Television: Dracula, "Pilot"

I thought I'd give this a try. It was okay. I take issue with any show that feels the need to lay out its agenda so blatantly. But maybe enough television viewers are slow or stupid, maybe they need things spelled out for them, so . . .

The episode opens in 1881 Romania, where Vlad (Dracula) is entombed in an iron box that is conveniently set in a very open sunken cavern so that he can be easily accessed. Equally marvelous: It only requires one man's blood to fully restore him, even after however long he's been down there.

Skip ahead to 1896. London. Vlad is now masquerading as an American entrepreneur with an interest in technology (specifically free electricity) named Alexander Grayson. But what he really wants to do is hunt down members of the Order of the Dragon and get revenge on them for ravaging the villages of his homeland so long ago, and particularly for burning his beloved wife at the stake. Oh, so Dracula's the hero here. He's actually fighting the evils of capitalism—the Order of the Dragon's power comes from their money, of course, and their money comes from them sitting on the boards of large corporations. Meanwhile, Dracky is a humanitarian, ready to give everyone the electricity they need, no strings wires attached. Free.

Whatever. The pilot introduces a slew of other characters, using the gimmick of Grayson throwing a huge party so that we have excuses to find out everyone's names and occupations. It's not a terribly clever way of handling it. Renfield (no longer crazy or playing with flies) gets the goods on people like Mina (a medical student and dead ringer for the late Mrs. Dracula) and Harker (a journalist, because we need a character who has a vested interest in getting to the bottom of things) . . . Lucy is still around, too, and as much of a hedonist as ever.

I've always balked a bit at the whole Mina-as-reincarnated-Mrs.-Dracula story, not because I don't think it could happen (I'm pretty open about what I think is possible), but because (a) it seems highly unlikely she'd look exactly the same, and (b) I always feel the handling of it is so over-the-top it becomes difficult not to gag on instead of swallow the story. In this version, I find Mina somewhat unlikeable, though I have trouble putting my finger on exactly why. There's something squeaky about her—not her voice, mind, but about the way she behaves. It makes me want to grind my teeth.

With the plot itself laid out so very plainly, and then a host of characters thrown at the viewers . . . ::shrug:: I found I was not made to care about any of them very much. And I have to care about them in order to want to keep watching. Otherwise, it makes no difference to me whether Dracula succeeds in bringing down the Order of the Dragon, or whether Harker gets the girl, or whatever else is at stake. If I had to pick, I'd say Harker was the character I most hoped would do well. But other than that, I don't think Dracula quite captured enough of my interest to keep me watching.

Still, I think there are plenty of people who will love this show. It's a good fit with Grimm. And I think there's promise in the plot here, but something off about the pacing and the character development. I have enough shows on my current schedule, but if I weren't already booked, I might consider adding Dracula to see where it goes. As things stand, however . . . Nah.


Christine Rains said...

I was disappointed by the pilot too. It was too much in your face about it all. Plus, I couldn't stop thinking about the porn mustache as you called it a little while ago! I might watch it again, but I'm not going to make any particular effort to do so, especially when NaNoWriMo starts this Friday and I'll only have the night to write.

M said...

I think they were trying to create instant momentum, but I prefer character development. I suppose they were laboring under the assumption we'd know the characters from the novel, but . . . They really shouldn't assume, and I would have preferred something fresher. And yes, the porn 'stache is a problem for me!

In short, it wasn't awful, but I don't count it as required viewing. I could take it or leave it.