With the current trend for taking horror classics to the small screen, it was only a matter of time before Bram Stoker’s vampire masterpiece made the transition. The Tudors star Jonathan Rhys Meyers is taking the mantle of the iconic Count from legendary portrayals by Bela Lugosi, Gary Oldman, Christopher Lee, and… Leslie Nielsen. But what else can we expect to see?
Unlike the excellent Hannibal or the poor Bates Motel, this isn’t the story of how Count Dracula became a vampire or. And like the rumoured TV version of American Psycho, we won’t be finding out what happened next (there’s a whole host of Hammer movies to tell us that.) And don’t expect to see Dracula feasting on young, unsuspecting college girls in modern day Los Angeles either. Dracula is sticking to the Victorian era, to the original heroes of Mina, Lucy, Jonathan, and Van Helsing (played by the guy who played Dracula in the 2012 Dracula 3D), and there are many corsets.
That said, there is still a prequel
That would be the online animated featurette, Dracula Rising, that NBC have created to promote the show. Unfortunately, they haven’t seen fit to make the video available in my region, so any US readers will have to tell me if it’s any good.
And it is still quite different
One of the biggest changes to the original story is that Count Dracula poses as an American entrepreneur named Alexander Grayson bringing modern science to Victorian London. Presumably, this change is so Rhys-Meyers doesn’t have to attempt an embarrassing Bela Lugosi impression. And partly because US network TV still seems to think American audiences won’t respond to shows where they can’t hear their own accent. The trailer also seems to imply that Dracula invented electricity, which is amazing. Another change is that Renfield is an apparently sane (judging from his brief appearance in the trailer), pipe-smoking African American. Renfield is already my favourite, but Renfield is always my favourite when adaptations bother to use him.
Whether you know him from August Rush, Bend It Like Beckham or The Tudors, most of the promotion for Dracula rests on the casting of Jonathan Rhys Meyers in the titular role, but he’s not the only notable star. Merlin’s Katie McGrath leaves behind Morgana for the altogether less evil Lucy Westenra, and she also leaves behind her distinctive black hair. I know that she’s naturally fair-haired, but the blonde looks strange on her after five years of Merlin. There’s also Arrow’s Jessica De Gouw as Mina Murray, and a host of other actors whose faces you might recognise, if not their names.
It takes more than a little inspiration from Gary Oldman
From current publicity material and trailers, it looks like they’re running with the whole “Mina looks like my dead wife” backstory. Which is cool, but I always preferred the “feeding off Mina to get revenge” plot of the original story.
It’s very sexy
Dracula was a damn sexy novel back in Bram Stoker’s day, so it’s only fitting that this adaption would follow suit. Plus, Jonathan Rhys Meyers has a reputation to uphold following the ludicrously horny antics of Henry Tudor and co. In the two trailers released so far, I’ve spotted at least three sexy bits.
Jonathan Rhys Meyers has a moustache and a tiny beard
And I’m going to be distracted by it until at least episode three. In flashback moments, he also wears a long wig.
It’s bound to be melodramatic and insane
How have I come to this conclusion? Well, it’s because it’s from the producers of Downton Abbey and the showrunner, Daniel Knauf, was the creator of Carnivalé. Imagine a show that’s a cross between those two, add vampires, and you’re pretty much there.
Appetite Whet? Check out the trailer below!