Blu-ray
For Fans Only
3 stars
Amazon
$8.95
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Overall Grade
3 stars

(click linked text below to jump to related section of the review)

The Movie Itself
2.5 Stars
HD Video Quality
4 Stars
HD Audio Quality
4 Stars
Supplements
2.5 Stars
High-Def Extras
1.5 Stars
Bottom Line
For Fans Only

The Vampire Diaries: The Complete Third Season

Street Date:
September 11th, 2012
Reviewed by:
Review Date: 1
September 12th, 2012
Movie Release Year:
2011
Studio:
Warner Brothers
Length:
935 Minutes
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13
Release Country
United States

The Movie Itself: Our Reviewer's Take

They're baaack! Those good-looking ever-brooding vamps from Mystic Falls are at it again. The phony drama flows as free as the blood in season three. CW's 'Vampire Diaries' is impossibly hard to take serious because it's so ridiculous. Between this and 'Twilight' how could anyone find vampires even the least bit scary now? It's like watching 'Gossip Girl' only with slightly more exsanguination. These teenagers are barely finding their way out of high school, but of course they're neck deep in more love affair drama than you could shake a wooden stake at (and unlike all teenage romances these ones really matter). How anyone watches this show and enjoys it is a mystery to me.

'The Vampire Diaries' relies heavily on its cliffhanger-at-every-corner type of plotting. Imagine if Dan Brown wrote a novel about vampires and you'll understand the way this show is structured. It also continues to build and build on a story that never seems like it has an endgame. Like the writers are just making everything up as they go along. We started with vampires, however that wasn't enough. Now, just like 'True Blood,' the show has introduced witches, werewolves, vampire-werewolf hybrids, ghosts, and mediums. A supernatural a la carte that never really meshes together well.

The heavy plotting plods along; the storylines become dense with supernatural information as the characters remain light on characterization. These characters are mostly there to fill up space on screen so the writers can introduce one supernatural wrinkle after another – also, so they can have spicy PG-13 rated sex every so often.

I've said it before and I'll say it again, Mystic Falls looks like God turned an Abercrombie & Fitch catalogue upside down and shook all the models out. There isn't one ugly or even normal-looking person in that town. It doesn't matter how many people get killed, eaten, or torn apart, they're simply replaced by other beautiful people. Everyone is skinny, perfectly tanned, and drinks approximately 10 gallons of alcohol a day (honestly, the people in this show are always drinking, vampire or not).


The second season ended with Stefan (Paul Wesley) turning to the dark side in order to save his brother, Damon (Ian Somerhalder). In order to save Damon's life (saving the life of an undead person is an entirely different conversation altogether) Stefan had to swear allegiance to big bad Klaus (Joseph Morgan). Klaus is a vampire-werewolf hybrid whose only mission is to create more creatures just like him. Agreeing to Klaus' deal Stefan left Mystic Falls and his eternal love Elena (Nina Dobrev) behind and became the blood-thirsty vampire he was decades ago. Now Klaus and Stefan are roaming the country looking for werewolves that they can turn into hybrids.

Meanwhile a love triangle is brewing. Elena still loves Stefan, but she's falling for Damon fast and hard. Her brother Jeremy (Steven R. McQueen) is seeing and communicating with ghosts ever since he was brought back from the dead. Caroline (Candice Accola) is enjoying her new vampire lifestyle and has feelings for the town's resident werewolf Tyler Lockwood (Michael Trevino). Caroline's dad (hello HRG from 'Heroes') is less than impressed with his daughters undead-ness.

Everything is treated as serious as possible. This show never looks at itself in the mirror and giggles at its absurdity. Maybe that's why it's so loathsome. Watching these pedantic teenagers traipse about dealing with weighty emotional subjects with the aplomb of a Stephanie Meyer heroine is exhausting. I know some people who feel like 'Vampire Diaries' is a guilty pleasure. After watching three seasons of this show all I feel is guilt, but not the pleasurable kind.


The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats

For some reason Warner Bros. decided to pack this release with a complete season copy of DVDs making the package twice as thick as seasons one and two were. It's a 9-disc release. There are four 50-GB Blu-ray Discs and five DVDs. There is also an UltraViolet Digital Copy of the season included (the code is on an insert). They've packed all these discs into an oversized Blu-ray keepcase that houses them with swinging arms that hold the discs back-to-back. Inside is a fold-out pamphlet that lays out the episode information, what discs they're on, the director, the writer, the air date, bonus features, and an episode synopsis for each. The case slides into an outer cardboard box. It's a Region A release.


