Monday, January 6, 2020

Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat's BBC-produced DRACULA comes to Netflix streaming

Do we really need another version of DRACULA? Absolutely, when it's as witty, intelligent, mysterious, dark, bloody, sexy and -- can you believe it? -- even (and most unusual) as charming as is this new series produced for the BBC and streaming now in the USA via Netflix. But is it original? Come on: How can it be? It's Dracula, for god's sake!

What makes this new "take" so terrific are the ways in which its creators, Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat (shown at left, with Gatiss on the right), have cleverly and intelligently drawn on just about every earlier source, from Stoker to Lugosi to Hammer and onwards and yet have come up with something wholly their own: a three-part series, which each part comprising its own 90-minute movie, that together makes up the best Dracula I've yet seen. The first part is hugely dark, often ugly and possessing a sadness earlier versions missed; the second something akin to a Ten Little Indians set at sea (with the murderer quite obvious, but the how, why and when of the victims' demise providing the fun); the third, an enormous surprise, provides the wittiest chapter, as well as bringing it all to a satisfying, unusual close.

In Danish actor Claes Bang (above and below: remember him in The Square?), we've got a great vampire Count: smart, sexy, horrible and irresistible. His line readings are as apt and delightful as you could want, and Gatiss and Moffat have given him countless succulent lines to chew on with relish. Bang does all this with such gorgeous subtlety, confidence and the proper innuendo that you hang on every word.

Dolly Wells (below, of Can You Ever Forgive Me?) proves equally splendid as Dracula's antagonist, a semi-lapsed nun possessing a very special name. My spouse noted that Ms Wells' accent is right out of Ingrid Bergman, and it and she are as delightful as you could want -- as well as providing the series with a character equal to our ravenous Count.

The perfectly-chosen supporting cast is chockablock with the kind of talent and energy needed to bring the tale to massive life. Particularly amazing is the very fine John Heffernan, below, who gives us the richest and saddest Jonathan Harker we've yet seen. In a sense it is Harker who owns the initial chapter of this series.

There are so many fine performers in use here that I do not have time or space to mention them all, but you'll be aware of how well-cast the series is as you're viewing it. Look for Lydia West (below, of Years and Years) as this version's Lucy,

and Matthew Beard (below, of Elizabeth Harvest) as one of several lovesick pawns the series so interestingly presents.

If you're the sort of viewer who just wants a bloody, gory Dracula, the high intelligence on offer here will be wasted. (There is a good deal of blood to be seen, however.) But if you're looking for something special, something that takes a legend and does it up proud by adding even more to its original grandeur, don't miss this new version -- on Netflix streaming now.

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