Wednesday, November 20, 2013

TV Review: NBC's Dracula

So anyone out there watching "Dracula"?  (I supposed it's only NBC's Dracula in the US.)  I've now watched the first two episodes and I feel able to give some sort of opinion.  (Yes, 4 episodes have aired, but I've been busy and I'm always watching TV way late.)

First, obviously I have an interest in Victorian era productions and costuming.  Second, there has definitely been an attempt in this production and its marketing to appeal to the steampunk aesthetic.  Third, I've pretty much been obsessed with Dracula since the age of 13 or so.  I've read and watched a LOT of Dracula adaptations, good and bad.

Dracula's Steampunk Lab
In the case of this TV show, I think my knowledge really works against my enjoyment.  The show is already rather infamous among historical costumers for being hilariously inaccurate, and that's certainly difficult to ignore.  Similarly, when you really know your Dracula, the show is practically designed to make you splutter and shout, "WHAT?" at your television.

If you want to see some of my own spluttering after watching the first episode, see my initial reaction on Tumblr.  The premise of the show and the ways in which it has twisted the Dracula story would take a really long time to explain.  I do think in general the show would probably be better if it didn't call itself "Dracula" and had just gone for an original story.  Dracula is now trying to sell the world on Nikola Tesla's technology  his wireless energy plan in order to stop a secret society named after him who kill vampires and people who might or might not be witches and look I can't even explain this.   Mina is a medical student, Harker is a journalist, Lucy is rich, Renfield is both black and doesn't eat bugs.  Things are....different.

But ok, after the initial WTF factor of the first episode, the second episode is a lot less difficult to
Mina and Lucy in their prom dresses.
swallow.  Even the costuming and set design seemed to have calmed down to at least TRY to look Victorian. (But really, those ball gowns in the first episode?? WTF WERE THOSE?  As I said on Tumblr I obviously have no problem with Victorian-esque-but-not-period-accurate-fashion.  It's kinda my whole thing, in fact, but these were just UGLY and HORRIBLE.  There are so many better things that could have been done!)

The second episode was much less offensive in its costuming.  Mina's blue and white outfit wasn't really period, and she will persist in wearing her hair down like she's 12 years old, but I can overlook those things.  And although there are a number of plot elements that I am still a bit dubious about, I'm willing to see where they go and try to enjoy the weird ride on the ay.

I'm SO jealous of Dracula's ride.
As far as the steampunk elements of the series, the first episode included not only a lot of Tesla-derived science, but also an entire lab where you imagine the set designer's direction was "make it as steampunk as possible."  I'm not counting the fugly dresses as steampunk because steampunk isn't synonymous with "inaccurate attempts at Victorian style".   The second episode features a very cool horseless carriage that, while really freaking steampunk is also period accurate to what steam-powered cars actually looked like.

Overall, whether you enjoy "Dracula" or not is going to depend on your taste.  If you like overblown gothic romance, then this is right up your alley.  The whole time I'm watching the show I'm aware that the teenage version of me would fall head over heels in love with it.   Now, I do have to say that I'm looking forward to watching more and that it's fun, in a brainless sort of way.  (Don't try to really follow the plot, is my advice.) And even when I'm rolling my eyes or groaning at some wretched costuming, I'm still ENJOYING doing so.  My husband, on the other hand, is unabashedly enjoying it.

Have you watched it?  What did you think?


  1. I completely agree with you! I did enjoy it but it was quite a let down in terms of the costumes and also how little it follows the origional story, which I have also always loved so that annoyed me. The redeeming factor being Jonathan Rhys Myers playing the lead role ( I have loved him since he starred in The Tudors). I will however persevere and watch on to see how it all plays out

  2. I also have to add, having now watched the 3rd episode since writing this, that there are some unfortunate racial overtones and poor treatment of LGBT characters that are rubbing me the wrong way. On the other hand, there is Renfield who is amazing and has the best wardrobe on the show.

  3. I've watched all four epsodes and agree with you pretty much word-for-word. I was alternately cringing and screeching through the first episode and those ballgowns were just an assault on my eyes. But, really, Dracula is constantly being re-imagined and this version is at least interesting and nice to look at. I can forgive a lot if I decide the story is worth it and so far this is. The most horrendous offenses in hair and wardrobe tend to be with the three main female characters; I just sort of squint and focus on the backgrounds when one of them shows up in something too awful. So when I can just park my brain and let the art flow, Sexytime Steampunk Dracula is kind of a hoot.

  4. So far I like this unique adaptation. I am also a huge Dracula nut. I do agree that the first episode dresses were a bit over the top. After that though they have gotten much better. I really like Lucy's dresses. They are (like her) flashy, colorful, look-at-me while Mina appears in more subdued colors. I totally love everything Steampunk about this show.

  5. I think they should move it too cable this Dracula belongs on HBO. Why because too many pople were complaining about it's so call sex and. And gore . So nbc had to tone it down. That's why the show is dull. If they come out with season two I hope please put it on cable . This Dracula belongs on hbo jrm. Makes a sexy Dracula just has we did with the Tudors. And change the strip a little the show will go place . The frist epsoiod was good. But some people. Were tlling the nnetwork to tone it down or we will boycott the show. And there's jrm drinking problem he is back in rehab. Hopefully he can get together. We would hate to see the show go but if the fans don't write to the network and say look this Dracula belongs on cable and work on. The script a bit it will be to late I too love the show . But time running out so someone better pay attention. Putting in on cable next to true blood would be great. Because ture blood is coming to an. End hopefully they will listen because the are getting lower. By putting it on cable they can really go place and no one can. Complain

  6. I haven't watched it, but I have seen other shows that should have had a different title, as they had nothing to do with the original.