Hey you! This isn't a review, it's a PREview. Huge difference. Most notably, the "P." Also, these PREviews are based on early cuts of pilots that might change drastically by the time they officially hit the air, so we can't properly review them. But we CAN give you an idea of what to expect. In this series of early looks at the new shows of fall 2013, there's no contemplating, no deep analysis; just super-duper quick thoughts on what we just watched that we're passing on to you. We'll revisit each previewed show in the fall with the hyper-intellectual breakdowns and fart jokes you're used to from us goons here at TV.com.
STARRING AND CREATED BY: This one has a legitimate star front and center. Well, if you're British or a Tudors fan, anyway. Jonathan Rhys Meyers and his sweet facial hair (Velvet Goldmine, Mission Impossible III) occupy the title role. He's joined by Jessica De Gouw (Arrow), Oliver Jackson-Cohen (Mr. Selfridge), Katie McGrath (Merlin), Thomas Kretschmann (The River), and Nonso Anozie (Game of Thrones' Xaro Xhoan Daxos). Cole Haddon created the series based on a new take on the classic novel, but Carnivale creator Daniel Knauf will take over showrunning duties. It's a co-production between NBC and British network Sky Living.
THE GIST: Brought back from a prune state in the late 1800s, Dracula (Rhys Meyers) moves to London and poses as American entrepreneur Alexander Grayson to get back at the Order of the Dragon, a group of high-society no-gooders who pissed off the fanged one hundreds of years ago. But standing in his way of getting things done is what's always in the way for a handsome devil like Drac: a woman! Specifically, a beautiful maiden who may just be the reincarnation of his old flame.
SNAP JUDGMENT: Oh boy. NBC is right on this vampire crazy train, aren't they? Dracula is a dreary period piece that for some reason the unimaginative press is saying True Blood fans will like. The big difference here is that there is zero sense of fun in Dracula, either intentional or otherwise. Dracula is played straight like a trashy romance novel, with the Drac on a pedestal as an anti-hero taking down the rich and elite (even though he's rich and elite himself). Forcing a connection to current events, the 99 Percent movement and global warming crisis are in full form here, with Dracula's offering of clean, wireless, and safe energy threatening the Order of the Dragon's control on the oil business. Yep, it goes there. One fight scene portends slow-motion, wire-assisted action sequences that look like every medium-budget vampire action movie from five years ago. The pilot was much shorter on blood, sex, and fighting than I thought it would be.
PILOTITIS DIAGNOSIS: Maybe it's because we're all somewhat familiar with the Dracula backstory—an old vamp gets all hot over his reincarnated girlfriend—but Dracula moved along rather smoothly without much painful exposition. There's a neat twist on the familiar tale toward the end, though it's already been written about.
FACES TO LOOK OUT FOR: Kretschmann, who plays Abraham Van Helsing, is the only one who stands out here.
RANDOM THOUGHTS: Rhys Meyers' American accent should be weaponized and used as a threat toward uncooperative world leaders. It's the scariest thing about this show. However, some of the costumes are really great, if you're into that sort of thing.
EXCITEMENT LEVEL: All excitement has been staked through the heart, beheaded, and melted into a pool of garlic. On a scale of 1 to 10, I'll be generous with a 3.
PILOT PREVIEW POWER RANKINGS:
(Where we rank the fall season's pilots based on very early impressions)
1. Almost Human - J.J. Abrams and J.H. Wyman's robotic buddy-cop drama
2. Intelligence - Josh Holloway stars as a Cyber Command agent who has Wi-Fi in his brain
3. Dracula - Jonathan Rhys Meyers is the fanged one in this reimagining of the classic story of an undead guy chasing his old girlfriend
1. Trophy Wife - Malin Akerman marries into a big family and ends up with two ex-wives and three stepchildren in the process
2. About a Boy - Jason Katims' TV adaptation of the film adaption of Nick Hornby's novel about a man-boy friendship
AIRED ON 12/6/2013
Season 1 : Episode 7