The British/American remake of Bram Stoker’s Dracula aired today on NBC and we think it’ll be pretty fun to watch, especially once we learn to tell the old white guys apart.
The show goes with a cold open of a mysterious archeologist slitting his greedy assistant’s throat in order to feed Dracula, who is buried beneath a tomb. Dracula greedily sucks down the blood (since, you know, vampire), and then he is suddenly in a bath surrounded by candles. There is absolutely no explanation for the quick change of setting, but we are assuming they are jumping ahead in time in order to get an unnecessary number of shots of Dracula (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) dressing for a party exceedingly slowly.
We quickly learn that Dracula’s cover identity is Alexander Grayson, American millionaire entrepreneur in London in 1896. There is also a butler named Renfield coaching Dracula in how to talk like an American. The butler clearly knows what Dracula is. He is also awesome.
But there’s not much time for Butler of Awesome, because there’s a party on! Downstairs at the party we are introduced to characters taken from Bram Stoker’s Dracula: Jonathan Harker and Mina Murray. Jonathan is an off-duty reporter, and Dracula inexplicably decides to give him a private interview the next day. The massive gathering of people at the party also serves to introduce Lady Jane and Sir Clyde, who become important later. Mostly, there are a lot of middle-aged white men that we continue to have great difficulty distinguishing from one another.
Finally, Dracula makes an appearance, and we find out that the house is called Carfax manor! We are expecting an entire room dedicated to weird fox puppets.
After suffering through a discussion of patents, we finally get to the main event: Dracula’s big announcement about a new technology that will give free, wireless energy to everyone. Basically, this is what Tesla wanted to do and it turns out Dracula is even using a Tesla coil to do it. But we just ignore that in the show, because Tesla usually gets the shaft in everything.
It works splendidly for about a minute. Then it has technical difficulties, and the engineers from the Titanic have to shut it down. Dracula ends his presentation with a bad pun, flirts with Mina some more, and then the party’s over. As he leaves, Sir Clyde pauses to threaten Dracula, which later gives him the distinction of being Dracula’s first victim.
Dracula justifies his murder by saying that Clyde is a member of the Order of the Dragon, an ancient secret society that has committed atrocities throughout history. They are corrupt, violent, and greedy. Dracula plans to develop free electricity to drain them of their money and power . . . and also kill them occasionally. So, he’s like a vampiric, anti-capitalist Dexter. And, bonus, an environmentalist ahead of his time since the Order of the Dragon is heavily into oil.
Evidently the Order or its associates are onto the whole vampires killing people thing since the show directly cuts to a shot of a man in a trench coat packing some seriously heavy weaponry, including a cross. He slices off Sir Clyde’s head with some handy and surprisingly well-concealed swords, carries it through London in a hat box, and delivers it to Lady Jane and her colleagues. Mostly, we just learn that Lady Jane & Co. are anti-vampire and pretty high up in the Order.
Meanwhile, Dracula meets with the reporter, Mr. Harker, and Dracula is forced to avoid the sunlight streaming in from a window that Harker opened. As they talk, there is some painfully obvious contrast between Harker, one of Mina’s love interests, sitting in the sunlight and Dracula, the other love interest, sitting in darkness. One is dark and brooding and the other is pure and safe, see? See? SEE?!
Harker, the great reporter, only takes three notes during the whole interview: Visionary, Delusional, and Egomaniac. Apparently he doesn’t plan to use any quotes in this article.
After this super revealing interview, we find out that Mina wants to be a doctor since she talks with Van Helsing, her professor, who laments that, while she is very smart, her surgical technique is subpar. Van Helsing advises her to have a steady heart and that will steady her shaking hands. The show really wants you to notice that Van Helsing is here, because the characters say his name an inordinate amount of times during this scene and another, shorter scene that has no purpose in the plot but to allow the characters to say “Van Helsing.”
Mina evidently has a very busy social calendar, because soon enough she is at the opera. Dracula is, of course, also there skulking in darkness as symbolism demands. He goes to Lady Jane’s box, apparently to admire the fact that her neckline is about one centimeter short of a nip slip. They flirt, he fingers her and watches Mina, all while quoting his Word of the Day calendar at Lady Jane. Then he licks blood off her lip, which is a rookie move to do to a vampire hunter. Lady Jane is in the throes of rapture, though, so she doesn’t seem to notice.
However, we later see that Lady Jane fights punching bags pretty well and keeps a vampire in a cage, so there’s hope that she will become kinda badass.
Finally, as the episode winds down we get some action! After Lady Jane and the punching bags we have Dracula fighting Trench Coat on a rooftop with full-on (really badly done) slow motion jumps right out of The Matrix or Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Dracula wins of course, but he warns Trench-coat that he will kill all of the Order. Trench-coat’s final words are “You are Dracula” in the most gurgly voice ever.
A mysterious dude with a beard appears in Dracula’s house (truthfully, we could have seen him before, but all the white guys look alike) and warns Dracula that he is becoming impetuous by killing Order members. Beardo and Dracula are in league together, both working to take down the Order, but with very different ideas of how to go about it. Beardo is also Mysterious Archeologist from the beginning. In the final scene we also, less than shockingly, discover that Dracula holds a grudge against the Order because they burned his wife at the stake.
Stay tuned! Because the previews promise a show that mostly seems to consist of blood, sex, and death. Basically, all vampire stereotypes rolled into one, minus the sparkly ones. And the lack of sparkle can only be a positive here.
Update: We just figured out that Mysterious Archeologist is in fact Van Helsing, so the great vampire and the great vampire hunter are in league together. That is how much all the middle-aged white guys on this show look alike; it took us another 12 hours to realize Van Helsing wasn’t just the random medical professor.