That Claes Bang fella is excellent throughout, swaggering through a range of scenes that at times are about as good as you can get on TV. It's no surprise that anything coming from the pen of Mark Gatiss and Stephen Moffat is well-written, so in a way that almost goes without saying, but it's worth reiterating. Despite the legions of screenwriters working on high-budget Netflix stuff, a lot of it is pedestrian in the extreme, poorly written and not much more than a vehicle for the sets, the costumes and the set pieces. This production of Dracula has all of that, the sets, the costumes, the set-pieces, but it has a sense of story that is much more complete than a lot of stuff I've started watching. The difference is about caring. The characters don't have to be super-heroes or implausibly good-looking or impossibly dense with back-story to be interesting; that's where The Witcher struggled a bit, in my opinion: the story - of both the Witcher himself, and the 8-episode series on Netflix - is next-to unfathomable without very close watching, almost requiring a pen and paper to figure out what is going on, that it felt hard work at times. Not so Dracula.
The other thing that both of these series do, which is something that is a bit of a modern trope, is wipe out a bunch of promising characters at various points. I thought Mina Harker was desperately under-developed, but other than that, the majority of the players in Dracula were worth caring about. A case in point is the extraordinary Agatha Van Helsing, as played with absolute finesse by Dolly Wells. What a brilliant hero, clever, thoughtful, a non-violent foil to the depraved bloodlust of Dracula himself. In the great tradition of heroes that don't have anything extraordinary about them as people, she is a fantastic part of the story, for whom you are rooting from the start. Despite Dracula's charisma, she is the star, the engine of the drama. In case you're wondering, I enjoyed her a lot.
And did we all enjoy the start of the new Doctor Who? Yes, I did. There's still a bit of a way to go before they reach the effortlessly brilliant storytelling of the David Tennant and Matt Smith eras, but it was still a great way to spend the last Sunday evening of the Christmas holiday. Great stuff from Sir Lenworth Henry, as well, with a great villainous turn, and from the man of the moment Sacha Darwan, brilliantly unhinged as The Master. I look forward to the rest of the series, hoping that they manage to get the stories and the storytelling right.
When to the sessions of sweet silent thought