Dracula Fridays, 10 p.m., NBC.
Beyond its title, NBC’s new series Dracula has little in common with Bram Stoker’s 1897 vampire novel. Like Fox’s Sleepy Hollow (which happens to be the biggest new hit of the season), Dracula takes some classic character names and a vague premise and crafts them into an entirely new story. The show still takes place in London during Stoker’s time, but here Dracula (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) is posing as an American industrialist named Alexander Grayson, and he’s a sexy, brooding antihero who’s teamed up with Prof. Van Helsing (Thomas Kretschmann, himself starring as Dracula in a movie currently in limited release) to take down an evil secret organization known as the Order of the Dragon.
Jonathan Harker, Mina Murray and other familiar characters show up in new, generally less interesting configurations, and the story is a curious mix of evisceration and negotiation (as Dracula attempts to take down the Order by disrupting their business operations). The production values are lavish, as is Meyers’ hammy lead performance, which viewers may recognize from his stint as Henry VIII on Showtime’s The Tudors. Too glum to be satisfyingly campy and too silly to be taken seriously, Dracula rearranges a classic story without any particularly good reason.