According to the CBS affiliate in Washington, DC, America Unearthed is filming scenes in downtown Washington this week alongside (but unrelated to) production of the next Captain America movie. This suggests to me one of three things: (a) Scott Wolter is planning to accuse the federal government of suppressing the truth about ancient white colonizers of America; (b) he’s exploring “Freemason” influence on the layout and design of the nation’s capital, like Brad Meltzer, Dan Brown, and Graham Hancock before him; or (c) both (a) and (b). I wonder how the phallic symbol of the Washington Monument fits in with his belief in the Sinclair-Templar-Freemason worship of the “sacred feminine.” After all, Ancient Aliens already told us that obelisks are giant electro-penises ejaculating free energy into the aliens’ world power grid.
But enough of that.
Have you seen the trailer for NBC’s new Dracula series? It actually looks really good, except for the fact that vampires are so overexposed right now that the sight of fangs makes me yawn. I’m glad that they resisted the temptation to modernize the setting (see the upcoming “modern” take on Washington Irving’s Sleepy Hollow on Fox), and the preview scenes have a lushness about them that seems to bring to life (undeath?) the vanished world of the Victorians.
Here’s the trailer if you haven’t seen it:
What strikes me, though, is that this revised Dracula is less the vampire count (though, obviously, the producers are cribbing from the reincarnated love interest angle from Francis Ford Coppala’s 1992 movie [update: and the 1973 version before it]) than he is an evil Nikola Tesla (to whom critics have already compared the character). This Dracula is masquerading as an American man of science, wowing Victorian London with electric lights and the wonders of science. Many TV critics are shocked by this change, but they are reacting more to the movie versions of Dracula than the novel, which long ago laid the foundation for this version of the vampire:
Soldier, statesman, and alchemist—which latter was the highest development of the science-knowledge of his time. He had a mighty brain, a learning beyond compare, and a heart that knew no fear and no remorse. He dared even to attend the Scholomance, and there was no branch of knowledge of his time that he did not essay. (Ch. XXIII)
In the original conception, Dracula was a scientist, though not a showman. In the novel, Dracula’s medieval view of science, tinged and tainted by the Gothic, is contrasted with his opponents’ dynamic, progressive Victorian science (something I discuss in Knowing Fear), and this TV version undermines the entire theme with its revisionist idea of Dracula embracing the future. I wish that the producers of the new show had dumped the overplayed vampire angle altogether and simply adapted the similar nefarious scientific charlatan Nyarlathotep from H. P. Lovecraft (whom some think was inspired by Tesla), which would at least have been a bit more original and would have made better use of the idea of science as a mask for the Gothic irrational:
Into the lands of civilisation came Nyarlathotep, swarthy, slender, and sinister, always buying strange instruments of glass and metal and combining them into instruments yet stranger. He spoke much of the sciences of electricity and psychology and gave exhibitions of power which sent his spectators away speechless, yet which swelled his fame to exceeding magnitude. Men advised one another to see Nyarlathotep, and shuddered. And where Nyarlathotep went, rest vanished, for the small hours were rent with the screams of nightmare. (“Nyarlathotep,” 1920)
Surely the idea of a mad scientific showman leading the world into the apocalypse by using his electric wonders to indoctrinate a cult of followers would be a bit more interesting than the official description of Dracula, which says that the Count is on a quest to reconnect with his lost love and get revenge on those who “cursed him with immortality.” The theme, if this show has one, revolves around those tired TV clichés of the immortality of true love and naughtiness of trespassing on God’s territory. By linking science to the vampire and making the vampire angry at his evil affliction, the program appears to be ready to link science and vampirism as similar affronts to the divine order, which decrees a life of but seventy years for normal people and eighty years maximum for the strong (Psalm 90:10)—extended life is by definition anti-God, a throwback to the bad old days before the Flood when the sinful giants lived centuries.
In raw terms, it’s easier to sell a big name like Dracula over “the soul and messenger of infinity’s Other Gods,” especially since the show is an international co-production and has to be able to appeal easily to people who don’t speak English. And of course he has to pretend to be American or U.S. audiences won’t watch the show, at least according to network executives. (So ingrained is this belief that even BBC America insists on having American-accented characters in all its original programs.)
I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Esquire, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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