‘Dracula’ Review: Vampire Trades Blood for Oil in NBC Update

Jonathan-Rhys-Meyers-of-Dracula

Meet Steve Jobs as a vampire

NBC’s new “Dracula” is still set in the Victorian era of gas lamps and horse-drawn carriages, but everything else has changed.

Dracula is posing as an American entrepreneur now, trying to bring down a mysterious group called the Order of the Dragon, which derives its vast fortune from the oil business. He plans to ruin them by spreading the idea that he’s created a form of wireless energy. (Did people say “wireless” in the 1890s?) His light bulbs can seemingly light themselves.

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Has that even been invented now? I’m not sure. But that’s part of the steampunk thrill of the new Dracula, which features the always watchable Jonathan Rhys Meyers playing the vampire, who is in turn playing the American entrepreneur.

I see you in the back, lady from Greenpeace, and I get it: Sure, the oil companies are the real vampires. Good one! Moving along: The fact that Dracula is now a Victorian Steve Jobs adds to the confusion in the Dracula update, which I enjoyed watching, but which I think is doomed.

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First: It’s very slow. It takes a long time for us to understand why Dracula is now in competition with Edison and Tesla. Some of the dialogue is goofy, as when Dracula says he hoped his guests found his lightshow “illuminating.” Come on, Vlad. You’re better than this.

This is one of those U.S.-British hybrid shows – it is produced with Sky Living, which will air it in Britain – which so often suffer from distracting CGI. Do the Americans think the Brits love this stuff, or is it the other way around? For the record, our respective best shows contain none of it. Meyers is great with a sword, but we’re distracted from his skills by some “Matrix”-y slow-motion that feels like out-of-place pandering.

But Meyers is a great Dracula, nonetheless, whether coming to life in a dusty crypt or baring his fangs on a rooftop. And his supporting cast is very good as well, including Oliver Jackson-Cohen as inquisitive reporter Jonathan Harker and Jessica De Gouw as Mina Murray, the woman who comes between Harker and Dracula.

Good luck with that one, Harker. While Dracula deals in blood, and the Order in oil, Harker buys ink by the barrel. Who will spill the most?

There’s a good setup here, but you might need the patience of the eternal.

“Dracula” debuts Friday at 10/9c on NBC, after “Grimm”