BBC and Netflix’s Dracula Series – TV Series Review

DRACULA MINI SERIES

(Spoiler Alert)

Of the many interpretations of the iconic vampire, this version by Netflix has got to be the most try-hard. It’s a tedious and inelegant piece – one that foils itself by stumbling upon its proverbial foot, tripped up by its amateur handling of the original material, by making literary… well, literal.

Co-creators Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss may have had luck updating Sherlock with modern spins, but those were more imaginative and satisfying, reaching deeper in tone. The ones in Dracula 2020 are hackneyed and outdated – having CG text messages onscreen and talking about wifi passwords does not make it contemporary. All the realisations – of having Dracula discover the wonders of television, fridges, and selfies – is as embarrassing as grandpa trying to rap.

It would help of course, if the cast was at least capable. Instead, we have a smarmy vampire lord that reminds one of a douche-bag jock with an obsession for puns, sprinkling the room with his unwanted euphemisms and self-important philosophising. Here’s one bloodsucker that really loves the sound of his voice. I would have run away at that.

Claes Bang as the title character, sits uncomfortably close to soap opera acting. His moments of transformations and threats are more amusing than frightening. And for someone who absorbs knowledge through blood, he certainly lets a lot of it go to waste. You’ll quickly pick up on a pattern in his performances. A dramatic pause before every pun (just in case, you know, you didn’t get it), and an endless need to growl to remind us of his beastly side. Meh.

Sister Agnes, his adversary, is, oooo wait for it… a Van Helsing, and in an effort to represent the modern women, is made out to be intelligent, powerful, and independent. Except, she’s not. I’ve never come across a nun as annoying, because she’s the smart alec in class that needs to let everyone know, she knows. She cuts people off, thinks ahead of the conversation, self-deduces everything out loud (a most sinful form of exposition), and is pretty much early Hermione Granger without the charm. Oh, and she uses words like “aha”!

With its cast both deflated and unlikable, even the three episodes feel like an eternity. The script is manipulative and so literal at times, it’s like a Valley Girl possessed the writers, like, literally. In one example, where Lucy gets cremated, Dracula remarks about how “beauty is only skin deep”. Someone pass me a blanket because I’m shuddering.

There was promise when Agnes brought up her motive – to investigate into why Dracula is afraid of such things as sunlight and the cross – but the ones handling the material lacked the maturity and depth to carry out this out successfully. Instead, they chuckle at their little “clever” lines, such as the scene where Agnes, facing the count, tells him, “Come boy, suck”.

At least she was right about that. Dracula 2020, sucks.

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