Dracula – Season 1

image To be honest, the Dracula story and vampires in general have just about been done to death to the point where stupid emo teenagers are getting into the act. But I suppose we can always try another take on the idea and for this go round we have Alexander Grayson as a business tycoon who wants to put the oil men out of business and light up the world with his new wireless electric light. An interesting statement about our current oil situation don’t you think? We also have several changes to the allegiances and friendships that we’ve come to know from the story. Renfield isn’t a mindless stooge, Van Helsing and Dracula have a rather different relationship this time around, Johnathan Harker isn’t quite trapped, but his grip on Mina is slipping and his hatred of Grayson is growing. And let’s not forget the legion of hunters that have been called in.

So does this rendition of Dracula have what it takes to keep and audience and generate a couple seasons of TV viewing? Well, it’s not a bad start. This Dracula is quite a bit different than the book. He wants to be a businessman and walk in the light and he’s brought Van Helsing along to help him with those goals. Or has Van Helsing risen Dracula for his own gains? And by gains I mean revenge?

What is the end goal for Grayson? Is it just to push lighting on the world? What are his bigger plans? And now that Harker has sabotaged the entire project and mangled the hell out of a city block, what do we have coming for next season?

The fact I ask so many questions means I’ll tune in for the next season. This take on Dracula isn’t too bad. He has money, he’s building power and he can kick ass when he needs to and beat someone with their own arm.

At times the story feels a little haphazard and it suffers from the same long breaks. Either take a break and play everything together on the other side of Christmas or move the show to a different month. Skipping episodes for weeks on end is a pain in the ass. But overall I was on board with Dracula. I think it will get better for next season once they’re given the chance to develop the story more. I did like all the background info, especially on Renfield. Of course, it looks like he’s a bit of distress as the final episode comes to an end.

So what do you think? How was this Dracula? Lots of vampire shows have come and gone. I think the last one I was on board with was Moonlight, which I felt had a lot of potential, but got canned. Let’s hope this Dracula has more success .

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Dracula Season 1

image I’m sure it goes without saying that I’m a fan of Dracula. The real Dracula. None of this teen vampire drama or the other sad ripoffs that keep getting made. That being said I was quite leery of this new Dracula that NBC has brought to the small screen. I’ve actually waited for a few shows to air so I can get a feel for the overall story.

So far, it’s not too bad at all. It’s an interesting take on the story. We still have all the major players such as Dracula aka Alex Grayson, Harker, Mina, Renfield and Van Helsing, but their roles and relationships have taken an interesting turn.

We now see that Van Helsing and Dracula are actually working together. In fact, it’s Van Helsing who raises Dracula. Renfield is Dracula’s protector and confidant. And Dracula is a New World business man seeking wealth and power in the beginning of the Industrial Revolution.

The setting is 1890s England. In fact, the Ripper murders are mentioned as a cover up for vampire killings. With Dracula working as an up and coming Industrialist we see some very interesting twist, turns and backstabbing. Interestingly, the main goal is to put the Oil Men out of business. Dracula uses leverage and perhaps a dash of blackmail to put himself into a position of power and influence wherein he can buyout his competition. This makes for some interesting and unusual powerplays. It also gives us plenty to watch and builds the list of enemies that are out to get Dracula.

But there is still another force at work. The Order of the Dragon, vampire hunters are working to find this new undead and put an end to him. Of course, there are more vampires roaming around so there is plenty to keep everyone busy.

I’m actually glad they didn’t bring Dracula into modern times. The story is much more suited for a less hectic and less Twitter oriented society. I also like the new roles the characters have been put into. We get to explore some interesting dynamics this way. The new Renfield is quite the protector and very level headed about his master’s business.

Really the only thing I’m not too keen on are the fight sequences. They are too much like Underworld and don’t with the rest of the tone of the story. They’re too flashy and the Matrix style moves feel very out of place to me. They’re infrequent, but are noticeably jarring to me.

But overall, I like this series. There is a lot of story to develop and plenty of outside forces to reckon with. This means there are lots of plot lines so it shouldn’t get tedious with the same thing over and over again. Plenty of companies need to be taken over so it’s not just about looting bodies. The first 4 episodes have me looking forward to when the next one comes out.

As an aside, Dracula sort of looks like Nick Groff and sounds like Christian Slater…

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Ghost Adventures Halloween Special – Transylvania

image Right off the bat there was very little about this episode I liked. It played into every cliché that exists about Dracula and vampires. It’s fantastic they got to visit such a legendary and quite frankly superstitious country, but come on does it really have to be like this? Vlad was a real man, not a vampire. He wasn’t evil, he was a mad protecting his home and country. He was outmanned and decided to show absolute determination to make invaders think twice about destroying his village. He’s seen by most in his home country as a hero. His overwhelming show of force lead to Bram Stoker using some of those elements for his story. And despite what Zak would like to think or interpret, Dracul means DRAGON, so Vlad Dracul is Son of the Dragon, not Son of the Devil. Stop making shit up to try and be sinister.

Aside from amateur mistakes like that, this episode was like watching 8 years run around an amusement park. It’s like Zak was channeling Shatner as he tried to make everything overly dramatic and dangerous. It’s a couple hours of overcompensating for things aren’t happening on the investigation.

They start of their Romanian trip by visiting the supposed birthplace of Vlad. Hey wouldn’t you know it, it’s a tourist trap. It’s now a café with a ridiculously cheesy display upstairs. To hell with the idea of putting out historical information, lets drape the room in blood red fabric and have a guy sit in a coffin.

With that bit of nonsense behind the real investigation begins. The trio decides to split up with Zak and Billy going to the Hoia Baciu Forest where people claim to see UFOs, Elementals, Balls of light and all sorts of spirits. The locals are so afraid they won’t enter the forest at night. Makes me think of Sherwood Forest from Robin Hood. But the locals take it quite seriously and refuse to enter the forest at night.

