The Vampire Diaries: The Complete First SeasonOverview -
Storyline: Our Reviewer's Take
Being a vampire is tough work. Really tough. You get to live forever, have superpowers, and stay young for eternity. Doesn't that just sound awful? I'm tired of vampire stories where vampires bemoan the condition that they are in, and then go about their daily business like being a vampire is the best thing in the world. In 'Twilight' Edward doesn't want to turn Bella into a vampire, because it's oh-so-bad, but he's not helping matters any when he explains the perks of living forever. Who doesn't want to live forever, right? So what if you've got to drink blood everyday, and you're technically "dead" you get to live on for eternity. How cool is that?
What seems like a blatant rip-off of the 'Twilight' series, 'Vampire Diaries' is a series on the WB that shows a small town in Virginia slowly becoming infested with vampires again. Yes, again. This happened a while back, and the townsfolk got wise to the bloodsuckers so the witches of the town (yes, witches) sealed the vampires in a magical tomb under the city.
Flash forward a century or so. It's now 2010 and Elena Gilbert (Nina Dobrev) takes on the Bella role. Although she's not as dim-witted and submissive as Bella is, but it's essentially the same character. Elena meets Stefan Salvatore (Paul Wesley) in school one day. Let's just skip the formalities and get right down to it. Stefan is a vampire and he's been checking in and out of this small Virginia town for quite a while. Now he sees this striking beauty in Elena and is reminded of a girlfriend he had back in the 1800s named Katherine. Stefan also has a bloodsucking brother named Damon (Ian Somerhalder), who is not as nice. Needless to say Elena gets caught up in the feud between these two brothers as Damon kills people from town and Stefan tries to stop him.
I will admit that 'Vampire Diaries' and its vampiric soap opera is slightly more interesting than the stinkin' 'Twilight' series. At least these people look like they're having some sort of fun. Damon acts the way a vampire should act. He actually thinks being a vampire is cool. He doesn't sit there and wallow in self-pity because of his plight, he relishes it.
The TV show spans 24 episodes in the first season, so you know the sibling rivalry isn't going to be the only storyline that needs following. There's much more to this story than you might ever have thought possible. Just to be clear, that's not necessarily a good thing. Random vampires pop up every now and then with sinister stares and loud bass notes that throttle the viewer awake whenever one of them mysteriously appears right behind another character.
The mythology about the town and its original inhabitants is muddled at best. More and more backstory is packed on an already bloated plot. Halfway through the season it begins to feel more and more like a TV show that's just piling on the "surprises" instead of studying its characters.
Even more curious than this backwoods Virgina town's infestation of vampires, is the fact that every girl looks like a supermodel in training and every guy looks like he stepped directly off the pages of an Ambercrombie & Fitch catalogue. It's almost hilarious how hard the show tries to get the prettiest people it can to fill its roles. Like 'The OC' meets 'Twilight'.
There's really nothing much to the 'Vampire Diaries' other than the same old vampire storylines we've seen over and over ever since Stephanie Meyers brought them back into popular culture. In the end it seems like an excuse to show pretty people, doing popular things, all the while featuring that week's hottest pop song on its brooding soundtrack. In short, 'Twilight' fans will joyously suck it all up like a vampire in a blood bank.
'Vampire Diaries' comes to high definition with 1080p/VC-1 transfer that, when all is said and done, looks just about average for a TV show of this ilk. At times the presentation can look downright stunning, with richly detailed scenes, revealing closeups, and lush colors. There are other times, however, where the picture can look downright nasty. One of the more prevalent problems throughout the season is the ungainly noise that crops up during most of the darkened scenes. Crushing is a frequent offender, squandering detail and edge definition. Banding is also regularly visible along with minor artifacting. Even noticeable edge enhancement can be seen. However, when the transfer looks good, it looks really good. Well-lit scenes harbor a wealth of details and wonderful edge definition.
Warner has seen fit to release 'Vampire Diaries' with a lossy 5.1 Dolby Digital surround mix. Even though the mix here does its best, it's still painfully easy to hear the lossy track's drawbacks. This front-heavy mix relies far too much on centering most everything up front, without letting much of the show's sounds travel to the rear channels. It's a jarring track, honestly. When people are conversing, the sound is soft but clear. Then something “scary” happens and the LFE booms forth in order to make you jump whenever another vampire thinks it's really scary to appear directly behind someone. Pans are smooth, but a little weak, especially when the many vampires here go into warp running mode and sail effortlessly across the screen with a faint “Whoosh” following closely behind. The dialogue is clear, for the most part, but accompanied by a lossy track it's hard to give this mix a score higher than anything other than middle of the road.
- Audio Commentary — The Pilot is the only episode with an actual commentary. Writer and executive producer Kevin Williamson is joined by writer and executive producer Julie Plec, and director Marcos Siega for the commentary. The three of them talk about the genesis of the show and its origins. They talk about the problems they encountered while bringing the show to television. All in all, it's an informative chat for fans.
- Deleted Scenes (SD, 13 min.) — Deleted scenes are actually spread across all four discs. Peppered in here and there for you to watch. No really important deleted scenes. Most of them were obviously cut because of time constraints.
- Into Mystic Falls (HD, 25 min.) — Disc four contains this sort of behind the scenes featurette which is hosted by Williamson and Plec. They talk about how 'Vampire Diaries' was adapted from a series of books by L.J. Smith.
- A New Breed of Vampires (HD, 13 min.) — Willimason is joined by many of the actors from the show as they discuss why they were cast and their auditions for their respective parts.
- When Vampires Don't Suck! (HD, 19 min.) — They talk about the vampire craze sweeping the nation and act like they're the only ones whose poop doesn't stink. Sorry, guys. Just because you acknowledge the craze, it doesn't mean you're any different than all the other vampire stories out there.
- A Darker Truth Webisodes (HD, 8 min.) — Four episodes of the online webisode series that I never knew existed until now.
- Vampires 101 (HD, 7 min.) — The rules by which the vampires in 'Vampire Diaries' live.
- Gag Reel (HD, 4 min.) — Laughs and line flubs.
- Audiobook: The Awakening (Audio Only, 392 min.) — Yes, there's an audiobook included from L.J. Smith's first novel of the 'Vampire Diaries'. Kind of a nice inclusion here, although, like many audio recordings included on Blu-rays, you'll have to listen to it from the Blu-ray. There's no digital copy to download onto your portable listening device. Bummer. Or is it?
'Vampire Diaries' has its fans, and that's fine. They'll be pleased with this set, and I guess that's all that matters. There's nothing here that distances 'Diaries' from the slew of other vampire related shows, movies, and stories out there. Its only unique qualities lie in how absolutely impossible it is to have that many beautiful people in one small town. The audio and video are average, but there are some interesting features included for fans. This set is for fans only.
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