A Couple of Points -- The Boffin


"The key, Max, is to always be prepared, so that in times of crisis you can say... crikey! It's gone!"

Magnus St. John-Smythe is one of the more colorful guest characters in Dracula the Series, and that's really saying something. This episode was penned by Glenn Davis and William Laurin, television producers extraordinaire and viewers of perhaps one too many vampire flicks. Webster's describes a "boffin" as a British term for a scientific expert. Here "The Boffin" is more "mad" genius than expert.

"Dr. Magnus St. John-Smythe, M.A., D.D., Ph.D." Master of the Arts, Doctor of Divinity, and Doctor of Philosophy: this man has as many qualifications to engineer stuff as Chris. Put this combination of degrees together, and the result is some species of theologian. Given his bungling, it's difficult to imagine him successfully peddling divinity in a candy store, much less behind a pulpit.

"Gustav Helsing, M.V.P.U.: Max's very patient uncle." Gustav refuses to haul out his list of degrees. One would have to presume that it's fairly similar to the other character's list. Obviously he doesn't want to give Smythe a reason to pay attention to him, seeing as he's undercover in the lab.

"I've dabbled." Given the smug expression at this point, we guess that Gustav is on the verge of giving himself away anyway. But the actor babbles on delightfully, stepping all over his proverbial toes.

"You invited him into this house, and that's something I've warned you about." Max always seems to be bringing home "vampire experts," like Lawrence Lei ("Bats in the Attic"). However pretentious or humble they are though, he always responds in the proper manner to be rid of them. One might think he would be trying to build a network with these sorts of people. But Dr. Smythe notifies Gustav that he's back in England. And Gustav doesn't seem to notice or care in the slightest when Lawrence later drops off the face of the planet.

"Somewhat chagrined, but not too chagrined to finish his experiments I'm sure." What does Gustav tell Dr. Smythe about himself after his timely arrival still wearing his disguise? He gives Gustav virtually no additional respect in "The Great Tickler." So either it isn't very much background, Smythe decides he's an idiot to stick around Lucard, his natural personality is just that grating, or all three.

"How they are affected by radiation in the solar and ultraviolet wavelengths." "He means daylight." Gustav can't resist showing off at least a bit to his (grand) nephew, and taking Smythe down a peg.

Between the lines, he's also giving Max an example of his own understanding and intellect. Gustav illustrates the differences between the vocal buffoon who gets himself into trouble, and the quiet reserve of the one who rescues the buffoon. The examples will serve him well, when Max is old enough to see them for what they are. Provided, naturally, that the annoying cub doesn't wind up getting smacked too hard by the adult lion and end up dead.

Why would he give Max his tacit approval to run around after dark in several episodes? What happened to Gustav that he doesn't want to trust people who are potentially so useful to him? Where are his wife and Sophie's parents?

"You saw us? I'm mortified." Ah, the Chris and Sophie plot line in its first growth pains. This very quote explains that some part of Sophie knows from the outset that this relationship will never work. What do they have in common beyond proximity and risking their necks every week?

"Maybe we could both go." Still, the boy living in the same house is worth investigating a little further. Perhaps Gustav and Eileen were commiserating before the invitation to drop off her sons was extended? Perhaps Gustav wanted someone who would capture Sophie's interest long enough to keep her out of trouble for the summer.

Max is still too young to be anything other than noise to Sophie. She has only an intermediate interest in vampires and the occult. But Gustav already pigeonholed Max as a future vampire hunter as soon as he arrived in "Europe."

Chris would be a fish out of water without Sophie to show him the city. While he does make some forays into the local culture (and cuisine), it fast becomes clear that he'd rather be nearly housebound at Gustav's place. Is this what Gustav was hoping?

"I recognize them from their pictures." Gustav is an astute man of the world, and a decent judge of character. He could easily have looked at a photo of Chris and thought, "This is exactly what Sophie needs." He may even be getting out of giving her or him driving lessons because the other one isn't quite old enough yet.

As with most kids and teens on television, all three here are portrayed with a nearly Tom Sawyer-ly autonomy. They come and go as they please. With the 16-year-olds, it's understandable. But Gustav even sends Max on runs to the store by himself.

"Max, fire the gun at me!" Yes, in this particular case, Gustav knows exactly where Max is going and who is likely to be there. But Max in general runs roughshod over his authority. Perhaps Gustav believes he was too strict with Klaus?

"Ah, Dr. Smythe, I've been looking forward to hearing about your project." Between this one, the sunscreen and the reflective surfaces, what other projects might Lucard have in the works? How about synthetic garlic-flavoring with none of the vampiric side effects?

"It seems I'm the proud owner of the world's only delayed-action vampire gun." The vampire gun is too good to let go. If you can't have a kryptonite cross, arm yourself with a solar laser! And if the first one suffers a slight setback in your hearth, you can always blackmail the inventor into building you another one.


A Couple of Points / Lucard's Home Page / lpetix@dpcc.com