Pilot – The Blood Is the Life

I’m quite a fan of anything to do with vampires, and have been keenly waiting on this televisual blood-feast coming to TV. I was most definitely not disappointed, as it’s very much Dracula, in the traditional sense, but, as though prolific author, Ken Follett (Fall of Giants), had a hand in scribing it, with nods to the brilliant The Prestige. I know a lot of folks will be sighing at the thought of yet another metrosexual-like vampire doing his tired blood-sucking routine, and I’ll admit to being a bit wary myself, but, this take is a most refreshing one when compared to what’s gone before.

Jonathan Rhys Meyers’ Dracula isn’t all that original, but the story he follows is. Dracula is freed from being a dried husk by a shadowy figure, who murders his fellow crypt-robber by slitting his throat and holding the wound over Dracula’s fanged mouth. Jump several years to to London’s Jack the Ripper era, where Dracula has taken the name Alexander Grayson; an entrepreneur who appears, at first, to be looking to make a name for himself in England.

Created by
Cole Haddon
Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Jessica De Gouw, Nonso Anozie
Release Date
25 October 2013
Ed’s Grade: B+

As Dracula usually needs a daylight-walking sidekick, he comes in the form of Renfield (Nonso Anozie, Ender’s Game), a large man who gets his boss intellegence when needed. He obviously has other duties but we haven’t discovered yet what they are, but getting “food” for Dracula doesn’t appear to be one of them.

We also have Jonathan Harker (Oliver Jackson-Cohen), a budding journalist who meets the newly named Grayson at a ball that’s been held as a way for the fanger to meet his deadliest foe, the “Order of the Dragon.” Harker is at the ball to simply accompany (you guessed it) Miss Mina Murray, and isn’t there in his journalistic capacity, yet after Grayson and she make eye contact, Grayson quickly orders Renfield to find out all he can about the pair, leading to Harker being asked back for an interview the following day.

At the large ball, Mina and Grayson have what appears to be deja vu as soon as their eyes meet, making Mina very uncomfortable, but Grayson very interested in who she is. We know the Bram Stoker version and this may even follow that to a certain degree, however, our Dracula isn’t all he appears to be (other than the fact he’s centuries old, undead and drinks blood). No, our Prince of Darkness is a good guy, who may nibble on the odd neck or two when the need arises, but his agenda is a noble one.

The Order of the Dragon, is a group of almost mustachioed-twirler-like world domineers, who have caused our cuddly vampire problems through the ages. As if that’s not enough, we have an unlikely ally for Grayson, in another that no self respecting Dracula gig can do without, Abraham Van Helsing (Thomas Kretschmann). After a display at the fancy ball, where Grayson shows off lighting bulbs without the use of wires in an attempt at meeting his enemy, we see Van Helsing and Dracula having words. We also watch Greyson and Renfield sort through photographs of the industrialist group of his enemies, as he plans his next strategy for ridding the world of this troublesome organization.

This is a TV show aimed at us ordinary folk who like the simple pleasures, and are not looking to hold this show under a microscope for the flaws that are undoubtedly there. I don’t see the point of trying to compare TV to Film, or looking too deeply. It was very entertaining and worthy of watching each week, especially if period vampirism is your thing.

Review by Ed Blackadder, Lead Entertainment Writer

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