Vampire Rules: Netflix Woke Dracula
(Bumped for Halloween 2023, hence the stuff about Jodie Whitaker)
Doctor Who’s season finale was a nosedive in the ratings for that series. It didn’t even crack 4 million viewers in the UK and it only hauled in about 400,000 of the Whovian faithful in America. These are the lowest numbers yet. Jodie Whittaker’s turn as the Time Lord (Lady?) has been a ratings disaster. She is reliably rumored to be bailing. (Rumor confirmed, she did)
It’s not her fault… Not entirely her fault. Chris Chibnal, the show’s showrunner has turned in the most boring scripts the show has ever seen, including the ones he did for much better producers than himself. He’s been reduced to making ultra-woke episodes, in order to (a.) attract fawning press coverage and (b.) assure future employment for himself because if you destroy your business in the name of SJWism you will never be out of work.
The British tabloids are now saying that Whittaker is out at the end of season 13. There has been no replacement announced. So, what is Chinballs planning?
If no replacement is announced before the end of the season there will be a flurry of speculation as to who the Who will be. Then on finale night, the Doctor regenerates back into a man and then dies. Probably screaming girlishly, “I don’t want to go.” The body will explode and it will be explained in no uncertain terms that the Doctor is now dead forever and can never come back. (Nope, he’s going to be a gay black man. Who could have guessed?)
If you are a Gamma, which Chinballs is, then your priority will be childish petulant revenge. And the Woke BBC will undoubtedly back his play. They hate the audience too.
Such a pity when you look back on the show’s heyday. The weekly numbers in Britain and America were huge. Big enough to lift BBC America into Tier 1 cable status, Tennant had emo girls throwing their panties at the TV, and the best episode of the year, the one everyone looked forward to, was the one that would be written by Steven Moffat.
When Russel Davies decided that five years was enough, fans were worried about who was going to run the series. And then they were delighted to find out it was going to be Moffat.
Who could do a better job than the guy who wrote, Girl in the Fireplace, The Empty Child, and (best of all), Blink? This was going to be great!
And then it wasn’t.
The seasons with Amy Pond were mostly all right but some of Moffat’s weaknesses became pretty obvious, pretty fast. Writing a whole season’s story arc was beyond him. He could easily handle individual episodes but the quality of his work suffered badly when he had to paint on a larger canvas. There were plenty of set-ups and (credit where it’s due), he attempted to provide payoffs for them, (take note George R. R. Martin), but the payoffs weren’t equal to the set-ups. Once you found out what the Pandorica was, you were left going, “Oh, was that it? Is that all there was to it?” There were some good bits of dialog here and there. The man can certainly write a joke, but long-term, extended plotting just doesn’t seem to come naturally to him.
Then there is his other besetting sin. His “strong female characters.” They are very brave and confrontational. They are sexually aggressive but maternal instinct doesn’t come naturally to them. In short, his heroines didn’t act all that much like women. They are very romantic men with tits.
Anyway, it was under Moffat that the Doctor’s ratings first took a dive. But luckily for him, he had a monster of a backup plan called Sherlock.
Moffat’s co-writer on Sherlock is Mark Gattis who plays Mycroft Holmes. Gattis interestingly enough was also trying to get Doctor Who rebooted about the same time Russel Davies was. And thank god he failed. He’s only written five episodes and they were the second most unmemorable adventures of the Doctor. Only Chinballs was worse.
Sherlock is not only a phenomenon but a miracle as well. It’s made its leading man with the unspellable, unpronounceable name a superstar. In the ten years it’s been in production it’s only had fifteen episodes, yet interest remains rabid, despite the fact that none of the succeeding episodes have been anywhere near as good as the first one.
So, it’s safe to say that Moffat and Gattis’ record as a writing team is on the poor side of “mixed.”
Consequently, it was with a combination of hope and dread but mostly dread, that I clicked play when I saw that they had created a new version of Bram Stoker’s Dracula.
There are three episodes in this series, each one taking about ninety minutes. So really, it’s a series of three movies (like Sherlock). And no it’s not a trilogy. Each episode is very much a stand-alone story.
Dracula started with that harbinger of all things horrifying, a credit that read ‘made in cooperation with the BBC.’
Spoilers from here on out.
Curtain lifts on a convent in Hungary in 1890. We meet a literally cadaverous-looking Jonathon Harker, who is being interviewed by the nuns about his recent experience at Castle Dracula. So, at first, it looks like it’s going to be a fairly close retelling of Stoker’s novel. And to put it mildly, that’s been done before.
Also, the show strongly resembles Coppola’s extremely stylized version. This was a deliberate choice of motif since Moffat and Gattis went out of their way to give it a slap in the face about halfway through the first episode.
