Dracula (2020) by Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat

Spoiler free

So Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss have adapted another victorian classic, this time it is Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Taking their own twist on the original vampiric masterpiece, the two weave a four and a half hour story, that brings the Count of Walachia to present day England.

The narrative, according to me, is rather gripping. This is primarily because of the characters. Dracula and his arch nemesis and interest, Agatha Van Helsing, have such great banter, wit, and motivations, that one is instantly hooked and wishes to see more of their story unfold. Which is perhaps why the story seems to take a dip around episode 3. The key charm of the show is lacking in this episode.

Nevertheless, Gatiss and Moffat have managed to write a wonderful piece that seamlessly blends the horrific with the morbidly funny.

They use a non-linear approach, jumping between the present day where the narrator for the episode is, and the past, where the story for that episode is set. As the narration carries on, a few mysteries, in the typical style that Moffat employs, are set up. These then stay in the back of our minds as we try to root for characters while somehow knowing that none but the Count may survive.

This is perhaps the most interesting and educational part about the show. It, like few others, manages to write a story where the titular character is decidedly evil, selfish, and dangerous. The same character is also unlikely to die, in this case because of his immortality. And yet, we root for him because it is the source of all drama. You want his enemies, the good characters to come close to defeating him, but to never succeed, because that would be the end. So you simply wish for them to survive. This is a great way to keep the tension high while also writing an anti-hero.

Of course, in part, the reason we need the anti-hero to survive is because we want to know his mysteries. So there is a steady trickle of answers, but like the blood the Count suckles on, it is best had in parts and we are always left wanting more.

While I do not think there is a need for a second season. I think this is one of Moffat and Gatiss better works. With a lot of credit for its success going to the actors who portray the characters so wonderfully.

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