Dracula (2020 TV series)

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Dracula
Series titles over a blood red background
Genre
Created by
Based onDracula
by Bram Stoker
Written by
  • Mark Gatiss
  • Steven Moffat
Directed by
Starring
Composers
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Original languageEnglish
No. of series1
No. of episodes3 (list of episodes)
Production
Executive producers
ProducerSue Vertue
Running time88–91 minutes
Production companyHartswood Films
DistributorBBC Studios
Release
Original network
Original release1–3 January 2020 (2020-01-01 – 2020-01-03)

Dracula is a drama-horror television serial developed by Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat, based on the 1897 novel of the same name by Bram Stoker. The series, consisting of three episodes, premiered on 1 January 2020 and was broadcast over three consecutive days on BBC One before releasing on Netflix. Claes Bang stars as the title character.

Premise[edit]

The series follows Dracula from his origins in Eastern Europe to his battles with Van Helsing's descendants and beyond.[1] Netflix's description reads: "The Count Dracula legend transforms with new tales that flesh out the vampire's gory crimes—and bring his vulnerability into the light."[2][3]

Cast[edit]

Episodes[edit]

No.TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air dateUK viewers
(millions)
1"The Rules of the Beast"Jonny CampbellMark Gatiss and Steven Moffat1 January 2020 (2020-01-01)6.99[5]
Jonathan Harker travels to Count Dracula's castle in Transylvania to assist with a property purchase in England. During Harker's stay, Dracula feeds on his blood and becomes youthful, while Jonathan becomes increasingly weak. Harker searches the castle, and discovers various undead, all of whom were bitten by Dracula. Some retain some of their humanity and Dracula describes them as his brides. Dracula kills Harker, who immediately revives and throws himself into the river. Some time later Harker is found in the sea and taken to a convent, but his memories are impaired. He is questioned by Sister Agatha Van Helsing, accompanied by his fiancée, Mina. After almost attacking Mina, Harker tries to kill himself with a stake. Dracula, drawn by Harker's presence, arrives at the convent but is unable to enter without an invitation. After a verbal confrontation with Van Helsing, Dracula finds Harker, who is still undead, and addresses him through an open window. Explaining that the undead cannot kill themselves, he promises to end Harker's existence in return for an invitation inside. Harker agrees and Dracula enters, killing all the nuns except Van Helsing and Mina, whom he corners in a basement.
2"Blood Vessel"Damon ThomasMark Gatiss and Steven Moffat2 January 2020 (2020-01-02)5.58[5]
Dracula is a passenger on the Demeter, which has been chartered to sail to England by a mysterious figure named Balaur. It carries other passengers, all of whom have a connection to Balaur, and cargo which includes boxes of soil from Transylvania. Dracula begins to kill passengers and crew, acquiring their memories and traits. It transpires that Dracula was Balaur and carefully selected his fellow passengers to prepare for his entrance into English society. The surviving passengers and crew search for the killer and discover an emaciated Agatha Van Helsing in one of the cabins. Dracula, who has been slowly draining her during the voyage, attempts to blame Agatha for the killings, but she convinces the others that Dracula is a vampire. After the surviving humans manage to set him on fire, Dracula throws himself into the sea. As the ship approaches Whitby, Dracula, who had been hiding on the ship, miraculously re-emerges. Agatha distracts him while the captain uses gunpowder to blow up the ship and prevent the vampire from reaching the shore. Dracula, however, manages to seal himself inside a coffin filled with his native soil as the ship sinks.
3"The Dark Compass"Paul McGuiganMark Gatiss and Steven Moffat3 January 2020 (2020-01-03)5.22[6]
Dracula emerges from his coffin and surfaces on Whitby beach. He is met by Dr. Zoe Van Helsing, who tells him that 123 years have passed. He tries to feed on her, but her blood makes him vomit. He is imprisoned in a laboratory for study, and his blood is sampled. However, he contacts a lawyer who threatens to expose their illegal operations, and he is released. Zoe drinks Dracula's blood and begins to experience Sister Agatha's memories. Dracula becomes infatuated by Lucy Westenra, a young socialite who does not fear him, and plans to make her his bride. Zoe, dying of cancer, begins to merge with Agatha's personality. Zoe travels to Dracula's London home. Lucy, now undead, also arrives but is horrified at what she has become, and is killed at her own request. Zoe exposes Dracula to the sunlight, who is unaffected. Zoe explains that Dracula fears death above all and is greatly ashamed of this. He has conditioned himself to believe the legends as they allowed him to hide himself from the society that he feels unworthy of. Zoe dies and Dracula drinks her poisoned blood. The two share an epiphany in the sunlight.

