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Murder, London Style; Dracula (Again); Aging Disease: TV

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Photographer: Jonathon Hession/NBC via Bloomberg

Jonathan Rhys Meyers and Victoria Smurfit in NBC's "Dracula." The series airs Friday, Oct. 25, on NBC at 10 p.m.

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Photographer: Jonathon Hession/NBC via Bloomberg

Jonathan Rhys Meyers and Victoria Smurfit in NBC's "Dracula." The series airs Friday, Oct. 25, on NBC at 10 p.m. Close

Jonathan Rhys Meyers and Victoria Smurfit in NBC's "Dracula." The series airs Friday, Oct. 25, on NBC at 10 p.m.

Source: Starz via Bloomberg

Matthew Goode and Chiwetel Ejiofor in "Dancing on the Edge." Goode portrays a music journalist and Ejiofor a jazz pianist in the Starz murder mystery. Close

Matthew Goode and Chiwetel Ejiofor in "Dancing on the Edge." Goode portrays a music journalist and Ejiofor a jazz... Read More

Source: Starz via Bloomberg

Jacqueline Bisset's character is a reclusive arts patron in "Dancing on the Edge." Close

Jacqueline Bisset's character is a reclusive arts patron in "Dancing on the Edge."

Photographer: Cathal MacIlwaine/Starz via Bloomberg

Chiwetel Ejiofor in "Dancing on the Edge." The Starz series airs Saturday, Oct. 19, at 10 p.m. New York time and subsequent Saturdays at 9 p.m. Close

Chiwetel Ejiofor in "Dancing on the Edge." The Starz series airs Saturday, Oct. 19, at 10 p.m. New York time and... Read More

Photographer: Sean Fine/HBO via Bloomberg

Sam Berns, the subject of "Life According to Sam." The documentary series airs Monday (Oct 21) on HBO at 9 p.m. New York time. Close

Sam Berns, the subject of "Life According to Sam." The documentary series airs Monday (Oct 21) on HBO at 9 p.m. New York time.

Photographer: Sean Fine/HBO via Bloomberg

Sam Berns, center, and parents Dr. Leslie Gordon, left, and Dr. Scott Berns, in "Life According to Sam." Sam was diagnosed at age 2 with progeria, an aging disorder. Close

Sam Berns, center, and parents Dr. Leslie Gordon, left, and Dr. Scott Berns, in "Life According to Sam." Sam was... Read More

Photographer: Jonathon Hession/NBC via Bloomberg

Thomas Kretschmann in "Dracula." In the new "Dracula," Abraham van Helsing (Kretschmann) is the vampire's friend. Close

Thomas Kretschmann in "Dracula." In the new "Dracula," Abraham van Helsing (Kretschmann) is the vampire's friend.

A murder mystery set in a tuxedoed 1930s enclave of London’s jazz-besotted aristocrats, the British miniseries “Dancing on the Edge” makes one thing emphatically clear: Chiwetel Ejiofor’s star-making performance in “12 Years a Slave” is no fluke.

While the series itself is hit and miss, the cast (and sumptuous period design) is first rate. “Dancing,” on Starz, features an ensemble that includes Matthew Goode, John Goodman and Jacqueline Bisset.

Ejiofor plays Louis Lester, the suave leader of an all-black jazz band that becomes the toast of London’s cafe society and a favorite of the Royal Family’s younger scenesters.

In the series’ meandering opening -- the murder mystery doesn’t begin until well into the second episode -- Lester meets the ambitious, enthusiastic young music journalist (Goode) who can open all the right doors.

Among the progressive elites who quickly become patrons: the reclusive cultural arbiter Lady Cremone (Bisset), a secretive wealthy American businessman (Goodman) and a spoiled, rebellious hanger-on (Tom Hughes).

While the crime’s resolution is satisfying, writer/director Stephen Poliakoff (BBC’s “The Lost Prince”) can’t resist some late-arriving, credulity-straining derring-do with midnight trains, missing passports and sex-shenanigan cover-ups.

An odd, short coda, presented a week after the Episode 5 finale, is like a DVD extras segment, and entirely missable. Everyone has clearly moved on to better things.

“Dancing on the Edge” airs Saturday, Oct 19, on Starz at 10 p.m. New York time; subsequent Saturdays at 9 p.m. Rating: ***

Sam’s ‘Life’

Progeria, the rare, lethal aging disorder documented in HBO’s “Life According to Sam,” tricks the blood vessels of children to function like those of octogenarians.

We might be tempted to assume the condition also speeds up the mental and emotional maturity of sufferers like young Sam Berns, but that would be taking due credit from the boy himself.

New Treatment

Berns’s charisma and hard-won grace are present throughout the documentary, which follows the now-17-year-old boy’s two-year involvement in a clinical trial for a new treatment.

The trial was conducted by Sam’s physician parents, who established the Boston-based Progeria Research Foundation upon the boy’s diagnosis.

The family’s remarkable story is warmly told by filmmakers Sean Fine and Andrea Nix Fine, though at 94 minutes the documentary could have sacrificed some languid flourishes to no detriment.

Sam, though, is a charmer, popular among his classmates, a huge fan of Dave Matthews and a terrific guide through this strange, little-known world.

“Life According to Sam” airs Monday, Oct. 21, on HBO at 9 p.m. New York time. Rating: ***1/2

Another ‘Dracula’

“I give to you,” says Dracula, “free, safe wireless power!”

An environmentally responsible Nosferatu?

The undead have rarely been less scary than in NBC’s dreary new chiller “Dracula.”

Arriving in 19th-century London after ages underground, the vampire (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) is out for blood -- and black gold.

His ancient archenemies, a shadowy group of supernatural cronies, are bound for world domination through “business, politics and oil.” The count intends to thwart their efforts with the alternative energy of magnetic power.

A premise that silly could be fun, but this American/British coproduction is relentlessly dull.

Rhys Meyers, affecting a ludicrous American accent, is as turgid as he was on “The Tudors,” making him the rare actor to suck the life from both Dracula and Henry VIII.

“Dracula” airs Friday, Oct. 25, on NBC at 10 p.m. Rating: *

(Greg Evans is a critic for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. The opinions expressed are his own.)

Muse highlights include Jeremy Gerard on theater and Lewis Lapham on books.

To contact the writer on the story: Greg Evans at gregeaevans@yahoo.com.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Manuela Hoelterhoff at mhoelterhoff@bloomberg.net.

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