Dracula (2020 TV series)
by Bram Stoker
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|No. of series||1|
|No. of episodes||3 (list of episodes)|
|Running time||88–91 minutes|
|Production company(s)||Hartswood Films|
|Original release||1 January 2020 –|
Dracula is a television series developed by Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat, based on the novel of the same name by Bram Stoker. The series was broadcast and released on BBC One and Netflix and consists of three episodes. Claes Bang stars as the title character. Dracula premiered on 1 January 2020 and was broadcast over three consecutive days.
This series follows Dracula from his origins in Eastern Europe to his battles with Van Helsing's descendants and beyond. 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."
- Claes Bang as Count Dracula
- Dolly Wells as Sister Agatha Van Helsing / Dr Zoe Van Helsing
- John Heffernan as Jonathan Harker
- Morfydd Clark as Mina Murray
- Joanna Scanlan as Mother Superior
- Lujza Richter as Elena
- Jonathan Aris as Captain Sokolov
- Sacha Dhawan as Dr Sharma
- Nathan Stewart-Jarrett as Adisa
- Clive Russell as Valentin
- Catherine Schell as Duchess Valeria
- Patrick Walshe McBride as Lord Ruthven
- Youssef Kerkour as Olgaren
- Samuel Blenkin as Piotr
- Alec Utgoff as Abramoff
- Natasha Radski as Mother
- Lydia West as Lucy Westenra
- Matthew Beard as Jack Seward
- Mark Gatiss as Frank Renfield
- Chanel Cresswell as Kathleen
- Lyndsey Marshal as Bloxham
- Paul Brennen as Commander Irving
- John McCrea as Zev
- Phil Dunster as Quincey Morris
- Sarah Niles as Meg
|No.||Title||Directed by||Written by||Original air date||UK viewers|
|1||"The Rules of the Beast"||Jonny Campbell||Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat||1 January 2020||6.99|
|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 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 Thomas||Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat||2 January 2020||5.58|
|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, whom Dracula had been slowly draining during the voyage. Dracula attempts to blame her for the killings, but she convinces them that Dracula is a vampire. They manage to set him on fire and Dracula throws himself into the sea. As the ship approaches Whitby, Dracula, who had been hiding on the ship, re-emerges. Agatha distracts him while the captain sinks the ship using gunpowder to prevent Dracula reaching the shore. Dracula manages to seal himself inside a coffin containing his native soil as the ship sinks.|
|3||"The Dark Compass"||Paul McGuigan||Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat||3 January 2020||5.22|
|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.|
Development on Dracula began in June 2017, with Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat reuniting to write the episodes. In October 2018, the series was officially commissioned by the BBC, to air on BBC One and Netflix. Claes Bang was set to star as the eponymous Dracula in November 2018. 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. 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 wasn't in the novel] and ignoring some passages from it.
Moffat made a point about Dracula's sexuality in their show (since it is insinuated that Dracula has sex with Jonathan Harker, the solicitor sent to his lair in Transylvania), saying that it is not correct to describe Dracula as bisexual: "He's bi-homicidal, it's not the same thing. He's killing them, not dating them." He also added: "He's not actually having sex with anyone. He's drinking their blood."
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. 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.
Moffat revealed filming on the series had begun on 4 March 2019. Filming took place at Orava Castle, Banská Štiavnica and Zuberec in Slovakia and at Bray Studios in Berkshire. Filming was completed on 1 August 2019.
Dracula premiered on BBC One on 1 January 2020, and was broadcast over three consecutive days. The three episodes were released on Netflix on 4 January 2020. 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. The overnight ratings for the three episodes were 3.60 million, 2.85 million, and 2.70 million respectively.
The first teaser trailer for the series premiered on 27 October 2019. The official trailer was released by the BBC on 13 December 2019, while Netflix showed the second teaser on the same day. The second trailer was released on 3 January 2020. To mark the series premiere, BBC Creative constructed billboards in London and Birmingham stabbed with wooden stakes that would cast a shadow of the Count after sunset.
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The series was met with positive reviews. On Rotten Tomatoes, the series garnered a 70% approval and an average rating of 7.49/10 from 43 critic reviews. The website's critical consensus reads, "A delicious blend of horror and humour that more-or-less balances modern sensibilities and the character's beloved legacy, Dracula is a frighteningly fun — if not always faithful — time." Metacritic assigned the series a score of 75 out of 100, based on 8 reviews, signifying "generally favorable reviews".
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