What if Nicola Tesla were a vampire, and the corporate overlords who suppressed his inventions for their own profits were part of an ancient Draconian order of vampire hunters?
I get the impression that was the original premise of NBC’s Dracula, and the network ended up using Bram Stoker’s public domain characters instead for the sake of mainstream familiarity. Here is Jonathon Rhys Meyers as Dracula:
And here is a colorized photo of Tesla:
The story here is that Dracula, having been resurrected from his Romanian crypt, has come to London posing as an American inventor/entrepreneur named Alexander Grayson. Though the American part is a facade, the inventor part isn’t. Drac has a steampunk machine in his basement that conducts wireless geomagnetic energy and looks a lot like a Tesla coil. Rumor has it that he was chased out of the States by Thomas Edison. In England, he’s immediately branded a threat by the elite of the burgeoning oil industry. Who also happen to be the leaders of the Order of the Dragon, inquisition-like vampire hunters who executed Dracula’s family centuries ago.
All the familiar figures from Stoker’s novel are here in name. Jonathan Harker is a journalist as in the book. He’s courting Mina Murray (played by Huntress from Arrow), a promising young medical student, but they’re not engaged yet and he introduces her as a “friend”. The idiot won’t propose because he thinks she can do better. Be that as it may, Mina wants to do him. Her brassy BFF Lucy Westenra (played by Morgana from Merlin with an ill-advised blonde dye job) thinks Jonathan is boring and that Mina needs someone more exciting. Enter Dracula, to whom Mina was apparently married in a past life. Rounding out the gang is Van Helsing, Mina’s med school professor and Dracula’s handler.
This incarnation of Dracula is suitably creepy, dangerous, and bloodthirsty, but overall I’d describe him as an antihero. The real villains are the Order of the Dragon. They’re the people a modern audience loves to hate. Politicians. Corporate fatcats. Oil barons. Anti-science traditionalists who fear, hate, and destroy anything that deviates from what they deem acceptable, even as they participate in those deviations in the shadows. Dracula is the grey hat to the Order’s black hat.
Overall, I put this miniseries in the Guilty Pleasure category. It is a thick slice of red velvet cheesecake served on “vintage” Victorian china from Anthropologie. Don’t watch if you’re wanting more Sleepy Hollow. Watch if you want pretty people in pretty neo-Victorian costumes, suave throat-slitters/blood-drinkers, almost-couples who are too brainy for their own damn good, and steampunk. I hope to enjoy every decadent slice of this cheesecake as much as the first.
Want to read Bram Stoker’s original novel on your computer, smartphone, tablet, or e-reader? Click here. For bonus Victorian vampire guilty pleasures, check out Sheridan Le Fanu’s novella, Carmilla, which predates Dracula by over 20 years and stars a lady vampire in an interesting relationship with her female prey.