A lot is made of the "circle" in the middle of the forest where trees refuse to grow. Clearly this can’t be the work of toxic soil, rocks or minerals in the ground, it has to spirit work. And we soon find out when Zak and Billy enter the forest that there are forces they can’t deal with. Zak is struck silent as he stands stupefied – apparently in the grasp of some otherworldly force. As Billy comes to his aid, Zak nearly soils himself and has a bit of a breakdown. He’s nearly on the verge of tears as he tells Billy something is wrong. This bit of melodrama is only usurped by the glowing ball of red light coming from the center of the forest. Too bad they couldn’t focus on the ball long enough for us to tell it was the tail light of the ATV they drove up in.

Meanwhile Aaron and Nick scare the Dickens out of each other at Targoviste Castle where many of the death surrounding the Dracul legend took place. This is where many invaders were stuck on spikes as a warning to others. While in there Aaron believes he hears his name as well as the word "hello, Vlad and Flowers".

Next, they meet up at the Hunedoara Castle where they hear more stories including one where the security guard let in a band of Satan worshipers who performed their dark rituals. Well, clearly he didn’t think it was all that sinister since he let them in. But of course Zak and Nick make it out to be the opening of the gates of hell and it definitely means it’s demonic.

Next we have little imp and tour guide Anca who gives all sorts of tidbits to the American tourists about how haunted the place is and how much torture took place there. But then again, she is trying to sell tickets and bump up that tourism, so what else is she gonna say?

The guys investigate the place with Zak going into the cell/pit where Vlad was supposedly kept for a year. They capture what they believe is some women laughing (witches I’m sure) and then Aaron begins to have massive pains in his chest. After he gets mad at everyone over his "Charlie horse" Zak thinks he might be having a heart attack. Clearly that’s not it, it’s the work of evil spirits.

They next to go to the Chapel where the Satan Worshipers did their "messed up" rituals in the Chapel. So Nick lights a bunch of candles in a circle and lays down on the floor asking someone to blow them out. Then scary things happen and they hear a door creak. It’s Vlad!!

To add to their mysterious stay in the Castle and to emulate the feeling from the Dracula novel they claim something is making it to where they don’t want to leave.

But they overcome and visit an actual descendant of Vlad Tepes, Princess Brianna Caradja, who tells a story of making contact with Vlad. While using a Ouija, she makes contact and the spirit spells out Vlad. Odd, the Ouija is claimed by so many to be a surefire way to open a portal to hell and bringing forth demons you can’t possibly control. Yet, Zak doesn’t seem to chastise her. He was all manner of distraught in the Exorcist House, but doesn’t say anything here. Hmm. Don’t want to tempt the wrath of a descendant of Vlad eh?

Oh, nearly forgot, Zak decides to make a wild connection and say the word "flower" they heard in Targoviste has to mean the flowers in the garden where they talk to Princess Brianna. Obviously, that’s what it means. It couldn’t mean anything else, right?

It should come as no surprise that when the investigation is over the decree the entire area of Romania haunted. Every square inch. The spirit of Vlad permeates every nook and cranny of the place. Well, not quite that bad, but they do say it’s extremely haunted and charged with energy. We all knew they would say that even before the episode aired.

I don’t think Romania is any more haunted than any other place that has seen it’s share of death and war. The people of Romania are superstitious and believe in legends as part of their daily lives. Plus, they are steeped in the mystery that surrounds Bram Stoker and Dracula. And clearly they take advantage of that tourism dollar. It’s no surprise that everything is shrouded in the legend and over time people just come to believe that those stories are true. You can say the same thing about Savannah and New Orleans. It happens all over the place.

All that being said, I thought this was a great place to visit and show off, but this investigation was pretty damn cheesy.

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Dracula – The book is nothing like any of the movies

Since I’m already in my Halloween mood, I just finished reading the original Dracula. In actuality I listened to it as an audiobook from Librivox.org. I’ve been listening to it for the past several days at the office while I did my regular work. It’s a really good recording and well worth the time.

It was terribly good fun, but it was almost laughable at how different the actual book is versus what we have come to know "about" the book. Taking a step back, the original Dracula starring Bela Legosi (or any other rendition really) is nothing like the original story. In the main novel Dracula shows up for the first two chapters while revealing his plans to Harker and then all but disappears for the rest of it. He does show up here and there to deliver a few lines but otherwise we "feel" his presence rather than see his person.

Another thing that really caught me was the idea that Dracula is a handsome seducer that merely has to look at women and they fall under his spell. There is certainly seduction in the very early stages of the novel and the idea of sexuality is obviously prevalent, but you don’t actually see Dracula running around bending the will of women and luring them. His actions are very much out of sight and you only see some of the end result.

To take it step further, Dracula isn’t even a main character in the original. We barely see him, we mainly hear of his deeds and the fear he causes. If anything, Dr. Seward and Van Helsing are the main characters with Mina and John Harker having major supporting roles. Everything is about the hunt for Dracula not their interaction with him. Even the "final showdown" barely has Dracula involved. Van Helsing and group cross the vast oceans on a long trek, then make their attack against the gypsies that are protecting Dracula. But once they fight off the gypsies, Dracula is defenseless and is killed without putting up and sort of fight. There is no mortal struggle between Van Helsing and Dracula as we see so often.

I also found it humorous that Dracula is killed with a knife in the heart and not a wooden stake as we are all so accustomed to. And let’s not forget that lopping off of the head bit. That usually gets left out. To graphic for television? Hard to say.

We all know the "legend" of Dracula, but this was a great reminder that the legend and the original story aren’t really that similar. Anyone else agree or am I out on a limb here?

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