Warning: May contain spoilers about seasons one and two.
Warning: May contain spoilers about seasons one and two.
Well, the pretty people of Mystic Falls are back in another season of 'The Vampire Diaries.' It's almost as if the CW is afraid to cast anyone with more than three percent body fat. Mystic Falls, Virginia has an ungodly number of inhabitants that look like they stepped right out of an Ambercrombie & Fitch catalog. It's actually hilarious in a way, because they're brooding prettiness cancels each other out. They're all generically hot, none of them looking the least bit different from the typical head cheerleader or starting varsity quarterback. You've got to hand it to the CW though; they sure do know their audience.
When we last left our blood-sucking friends, quite a lot of lives had been turned upside down. John Gilbert (David Anders) had come back into the lives of Elena (Nina Dobrev) and Jeremy Gilbert (Steven R. McQueen), which proved disastrous for many of the vampires released from the tomb. Katherine had escaped though, and now she plans to wreak havoc on the small town. However, she first wants to play with the hearts and minds of Stefan (Paul Wesley) and Damon Salvatore (Ian Somerhalder), who at one time both loved her. Katherine is a dead-ringer for Elena, which complicates things as she walks around with people mistaking her for Elena. She's virtually invisible to those who don' t know exactly who she is. There's also been hints about werewolves with the Lockwood family who rules the town's politics. It seems that all vampire-driven stories usually wind up in werewolf territory at some point.
This season is pretty much the same old 'Vampire Diaries' soap opera. It's almost impossible to believe that these kids are supposed to be high schoolers. The mythology of the supernatural grows as Damon tries to figure out what the Lockwoods are hiding, all the while trying to deal with the drama created by Katherine. Katherine, in retaliation has turned Elena's good friend Caroline into a vampire, so there's that to deal with too.
What gets on my nerves is that the characters in 'Vampire Diaries' seem to have such limited memories of what happened in the previous episode. For example, at the end of one of the episodes Damon snaps Jeremy's neck out of anger. It's no biggie though because Jeremy is wearing a ring of invincibility (no, I'm not joking). The next episode Elena hardly acts like it was a big deal that Damon essentially tried to kill her brother only hours before. People act like this all the time in this show. There's never any real emotion in between events. That's all 'Vampire Diaries' is. One event after another. Cliffhangers piled upon cliffhangers. At some point it all has to come crashing down like a house of cards since it would seem that the showrunners are content with teasing the audience, but never actually changing it up. The stories and mythos build upon each other, new characters are introduced, new dangers are forged, but it never feels like the main players are in any sort of real peril. Sure, random people turn up dead with bite marks from time to time (for a small town, Mystic Falls has an unusually high number of grizzly murders), but as for Stefan, Damon, and Elena, they'll go on living out their brooding angsty lives because there's nothing pushing the show's creators into really switching it up.
I'm not a huge fan of 'Vampire Diaries' it's way too melodramatic, and angst-ridden for its own good. There are too many convenient plot devices – like rings that allow the Salvatore brothers to walk around in the daylight – that give the show a watered down feeling. Too many cheats! With that said, it isn't completely terrible. It has its moments, and I can see how its faux dramatics could draw in a certain demographic. 'Vampire Diaries' certainly isn't for everyone, but if it's for you, chances are you're watching it already.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
Warner has released the second season of 'Vampire Diaries' on a four disc (50-GB discs) set. They're housed in a slightly oversized keepcase that slips nicely into a outer cardboard box with pouty pictures of the main characters. The set is region free.
The brooding look of the 'Vampire Diaries' accurately represents the tormented interiors of the series' characters. Everything is so serious and shrouded in mystery, so is the photography on display here.
Much of the show takes place at night where deep blacks rule the frame. The 1080p picture does a nice job of presenting foreboding blackness, without crushing all of the series' detail. After all you wouldn't want to lose all those pretty faces in a world of unforgiving shadows. While crush may occasionally creep into a scene here or there, for the most part shadows are delineated quite nicely accentuating details on faces and fabrics. Edges are precise and rarely get lost in the overwhelming blackness.
Colors are brilliant whenever the sun is up. The forests surround Mystic Falls are alive with verdant greens and earthy browns. Even the sterility of a school hallway or a hospital room provides a nice contrast to the otherwise colorful affair. Skin tones are always natural, even though the overly tanned skins of much of the cast aren't. Fine detail pops, more in the daylight than nighttime, with textures of tree bark and well-groomed hair really standing out. Season two is definitely a step up from season one. The noise that cropped up on the first 'Vampire Diaries' release has all but vanished from this one. Fans will be more than happy with the way it's been presented here.
The first season was saddled with a lossy Dolby Digital track that failed to convey the true feeling of the show. Warner has finally wised up and has started to give its television releases lossless audio tracks. The second season of 'Vampire Diaries' is one of the first shows to get the lossless treatment and it truly makes a difference.
Season one's lossy mix was underwhelming at best. Here all the cons have been done away with. Chief among them being the thought put into the ambient sound. The first season featured little to no surround sound, even during party scenes. That's been changed here. Voices, and people milling about during group get-togethers can be easily heard coming through the rear speakers. This is a much more engaging, and lively track.
LFE is much more balanced here than it was in season one. It doesn't hit you with jarring thuds, but instead resonates with low rumbling awareness. Dialogue is always clear, with directionality working much clearer and more precise than it did in season one. In short, everything about this soundtrack is better than season one. The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 lossless track is unquestionably an upgrade.
'Vampire Diaries' is for fans. You know who you are, and I know you unabashedly love the series. I do respect you, because most of the fans I've met are readily able to admit that the show is a soap opera with fangs. Vampires are the in thing right now, and this show is capitalizing on the hype. The question is will it have the legs to carry on after the vampire fad has worn off? The showrunners better start making some life or death decisions with the main players if there's going to be any added suspense in the show. The good news is that this season looks and sounds better than the season one release. This is definitely a set for the fans.
Portions of this review also appear in our coverage of Dunkirk on Blu-ray. This post features unique Vital Disc Stats, Video, and Final Thoughts sections.