Dracula (NBC / Sky Living, 2013–14) and Penny Dreadful (Showtime / Sky Atlantic, 2014–) are two reimaginings of classic nineteenth-century novels that can help us better understand how adaptations function in a media landscape dominated by a logic of repetition and convergence, where sequels, reboots, and remakes have become the norm. While Dracula adapts Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel, with the eponymous character arriving in London posing as an American entrepreneur in order to defeat an evil secret society, Penny Dreadful offers viewers a mélange of classic nineteenth-century Gothic novels in the style of Moore and O’Neill’s The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (1999–). What distinguishes the two series is the way in which they employ instances of simultaneous adaptation and appropriation in their character building, to the extent that Dracula or Penny Dreadful’s Ethan Chandler can more easily be read as mergers of iconic characters, images, and types.
Dragoş Manea is an assistant lecturer at the University of Bucharest, where he teaches seminars in British and American literature, translation, and academic writing. His main research interests include the adaptation of history, cultural memory, and the relationship between ethics and fiction. Relevant publications include ‘Arenas of Memory: Spartacus and the Remediation of Historical Narratives’ (in Spartacus in the Television Arena: Essays on the Starz Series, ed. Michael G. Cornelius, McFarland, 2015) and ‘Leonardo’s Paradoxical Queerness: Da Vinci’s Demons (Starz, 2013–) and the Politics of Straightwashing’ (Queer TV in the 21st Century, ed. Kylo-Patrick Hart, McFarland, forthcoming 2016).