September 14, 2009

new show review: vampire diaries

I may be the only one on the planet at the moment, but I'm not into vampires. I've never seen True Blood, though I'm starting to think I'm missing out, and I've never read or seen anything of the Twilight persuasion. That said, I was a big Buffy fan, but I'm not sure that qualifies as hardcore vampire. Something tells me, neither does the new CW series Vampire Diaries.

I wasn't planning to watch, but I fell victim to some peer pressure from my favorite TV podcast. So, I'm giving the pilot a shot. Here are my thoughts...

The pilot begins with a young couple in love driving down a foggy dark backwoods road. You know this is going nowhere good. Sure enough, they hit a man in the middle of the road, who promptly bites their necks and kills them. Nice.

Cut to day time, we meet Elena (Nina Dobrev, Degrassi alum with surprisingly strong acting chops) who's living in a small town called Mystic Falls with her brother Jeremy (Steven R. McQueen, yup his grandson) and aunt Jenna (Sara Canning), and we learn the kids' parents were recently killed in a car accident.

Elena and Jeremy are starting their first day of school in the fall (both in high school). Looks like Jeremy has a little drug problem with a side of distribution. There's a new kid at school, more accurately a brooding bad boy in a leather jacket (looks like we have our vampire), named Stefan (Paul Wesley, 24, Everwood) who Elena and her best friend Bonnie (Katerina Graham) are scoping out.

We are getting two narrations throughout the episode - one through Stefan and one through Elena, both writing in their journals.

Elena visits her parents' grave at the cemetery and gets an eerie feeling that a nearby black crow is following her. The "vampire fog" starts to gather, and she tries to run away from the crow and falls on the ground. Low and behold, Stefan comes around the corner playing the part of the handsome new guy. She quickly forgets about the crow, but Stefan is salivating at the blood dripping from her injured leg. Thankfully, he resists. What a stand up guy.

Later, Stefan joins Elena at the town teen hangout The Grill. Showing up together turns heads, including that of Elena's former boyfriend Matt (Zach Roerig, Friday Night Lights). Teen chat reveals that Stefan's parents also passed away, and he lives with his uncle. Oh, and there's a big start of school rager in the woods that night. Surprise.

Meanwhile, Jeremy is crushing on Vicki (Kayla Ewell, The OC, Entourage), a popular pretty girl at school (also Matt's sister), who apparently scored some drugs a little extra from Jeremy over the summer. But now she wants him to stay away and not interfere with her bully cool guy boyfriend Tyler (Michael Trevino). More surprises.

Stefan returns home to said uncle. But what? Uncle (in his 30s) actually refers to HIM as Uncle Stefan, and we learn that fake uncle is actually Stefan's nephew Zach (Chris William Martin, health clinic boyfriend on Felicity). Zach is none too pleased to have found a dead animal carcass, an apparent sign of Stefan's continued vampiring ways, which he promised to give up. Is that even possible? I always thought, once a vampire, always a vampire. Looks like Stefan has been gone for quite some time, and this town has a distant past riddled with vampire troubles. As he rifles through old journals, Stefan finds a very old photo of woman named Katherine in 1864 who looks just like Elena. And the mystery continues...

Cut to big rager in the woods. Red plastic cups galore. Elena and Stefan go on a walk where we learn more about her parents' death - they drove off a bridge into a lake with Elena in the back seat. She survived, they didn't.

In other woods, Vicki's boyfriend gets rough with her until Jeremy shows up to break it up. Vicki is not pleased and still doesn't want him around even though he obviously helped her out. Girl's got issues. She ends up wondering into the woods alone and the vampire fog appears. Cut to black.

Elena and Jeremy find Vicki in the woods bleeding profusely from a bite on her neck. The kids carry her to help, and Stefan runs home. He tells Zach about Vicki, but says it wasn't him. And then we're introduced to Damon (Ian Somerhalder, Boone from Lost), Stefan's evil brother. So, he was the black crow and also the one nibbling at Vicki's neck.

We learn the brothers haven't seen each other in 15 years (though they've obviously been around for way longer than that) and didn't part on good terms. Damon's trying instigate Stefan. "When's the last time you had something stronger than a squirrel?" Them's fightin' words. Apparently, Stefan decided to stop eating people, which makes him weaker than Damon. Looks like Damon's going to make it his mission to bring the darker side to Mystic Falls.

In the hospital, Vicki wakes up to Matt sitting by her bed. She says "vampire". Oh snap.

We learn both Elena and Stefan are both trying to start over, but they can't escape the past. Stefan is here to try to start a new life with Elena, which has something to do with his long lost love (and Elena lookalike) Katherine.

I'm surprised how much I liked it. The music is good. Though somehow Ian Somerhalder has aged 20 years since Lost. The filming and small town setting remind me a little of CW's departed show Everwood. Overall, the young actors are really strong, especially Nina Dobrev playing Elena, which is good news. And they've set up an interesting mystery right off the bat (get it?). I think anyone who's into teen mysteries or vampire lore, but not too seriously, will like the show. It's definitely not hardcore vampire stuff, but more for the novice like me.

Problem is, the timeslot is Thursday night at 8:00, which means it's up against FlashForward on ABC, which I'm really looking forward to, and Bones on FOX, which is one of my staples. I wish CW would revive the old WB practice and run repeats on Sundays. Until they smarten up, I'll be keeping track of this on online.

Let me know if you caught the pilot and what you thought!


papayavt said...

Alan Ball + one of the most talented t.v. casts= you're missing out on True Blood.

clicker said...

i know! i really need to catch up on dvd during the offseason.

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