Saturday, October 26, 2013

NBC's 'Dracula' recap and review: 'The Blood is the Life'

Courtesy NBC
BY LARISSA MRYKALO

A few months back, I heard NBC was bringing a new incarnation of The Count with the ten-episode mini-series, “Dracula.” Having researched and written about this paranormal pop icon extensively and being intrigued with the history since I was a child, I figured I’d sink in my fangs and check it out. It also doesn’t hurt that it stars that lovely Irish lad, Jonathan Rhys Meyers from “The Tudors.”

The episode begins in Romania, 1881 with the discovery of Vlad Tepes Dracula’s fancy tomb. The man examining the resting place is delighted until a mysterious adventurer (I assume because of his Indian Jones garb) comes upon him and slits his throat. He uses the man’s blood to feed and bring Vlad back to life. Apparently, his body contains gears. Or was that inside the coffin? I’m already confused.

Flash forward 15 years later in London and we catch a glimpse of Vlad bathed in candlelight and being schooled by Renfield on how NOT to say “scheduled” because he is now posing as an American business man. He says “shejouled” which is typically not how folks of Romanian descent say it but, well, anyway. He is living in a very large house, he likes lots of candles and his name is Alexander Grayson.

Apparently, he is being introduced to many of the social elites and businessmen at a ball and they are meeting this mystery man for the first time. Did he just move there? Confused again. Ambitious journalist, Jonathan Harker arrives with med student Mena on one arm and Lucy on his other. All of these characters so far are familiar and present in Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel.

Both Mina and Grayson are struck with deja vu when they lock eyes. We know why... reincarnation and all that jazz. Grayson dazzles the ladies and the crowd with a cool demonstration on lighting lightbulbs with the magnetosphere. Magneto? Not sure what’s going on in the back laboooratory to fuel the bulbs but it look like a crossover with “Frankenstein.” There’s a malfunction but we don’t see any more of this catastrophe. Nevertheless, the crowd is amazed and the businessmen are worried it will affect their profits.

These businessmen are clearly the enemy and the whole gist of this shows is about revenge. They're threatened by Grayson and don't want him to succeed. We learn this "revenge" intention in the final scene when the man who gave Grayson his rejuvenation in the tomb, mentions how they are bound by not what they’ve lost, but who took it.

Here are the confusing points, and there were many, at least to me. Who is “Lady Jayne Wetherby” and why is she getting vampire heads brought to her and kick boxing and keeping a vampire gal in a cage. I kind of like her though. In the beginning of the show, she invites Grayson to join her in her box at the opera. He refuses but then meets her in her empty box. Then he seduces her as he gazes at Mena. It's kinda hot...and creepy.

The Order of the Dragon keeps being mentioned, as well as gambling debts. Once again, this has to do with the revenge element. I think. All of this sounds pretty dreadful and scandal prevails. It’s a bit confusing and I assume we'll learn more of this in future episodes. Fun fact: Dracula literally means "Son of the Dragon."

There’s also the man who brought Lady Jane the head in the fancy leather container. He’s got some bad ass vamp killing gear but gets offed by Grayson during a rooftop scuffle. Grayson called him a priest and apparently there are a few of them. Maybe Mina’s professor by the name of Van Helsing knows something about this? Hmmm...

So, overall, this was an introduction episode...to plots and characters. However, I was confused quite a few times. Did I mention that already? We learned that Dracula is posing as American businessman and visionary, Alexander Grayson and that he can be around sunlight but not directly in it. He also loves the ladies but Mina has captured his cold heart. He also has some cool "Matrix"-y moves.

The episode had some funny moments. For example, when, at the opera, Lady Jayne (before her skirt was lifted) said, “I was worried that as an American, you would not understand the word discreet.” to which Grayson responds, “I had to look it up.” He’s hot AND funny? Well thank goodness for that.

There was a moderate gore factor and some titillation but this is NBC not HBO so it can only go so far. There are just so many questions but maybe that’s the point to keep viewers watching and interested. I purposely abstained from reading other recaps and reviews so I could just present this as a I viewed it. I swear I paid attention but I was having trouble "drinking" it all in.

What did you think of the “Dracula” premiere? Will you take another bite next week? Tune in to NBC for “A Whiff of Sulfur” on Friday, November 1 at 10 p.m. ET.

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