'Dracula' makes NBC debut

Jonathan Rhys Meyers makes a particularly bloodless "Dracula."

* DRACULA. 10 tonight, NBC10.


9 tonight, Showtime.


NBC SETS the wayback machine for Victorian London tonight in "Dracula," a lavish-ish new costume drama with a cold, dead heart at its center.

That would be Vlad/Dracula himself, who, in his latest incarnation, is played by Jonathan Rhys Meyers ("The Tudors") in one of the dullest outings yet for both character and actor.

I blow hot and cold on vampires, getting perhaps a bit too excited a few weeks ago to receive a review DVD set of "Kindred: The Embraced" - which lasted just eight episodes in 1996 - but rolling my eyes through "Twilight," longing for a sequel in which "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" slapped some sense into Bella.

So, I'm maybe not the ideal audience for "Dracula," a British-American co-production, premiering after the return of "Grimm," in which Bram Stoker's infamous count is reimagined as an immortal on a mission.

The mission requires him to pose as an American entrepreneur named Alexander Grayson, giving the Dublin-born Meyers an excuse for an accent he never quite makes his own but that marks him as an outsider among London's movers and shakers.

In fact, if not for the draining-the-blood-of-his-victims thing and his promise to bring cheap electricity to Britain, he'd be pretty much interchangeable with Jeremy Piven's "Mr. Selfridge."

"Dracula" purists may wonder at the decision to name-check Stoker's characters while assigning them different roles: Nonso Anozie ("Ender's Game") plays Renfield, seemingly sane and "Grayson's" chief confidante; Jessica de Gouw ("Arrow") is Mina, a medical student who's also the spitting image of Drac's dead wife; Oliver Jackson-Cohen ("Mr. Selfridge") is Jonathan Harker, a struggling journalist who's dating Mina; and Thomas Kretschmann is Abraham Von Helsing, one of Mina's professors.

I was, briefly, more worked up about the anachronistic behavior of characters like Mina and Jonathan, whose public displays of affection seem even less likely for the time than the bloody power struggle going on between Dracula and members of London's elite.

But only briefly. NBC sent critics five episodes of the 10-episode season. Bored, I bowed out after three.


'American Blackout'

It's hard not to see in Sunday's "American Blackout," National Geographic Channel's fictional drama about a massive U.S. power outage, an extended promo for its series "Doomsday Preppers," which happens to be returning on Tuesday.

Except that there are apparently no adequate preparations to be made for this disaster, the result of a cyber attack that takes advantage of America's aging power grid to knock out power to most of the country.

Seen mostly through shaky cellphone video - the ones with the most battery life win - "American Blackout" is a little too likely a scenario to be a truly satisfying disaster movie, but not detailed enough about the blackout's causes to be a useful wake-up call.

In the end we're left with a vague feeling that we're all in this together, and that even those who with guns and bug-out bags at the ready shouldn't count on anything when the lights go out.


'Springsteen and I'

"Springsteen and I," the documentary about the Boss and his fans, makes its TV debut at 9 tonight on Showtime.


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