This week NBC and Britain’s SkyLiving made an announcement sure to spark debate among vampire fans–a new television series based on Dracula! Among other things, they also introduced the actor who’ll be the latest incarnation of the infamous Count. Jonathan Rhys Meyers of The Tudors fame joins the likes of Bela Lugosi, Sir Christopher Lee, Gary Oldman and Marc Warren.
Bela Bajaria, Executive Vice President of Universal Television, told reporters the news with Sky Living’s Head of Drama Anne Mensah. With a script by Cole Haddon, the new Dracula’s executive producers include Colin Callender, Tony Krantz and Reece Pearson. Bajaria said: “We are thrilled to produce this smart, sophisticated, and provocative re-imagining of ‘Dracula,’ in partnership with Colin, Tony and our International studio arm and Sky Living for NBC Network. It is a timeless tale with relevant, surprising twists and turns with the exquisite Jonathan Rhys Meyers in the marquee role.”
Michael Edelstein, President, NBC Universal International Television Production, said: “Since 1897, the story of Dracula has captivated readers and viewers alike and this sexy, updated twist on the classic also promises not to disappoint.”
Here’s the official description of the show’s take on Bram Stoker’s creation:
“…the 10-episode series introduces Dracula as he arrives in London, posing as an American entrepreneur who maintains that he wants to bring modern science to Victorian society. In reality, he hopes to wreak revenge on the people who ruined his life centuries earlier. There’s only one circumstance that can potentially thwart his plan: Dracula falls hopelessly in love with a woman who seems to be a reincarnation of his dead wife.”
Clearly the show is stealing…er, harkening back to both the Jack Palance/Dan Curtis version of the 1970s and 1992’s Gary Oldman/Francis Ford Coppola’s motion picture. Both of those seem to have based their idea more or less on the original Boris Kaloff feature The Mummy. On the other hand, a similar plot device popped up in Tim Burton’s recent Dark Shadows, and proved quite different from those versions as well. Revisiting a specific idea can be done well, and without any details who can say? For example, we’ve no hint who this person might be in relationship to the other characters. One might think it Lucy or Mina from the original novel, but what if it is not? Some possibilities (again, based on Stoker’s book) could be a servant, a daughter to Renfield, the sister or cousin of Quincey Morris or Lord Holmwood, even an inmate at Dr. Seward’s asylum! Nor do we know much about the dead wife. Did she love Dracula, or hate him? How did she die? Possibilities abound.
For that matter we don’t really know anything about the rest of the cast! The announcements harp on other shows like The Tudors and Downton Abbey (whose co-producers are also involved). Both featured large intricate casts rife with romantic, social and even political tensions. That the writer has little or no experience writing for television can be taken two ways. He’ll hopefully not naturally fall into formulas! On the other hand, to some extent he’ll probably not know what he’s doing.
Something else to consider, the star. At his best Jonathan Rhys Meyers turns out electrifying performances, as Steerpike in Gormenghast, as the faux David Bowie in Velvet Goldmine and of course as none other than Elvis Presley! For the record, he and Angelina Jolie top my list as actors who should play vampires but (so far) have not.
Bottom line, we don’t know near enough to judge. Yet. Two other television series centered around Dracula both aimed at a juvenile audience–Dracula: The Series which featured a very young Mia Kirshner (later of The Vampire Diaries fame) and the on-going Young Dracula.
So what do you think? Does this news seem good, even exciting? Or does it bring dread? What would you hope for? Do you have any expectations? What do you most fear about the upcoming series?