So the makers of NBC's version made what would usually be unacceptable changes to canon, but which were necessary to make this series tick. The most egregious of these changes is making Dracula a sympathetic figure--done partly through the Coppola method of losing a wife to the machinations of the Order of the Dragon, but compounded on by adding a vengeance twist to his midnight ravaging and rampaging. His quest to make the Order pay for what they've done make him a heroic figure instead of the bastion of darkness Dracula has traditionally been.
While this would typically be a deal-breaker for most die-hard fans, it's acceptable if the novel is mentally divorced from the television show. This isn't Bram Stoker's Dracula, it's a twisty Victorian vampire thriller that just happen's to use the name Dracula for it's main blood-sucker. NBC manages to avoid over-sentimentalization by making Dracula a dark avenging angel. They hold true to the origins of vampires as a darkly romantic monster by not shying away from the violence and power they possess. Yes, Dracula might be a little love-sick, but he is no Edward. At least, not yet. He has no qualms about ripping out throats and chomping on jugulars, doing it in a unflinching manner (that the camera often shockingly rests on) that makes this one of the most gory shows seen on network.
The serialization of the story was reinforced by the character changes, which were surprisingly not terrible, and instead only helped to boost the modernization and extended narration of this version.
The most shocking was the change to Van Helsing, perfectly played in appearance and tone by Thomas Kretschmann. That perfection makes it all the more jarring when he reveals himself as the main ally of Dracula. Having the legendary vampire hunter work with the creature of the night is something that shouldn't work, but there is potential for the two to become a dream team against the Order.
The changing of Mina and Jonathan's careers is another delightful twist. Book-Mina had a drive and verve that lends nicely to her entry into the field of medicine for the series. It's great that they are keeping Johnathan "boring" if only in lip service, and I approve of a newsman in the mix, even if it might not fit him better than the book's use of him as a solicitor. Still, it fits the story the way NBC is telling it, and for that they must have kudos. They've also added another character, Lady Jayne Wetherby, who is a sexy vampire huntress and a sexy sex interest for Dracula. Her inclusion is intriguing, as the hardcore counterpart to idyllic Mina, even if it does feel a little gratuitous.
The one misstep is Renfield. Hopefully he gets a little more focus and character depth In the novel, Renfield is definitely the most terrifying character, as the twisted human counterpart to Dracula's otherworldly beast. So far, the show uses him as amere manservant, which is a waste
of incredibly rich source material. Perhaps Sleepy Hollow's John Cho can come show him how it's done.
-The Order of the Dragon is apparently seeking power through business motivations of petrol and electricity. The methods and motives are muddled, but at least they are trying. It almost feels like some ham-fisted current political commentary, but surely they wouldn't be that overt and clumsy, right?
-Lucy is a dead ringer for Kiera Knightley, which just makes me want to watch Bend it Like Beckham.
-I'm terribly disappointed in JRM's American accent. It's bordering on too high-pitched and unsettling, and you can tell it's restricting his acting range.
-The spectacle of it all is beautiful. Exactly the atmosphere a Gothic Revival like this should have.