The Video: Sizing Up the Picture

Season three mirrors season one and two in the video department. Its 1080p image is as dark and brooding as the characters themselves. Most of the image is smeared in inky shadows that fight with the light for control of the picture. At times the picture is almost unruly in the way that shadows invade faces and objects, even producing a darkening effect around the edges of the picture like you're looking through a telescope, but it's all meant to look that way. It's a really dark show and the unforgiving shadows follow suit.

When the sun is out detail is top-notch. The beautiful and smooth skin of Mystic Falls' residents shimmers in the morning sun. Scruffy three-day hero beards have a tangible texture to them. Elena's dark flowing hair has visible individual threads in it rather than it being clumped together in a giant black blob. Skin tones are as natural as I can tell (I'm sure most of the residents do some form of artificial tanning to keep their beach bodies in tact so it's a little hard to tell at times). Forestry greens are lush as the characters routinely find themselves stomping through the forests. Crimson blood appears dark, almost black at times, with a nice pop effect.

Depth is certainly there even with the shadows being as strong as they are. The fine detail in faces, textures, and surroundings looks as good as one could expect it to look. Crushing is the worst offender here though. Shadows are just too strong for their own good at times. Noise gets a bit too trigger happy during some of the darker sequences. I saw a couple instances of banding around the edges of a few frames where the telescope effect stated above started happening, but they soon vanished. There are nitpicks, sure, however overall Warner has provided another solid looking 'Vampire Diaries' Blu-ray.


The Audio: Rating the Sound

Season three follows along with season two and gets a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix. The lossy season one mix still remains a sore spot for many fans.Season three offers another well-rounded audio presentation of a TV show. It doesn't pack the oomph that most big budget movies do. Still, it does the job with a certain flair that's commendable.

Dialogue is always clear and very easy to hear. In order to be even more dramatic than they already are every actor gruffly whispers every line so it's a good thing you can hear what they're saying with this track. The jump scares – of which there are far too many – are the most annoying aspects of this mix. Whenever a vampire appears directly behind someone there's a huge oh-so-scary crash on the soundtrack that is played at an ear-splitting volume.

Rears are nicely engaged throughout whether it be a town party or a busy werewolf camping trip in the woods, there is enough clear ambient sound to provide a pervasive listening environment. LFE is utilized in many of the scenes, either lending bass to the scary scenes or low-end sonics for the show's emo-infused soundtrack.


The Supplements: Digging Into the Good Stuff

  • The Original Vampires: The Beginning (HD, 22 min.) — A look at vampire lore in general and then how it has specifically been used, changed, and adapted for the show.
  • Stefan's Descent into Darkness (HD, 10 min.) — A character-centric featurette that focuses on Stefan's journey to the darker side of vampirism.
  • Unaired Scenes (HD) — There are only three episodes that contain deleted scenes. Those are "All My Children," "Ordinary People," and "Our Town."
  • Second Bite (HD, 3 min.) — Just your run-of-the-mill gag reel.

HD Bonus Content: Any Exclusive Goodies in There?

  • The Producer's Pages (HD, 23 min.) — Split up into three sections – "The Writer's Pack," "Sound, FX, Score, and Suspense," and "The Producer Spells" – this Blu-ray exclusive provides cursory information about the creative development of season three in the writers room, with the show's sound, and its evolution as a series.
  • Favorite Scenes (HD, 19 min.) — A worthless collection of scenes from the series.

Final Thoughts

'Vampire Diaries' is a tiresome show full of overly dramatic teenagers involved in overly dramatic situations. Mystic Falls has problems, least of which are its blood-sucking inhabitants. It's a town full of vapid characters who deal with the paranormal on a daily basis. This is a fans only type of release. So, fans will be thankful that it delivers in the audio and video departments, although the special features are really slim.

Technical Specs

  • Blu-ray/DVD/Ultraviolet Digital Copy
  • 9-Disc Set
  • 50GB Blu-ray Discs

Video Resolution/Codec

  • 1080p/MPEG-4 AVC

Aspect Ratio(s)

  • 1.78:1

Audio Formats

  • English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
  • Portuguese Dolby Digital 2.0

Subtitles/Captions

  • English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Danish, Finnish, Norwegian, Swedish

Supplements

  • Deleted Scenes
  • Gag Reel
  • 2 Featurettes

Exclusive HD Content

  • Producer's Pages
  • Favorite Scenes Collection

All disc reviews at High-Def Digest are completed using the best consumer HD home theater products currently on the market. More about our gear.

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