Monday, September 14, 2009
TV RECAP: CW's "Vampire Diaries" - Season 1 - Episode 1
I actually saw this new series the night it premiered, but I wanted to wait till the initial effect had worn off before I commented. After careful contemplation (lol), I've decided that I like it. Four days and 1 VMA scandal later, it's still stuck in my mind. Allow me to elaborate on why I think it has the potential to keep viewers interested:
1. It's not a full-blown adaptation. Thank god! I know that a lot of people are big fans of L.J. Smith's novel version, but I personally couldn't get through it. It has nothing to do with the writing. It was actually way more bearable than Twilight. The problem was the lead character, Elena. Instead of the awkward loner-type that Twilight-lovers are accustomed to, or the girly-yet-badass character that Buffy-lovers worship, or the overly curious and caring type that True Blood-lovers tune in for every week, readers are subjected to a popular girl whose sole agenda is to bag Stefan, the hottest guy in school, who just so happens to be a vampire, before her frenemy Caroline does. She sounded like a bitch. Why would I give a crap about her? And, since Elena is believed to be a doppelganger of Stefan's true love from the 1800s, the vampire who selfishly sired both him and his brother Damon for some sick-and-twisted eternal love triangle, she continued to lose cool points as the book progressed. Unfortunately, I stopped reading once Damon revealed himself to his brother, which was basically the end of the first episode. They did a great job of summing up everything you need to know to understand the history of these three people who seem to have intertwined fates.
2. The characters aren't boring (unlike on "Melrose Place"). Since Elena (Nina Dobrev from "Degrassi: The Next Generation") is supposed to be the object of not two, but three guys' obsessions, she has to be off-the-charts awesome. And, I'd say, she passes for interesting. For starters, her parents died in a car accident that she survived. That's pretty peculiar. (I always pray that these vampire-loving girls have some sort of dormant superpower.) She watches over her younger brother Jeremy (Steven R. McQueen, yes, that McQueen), who has a drug addiction and a seemingly unhealthy attachment to her ex-boyfriend Matt's (Zach Roerig from "Friday Night Lights") slutty sister Vicki (Kayla Ewell from "The Bold and the Beautiful"). All in all, I'm glad she isn't as vapid as her original persona dictated.
Stefan (Paul Wesley from ABC Family's miniseries "Fallen") doesn't brood (as much as most vampires). He behaves like a pretty normal teenager: flirting with girls, going to parties, and disrespecting obnoxious teachers who insensitively suggest that a student should "get over" their parents dying since it's been four months. (Asshole!) But he does have those signature deep, dark eyes, and keeps randomly appearing at her side. Honestly though, if he weren't hot, she would've maced him by now. lol
Damon (Ian Somerhalder from "Lost") is as psycho as you'd think he'd be. See, from what I read, it seems he was somewhat neglected as a child. His father favored Stefan, so he's always resented him for that. Then when he met Elena's doppelganger Katherine, he decided he'd steal her away from Stefan. He thought she was an extraordinary creature and that they were destined to be together, because they had the same dark nature, despite the fact that he was human. He was also interested in the power that comes along with living eternally and shedding the weaknesses of humanity. (He has some serious daddy issues.) So when the time came for Katherine to choose between them, she chose both, hoping they could live in harmony. It was like he wasn't enough to please her. Hating herself for coming between them, she committed suicide, and Damon vowed to make Stefan pay for it. So his basic agenda is to take Elena away from him and win "Katherine's heart" once and for all. Oh and he seems pretty eager to kill a whole lot of people in the process. Since he hasn't abstained from feeding off humans like Stefan did, he has way more powers. So far it seems he can create this hazy, disorienting fog and turn into a crow, and he's very strong and very fast. So fast that he took Stefan's ring off his finger without him noticing it. Why does that matter? That ring is the only thing that keeps them alive in sunlight.
