Nearly 13 years ago, one of my guilty pleasure movies hit theatres: "Charlie's Angels." It starred Cameron Diaz, Drew Barrymore and Lucy Liu as Charlie's newest angels, and I loved every second of it, so much so that I own it (and its sequel) on DVD.
It's fun and fluffy, sure, but then, about a half-hour or so in, viewers were treated to the flick's first fight scene (in the alley where the girls fought the Creepy Thin Man) and I remember being completely blown away because it was so unexpected. It transformed "Charlie's Angels" from cheesy remake to a bona fide action buddy flick.
Something similar happens in another story, this time made for television. The timing seems right for Dracula to hit the small screen, what with the success of vampires and all, but is it too little, too late? With Jonathan Rhys Meyers in the starring role -- it's more like better late than never. Sort of.
It's the 19th century, thank goodness. ("Sleepy Hollow" does modern well, but I don't know if our time is ready for "Dracula"). Rhys Meyers plays the fanged killer posing as American entrepreneur Alexander Grayson. His accent is cringeworthy -- Meyers looks and sounds like Leo did in "Django Unchained" -- but maybe that's what he's going for. In that context, I suppose it works.
"Dracula" is loosely inspired by Bram Stoker's novel, with a crinkly, dried-up, dusty Vlad the Impaler being brought back to life by an unlikely ally at the beginning, but it's the last five minutes of the pilot that are the most entertaining. Yes, there are some seriously bloody scenes leading up to it, but viewers will likely be bored up until that point. Don't change the channel, though, because those last scenes were intriguing enough to keep me wanting more. Sadly, I'm afraid others won't be as patient.
Drac/Vlad is hell-bent on seeking revenge on the Order of the Dragon, a group that cursed him centuries before, who are now ensconced in Victorian high society (hence his alter-ego as a wealthy entrepreneur). It may seem kind of preposterous with a reincarnated bloodsucker showing up -- and killing off -- the rich bad guys one by one, but so far, I'll take that drama over the forbidden romance he's undoubtedly set to have with Mina (Jessica DeGouw), who may be the reincarnation of Dracula's old flame. It shouldn't be any surprise that a woman is getting in the way of Drac accomplishing his goals, but until things get hot and heavy, they don't have me rooting for them just yet.
Like I said, it's not the most exciting hour -- that is, until the last five minutes. In fact, it's kind of dreary, and even the scene with all the light bulbs (yes, really) isn't bright enough to excite viewers. And Jonathan Rhys Meyers, in the pilot at least, doesn't look like he's having any fun. There is no twinkle in his eye, none of the naughtiness we expect from the character (and the actor). Yes, it's a dark show, I get it, but no one said he can't be an anti-hero who gets amused by the little things. Jonathan Harker (Oliver Jackson-Cohen) is about as bland as one would expect, but thankfully, R.M. Renfield (Nonso Anozie) is delightful, and Van Helsing (Thomas Kretschmann) is a standout.
Yes, there's action, violence, romance and sex -- just not enough of it. There's so much potential here and there's still time to right itself, but with a short 10-episode season, here's hoping it's not too late.
Dracula premieres Friday, Oct. 25 at 10 p.m. ET on Global in Canada and on NBC in the U.S.