The impossibly pretty inhabitants of Mystic Falls are completely inundated by impossibly pretty vampires, werewolves, vampire-werewolves, witches, and vampire hunters. Surprisingly, the town still has a population. Over the show's four melodramatic blood-soaked seasons Mystic Falls has seen endless death and dismemberment. At one point during season four Elena (Nina Dobrev), during one of her many breakdowns, says completely un-ironically "I feel like I'm always crying. I feel like my life is one long line of funerals." And that, right there, is 'Vampire Diaries' in a nutshell.
The complete self-seriousness of 'Vampire Diaries' is both its most endearing trait and its ultimate downfall. It's almost admirable how committed the show is to its schmaltzy over-the-top teenage melodrama. Although, that endearing feeling only lasts a few episodes, since 'Vampire Diaries' runs in 22-episode seasons the vampy hysterics weigh heavily. There's no escaping the ridiculous brooding, the gloomy melancholy, or the inherent disregard for general vampire folklore. 'Vampire Diaries' makes up its rules as it goes along, as long as those rules serve the show's CW-themed high school angst. It's all about barely there sex-scenes, hilarious blood-thirsty feeding frenzies, and Damon's (Ian Somerhalder) smug face.
Mild spoilers of past seasons and the first few episodes of season four follow to follow, so beware. If you haven't yet watched season four you may want to skip right to the video and audio portions of this review. If you've made it to the fourth season of this show you know what you're getting anyway. For those of you sticking with the review portion just know that I'm going to discuss some important plot points of the first couple episodes, since those twists set the scene for the rest of the season.
So, it had to happen right? It was only a matter of time before Elena joined Damon and Stefen (Paul Wesley) on the side of the undead. If you end up hanging out with the wrong crowd long enough you're bound to take on some of their traits. Unfortunately, for Elena those traits include blood-lust and a constant stream of guttural growls, which are the vampire version of hungry belly grumbles. Much of the season centers around Elena's new lifestyle with Damon and Stefen constantly arguing on how best to deal with it. Stefen smoulders while Damon greets every line of dialogue with a less-than-pithy smug-ass remark. He's so Damon!
The town is soon beset by more suspicious characters. A new vampire hunter sweeps through Mystic Falls with creatively carved wooden bullets and a stop-at-nothing type of an attitude. The town council is decimated in an explosion. A strange will-she-or-won't-she dilemma looms over Elena as her constant love triangle battle continues with stoic Stefen and devious Damon. Finally, the Mystic Falls blood bank continues to wonder where all those blood bags keep disappearing to while the local liquor business thrives.
'Vampire Diaries' is like watching 'Gossip Girl' only with slightly more blood. There's nothing original or new about the series. It bloomed during the 'Twilight' bonanza and somehow found enough of an audience to lap up its preposterous undead drama.
You already know if 'Vampire Diaries' is your thing. Chances are – unless you're completely enamored by it – that you already think of it as a giddy guilty pleasure. As much as I think 'Vampire Diaries' is a complete waste of airtime, I can understand its undeniable guilty-pleasureness I just can't get behind it.
Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
This is another 9-disc release, just like the third season. There are 4 Blu-rays and 5 DVDs. Since every disc has its own hub the season comes with an oversized Blu-ray keepcase. The case fits into a generic outer sleeve. Just in case the DVDs and Blu-rays weren't enough, Warner Bros. has included an UltraViolet Digital Copy code so you can take 'Vampire Diaries' on the go. A small pamphlet contained inside the case lists episodes, credits, synopses, and special features. This is a Region A release.
So I don't sound overly repetitive after reviewing three of these seasons, we'll quickly talk about what works and what doesn't. Chances are if you're a fan of the series you already have the first three season releases sitting on your shelf.
Detail, akin to the other seasons, is stunning for the most part. Skin textures are smooth, and lifelike. Up close faces exude the soft sheen of magazine models (or as we know them, the Mystic Falls population). Long silky hair is easily seen with great individual definition of strands. Color is bright, and bold. Darker scenes feature some crushing, which has become somewhat of a hallmark of these Blu-ray season transfers. There's also some problem with noticeable banding off and on. In the funeral episode there's a lot of visible banding in the background while the kids meet and mingle in the chapel. However, over the course of 23 episodes the good far outweighs the bad.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track is a punchy experience, which is excessively loud at times. There's a lot of emphasis placed on the corny sound effects. Sometimes those sound effects take over and drown out the rest of the proceedings.
While 'Vampire Diaries' is a show full of dramatic whispers, it isn't afraid to turn up the volume rather unexpectedly. Whenever a vampire uses their super speed to travel from one spot to another, the whoosh loudly, but seamlessly, travels across the sound stage. Too much emphasis is placed on these effects. Jump-scare cymbal crashes are also ear-splittingly loud.
Voices, even while hushed, are understandable. Rear channels harbor a bit of spookiness, and provide some ambient life for the small town life. Low-end bass can be heard during some of the more dramatic scenes. The show's penchant for dreary pop songs about love, and loss give the sub-woofer plenty to work with. In short, if you've liked the DTS-HD Master Audio tracks that Warner has produced up until now in this series (season one featured a Dolby Digital track), then you'll most likely enjoy this one too.
By now, you know if you like 'Vampire Diaries' or not. This melodramatic vampire soap opera is hilariously overdone. There isn't one part of the show that you can actually take seriously. At times the series seems like it's poking fun at itself (which is admirable), and other times it feels like it takes itself deadly serious (which is irritating). The video and audio are comparable to seasons past. The fourth season of 'Vampire Diaries' is for fans only.