Matt. Poor, poor Matt. lol He's been dating Elena for the longest—so long that it's as though no other girl at school exists, which sucks since Elena's bff Bonnie (Katerina Graham) is very sweet to him. Matt is your quintessential boy-next-door with the budding high school sports career. He's cute, caring, and protective. What's not to like? Well, apparently everything, since Elena pretty much said she only dated him because it seemed like the logical step once they became friends. While normally I would agree with that, she made it seem completely illogical. Passion is what should drive a relationship, not tolerance. Some would say that's why Twilight's Bella should be with Edward and not Jacob. If Matt had heard that statement, I'm sure he would've shattered into a million pieces. He seems extremely sensitive. So sensitive, in fact, that instead of shunning Stefan from their inner circle, he introduced himself and addressed his jealousy solely to Elena when he privately confronted her about pretending she didn't want a relationship. Wow! That's really mature. If this were "The O.C." or "90210," someone would've gotten punched in the face. Then again, it was just the first episode, and I'm sure he can't be patient forever. There are too many hormones running through him like a freight train.
• Caroline (Candice Accola) is the resident bitch. She's no Naomi ("90210") or even Blair ("Gossip Girl"), because she has this air about her that would suggest she's totally innocent. Maybe it's the blonde hair or maybe it's the fact that her ever-increasing jealousy of Elena—in a totally Marsha-Marsha-Marsha fashion—is understandable when, not one but, three of the hottest guys in town are after her. But from the last scene she was in, it would seem that she'll regret wishing for attention when Damon takes an interest in her. However, I think she'd jump at the chance to become a vamp, since she's so hellbent on being eternally adored.
• Bonnie is actually one of the most interesting characters, because in the book she kept having psychic premonitions, but she wasn't aware that she was having them. It's like we're watching her come into her powers.
• Tyler (Michael Trevino from "90210") is the resident "bad boy," who uses and abuses girls. In the pilot, he tried to rape Vicki in the woods, despite the fact that they'd been having consensual sex all summer. Apparently, drunk Tyler is even more of a douche than sober Tyler. After Jeremy comes to her rescue, she walks off into the woods to get away from them both. Vicki took pity on and advantage of Jeremy after his parents died. Scoring drugs from him in exchange for sex, and now he's addicted to both so he can numb the pain. If it wasn't for Tyler, Damon couldn't have attacked Vicki in the woods and she wouldn't have told her brother that a vampire bit her. That could stir up some trouble. Or, if Stefan's lucky, they'll just chalk it up to the drugs and alcohol in her system. Fingers crossed.
3. Production doesn't look like it was worth $5 (unlike Twilight). Vamping-out is always crucial to a vampire series's credibility. "True Blood" got railroaded for having teeth protrude with a sound effect that was akin to clicking a retractable pen. But the fans forgave the series, since it made up for it by being too funny and too suspenseful to hate. I actually like the way they vamp-out in this series. The veins around Stefan's eyes pulsate and his pupils seem to get darker. Creepy and awesome.
4. The tone wasn't over-the-top. A lot of fantasy shows run the risk of being kitschy, but since this was created by the writers and producers behind Scream and "Dawson's Creek," it had the perfect mixture of real drama and the supernatural.
While I do seem to love it so far, I still have a few concerns:
1. Why did they add the human "nephew" character Zach (Chris William Martin), who watches over Stefan's house? In the book, it was some old lady. I don't think either are necessary. I guess I'm just afraid Damon's going to kill him. lol
2. I think it's lame that they'd change her middle-aged Aunt Jenna to a young college student who has no time to actually watch over her. They probably lowered her age so that she can later get paired off with one of the other characters. Hopefully, not Stefan's nephew, or even worse Damon.
3. I really like that Damon is so blase about how much pain he's about to inflict on Stefan. It makes me like him a lot...almost as much as I love Chuck ("Gossip Girl"). I was especially amused by how he mocked Stefan's failed attempt to attack him with a sound effect that sounded like a cat getting run over. Beyond funny. So, next week when he goes all uber psycho on him, tempting him like he's working for the devil, I'm afraid he might turn me off. I like relaxed and vindictive Damon. I don't want him to become a caricature of a bad guy, all huffy-and-puffy like he's trying to blow someone's house down.
Next week Damon introduces himself to Elena and tells her a little too much about Stefan, while Stefan figures out a way to keep Vicki quiet...without sucking the life out of her.