Production[edit]

Development[edit]

Development on Dracula began in June 2017, with Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat reuniting to write the episodes.[7] In October 2018, the series was officially commissioned by the BBC, to air on BBC One and Netflix.[8] Claes Bang was set to star as the eponymous Dracula in November 2018.[9] According to the writers, Dracula in their version is "the hero of his own story" – the central focus of the narrative and main character, rather than a shadowy villain for more traditional heroes to overcome.[10] As with their TV series Sherlock, they aimed to make their version of Dracula both faithful and faithless at the same time, taking details from the original novel, adding "a lot of new stuff" [that was not in the novel] and ignoring some passages from it.[11]

While the series includes a scene in which it is implied that Dracula and Harker have sex, Moffat has said that it is not correct to describe their interpretation of Dracula as bisexual: "He's bi-homicidal, it's not the same thing. He's killing them, not dating them."[12] He also added: "He's not actually having sex with anyone. He's drinking their blood."[13]

Casting[edit]

In February 2019, John Heffernan, Dolly Wells, Joanna Scanlan, Morfydd Clark and Lujza Richter joined the cast, with Gatiss also set to appear in the series.[14] In April, Jonathan Aris, Sacha Dhawan, Nathan Stewart-Jarrett, Catherine Schell, Youssef Kerkour and Clive Russell joined the cast with Jonny Campbell, Damon Thomas and Paul McGuigan announced as directors.[15]

Filming[edit]

Moffat revealed filming on the series had begun on 4 March 2019.[16] Filming took place at Orava Castle, Banská Štiavnica and Zuberec in Slovakia and at Bray Studios in Berkshire.[17][18] Filming was completed on 1 August 2019.[19]

Release[edit]

Broadcast[edit]

Dracula premiered on BBC One on 1 January 2020, and was broadcast over three consecutive days.[20] The three episodes were released on Netflix on 4 January 2020.[21] The documentary In Search of Dracula, with Mark Gatiss exploring the legacy of the famous Count, aired alongside the series on BBC Two on 3 January.[22][23] The overnight ratings for the three episodes were 3.60 million, 2.85 million, and 2.70 million respectively.[24][25][26]

Marketing[edit]

To mark the series premiere, BBC Creative and Talon Outdoor constructed billboards stabbed with wooden stakes that would cast a shadow of the Count after sunset, and below the billboards was a stake inside a case with the label "In case of vampires - break glass". These billboards were put up on Brixton Road in London and Upper Dean Street in Birmingham.[27] The billboards won a number of awards and £100,000 worth of media space for the creators at the 2020 Outdoor Media Awards organised by Clear Channel UK in partnership with Campaign.[28]

Reception[edit]

Critical reception[edit]

The series was met with positive reviews.[29] On Rotten Tomatoes, the series garnered a 71% approval and an average rating of 7.2/10 from 55 critic reviews. The website's critical consensus reads, "A delicious blend of horror and humor that more-or-less balances modern sensibilities and the character's beloved legacy, Dracula is a frighteningly fun — if not always faithful — time."[30] Metacritic assigned the series a score of 75 out of 100, based on 8 reviews, signifying "generally favorable reviews".[31]

Accolades[edit]

Year Award Category Nominee Result Ref(s)
2020 Outdoor Media Awards Visual Craft Award Talon Outdoor/Havas Media
BBC Media Planning/BBC Creative
Gold [28]
Installation and Experience Award Gold
Grand Prix Winner Won
TV Choice Awards Best New Drama Dracula Nominated [32]
Best Actor Claes Bang Nominated
2021 National Television Awards Best New Drama Dracula Nominated [33]

Future[edit]

