All those that have yet to watch last night’s series premiere of Dracula should go and do so now or exit this screen. This is not a spoiler free blog. THIS REVIEW MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS! You’ve been warned.
As someone that has read Bram Stoker’s Dracula, and found it tediously boring, this was not a terrible revival of the tale. This new retelling of the old story has been given a fresh take to it, but still sticking to Victorian era I recall it being set in. That being said, this was not the best pilot to a series I’ve ever seen. If I were someone that only gave a series one chance, I would be unlikely to revisit this show again. But I am not, so I will give this a few more episodes to catch my interest.
One thing that caught my attention was how much I did not like Jonathan Rhy Meyer’s American accent. It wasn’t badly done or anything, but it was just so boisterously average, when his beautifully natural Irish accent is so much nicer that I don’t know why anyone would want to cover it up. But I do understand the need to have him play American; I just don’t feel drawn to his voice the way I am by his natural accent.
While I do feel that with this whole vengeance warpath Alexander Grayson is on does provide for interesting mythology and a possibly long series, there wasn’t much more to this bland sort of episode. For around three-quarters of the time spent watching this episode, I was rather bored. Yes, he’s a vampire, he’s the vampire, and vampires are very hot for the time being (although not as much as five years ago), there wasn’t anything new to this take on vampires. I’ve seen this before, millions of people have seen this before, this is not refreshing or original – especially since this book has had many renditions. But there’s not much to this character that catches my interest just yet, or to this series. Yes, he’s out for vengeance, that’s one intriguing notion, but there’s no pizzazz to this story. I don’t need flashy, but I do need something to draw me in and excite me.
I’m not sure if I was the only one, but I found it a little difficult to follow the conversations at times throughout the episode. It was almost as if this felt like the second or third episode in a series, where a lot of things have already been set up and I’m jumping in in the middle of the conversation. That’s how it made me feel, like it wasn’t explained quite well enough. Especially during the conversation between Jonathan Harker and Grayson, and the conversation between the two board members in the carriage before Grayson and Kruger fight. Part of it, I think, had to do with a lack of differentiating tone. There were very little inflections, or ups and downs, to the way people were speaking. Not quite monotone, but nothing to really demonstrate how most were feeling as they spoke. But perhaps that’s just polite English conversation. If it is, I much prefer my North American upbringing in that sense.
Van Helsing’s character I was a little unimpressed with. Grayson is played by the wonderful aforementioned Meyers, Mina, Jonathan, and Lucy are all played by attractive in their own right actors, but Van Helsing is played by a man I wouldn’t look twice at walking down the street. He just looks like an average Joe, nothing special. Perhaps that is the objective of the creators, to not have him be so encompassing that he’s easy to notice, but I’d think they’d want to be able to at least differentiate the actors in each scene. There’s nothing to him. Plus, correct me if I’m wrong, I can’t remember him working with Dracula in the book. I could be wrong, it’s been four years since I read the unremarkable text, but the two of them being in cahoots just seems wrong to me. Sure they have a common enemy, but I don’t think it’s enough – he’s Van Helsing.
One other thing I had issue with was the random addition of the opening title credit. There was no music to it, it was just silent, and it just felt thrown in to splice a scene from fitting together perfectly. I had a ‘What?’ moment when it came up on screen.
Two things I did enjoy were the wonderfully done special effects, and the choreographed dance in Grayson’s ballroom. The former may well have been great simply because of the smartly skewed lighting illuminating Grayson as he reanimated into the beautiful Meyers, but that would still be something well worked on for using those tricks to enhance the effect. The latter I just thought should belong at a gorgeous masquerade ball, or that One Republic music video. I always find it so astonishing when people dance in unison; it can be quite mesmerizing. Also, the way they pilfered in the gossip about the man that had invited all of them there was perfectly fitted.
Although I don’t feel like we were really given enough of the depths to some of these characters, I do feel the need to give this series another chance. As a fan of the gothic, I will try to power through, but I do hope that the blandness to this episode was just to set up the series going forward. This certainly wasn’t the worst premiere episode I’ve ever seen, but it was skillfully the best either. The acting was mostly good, and the writing so-so, better than a fair amount of television these days, so I’ll give it another shot.
My rating: 6 out of 10.
“Give me one good reason I should not peel you like a grape.” – Grayson shouts at Van Helsing.
Alright, so I hope by this publication you realize I won’t be posting a Best Performances of the Week. I haven’t been feeling it for the last few weeks, I just don’t think many performances have warranted it, so we’ll see how this next week goes. If I don’t find anything greatly done in Haven, I may just move that the BPW to Saturday’s instead of their usual Thursday’s being that I have no programs to watch on Saturday. Anyways, I’m off to go watch Haven, but don’t expect a review of that tonight, I can already feel the exhaustion seeping into my bones.