TV Review: Dracula, Episode 1

I get through Dracula, mainly due to the #Heffklaxon but there’s some issues to address moving forward…

“I’ve been dying to meet you”

Eesh! The much-trumpeted return of Dracula to our TV screens wouldn’t have interested me quite so much if it hadn’t been John Heffernan’s central presence in the cast as Jonathan Harker. Any chance to sound the #Heffklaxon is much appreciated and with Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat at the helm, a certain measure of schlocky entertainment feels guaranteed.

And I think it gets there, just about. Wise-cracking nuns called Agatha, a highly self-aware script and a barnstorming lead performance from Claes Bang as an entirely seductive count go a long way to making this a success. But it is a long way, the pacing over the hour and a half running time felt perilously slow at times, Jonny Campbell’s direction could possibly use some tightening up although he nails many a scare very well.

A bigger problem though, for me, comes with the scheduling, insomuch as such a thing matters in this streaming day and age. Sticking a ponderous 90 minute episode on on New Year’s Day at 9pm is a big ask, whether you’re hungover or not. And then stripping the next two over consecutive days? That’s a fairly big demand whether or not you’re having to head back to work tomorrow and presumably they’re after watercooler moments to help retain and swell audience demands.

I’ll most likely come back for more, although I don’t know if I’ll be able to sound that #Heffklaxon again. And I hope that there’s some acknowledgement of the actual evil that Dracula propagates, at the moment there’s a smidge too much of the ‘cool’ about him in the way he has been written even as he decapitates, devours and decimates all around him. This is not a figure to be celebrating. 

Photo: Robert Viglasky

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