In February 2020, Bang expressed his interest in a second series. Gatiss said "Apparently if you pour blood onto Dracula's ashes he comes back. Who knows? Dracula tends to come back, that's what vampires do – but we have no idea [if the show will return]."[34]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Clarke, Stewart (28 October 2019). "Claes Bang Bares His Fangs in Gruesome Trailer for BBC and Netflix's 'Dracula' (Watch)". Variety. Archived from the original on 5 November 2019. Retrieved 5 November 2019.
  2. ^ "Dracula | Netflix Official Site". Netflix. Archived from the original on 7 December 2019. Retrieved 1 January 2020.
  3. ^ "BBC - BBC One and Netflix team up to co-produce Dracula from Sherlock producers Hartswood Films - Media Centre". BBC (Press release). Archived from the original on 28 December 2019. Retrieved 2 January 2020.
  4. ^ "Sherlock creators cast Denmark's Claes Bang as Dracula". BBC. 28 November 2018. Archived from the original on 29 November 2018. Retrieved 28 November 2018.
  5. ^ a b "Four-screen dashboard". Broadcasters' Audience Research Board. Archived from the original on 2 February 2019. Retrieved 8 January 2020.
  6. ^ Tom Spilsbury [@TomSpilsbury] (14 January 2020). "Dracula Ep 3 – 5.22m" (Tweet). Retrieved 23 January 2020 – via Twitter.
  7. ^ Clarke, Stewart (20 June 2017). "'Sherlock' Team Reuniting for New 'Dracula' Series (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety. Archived from the original on 28 November 2019. Retrieved 2 November 2019.
  8. ^ White, Peter (15 October 2018). "Netflix & BBC One Board Three-Part 'Dracula' Series From 'Sherlock' Creators". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on 23 October 2019. Retrieved 23 October 2018.
  9. ^ White, Peter (28 November 2018). "'The Girl in the Spider's Web' Star Claes Bang Stakes Claim As Dracula In Hartswood's Netflix & BBC Drama". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on 7 November 2019. Retrieved 28 November 2018.
  10. ^ Fullerton, Huw (30 April 2019). "Dracula will be "the hero of his own story" in radical reinterpretation by Sherlock creators". Radio Times. Archived from the original on 6 November 2019. Retrieved 6 November 2019.
  11. ^ Daswani, Mansha (4 October 2019). "Mark Gatiss". Archived from the original on 14 October 2019. Retrieved 3 December 2019.
  12. ^ "BBC's new Dracula is 'bi-homicidal' not bisexual". The Independent. 12 December 2019. Archived from the original on 12 December 2019. Retrieved 12 December 2019.
  13. ^ Simpson, Craig (12 December 2019). "New BBC horror suggests Dracula did more than bite his male victims". The Daily Telegraph. Archived from the original on 13 December 2019. Retrieved 23 December 2019.
  14. ^ White, Peter (11 February 2019). "'Dracula': 'The Crown's John Heffernan & 'Doll & Em's Dolly Wells Bite Into Spooky BBC & Netflix Drama". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on 7 November 2019. Retrieved 11 February 2019.
  15. ^ Clarke, Stewart (29 April 2019). "BBC, Netflix 'Dracula' Series Sets Directors, Adds Cast (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety. Archived from the original on 29 September 2019. Retrieved 29 April 2019.
  16. ^ Ling, Thomas (4 March 2019). "Steven Moffat marks first day of filming on Dracula". Radio Times. Archived from the original on 8 July 2019. Retrieved 4 March 2019.
  17. ^ "V banskoštiavnickom Starom zámku budú nakrúcať Drakulu". aktuality.sk. 26 February 2019. Archived from the original on 14 November 2019. Retrieved 14 November 2019.
  18. ^ Goundry, Nick (1 May 2019). "Dracula films Slovakia as Transylvania". The Knowledge. Archived from the original on 25 July 2019. Retrieved 2 November 2019.
  19. ^ Harrison, Ellie (2 August 2019). "Mark Gatiss announces 'that's a wrap' on Netflix and BBC co-production Dracula after seven months". The Independent. Archived from the original on 2 November 2019. Retrieved 2 November 2019.
  20. ^ Fullerton, Huw (3 December 2019). "BBC's Dracula will air three days in a row from New Year's Day". RadioTimes. Archived from the original on 4 December 2019. Retrieved 4 December 2019.
  21. ^ Romano, Nick (13 December 2019). "Dracula's Netflix premiere awakens in bloody trailers for Sherlock team's miniseries". Entertainment Weekly. Archived from the original on 13 December 2019. Retrieved 13 December 2019.
  22. ^ Fullerton, Huw (9 August 2019). "Mark Gatiss will "get back to the vampire's roots" for new Dracula documentary". Radio Times. Archived from the original on 28 November 2019. Retrieved 8 November 2019.
  23. ^ Patrick, Lisa (10 December 2019). "In Search of Dracula with Mark Gatiss – BBC2". What's on TV. Archived from the original on 11 December 2019. Retrieved 11 December 2019.
  24. ^ "Dracula and Doctor Who series 12 debut ratings revealed – how did they fare on New Year's Day?". Radio Times. Archived from the original on 3 January 2020. Retrieved 7 January 2020.
  25. ^ "Dracula ratings dip below 3 million for episode 2". Radio Times. Archived from the original on 3 January 2020. Retrieved 7 January 2020.
  26. ^ "Dracula episode 3 loses to ITV's Bancroft in ratings battle". Radio Times.
  27. ^ Nudd, Tim (6 January 2020). "This Creepy Dracula Ad Emerges From the Shadows After Dark". Muse by Clio. Retrieved 10 January 2020.
  28. ^ a b "Outdoor Media Awards 2020 Winners | Clear Channel UK". www.clearchannel.co.uk. Retrieved 13 June 2020.
  29. ^ "What's on TV Saturday: 'Midsommar' and 'Dracula'". The New York Times. 4 January 2020. Archived from the original on 5 January 2020. Retrieved 6 January 2020.
  30. ^ "Dracula: Season 1". Rotten Tomatoes. Archived from the original on 9 January 2020. Retrieved 31 May 2021.
  31. ^ "Dracula (2020) - Season 1 Reviews". Metacritic. Archived from the original on 5 January 2020. Retrieved 6 January 2020.
  32. ^ "TV Choice Awards". TV Choice Awards. Retrieved 26 May 2020.
  33. ^ "Vote | National Television Awards". www.nationaltvawards.com. Retrieved 28 May 2021.
  34. ^ Fullerton, Huw (13 February 2020). "The BBC's Dracula could resurrect for a second season, say star and writers". Radio Times.

External links[edit]