TV Review: Vampire Diaries (TV Series) (Season 1) (2009)

SYNOPSIS:

It’s Elena’s first day back at Mystic Falls High School since the tragic death of her parents. Along with her Aunt Jenna, Elena tries her best to look after her troubled younger brother, Jeremy, and salvage what family they have left. The first day is already shaping up to be a struggle for Elena until she meets the mysterious new kid at school, Stefan. Elena is touched that he can relate to what she’s going through. What Elena doesn’t know is that Stefan is a vampire, constantly resisting the urge to taste her blood. As their undeniable connection grows deeper, Stefan’s dangerous older brother, Damon, shows up to wreak havoc on the town of Mystic Falls – and claim Elena for himself. The Vampire Diaries is based on the best selling book series from Alloy Entertainment.

REVIEW:

Hot on the heels of the vampire craze, arrives a new series to satisfy all those Twilight, True Blood and young teen angst viewers who want to see romanticized undead fighting over a local girl. It’s no surprise as the series fits all the demographics that networks would try and hope to capture, the question is…..did we need another one and does this one fulfill its purpose? Here we are with the season 1 completion with season 2 already in full swing. Personally I was glad to see a DVD set of the series as I was unable to catch the regular series. And with 22 episodes in all, that’s alot of scheduling to devote time to.

Though upon first viewing the series does satisfy that current need of viewer interest but it also is a well done show at the same time. I had become a True Blood fan recently with its quirky take on southern vamps, politics and strange creatures but Vampire Diaries is more of a small town everyone’s kind of series. As we dig into the story a bit, we are instantly taken into the premise of a new kid in town and a current resident Elana Gilbert (Nina Dobrev), who falls for this new boy Stefan Salvatore (Paul Wesley) pretty quickly.

Though Elana also has to deal with the sudden problems of the area and vampires. A we can guess there is more than one and they are all as old as dirt (though conveniently stuck in a high schoolers body). Damon, Stephan’s brother shows up whose a bit more of the bad boy and a but more aggressive when it comes down to finding fresh blood. The explains the wave of local murders with a feisty vampire on the loose. The 2 brothers haven’t seen each other in quite a long time, but in vampire years, centuries pass by like nothing. Elana, the cute and innocent pawn in all this, actually has a close relationship than she didnt anticipate. She resembles the vampires past love interest Katherine (actually to a T). The show itself is set in the town of Mystic Falls, Virginia…a made up location that has some history of its own with the boys.

As we’ve seen in other like series, the town itself has a history that involves the supernatural. In fact descendants of original families are in charge of guarding the town against vampires, werewolves and witches. Those who are paying attention will also recognize this is a correlation in similarities to True Blood and the other new show “The Gates”. What we discover is that vampires are the beginning but as the town unravels there is much more than meets the eye. This local league of protectors are referred to as “Founders’ Council”. This council has their hands deep in the policies of things which also correlates with another show that came and went called “Happy Town”.

I’m not sure the path of new series, but to me it seems like similar ideas are tried and executed almost in a way that is like a cook trying to get his formula just right. Either that or the networks have a loss of new ideas and writers at their disposal. As we learn more about towns, vampires and teens, we engage pretty quickly in love triangles, teens who fight…..some with more powers than others and an ongoing drama that tries to mirror real high school life with fantastical details. Subplots begin to evolve including Elana’s younger brother Jeremy played by Steven R. MQueen.

The series is based on the popular book series that sports the same name but also takes its own direction that reportably steers away from the original stories a bit. 10 Characters are featured with the usual routine of eventually writing someone out to make room for others. Some might remember this format in the “Heroes” series. As a high school series goes it manages to evolve and mature with more focus being spent on the town rather than high school flings and drama. For this, it is an intelligent vampire series that works for the directions it is evolving into. Season 2 looks to be as exciting…I’m not sure that it will take the place of True Blood but it does take a different approach which viewers will enjoy with the contrast of storylines. Season 1 is available in a complete series set that contains all 22 episodes on 5 DVDs. It also as expected packs a wallop of extras which I’ve listed below.

Into Mystic Falls: Bringing Vampire Lore and the High School Experience from Page to Screen
When Vampires Don’t Suck!: The Popularity of Vampires and the Fans Who Love Them
The Vampire Diaries: A New Breed of Vampires — Casting the Series
The Vampire Diaries: Vampires 101 – The Rules of the Vampire
Creators/Director pilot commentary
Unaired scenes
The Vampire Diaries: A Darker Truth Webisodes
Second Bite: gag reel
Downloadable Audiobook of the Bestselling Novel The Vampire Diaries: The Awakening by L.J. Smith

Vampires Diaries season is a supernatural winner that hits its audience great appeal.

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