Regardless, the basic framework of Stoker’s narrative is utilized.
Harker has traveled to Dracula’s castle. He slowly discovers that he’s a prisoner. Dracula gets younger as Harker gets older, ya-da, ya-da, you know the deal.
Things change about halfway in. The Woketardery makes itself felt in very short order at that point. Nihilist atheism is the bedrock of this version of Dracula. God does not exist, so why does Dracula fear the cross? Apparently, I was supposed to be intrigued by this question instead of exhausted by it. Sister Van Helsing, ( Abraham Van Helsing got a gender swap) is the atheist nun that’s interviewing Harker. Fine, whatever, I knew it was going to be buried in Woke suck by this point and that means a kick-ass grrl power heroine. Who is also an Athiest-Nun (Future Dark Herald here: the other nun is Mina Harker. Her resting bitchface is all too familiar to anyone who as slogged their way through the Rings of Power, it’s Morfydd Clark.)
And here are the Rules for the Vampires in this version. Vampires fear the cross… Unless they don’t. They fear sunlight… Unless they are in it. They will die from a stake through the heart… Except they don’t. But they will also die from drinking the blood of the dying or the dead, (Anne Rice should sue). Finally, vampires can absorb memories through drinking blood. I found that addition tolerable. Everyone has to make up their own Vampire Rules.
So, Harker is trapped and is dying by inches but finds the most absurdly contrived ‘secret map’ this side of the Rise of Skywalker. With it, he finds his way to one of Dracula’s current brides, where he finds out about the whole vampire rules deal.
In a shocking twist I was absolutely expecting, Dracula starts referring to Harker as his newest, “bride.” Again, Anne Rice should sue. Aging Okay Boomers like Moffat and Gattis were very anxious to prove how “with it” they are.
Anyway, shortly after that Dracula murders Harker.
And Harker then makes his escape.
You heard that right. Harker becomes undead in this version. Turns out there’s lots and lots of undead in this ‘verse and nobody seems to know about them. Not just vampires. Regular people frequently die and become undead for no reason, and nobody seems to know about it except Dracula and Sister Van Helsing. Dracula tracks Harker to the convent, he has a confrontation with Sister Van Helsing, and an odd sexual tension is established between the two of them.
There is a kick-ass girl boss scene with the nuns that is a hilarious disaster. Sister Van Helsing gives a military-style command and the nuns all draw stakes and point them at Dracula. I fell apart. It was the only entertaining scene in the whole show but it was rolling on the floor hilarious. Sister Van Helsing is the biggest problem in the show. She’s one of those feminist heroines that the audience is basically ordered to love, despite doing nothing to earn it. Gattis and Moffat have been working with established characters for too long, they don’t know how to build from scratch anymore.
I’ll give Moffat credit where it’s due, he can write a decent romance. There is a great deal of push and pushback between the vampire and the nun, and conflict is the key to any good romance. Anyway, Harker, the gay-zombie-bride invites Dracula in, (which really shouldn’t work but anything to end this thing faster), and Dracula slaughters everyone in the convent, saving Sister Van Helsing for last.
The second episode is the strongest of the series, although it eventually fails too.
It took place aboard the Demeter. A setting that normally doesn’t get much examination (This show was launched in 2020).
In simplest terms, this episode is a Ten Little Indians story aboard an ill-fated ship and you know in advance everyone dies on it. However, you also know from the start who the murderer is. It isn’t a bad twist on the tale. We also get to see Count Dracula in full Lagosi white tie, tails, and a hanging order of some variety around his neck. It was a strong change of pace from the first episode.
We start with Dracula having a somewhat romantic chat with Sister Van Helsing who has her hair down now and seems much more receptive to his advances. They verbally spar in a Steed and Mrs. Peel fashion, while sitting down at a private table.
There is a central mystery to this episode of “Who is in Cabin 9?” I figured out immediately it was Sister Van Helsing. Spoilers, I was right. The flirtatious dialog is going on in her head, while he feeds on her nightly. There was some daring and brave romance between a British guy and his Indian manservant, along with some other Woke cliche time-wasters that I’ve already forgotten about.
I did like the dinner scene where Dracula was dining with an elderly Duchess (Catherine Schell), she reminds him of a handsome man she danced with at a ball in Vienna when she was barely sixteen. As the conversation progresses she realizes this is the same man she fell in love with as a girl.
What made this episode work better than any of the others is that this is the one time that Dracula felt like the character from Stoker’s novel.
The Ten Little Indians thing works for a while. You know who the vampire is but they don’t and Dracula is assisting in the investigation. This was also effective.
