Unfortunately, I had to bar all TV opening credits sequences from this list to keep them from taking it over completely. Sorry X-Files, Pinky and the Brain, and Batman: The Animated Series, you know I love you, but I’m only talking about beginnings that are part of the story here.
That leaves, in the number five spot, Bram Stoker’s Dracula.
As is the case more often than not, I’m talking about the book here, in this case, a book that’s spawned a whole lot of interpretations that in no way do it justice. If you haven’t read the original, here’s how it goes:
Jonathan Harker is sent to the Transylvanian castle home of Count Dracula, his first real client as a brand new lawyer, to advise him on English real estate law. Dracula keeps delaying Jonathan’s departure, acting increasingly suspicious until finally abandoning him to his vampire minions.
And as I’ve mentioned before, this is where things go downhill.
Van Helsing monologues endlessly about nothing for most of the rest of the book like the self-insert he is, leads the plot around in long, pointless circles, and does his damndest to keep more likeable characters, like Jonathan and Mina, out of it as much as he possibly can, especially Mina (yes, because she's a woman). Not even Dracula biting her to sow discord in the group and accidentally giving her a psychic window into his head, the only chance they have of tracking him down, is enough to allow any of them to steal any uninsulting time in the spotlight away from Van Helsing ever again.
…Wait, maybe this wasn’t the best example to start the year on.
Sorry, guys, nothing meant by it. I’m sure we’ll all have a fine 2014 from beginning to end, but being a horror geek, most of my favorite beginnings are at least this ominous in one way or another, and there was no way I could do this topic without including this one. The beginning itself really is that cool (probably a large part of why I’m so personally disappointed by the rest), so let’s get back to the good stuff.
Through all of it, there’s a very strange, sad humor in how Jonathan can’t seem to find a way to accuse Dracula directly of holding him prisoner in a sufficiently polite Victorian English gentlemanly way.
While many of the beginnings on this list are here because of how well they set up their respective stories, I’ll always wish Jonathan Harker’s escape from Dracula’s castle had simply been a story unto itself. To the extent that it is, it’s a great one.
Agree? Disagree? Comments are always welcome! Or keep up with my fictional musings by joining me on Facebook, on Twitter, or by signing up for email updates in the panel on the right!