DRACULA Recap: “A Whiff of Sulfur”

     November 1, 2013


Could Dracula have picked a less sexy title than “A Whiff of Sulfur”?  Not sure that’s what anyone wants to have on their minds when being transported to Dracula’s den of pleasure, even if it is taking place during one of the filthiest times in London’s history.  Something odorous, however foul, might have livened things up a bit, though — Dracula continues to be so sure of its own import that it seems to be missing the fact that it’s wholly ridiculous.  Though Grayson quieted down about his alternate energy sources this week, there was plenty left to leave us snoozing.  Hit the jump to find out if Dracula can overcome its weaknesses.

dracula-a-whiff-of-sulfur-jonathan-rhys-meyersI could not help but again this week compare Tom Mison (Ichabod Crane) in Sleepy Hollow to Jonathan Rhys Meyers (Grayson/Dracula) in Dracula.  Mison oozes an affable nature and charm — he’s sexy, though not necessarily seductive.  His Ichabod is a guy who juggles humor and seriousness evenly, and is the sort you’d want to have a beer with (at the very least).

Meyers though is unrelentingly intense.  Grayson is strange and off-putting.  He’s seductive, but oddly not sexy.  And Meyers is chewing up way too much scenery through his overacting.  Yes, Dracula is supposed to be a monster.  But how did he go from a bloodthirsty Vlad the Impaler, just awakened from the dead hissing like a rabid cat, to the debonair business man he purports to be later on?  It doesn’t fit.

“A Whiff of Sulfur” was also an exercise in tropes.  Laurent is creeping around and has a secret … surprise!  He’s gay, and taken with his Order of the Dragon friend’s son, which Grayson can exploit.  Jonathan Harker seemed like a nice enough guy until … surprise!  He’s actually a backwards-thinking oaf, which Grayson can exploit.

Except, Harker’s world-view, however unfortunate to most of us now, is one that is exactly right for that time period.  Though Grayson is apparently as liberal as they come, it doesn’t connect with the time frame (one of the many reasons the show should have considered a modern retelling).  Mina being championed for her surgery, etc, and seeming to not face any obstacles about it is a nice idea.  But when you think that women were still seen as suspect in the medical field through at least the 1950s, it becomes radical.

dracula-jonathan-rhys-meyers-a-whiff-of-sulfurAnachronisms are rampant throughout the show, and I could spend an entire article detailing them.  The excuse that this is fantasy is bogus, because why bother having a Victorian setting if you aren’t going to adhere to Victorian ideals and customs?  Why push modern thinking onto a historical piece?  It’s something that AMC’s Hell on Wheels was always guilty of.  It would be nice if people thought that way back then, and I’m sure some did.  But it wasn’t the norm, and pretending it was doesn’t serve the story, time period, or viewers.

Dracula‘s greatest sin though is that it’s just pretty boring.  Of course, I said the same thing about Masters of Sex, and it has picked up (almost six weeks into its run).  So there’s a chance Dracula could get better.  Or it could find its niche in the slot after Grimm and stick around as long as that show improbably has (I like Grimm, it’s just surprising that it keep hanging in there.)  The numbers last week showed plenty of interest, so we’ll see how things pan out after everyone got introduced to wireless energy.  The show has a whiff of sulfur to it.  Let’s see if it can overcome it.  Otherwise … might be wise to put it back in the crypt.

Episode Rating: C

dracula-a-whiff-of-sulfurMusings and Miscellanea:

— I’m not sure if I’m going to keep recapping this or not.  Depends how I feel after watching the third episode (it would have to get a lot better).

— I really like Lady Jayne, who I find to be the most interesting character and the most compelling in the series.  Is her affair with Grayson part of the sanctioned plan, or just something fun on the side?  Did he see her cut the head off of his poor victim — so as not to allow another vampire to come to life — and therefore know of her double life?  When is Van Helsing going to wake up to this nonsense and start slaying?

— The druggy seers … I don’t know where to begin.  Apparently they travel around London as a spotlight via a mirror.  And who wouldn’t notice a giant spotlight creeping up behind them?

— Another name-drop this week about a historical vampire: Lucrezia Borgia.  Look, she did some weird things but … give me a break.

— I like where they were taking Harker with his skepticism of Grayson, and less so about what an embarrassment his poverty wages are in society.  Also, the whole thing about him not supporting Mina and wanting to make her his little woman was utterly unconvincing and utterly boring.