NBC’s new show, Dracula, kicked off this Friday.
As someone loathe to turn down a horror film or show, I tuned in. Sure, we’ve had more than enough of vampires but… what the heck?
My enjoyment, however, was short-lived.
First, let’s meet the new Dracula, played by the brooding Jonathan Rhys-Meyers (you may know him from The Tudors). It’s 1881, and Dracula is awakened in Romania. Next, he’s in London-town. Dracula’s cover story?: some sort of American pioneer (name: Alexander Grayson) who’s moved across the pond, eager to assert his business dominance. (Oh, you silly Dracula films of old — this Dracula is an entrepreneur!) His ground-breaking business idea? Wireless electricity! (Yes, hang with me here.) Our vampire demonstrates this in the opening scene’s swanky ball, where he awkwardly passes out lightbulbs to the guests and the bulbs are promptly lit in the guests’ hands. Wow! This is a man thinking of wireless tech. And Jonathan Harker? No longer a lawyer, he is now an ambitious reporter (and not a very good one at taking notes, for that matter: when interviewing Dracula, our trusty vampire gives a lofty, quote-worthy summary of his background and views, to which Jonathan simply scribbles on his notepad: “Visionary.” No shorthand existed in Victorian London? Maybe this Jeff Bezos style Dracula can drum up a laptop for ole Mr. Harker.)
But if the silliness of the show does not offend, the following does. When discussing his adversary — the shadowy ‘Order of the Dragon’ and its secret council — Dracula’s exposition notes that this group has operated for centuries, asserting its will throughout the ages. Precisely, 500 years ago, they imposed their will through “the cross” and “branding men and women heretics,” innocents who died burned alive “screaming for a God who never came.”
The song always remains the same: need a villain in a flashback? The Catholic Church! Medieval Christians! Mention witch burning! Hey, maybe we’ll be treated to another flashback where Dracula bemoans the Spanish Inquisition! Surely, the writers can manage to work that in.
For good measure, an ode to Darwin is thrown in, when Dracula admiringly mentions the former during his interview with Harker and speaks of what Darwin “taught us.”
Interestingly, this ‘Dracula as a victim revolting against oppressors,’ or slams against medieval Christians, is nowhere to be found in Bram Stoker’s novel, on which this series is based. Dracula’s background in the novel is, in fact, wholly neglected but it is indicated he studied black magic and, well, is simply a bad guy. The show’s sneer against medieval Christianity — or, at the very least, its use by mysterious groups as a means to their ends — is therefore unique.
Really, NBC? You couldn’t just make a fun, escapist show about the world’s most famous vampire without a dig at Christianity? Let me guess: crosses and holy water will not ‘work’ on the vampires in this show. It’s a recent trend we have seen in the entertainment industry’s approach to vampires (even dating back to the original Blade): after all, that would mean there’s actually some mystical meaning or supernatural power behind this whole God thing.
NBC’s Dracula: Rated P for Pathetic.
(An earlier version of this article referred to “Fright Night” — the intended reference was “Blade,” now shown.)