After its second week in the late Friday time slot following Grimm, NBC’s new Dracula series is off to a very solid start. It’s incredibly polished for an early first season effort, with lavish sets, beautiful costumes, and an expertly cast group of actors. Like Fox’s Monday night similarly dark Sleepy Hollow, Dracula is also an interesting update to a classic with an intriguing story and smart dialogue.
The cast of Dracula is mostly fresh faces, yet each actor could be the doppelgänger for well-known actors. Dracula himself, known to his contemporaries in the series as Alexander Grayson, is played appropriately vampirish by Jonathan Rhys Meyers, who played King Henry VIII in the romance heavy The Tudors. Meyers seems to be doing a riff on Jeremy Pivens’ Mr. Selfridge from the popular British series, portraying a Gilded Age businessman from America bringing his ingenuity to the Old World. Meyers also has the determination and charisma–and the same general appearance–of Josh Henderson’s John Ross Ewing from TNT’s Dallas series. Meyers is good, very good in fact, as his Dracula only recently back from the dead, fawning after a woman who looks exactly like his wife, murdered ages ago by the Order of the Dragon.
That woman is played by the lovely Jessica De Gouw, who CW’s Arrow fans will know as The Huntress from last season–the best guest star so far of that series. Superb as a young action heroine on Arrow, she is excellent as a university student studying medicine who is falling for one Jonathan Harker, played by Oliver Jackson-Cohen, who plays the role like a sheepish Jake Gyllenhaal in the movie Zodiac. And as doppelgängers go, you’d swear De Gouw in Dracula was the actress Ione Skye back in her Say Anything… days. And De Gouw’s character’s best friend Lucy is played by Katie McGrath, who’d easily pass as Keira Knightley’s double.
But enough of the comparisons, as these actors’ performances are enjoyable in their own right. Add to the main cast Victoria Smurfit (Berkeley Square, Ivanhoe) as Lady Jayne Wetherby, a seductress from the Order of the Dragon who has a thing for Grayson (and back to the Mr. Selfridge comparison, whose character reads much like Katherine Kelly’s Lady Mae from that series). And to top it off, look for Ender’s Game’s Sergeant Dap, played by Nonso Anozie, here as Dracula’s majordomo.
This new Dracula series is a fresh take on Dracula, sure to appeal to fans of series like The Tudors, CW’s Vampire Diaries and Supernatural, but also genre fans looking for another series to add to their DVR list. Dracula appears Friday’s at 9 p.m. Central/10 p.m. Eastern on NBC.