Thursday, June 12, 2014

Young Dracula – Season 4 – review

Directors: Various

First aired: 2012

Contains spoilers

The path of the Young Dracula series has evolved from being a predominantly kids’ show, with adult nuances and a dark heart, through Seasons 1 and 2 to a less comedic, more young adult orientated show in Season 3. They have continued along this path in season 4.

Robbie Gee as Ramanga
There is still some comedy in the form of Renfield (Simon Ludders) and that comedy tends towards the physical and juvenile gross out comedy. Also Keith-Lee Castle is still suavely brilliant as the Count, under cutting his performance with a rock star performance that teases out the comedic nuances of his character. However, beyond this much of the lightness has been removed.

Gerran Howell as Vlad
Vlad (Gerran Howell) has brokered a fragile peace between the Vampires’ High Council and the Slayers and this season sees political machinations, dynastic marriages (or not), blood farming and general intolerance between two groups of people neither of whom can seem to control their (homicidal) tendencies. Vlad also discovers In this that he has an illegitimate older half-brother.

political games
The series actually uses the Vlad character as the centre of its renewed dark heart. He has gone from an idealistic lad, for whom things tended to go right in the end, to a young man struggling with responsibility, desire and power. We see him having to destroy his own kind, betray the girl he loves (by turning her when she is dying) and have her turn on him, challenged for his power, slipping into the use of real blood and becoming more and more paranoid, untrusting of those around him.

blood farming
However it seems less a power corrupts (though there is a degree of that) and more a loneliness of power. He hasn’t quite reached the level of political animal and thus finds himself out of his depths and fighting against the various currents. The fact that the central character is so conflicted, angsted and emotionally vulnerable gives the season a much darker edge and it struggles to maintain the excellent balance between kids TV and drama that previous series achieved. Combine this with storylines including kidnapping breathers and placing them into blood farms and some of the lighter moments start seeming rather misplaced.

Clare Thomas as Ingrid
This is reflected in the fact that the Wolfie (Lorenzo Rodriguez) character, Vlad’s vampire/werewolf younger half-brother, is virtually sidelined out of the show. If he seemed an inconvenience to the scriptwriters in season 3, he is even more so in this. A young child character does not seem appropriate in the show somehow. There was an excruciating love triangle added in between the Count, the mortal Miss McCauley (Letty Butler) and science teacher Bertolini (Simon Lawson), which was never raised above a kid’s script and thus felt awkward against the darker direction.

bat at the window
But in this lies the problem. The balance was (as mentioned) brilliant in the first couple of seasons, was slightly off kilter in season 3 perhaps, but it left this season feeling unbalanced and less fulfilling somehow. It’s still worth watching, mind you, but it appears the creators are struggling to keep their creation as balanced as it deserves. 6 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.

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