More on Dracula (2013)

Dracula (2013) was a series I very much liked. Unfortunately, it was cancelled, but I am hoping for more series like this one. One that takes risks by changing stories we know into new stories that are still enjoyable.

Kbatz gave us her take on the series yesterday.
Now, a few more opinions from our staff.

by Emerian Rich

I really enjoyed the Dracula series. I liked the way they changed the traditional story of Dracula with Renfield more of a butler than a crazed lunatic and Van Helsing a doctor who woke Drac to help him put down a secret society that had wronged them both. I liked the mixing of the bio-electric galvanism with the story making it almost Frankensteinish and trying (with the look) to be a little steampunkish. I also loved the camera shots. When Mina gets attacked and can only see and hear what’s going on from a distance, the director did a really great job of showing us only what Mina would see, keeping the monster out of the shot in a way that made you feel like you were there. I was sad to see it cancelled, but hope for more like it in the future.

Dracula2

by Dan Shaurette

NBC’s Dracula was a very intriguing twist on the characters we know and love. I am the kind of fan who can enjoy a show like this, like a new comic book version of an old classic. At first, I did have to turn off that voice that was screaming that the characters are not the same, but it wasn’t hard to do. My biggest complaint is that this could have been any vampire story set in 1897 London, with steampunk touches, Jack the Ripper references, and bloody mystery. Instead they cheated by giving characters names from Stoker’s tale. They didn’t have to.

I think they even wanted to tell a new story with new characters, as evidenced by having Dracula use the alias “Alexander Grayson”, and him wooing/fighting the delicious Lady Jane. (She was my favorite character, by the way.) But it is as if they came up with the clever use of the Order of the Dragon and it became too deeply entrenched. So they ran with it. Conspiracies and reboots for everyone. I loved the story that they told and am sad it only had one season. Would it have been more successful if it had been on cable TV instead of a network like NBC? I was (pleasantly) surprised by the sex scenes, gore, and violence on the show. I doubt there’s more they could have done if they’d been on cable. But maybe the question then is, was it too risqué for broadcast television? Yes, maybe we are still too Puritan for Victorian vices.

Speaking of cable TV, let’s look at Showtime’s Penny Dreadful. I wonder which came first in the production. Did Showtime hear about NBC’s Dracula reboot and decide to come up with something? Or was this just a happy coincidence? Are they both just cashing in on the popularity of Steampunk? I know I’m not complaining. Penny Dreadful is another Victorian horror fantasy drama. It brings together characters from Frankenstein, Dorian Gray, Dracula, The Wolfman, The Mummy, and re-imagines them all, but for the most part, they are still familiar. The interesting difference is that (to my recollection) Dracula is never mentioned by name, though we have the Murray family involved with vampires and even Van Helsing made an appearance. There is an enigmatic alpha vampire, so we’ll see if he takes up the mantle or not.

Where Dracula made me grumble about how the beloved characters were all askew, I thought Penny Dreadful’s take was refreshing. I felt watching PD like we could be watching the “True Origin” of the characters, wheres as Dracula was saying, “oooh, we made Lucy a lesbian, aren’t we clever and topical?” While both shows introduced new “strong female characters” in Lady Jane and Vanessa Ives, Miss Ives is a conflicted, complex, anti-hero seeking redemption, and Lady Jane in the end was really just a grown up Buffy. Nothing wrong with that, but Vanessa is just more developed. In fact, I dare say, Penny Dreadful is Vanessa Ives’ world and everyone else is merely living in it. “The séance scene” is my favorite moment on TV in recent memory.

What it may boil down to between the two shows ultimately is that Penny Dreadful is a period horror series and Dracula was more of a period drama with vampires. Dracula may be done for now, but we still have a second season of Penny Dreadful to look forward to and hopefully even more to follow.

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What did you think of the series?

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