NBC will be bringing “Dracula” to audiences Friday nights in the fall. Today the network put the official preview of the show online, just in advance of the Upfronts, the multi-network previews for media writers and television critics.
“Dracula” has a number of things going for it, including actor Jonathan Rhys Meyers, a director from “The Tudors” and producers from “Downton Abbey.” There are fancy costumes, dramatic lighting and, if the trailer is any measure, a very gothy atmosphere.
What’s missing is the Bram Stoker part.
Since “Dracula” was published by Bram Stoker in 1897, it has been the source for many, many, many works of vampire fiction -- you might even say it is the source of all of them. The mythology of blood-sucking freaks was around before Stoker, but it has been his combination of quirks and foibles -- sleeping in a coffin, physical transformation, garlic avoidance, sucking blood from the neck of virginal maidens until they are depleted, eternal life until death is brought about by a stake in the heart -- that he rolled into one great story.
Some of these trappings are apparent in NBC’s “Dracula” -- the setting in Victorian London, for instance. But the similarities quickly drain away: Our vampire is not from the mountains of Eastern Europe, he’s from America, and he doesn’t call himself Count Dracula. The vampire (Rhys Meyers) is apparently in some kind of battle with his own kind, a la Angel in “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” And while Jonathan Harker and Mina Murray are still brought into the vampire’s circle, she’s no longer an innocent -- she appears to be an old flame (sorry, that’s a bit of a pun, and not a particularly good one).
What with “Twilight,” “True Blood” and the rest of the vampire stories that have found avid fans in popular culture, there is certainly room for another vampire fiction. Why call this one “Dracula” at all? It seems to have left Bram Stoker’s original work far behind.