Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat have had very interesting careers. They both worked on Doctor Who. Gatiss was one of the founders of The League of Gentlemen (which, if you have not seen, you must see). Together they created Jeckyll. Together they created Sherlock. Now they have tackled Dracula.  It seems like they very much enjoy taking Victorian era stories and creating a new twist on them.  Maybe they can do Bleak House next.

Dracula has been  brought to the screen a lot of times. The most notable versions are of course Tod Browning’s Dracula starring Bele Lugosi and Francis Coppola’s version starring Gary Oldman. Basically any version of this tale will be measured against those two iconic films.

Here’s your obligatory spoiler warning.

The new version helmed by Moffat and Gatiss (available on Netflix) is a limited series, which is effectively three movies, each about ninety minutes long.  The first part deals with Johnathan Harker in Dracula’s castle. The second is the voyage of the Demeter. The third is Dracula in London.

If you’ve seen other work by this team, you might expect the story to be transported to the present day. The first tow episode could surprise you, as they are set in the era of the novel. The third section jumps ahead to the present day, though. 

This version presents all the bel0oved characters we know from earlier iterations of the tale (Harker, Mina, Lucy, Van Helsing, etc) but updates and alters them in ways that are interesting. Van Helsing here is a nun questioning her faith.  She is played by Dolly Wells, who is a real standout in a cast that is overall quite strong. 

Dracula is played by Claes Bang, who looks aristocratic and like someone pulled from the old world.  He isn’t a mirror image of Lugosi, but you could believe that they are related.  Bang brings a depth and a humor to a role that can be dire and dreary in the wrong hands.

Gatiss and Moffat have chosen to treat the Dracula myth as a buffet, picking and choosing the items they want to keep and passing over the rest. They also find a clever way to explain the vampire’s weaknesses that I had not expected.

This is a fun, if ultimately unnecessary, retelling of the classic story.  It’s a fine way to spend a Saturday afternoon.

-Nathan Tyree