The latest vampire-based TV series in develop bears a familiar name. Dracula.
NBC’s press release describes the new project as “Dangerous Liasons” meets “The Tudors,” set in the 1890s. Interestingly, the network has ordered scripts and if they meet with approval no pilot need be made. Tony Krantz, one of the producers, has been executive producer of both “24” as well as “Felicity” (on which he worked with Matt Reeves, writer-director of 2010’s “Let Me In”) as well as a television version of “Frankenstein.” Another, Colin Callender, is a former president of HBO with a history of mostly British television programs. The writer is a relative newcommer, Cole Haddon, who did adapt “The Strange Case of Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde” into graphic novel form for Dark Horse Comics.
In fact this is the third television series based on the famous Transylvanian Count. In 1991, “Dracula: The Series” starred Geordie Johnson as the title character, a wealthy industrialist known as Alexander Lucard (get it?) watched over by the most recent members of the Van Helsing family. Interestingly, two other members of the cast went on to gain some fame playing bloodsuckers. Gereint Wynn Davies had a recurring role and later went on to star in “Forever Knight,” the first television series about a vampire detective–long before “Angel” or “Moonlight.” Mia Kirshner played a regular role (who got to sport fangs for two episodes) and after her stint on “The L Word” played the ancient vampiress Lilith in the sequel to “30 Days of Night” (and was arguable the most memorable thing about that film). She of course was also Isobel on “The Vampire Diaries.”
The second such series was “Young Dracula” a 2006 show from the BBC, a comedy series with some surprisingly adult twists about Count Dracula and his dysfunctional family–young Vlad who hopes to somehow avoid becoming a vampire, neglected Ingrid who strives to exceed her father in evil, and their cheating but glamorous mother who fascinated the Count at least in part because of being totally untrustworthy. After a four year hiatus, the program returned in 2011 with a new season already guaranteed.
Of course both previous Dracula series aimed at a juvenile audience. From what we know to the current project, they seem to be aiming for something more mature. One wonders precisely how they intend to tell a story centering on the character who should be the antagonist. It would be as if “Smallville” were named “Luthor.”
The only real clue is how the show has been described. “Dangerous Liasons” was a film about the machinations of a pair of decadent aristocrats in pre-Revolutionary France, how their seductions and plots fared in the face of virtue and innocence, as well as their own (initially friendly) rivalry degenerated. “The Tudors” on the other hand proved a sumptuous (if wildly inaccurate) venture into sex and politics and religion–centered around a dynasty as threatened as it was glamorous and yet at the same time grievously flawed. If set amid the intense repression of Victorian times, with a seductive stranger from the East literally preying upon the supposedly pure women of England, the elements make for a potentially heady brew. Given that it is a series, one wonders if perhaps the lesser-used characters from Stoker’s novel might make more regular and compelling appearances? Mrs. Westenra, Lucy’s mother for instance? Quincy Morris, the nearly-always-forgotten suitor for Lucy’s hand? Swayles, the garrulous but wise old sea captain in Whitby? Mr. Hawkins, Jonathan Harker’s employer and mentor? What about Arthur Holmwood’s father, the ailing Lord Godalming? Or Van Helsing’s insane wife?
What do you think? Feel free to offer your own theories, hopes, fears and speculations! We’ll share as we learn more!