To some extent this series is a bit of a mess! There is so much going on that it's easy to get lost amongst the mixture of plot elements that appear to have been put together rather in the manner of someone cheating when completing a puzzle by cutting the first pieces they pick up to force them to fit. We have Frankenstein's creation displaced in time and space competing for top spot with Dracula who appears to have spirited Mina away from a father she never originally had. He seems to be a kind of Allan Quartermain explorer type obsessed with finding the origin of the Nile and racked with guilt over the loss of both children: his son accompanied him on one ill-fated trip. (A kind of) Buffalo Bill, in the guise of Ethan Chandler (Josh Hartnett) also plays a prominent part together with Dorian Gray convincingly mincing his way through the lot and corrupting any and every one he can literally lay his hands upon. And in the monster's attraction to Maude, an ingénue playing at the local Grand Guignol theatre, there is even a hint of Gaston Laroux's famous phantom.
Central to all this mayhem is the figure of Vanessa Ives played by Eva Green who gives an astonishing performance as the possessed friend of Mina whose aforementioned father, Sir Malcolm Murray (Timothy Dalton), is convinced holds the key to his daughter's fate: so chuck in a bit of the Exorcist as well! A brilliantly hammy turn by Simon Russell Beale as an utterly dotty Egyptologist and a curious sprinkling of Billie Piper as a consumptive Irish prostitute completes the dish. All we are missing is Mr Hyde: but (hopefully) it's still early days yet!
So, utterly unoriginal and yet utterly compelling: it's fun and works precisely because it plays upon the viewer's knowledge of all of those Gothic ingredients to create a heady brew that looks absolutely sumptuous and is very, very definitely for adult consumption only. This is the grown-up relative of the recent Jonathan Rees Myers, Dracula which, though good, is a pale shadow of this gloriously exotic concoction.
It's highly probable you will have seen nothing like it on television before!
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