Sister Van Helsing escapes and having failed miserably to protect the nuns at her now desecrated convent, she decides she will be girl-bossing the Demeter and informs the Captain of Demeter, “I am relieving you of command.”
And the Captain doesn’t tell her to fuck off. Naturally. This was the point where the episode became irredeemable. Why in hell would the Captain surrender his ship to a woman who is nowhere to be found on the manifest and is most likely a stowaway?
So Sister Van Helsing becomes Captain Van Helsing and again blows it.
The episode ends with the Demeter being scuttled by Sister Van Helsing and Dracula climbing into his dirt-filled box and entering a coma for reasons of lame plot contrivance.
The third and last episode takes place in contemporary London. Stoker’s narrative is resumed, it had a few elements that were okayish, but most were what you’d expect from a couple of Boomer writers pretending they are young and Woke.
Anyway, the super secret Jonathon Harker Institute springs into existence and rescues Dracula from his watery grave. It’s run by Sister Van Helsing’s grandniece (same actress). They imprison Dracula in order to “study him.” His lawyer Renfield gets the D-man sprung on the grounds that vampires don’t exist. And rather than try to kill Dracula the Harker Institute throws up its hands in exasperation and wanders off-screen.
The novel’s supporting characters are introduced. Lucy Westerner (check-box, race-bent), Dr. Jack Seward, and Renfield show up. Quincy Morris makes a cameo as a rich black American but as usual, gets the short shrift, (which is kind of bullshit considering he’s the one that killed Dracula).Seriously, I could have done better with Black Quincy Morris in my sleep. Morris was originally a white, rich Texan. In 2021, “Quincy Morris” sounds more like a black man’s name than a white’s, so that scans. He was introduced in a London club scene which could have really worked.
Lucy: This is Quincy Morris. He’s a Texan
Clueless Girl #1(flirty London accent): Quincy, are you a cowboy?
Quincy (annoyed): No, I play for Houston.
Lucy (irritatingly flirty): I thought all you big Texans were cowboys.
Quincy (exasperated with brainless London club girls): Look bitch, I play for the Texans. I’m from fucking Detroit!
Arthur Holmwood doesn’t show up at all in case you were curious (should have made him an F-to-M Trans, his deadname was Aerial Holmwood). And Lucy is a very famous party-girl influencer, (think second-tier influencer, she doesn’t rate her own reality show but makes serious money off of it). Not to be cruel, but if you are going to have everyone going on constantly and at length over how beautiful a girl is, then she should actually be beautiful. This one was just “Okay, I guess.” She just wasn’t devastatingly gorgeous and she needed to be to carry the plot but Moffat and Gattis knew they could get away with it because the audience was required to believe that she was the new Helen of Troy. If they didn’t they were racist. Also, she was incredibly irritating.
I was supposed to be really sad when Lucy died. I cheered. She was that annoying. I was given no reason at all to like her and I didn’t. Although, I was sorry that she became a Vampire because that meant she was back in the show.
One nice touch, that I had already thought of in one of my stories is the effect Tinder would have on the Vampire community. “Sending for take-out.”
A lot of stuff happens that I don’t care about and neither would you as it’s pretty much all filler until they can hit the 80-minute mark. So, it turns out Dracula isn’t damaged by crosses and sunlight, it’s all a psychological problem for him, and the only thing he really fears is dying.
So, he kills himself.
His suicide was assisted by drinking the blood of Sister Van Helsing’s grandniece who is dying of…
… The End.
It had a few things going for it, there were some easily identifiable Moffat jokes.
Woman: Is my husband drunk?
Dracula: That’s one word for it.
Stuff like that. The jokes are there and if you find Moffat gags irresistible then there is nothing, I can do to stop you from watching this.
The BBC’s Woketard clichés got scattered all over it like a cow pie hitting a fan. Then there is the problem of Moffat’s setups without any real payoffs. They made a huge running mystery of ‘Why did Dracula fear the cross?’ Just having it be a pointless phobia because God isn’t real was an incredibly weak sauce payoff. Clever dialog, shock twists, and camera tricks were trying to mask a lightweight plot. And finally, there was the BBC’s cast-iron requirement that all of its productions be, not just atheist but anti-Christian. It this show absolutely was.
When all is said and done, it feels like last season’s Sherlock. Setups and contrivances that signified nothing. You can tell this was mostly a Mark Gattis script and he brought in Moffat to do a punch-up, in order to turn this into a Moffat and Gattis production.
The Dark Herald Does Not Recommend.
FOOTNOTE: (9/18/23) Crap in a hat! This POS actually got a sequel. It’s due out in January of 25.