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003797Reviews & Counting
The Vampire Diaries (S1)
BLU-RAY disk
09.15.2010 By: J.A. Hamilton
The Vampire Diaries (S1) order download

Ian Somerhalder
Nina Dobrev
Paul Wesly


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Elena is trying to cope with the death of her parents while attempting to stay strong for her emotionally troubled younger brother. Going back to school is tough on her but thatís nothing compared to the can of worms meeting the new guy Stefan (who just happens to be a vampire) is about to open, especially when his blood crazed brother drops in to raise a little hell.
Despite being an avid fan of anything vampire related, I originally shrugged off the idea of THE VAMPIRE DIARIES after reading the synopsis. At the time I felt it sounded like another attempt to cash in on the TWILIGHT money train and also figured that since it would run on regular cable that it would end up being ďjust another vampire showĒ. Not that I donít have faith in the CW network, after all Iím also a big fan of SMALLVILLE and SUPERNATURAL, but this also had a bit of BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER vibe going on and for the life of me I never could get into that show. That said, this show feels like a combination of the first two, taking some of the High School drama SMALLVILLE started out with and mixing it up with a good dose of some of the dark thematic elements found in SUPERNATURAL beyond basic vampirism and witchcraft.

The main reason for my low expectations here (aside from the fact that most vampire shows never make it past the first season) is because of TRUE BLOOD. TRUE BLOOD came out of nowhere and took vampire fans by storm and has yet to let go (though I will admit this season is a tad out there). In a perfect world you wouldnít compare the two shows as THE VAMPIRE DIARIES is clearly at a disadvantage when it comes to TRUE BLOOD due to the latter being shown on HBO. However, SUPERNATURAL pushes the envelope something fierce when it comes to blood and gore, sure thereís no nudity but thereís enough to keep you glued to your seat, at least thatís how I feel about it anyway, so VAMPIRE DIARIES is able to strongly hold its own.

Each vampire show has its own unique twists on the genre, myths and lore and THE VAMPIRE DIARIES is no different. Iím still not sold on the ďevil eyesĒ bit as it comes off a touch cheesy but I like the Rivain side of things and totally dig how these vampires are intertwined with witches and witchcraft. Sadly I hear theyíre bringing in werewolves come second season which makes me yawn. I suppose I shouldnít be surprised but I think the show is doing fine with whatís itís got and just hope they donít overcrowd the joint. The enchanted rings were also a clever touch (though they seemed to backfire a bit from time to time) and by that I mean the daylight ones as well as the human protection ones, itís subtle touches like these ones that make the show enticing and will keep it so.

THE VAMPIRE DIARIES was a pleasant surprise. I enjoyed it wholeheartedly and as I write this review am getting ready to watch the season two premier. The acting was also surprisingly decent from DEGRASSIís Nina Dobrev and Paul Wesly but its Ian Somerhalder who steals the show. The guyís brilliant and plays the role of villainous brother down to the letter. The dialogue is also quite sharp, especially between Stefan and Damon, as is their overall storyline and relationship. I didnít read the books but I canít help but think L. J. Smith must be pretty happy with the way Mystic Falls has come to life, I know I was blown away by the finale which to me was one of the best ones of this season (aside from DEXTER of course).
Commentary: There are a slew of episode commentaries spread out over the four discs, some good and some not so good but at least we get the chance to hear the thoughts and insights of mostly all the actors and actresses involved.

Deleted Scenes: Again, thereís about fifteen minutes of un-aired scenes spread out over the four discs. I expected more of them but the good news it they work as a means of squeezing out a few more details making them worth a look.

Into Mystic Falls: Executive producers Kevin Williamson and Julie Plec help us explore myths and mysteries behind Mystic Falls as they lead us through the vampire genre, lore and the High School end of things. I think they mixed it up rather well here.

When Vampires Donít Suck: This is a documentary that shines a light on the insane fan base behind the books and now the show making this an instant classic for the vampire genre. It sure as hell beats TWILIGHT.

A Darker Truth: I love Webisode series previews, sure theyíre not much but they show how seriously dedicated those involved are to the fans and the source material theyíre working with. These four webisodes were cool beans.

A Second Bite: Here we get a fun four minute gag reel of cast outtakes. If nothing else, itís fun to oogle Nina Dobrev as she sure does look yummy.

A New Breed of Vampire: Here we have the cast discussing some of the subtle (and not so subtle) changes this show makes to the classic vampire lore. I dug the changes for the most part, especially the rings.

Vampires 101: Here we have a short test to see just how well you know the vampire rules and lore. I naturally aced it.

The Vampire Diaries: The Awakening Ė Audio Book: As a writer Iím against audio books but thatís mostly pointed toward books on tape. I guess downloading TV stuff isnít so bad if youíve got a long car ride ahead of you and need something to kill some time.
Vampires are either your thing or not your thing and with TWILIGHT watering down the genre itís easy to turn the other cheek when a show like this comes along. But if you are a fan I suggest you give this one a look because if youíre anything like me youíll be pleasantly surprised by what you find.

Extra Tidbit: Nina Dobrev had a small cameo in CHLOE this year and Paul Wesly had a minor role in the final season of 24 as Kimís new guy.
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