How is it the end of October already?! I swear I just wrote about my anticipation for NBC’s ‘Dracula‘ a few weeks ago and, yet, the premiere has come and gone. And it was pretty damned awesome. First off, hats off to the quality of this production. I felt as if I were actually in the cinema watching a movie as opposed to a television show! Filming, sound, costume, post production, EVERYTHING is top notch. The credit sequence alone is visually lush and satisfying, an excellent complement to the show’s content. ‘Dracula’ is not a half-assed effort by any means.
The pilot opened with what appeared to be a run of the mill grave robbing except one of the culprits has no idea that he was about to be sacrificed for Dracula’s liquid lunch. After all, “The Blood Is The Life” states the man who, for some reason, thinks this resurrection is a good idea. I’m not arguing, mind you, but he (identity unknown) has obvious ulterior motives! Robber #1 slashes the throat of Robber #2 and, as the blood splashes over The Impaler’s face, his flesh regenerates as he’s brought back to “life”. The scene then segue’s to a similar one of Vlad rising…from the bath. HERE’S WHERE WE THANK NBC, OKAY? Oh, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, you’re still the embodiment of “edible” and I’ve missed that scar on your belly more than I can say. *daydreams* *daydreams some more* Ahem. Yes. We’re now about a decade later in fair Londinium where our favorite vampire is now in the guise of one Alexander Grayson, an American industrialist trying to revolutionize the energy business for reasons not yet revealed. Good times.
So Grayson is throwing a “holla back, London” bash at his home, the lavish Carfax Manor (say it with a British accent). The top tier of society in primary attendance, in walks Jonathan Harker (Oliver Jackson-Cohen) flanked by Mina Murray (Jessica De Gouw) and Lucy Westenra (Katie McGrath looking eerily like Keira Knightly and I’d like them both for Xmas). As Lucy’s guests, they attended mainly out of curiosity. Just who IS Alexander Grayson? It’s the same question even the hoity toity speculate about as they take potshots at how much of a showoff the mysterious Mr. Grayson is, with his expensive champagne glasses and fancy ballroom. How dare he be so American?! The nerve! “How can we properly mock him if we haven’t set eyes on the man?” *eye roll* There’s a palpable air of class discrimination from the get-go, something that becomes even more pervasive as the evening progresses; we’re already being shown who the douches are so that we get an idea how they later earn their individual fates. And fail to mourn them. Oh, well! Then, suddenly, it is time! Renfield, Vlad/Grayson’s majordomo played by the fabulously perfect Nonso Anozie, announces that the host is ready to make his grand entrance. Dun, dun, dunnnnnnnn.
Alexander (so many ways to address this character, omgaw) hits the stairs and…time sloooooooooowwwwws as him and Mina lock eyes. I shiver just thinking about it, as if someone just whispered “Mufasa” in my ear. There’s a flash of them together from another time and place before he gets it together, formally welcoming his
victims guests before instructing Renfield to find out all he can about the “woman in the blue satin, creme chiffon”. Oh, and the man with her as well because know thy competition, eh, Drac? Meanwhile, Mina is busy trying to hide her fit of vapors from Jonathan. QUICK! SOMEONE TELL THIS GIRL THAT THIS IS A JUDGEMENT FREE ZONE. And it looks like Vlad isn’t the only predator in the equation; Lady Jayne Wetherby (Victoria Smurfit) pops out of nowhere to basically be like, “Shorty, can I hit that?” But we soon find out there’s more to this chick than just someone trying to scratch an itch.
In doing his rounds, Vlad approaches some of the aforementioned douches. IT DOES NOT GO WELL. They don’t want to hear of his ideas and wouldn’t deign to sell any of their patents to a lowly American! Little do they know that, I suspect, they’re all playing right into his hands. These people are being tested and being found wanting. This serves the dual purpose of allowing Vlad to commiserate with Jonathan though, inadvertently bringing Mina right.to.him. Again, they’re momentarily hypnotized by one another to where Mina comments that she swears they’ve met before. Cliche? Of course. Does it work? Of course! Now the games begin. Alexander demonstrates the science he’s created for the future of energy and ye olde douches start to shit their pants because all their money comes from petroleum. Oops. Whatever Dracula’s plan is, we have the official “how” of it. Cue Lady Jayne hunting up Vlad to offer him an enjoyable opera in her private box. I’M DONE. Never suggest a hook-up when you can just invite someone over to an opera in your box, okay? Okay.
Sir Clive decides to insult his host for being an upstart and vows to never let him succeed. Well, shit, next time hang a dinner bell around your neck! Back at Chez Dracul, Renfield is shaking his head at Vlad making figurative coleslaw out of Clive but here’s where we get our “why” of everything! BECAUSE, REALLY, DOESN’T THE FATHER OF ALL VAMPIRES HAVE SOMETHING BETTER TO DO THAN ALL THIS? Apparently, all Los Douches belong to The Order Of The Dragon, a worldwide organization of evil individuals willing to destroy anyone/anything in order to amass wealth and power. Flashbacks provide that their past actions are what “killed” Vlad and his wife; they went around burning villagers alive in the name of the Church. The Order has all of their money tied up in oil and, if he can take away that money, Vlad can take away the Order’s power and cripple them forever. I guess revenge is sweeter than virgin’s blood?
As the episode continues, we see “Alexander” start to weave his web, manipulating everyone with ease. Lady Jayne proves to be as shady as suspected, indeed succeeding in getting Vlad to visit her box. While Van Helsing (Thomas Kretschmann) makes an appearance as Mina’s med school professor, Jonathan dubs Alexander “delusional”, and Vlad does some creepy/sexy stalking of an unsuspecting Mina. There’s even a reference to Jack the Ripper (fuck yeah!) when Sir Clive’s head ends up in a box courtesy of the Order. Just what, what, what?! Such a crazy amount of set up went on in this debut though it didn’t feel overwhelming the way an episode of ‘Game of Thrones’ might be. There were moments that felt a little awkward/slow but they’re ignorable in a pilot for obvious reasons of world building. I’m intrigued to see where they continue to take the classic mythos and whether it can maintain its current sexy, stylish pace. Especially when we only got occasional glimpses of Vlad’s more savage side. More of that, please!
‘Dracula’ airs Fridays at 10pm on NBC.