Dracula "A Whiff of Sulphur" Review: The Count Is Counting His Stock Shares
If there are three things I know about Dracula, King of the Vampires, those things are as follows:
- He likes blood
- He likes women, too
- But he LOVES aggressive business strategies
And all three of them ('specially the business bits) were on display in "A Whiff of Sulphur," the second episode of NBC's insane re-imagining of the famous fanged one as a pioneer of Earth-friendly energy as he battles the evil oil industry. Just so we're straight, I find Dracula to be entirely outrageous YET increasingly compelling. Part of the intrigue comes from wondering exactly how far the series will travel into utterly ridiculous territory, but honestly, I'm oddly into this silliness because I get a kick out of watching Dracula—THE Dracula—run around London with an American accent that sounds like it was downloaded from a Speak-n-Spell, pushing geomagnetic energy on a society that turns off lights by blowing them out.
In "Whiff of Sulphur," Dracula, CEO of DraculaCo, really put his MBA to use by bringing a Wall Street attitude to Baker Street. Armed with the shares of British Imperial Cooling Company he acquired from the widow of a man he killed in the series premiere (classic cutthroat business maneuver), Dracula set forth on an aggressive takeover of the company by offering triple the stock price value of the holdings of Lord Laurent, Co-Chairman of the British Imperial Cooling Company, in order to gain a majority interest. YES! Go get 'em, Dracula! This episode was business-as usual for Mr. Businessman Dracula, as long as "business" literally means "business." Listen to these boardroom gems that were actually uttered in a show about vampires:
- "Our sole purpose in London is to make geomagnetic power a practical reality and wipe out the [Order of the Dragon's] investments in oil." —Van Helsing, former vampire hunter and current CFO, DraculaCo.
- "Of course, I don't have a controlling interest." —Dracula, former badass and current CEO, DraculaCo.
- "Yes, but even if the mere idea [of geomagnetic energy] gets a foothold in the public's imagination it could impact severely on our portfolio." —Dracula's arch-enemy, Mr. Rich White Guy.
What kind of Dracula story is this? NBC's Dracula, that's what, and it's amazing. You came here looking for an undead monster turning lonely ladies into a vampiress harem and you found a savvy business jerk making business pitches as part of an aggro corporate strategy. This is Dracula for the modern age... except back in the Victorian age. Or something like that. Oh just stay with me here, because it's stupid fun and Dracula wasn't done playing Gordon Gecko.
Obviously Laurent refused to sell Dracula his shares in the British Imperial Cooling Company because you'd have to be a pretty bad businessdude to give up a major share of an emerging energy company in a society that's dependent on candles. Side thought: What are the chances that Big Candle attempts to engage in corporate espionage against DraculaCo and the British Imperial Cooling Company for threatening its own stranglehold on London's lighting? NBC, run with that! Dracula vs. the Candlemakers... that should happen by Episode 5.
Dracula's thirst for
blood corporate expansion wouldn't be stymied by a stubborn stockholder, so Mr. Drac focused on his internal workforce, and offered Jonathan Harker a position in DraculaCo. Yes! Dracula, the evil monster who once made a name for himself by impaling his enemies on sharp sticks, actually asked literary figure Jonathan Harker to be his Vice President of Public Affairs. Let me repeat that: Dracula has a Vice President of Public Affairs. Here's a list of things I thought Dracula would have before he had a Vice President of Public Affairs:
- A pet Pomeranian named "Mr. Fluffles" with a pink bow in its hair
- A meddlesome nephew named Oliver who gets into innocent trouble but teaches Dracula lessons about life through the innocent perspective of a child
Harker reluctantly accepted the offer (because Dracula threw a 100-bedroom mansion into the deal) in a plot that was as relevant then as it is now: It sucks to be broke! Harker couldn't even afford to pay for Fencing Brunch, so he and his GF Mina had to rely on Mina's pal Lucy (and Lucy's loaded family) to foot the bill with oversized currency while Harker made mopey poor-man faces.
