TV review: Jonathan Rhys Meyers draws us over to the dark side in Dracula

Sky Living

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The Independent Culture

Last night's Halloween treat revolved around an appeal for international investment, which tells you something about just how slim the pickings were for TV scary stuff this year. At least the appeal came from Dracula himself. In his latest television incarnation, in Sky Living's Dracula series, the count is posing as an American entrepreneur in 19th-century London.

The episode began with a lavish ball, hosted by Dracula as a means of introducing himself and his ideas to London's high society. In particular, he was anxious to meet the men who sat on the board of British Imperial Coolant Company. They were a uniformly snobby bunch, so it wasn't particularly upsetting when we learned that British Imperial was actually a front for the ancient Order of the Dragon, which Dracula had sworn to destroy.

His method? To ruin their business by introducing a new source of power "drawn from the magnet- osphere" that would render their petroleum obsolete. Now, I'm all for finding sustainable new energy sources, but isn't Dracula supposed to conquer his enemies in a grotesque orgy of bloodsucking? For a vampire series, this corporate-takeover storyline was frustratingly bloodless.

It's a good job Jonathan Rhys Meyers is so well cast as Dracula. He's naturally pale skinned, possesses a rakish, old-fashioned charm and hasn't aged a day since 1997. Dracula's anti-hero appeal is key to every good adaptation of Bram Stoker's novel – it's about the only thing this one shares with the original – but must the rest of the characters be quite so insipid by comparison?

Last night, it wasn't really Dracula's hypnotic eyes or seductive whispering that drew us to the dark side; there just weren't any other characters worth rooting for.