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Dracula is Really Boring

December 2, 2013

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I tried really really hard to watch Dracula and enjoy it.  And as much as I love revising myths and making them new, there’s really very little to love about this particular show.

The setup is thus: Dracula (the still delicious Jonathan Rhys Meyers) is pretending to be an American businessman in London with his trusty sidekick Renfield, played by Nonso Anozie, a hulking block of a black man with zero resemblance to the bug-eating weakling on the classic tale.  Dracula’s real purpose is to take down the Order of the Dragon, a cult dedicating to eradicating vampires, though apparently they are the ones who created Dracula in the first place.  It’s all rather confusing.

The main reason Dracula is after them is because they killed his wife. However, he is obsessed with a woman in town, Mina Murray (Jessica de Gouw), because she appears to the reincarnation of his dead wife.  In one of the only ways that the show is true to its origin, Mina is engaged to Jonathan Harker (Oliver Jackson-Cohen), who works for Dracula, and her best friend is indeed Lucy Westenra (Katie McGrath).  But that’s where the similarity ends. Lucy is in love with Mina and Mina is going to school to become a doctor.  Two things that are not exactly approved of in Victorian society.

Surely by this point you’re thinking that Van Helsing (Thomas Kretschmann) is very high up in the Order of the Dragon and is Dracula’s primary nemesis.  You’d be wrong.  He is, in fact, working with Dracula to bring down the Order, while at the same time working on a serum that would allow Dracula to walk in daylight.  Oh, and he’s also a medical professor and Mina is his right hand girl.

While this could all be very interesting, I actually find it hard to focus on the show.  None of the revamps (pun intended) on these characters is particularly engaging. Dracula is obsessive. Renfield is monotonous. Harker is whiny. Lucy is too over the top. Mina is tolerable, but only just. Van Helsing is dull.

There is one character however, who is fascinating every time she is on screen.  Victoria Smurfit plays Lady Jayne Wetherby,  a vampire hunter high up in the Order of the Dragon. She beds Dracula, not knowing that he is the one she’s after, while being manipulated by him. And while Lucy’s and Mina’s dalliances away from Victorian ideals for women seem forced, Lady Jayne’s autonomy is celebratory. If the show were about her, that would be a show worth watching.

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