You know, I'm not even sure Dracula needs to be a period piece at all with its very generalized storylines. In addition to Harker's everyman problem and Dracula's business expansion, Mina was worried about failing an exam at school, Lord Laurent was fiddling around at a gay/tranny club, Harker accidentally got busted in saying that he was going to marry Mina and make her take on womanly pursuits instead of being a doctor, and Dracula got all emo and lovesick over Mina. Wasn't this basically the plot of that one One Tree Hill episode?
Anyway, Mina passed her doctor test (which involved her reaching her hands inside a corpse while professors watched, also WHO CARES) at the top of her class, and Dracula used Laurent's gayness with a young fencer to blackmail Laurent, presumably into selling his stock. (It was also nice to discover that in addition to favoring green energy, Dracula is also a supporter of gay rights who doesn't have a problem with man-on-man love. But Dracula Businessman had to do what Dracula Businessman had to do, and exploiting Laurent's extra-curricular activities was an opportunity he couldn't ignore. Besides, if Dracula is going to be a businessman, he'd better be a GREAT businessman, because he's Dracula! And that means no mercy and really fancy suits.)
Hmmm, what else, what else? There was a moment when Dracula remembered it was a vampire show and expanded its supernatural dabblings with the introduction of two seers. Employed by Lady Jane, the pair—a guy and a girl—used a magic black-and-white non-HD mirror to locate Dracula when they weren't getting blitzed in an opium den. At the end of the episode, they told Lady Jane where Dracula would be, I guess, and she showed up in a sweet, tight, leather vampire-hunting outfit and a wonderfully neat-yet-playful coif, arriving just a few seconds too late to the spot where Dracula was snacking on an unlucky coat-check lady. She cut off the woman's head off to prevent the spread of vampirism, and was none the wiser that it was sexy American businessman Alexandar Grayson who she was chasing.
(Sorry, I couldn't choose between those two images, so I left them both in.)
The Lady Jane and Dracula dynamic is so good that it makes the rest of Dracula look like, well, what it actually is. Earlier in the episode, Dracula was at Lady Jane's for an evening of dinner and magic tricks, which obviously led to Dracula passionately driving his stake into a climaxing Lady Jane! Trick number one: Make a coin disappear. Trick number two: Make his penis disappear. And then later, there she was, scouring the streets for the vampire who she didn't know she had just boinked. Relationship status: It's complicated! How long until Lady Jane realizes that she's trying to kill her fuckbuddy? And excuse me, but where does Mr. Dracula get off having sex with Lady Jane and eating other women while he's crushing on Mina? Typical man. Yet we're all going to give the scumbag a free pass simply because he's Dracula, aren't we? Of course we are.
Two episodes in, Dracula has already presented a ton of mysteries to solve. Who is more of a danger to Dracula, the Order of the Dragon or the business division of the IRS? Can Dracula hire a woman, or is that a sexual harassment suit just waiting to happen? Is Dracula a micro-manager or a cool boss? So many business questions related to Dracula, and I can't wait to explore them as the series moves on.
– Dracula's car is awesome!
– Did we ever find out whether Harker attended Mina's celebratory dinner after she passed her exam? Harker seemed to make a big stink about it, but then we saw him contemplate going without making the decision. I need to know!
– If the geomagnetic thing doesn't work out for Dracula, he can always be a motivational speaker, the way he gave Mina the confidence the pass her test. Or a Hallmark card-writer. The only way to fail is to abandon your dreams? Cheeseball!
– Dracula is so confident that he'll just roll into a gay club and kiss a man on the cheek/mouth area. What a stud.
– Dracula, a monster with the power of immortality and regenerative powers, is scared of getting a shot! Oh, and this week we learned how the show will manage to film scenes that take place in the daytime: Van Helsing is making a magic potion that will help Dracula survive a sunburn.
What'd you think of Dracula's second episode? Are you planning to stick with the show?
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