"THE VAMPIRE DIARIES: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON" Blu-ray Review by Kevin Carr
MOVIE: *** (out of 5 stars)
DVD EXPERIENCE: ***1/2 (out of 5 stars)
Nina Dobrev as ELENA GILBERT
Paul Wesley as STEFAN SALVATORE
Ian Somerhalder as DAMON SALVATORE
Steven R. McQueen as JEREMY GILBERT
Sara Canning as JENNA SOMMERS
Katerina Graham as BONNIE BENNETT
Candice Accola as CAROLINE FORBES
Zach Roerig as MATT DONOVAN
Kayla Ewell as VICKI DONOVAN
Michael Trevino as TYLER LOCKWOOD
Matt Davis as ALARIC SALTZMAN
WHAT IT’S ABOUT
Based on the book series, “The Vampire Diaries” is set in Mystic Falls, a town that has a history of vampires. Elena Gilbert (Nina Dobrev) suspects there’s something different about the new boy at school, Stefan Salvatore (Paul Wesley). It turns out that he is a vampire, and his brother has also come back to the town where they grew up as humans. However, there is a town council that threatens to destroy any returning vampires, and Elena’s friend Bonnie (Katerina Graham) uses her newfound powers as a witch to bring the fight to the vampires.
WHAT I LIKED
It is impossible to watch a show like “The Vampire Diaries” without making the inevitable comparison to the “Twilight” series of films. There is still a bloodier and more monster-driven series out there (which would be “True Blood”), but “The Vampire Diaries” does an impressive job juggling the teen drama with the monster mythos.
It airs on the CW, and it’s got Kevin Williamson behind it, so there’s bound to be some modern teen angst in the story. But unlike “Twilight,” it just doesn’t wallow in its own wretched emotion. Sure, the character of Elena is just as worried about Stefan as her boyfriend as she is worried about the unusual number of deaths in the town, but on the whole, it’s well-balanced.
Of course, the cast is a non-stop parade of gorgeous people, so that bodes well for both sexes in the eye candy department. And I’m not just talking about the twentysomethings playing the high school girls. There’s also middle aged actresses who still turn heads, like Kelly Hu and Mindy Clark. Add the pretty cast to the stark cinematography and you get a show that is fun to watch and enjoy.
But the best part about “The Vampire Diaries” is that it achieves a series about supernatural creatures and not just about teen love. The CW has been pretty impressive with its supernatural shows, and you can include this one to the list of “Supernatural” and “Smallville” as a neat genre piece for a younger generation.
WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE
You do need to keep in mind that “The Vampire Diaries” is not without its teen angst. It happens, but it pretty much is indicated by whether the episode actually takes place at the high school. This setting seems rather extraneous, especially in later episodes, and it only serves as an anchor for the characters. You do see less and less of it as the series goes on.
Likewise, when the season starts, it does have a very “Twilight” feel to it, most likely because this is the baggage of the day. Fortunately, if you can get through five episode or so (the turning point for many series’ flagship season), things will improve.
The Blu-ray set comes with a commentary track to the pilot episode and unaired scenes on select episodes in the season. The final disc includes the bulk of the special features, including the featurettes “Into Mystic Falls,” “When Vampires Don’t Suck!,” “The Vampire Diaries: A New Breed of Vampires” and “The Vampire Diaries: Vampires 101,” which detail the development and production of the show as well as how its vampires differ from other legends and stories.
Additional features include a short gag reel, a series of webisodes called “The Vampire Diaries: A Darker Truth” and a full audiobook of “The Vampire Diaries: The Awakening.”
WHO’S GOING TO LIKE THIS MOVIE
Someone looking for a teen vampire story somewhere between “Twilight” and “True Blood.”