Dracula, BBC One (3 stars)

Dracula, BBC One

This all-new Dracula has charm and sarcasm to die for but ultimately lacks any heft or bite

With the future of Sherlock firmly up in the air, Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss have turned to another icon of the canon for alternative ribald festive fare. Spread across three consecutive nights and lasting four and a half hours, it might be a tall order to expect viewers to hang in there for the duration. This Dracula has a fair amount in common with Sherlock, the titular neck-chomper oozing charm and spitting out sarcastic lines with an inbuilt menace not a million miles away from Andrew Scott's Moriarty.

Danish actor Claes Bang does a decent turn as the louche Count who spouts the Queen's English, while his arch nemesis here (a spirited, god-doubting nun called Sister Agatha) is played by Dolly Wells who is handed the task of mastering a Dutch accent. The gist of the three parts is a well-trod set-up: episode one has lawyer Jonathan Harker (John Heffernan) visiting Dracula's Transylvanian abode where he is tormented by various ghouls and teased by his shape-shifting host; the second part is set on the bad ship Demeter (yes, this episode is called 'Blood Vessel') as Drac heads for England, with the climactic 90-minute drama following the undead dude's fate on UK soil.

While employing as many different methods as possible of portraying Dracula plunging his fangs into flesh through sound effects, colour schemes, and camera angles, the sheer number of assaults on the jugular leave the viewer a bit numb to it all somewhere around the middle of episode two. Meanwhile the corny lines which Bang is forced to utter get wearing rather quickly: 'I've been dying to see you' or describing a new companion/potential victim as 'fresh blood' are typical examples.

Enjoyable up to a point but threatening to become a little ponderous in its telling, there is very little tension afoot. This is especially true in 'Blood Vessel' when no one on the ship has a clue who is bumping passengers off, while the jump scares all arrive at the points you'd expect them to. Still, as episode two draws to a close, Moffat and Gatiss leave us with enough of a promise that something much more compelling lies ahead for the last hour and a half.

Episodes watched: 2 of 3

Dracula airs on BBC One, Monday 1–Wednesday 3 January, 9pm.

Comments

1. Stephen Manus1 Jan 2020, 11:39pm Report

I i don't often post comments on TV drama but I just watched BBC 'Dracula' and I am absolutely furious. It claims is is based on Bram Stoker's Dracula- a classic novel which I read that is absolutely enthralling. So I was excited to see a BBC adaptation of it. Instead I was subjected to an hour and a half of absolute rubbish which had nothing to do with the novel apart from the name! It didn't make sense. It reflects nothing of the horror of the novel and other TV adaptations, of atmosphere of Transylvania of the fascinating build up of Dracula character. To clarify in simple terms Jonathon Harker was not drained of the lifeforce, didnt become a vampire. Dracula left him in the care of his three brides and he eventually escaped, recovered and married Mina. Van Helsing is a man not an atheist nun. Dracula did not go to a nunnery in Hungary to slaughter Nuns (why would he even bother to do so from Romania!). And if the screen writers are going to suggest Dracula would go to a nunnery he be cleverer ways to get in than coming out of a dog naked and trying to scare them in such a stupid way. Did the screen writers even read the Novel. The BBC should be ashamed of themselves for producing such nonsensical rubbish!

2. Aimee6 Jan 2020, 12:51pm Report

I don't think they should be ashamed. Its an adaption of the first story. I liked the different take on it, I found it quite comical at times and enjoyed that part. I know the original story but its all fantasy so why not play with the characters All in all I thought it was a good watch, so much so I stayed up all night as couldn't turn it off. Thought Clais Bangs was brilliant too.

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