Friday, Oct. 25, 10 p.m., NBC
A tip of the top hat to NBC for taking on a period drama — a lavish and risky proposition even in the best of times. Loosely derived from Bram Stoker’s novel, this “Dracula” stars Jonathan Rhys Meyers (“The Tudors”) as a revivified Vlad the Impaler, brought back from ossified, subterranean exile by an unlikely ally to wage battle against an age-old Order of the Dragon that has ensconced itself in Victorian-era upper society.
Disguising himself as an American entrepreneur named Alexander Grayson, Dracula arrives on the London scene in 1896 and sets about undermining (and frequently snacking on) the ruling class, hoping to exact his revenge on the Order for what their forbears did to him centuries ago.
“Dracula” shows a lot of skill when it comes to launching a swift-paced series and weaving together several taut story lines and characters; at times it even finds an undiscovered sweet spot between “Downton Abbey” and Bela Lugosi. Rhys Meyers is an adequately creepy vampire and there is sex, style, mystery and adventure all around. Only one crucial piece is missing: “Dracula” isn’t scary. Grade: B-