, you know, actual vampires and vampire hunters. I enjoy the idea of the ancient, violent Order of the Dragon now controlling things through business and social maneuvering. And Victorian England is one of my favorite time periods to watch; we’ve already got a Jack the Ripper reference and I look forward to seeing what other bits of history get pulled in.

What Doesn’t: This version is very far from the original, and as I said it’s completely insane, so it absolutely will not be for everyone, and if you’re attached to the original novel or other versions, you may find this maddening. All the varied elements don’t really feel like a cohesive whole yet, and some of them – especially the Order of the Dragon stuff – were confusing in a way I wasn’t sure was intentional. The pacing is off, too; for a show with so much going on, this pilot seemed surprisingly slow at times. The writing was pretty heavy-handed and melodramatic. And Jonathan Rhys Meyers’s American accent leaves a lot to be desired.

Our Favorite Line: “I was concerned that as an American you might not understand the meaning of the word ‘discreet.'” “I had to look it up.”

You Might Like This if you’re a fan of Jonathan Rhys Meyers, or a fan of vampire fiction who doesn’t mind wild diversions from the traditional mythology. If the idea of not-very-scary but completely insane horror set in Victorian England sounds appealing to you, definitely give this a try.

If You’re Interested: Check for the pilot on the NBC, Hulu, or Global sites, then tune in next Friday at 10/9c for episode two.

(Photo courtesy of NBC.)

3 thoughts on “Pilot Perception: Dracula

  1. This show sounds completely and awesomely nuts! Seems like “creative re-imaginings” of fairy tales, myths, and novels are big nowadays, and catching on with audiences (at least if “Sleepy Hollow” is any indication.

    The “violent Order of the Dragon now controlling things through business and social maneuvering” makes me think there might be some mafia-style drama, too..? Can’t wait!

  2. I love when they they mess with source material when it’s a classic like this and has been done so many times before. We definitely need some new twists to keep the story interesting and this sure seems to be doing that. I’m not thrilled with his American accent either, but I’ll forgive him almost anything to have him on my tv each week. I’m looking forward to seeing what future episodes bring.

    1. His accent kind of reminds me of Ed Westwick as Chuck Bass on “Gossip Girl”, by which I mean it’s definitely distracting. But hey, at least it’s not as bad a Rebel Wilson’s on “Super Fun Night”!

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