Thursday, September 10, 2009

TV Show Revue: The Vampire Diaries

From the network that brought you "Gossip Girl"...


The CW's new high school romance/vampire drama premiered tonight. It's based on a (fantastic) series of books by LJ Smith. There are obvious comparisons to "Twilight." We have the hot, mysterious guy who turns out to be a vampire. Said vampire no longer drinks human blood. We have the quiet girl who falls for the mysterious, brooding guy. Oh, and both series are set in high school.

But that's where the comparisons end. "Vampire Diaries" follows Elena, the quiet girl whose parents died in a car accident; Stefan, the Mysterious Brooding Vampire; Bonnie, Elena's psychic best friend; Damon, Stefan's Evil Vampire Brother; Matt, Elena's ex-boyfriend; and Carolyn, Elena's "frenemy." They're all basically the same characters as in the books. Then, just to shake things up, the writers invented a teenage pothead brother for Elena (fans of the books will remember that she originally had a much younger sister) and a teenage sister for Matt and some other characters who are there basically to complicate the relationships and/or die. Oh, and some guy who Stefan claims is his uncle but obviously isn't because he's human and several centuries younger than his "nephew." He knows what Stefan is, though.

As first episodes go, it wasn't too bad. It wasn't spectacular, though. The dialog was kind of flat--except for Damon. He was probably my favorite character. I wish we'd seen more of him. There was way too much of an emphasis on the relationship junk for my taste. I'll watch again next week, and I'll probably stick through the whole season, but so far I'm not overly impressed.

My main criticism is the way they portray the high school. Who provided all that beer for the "back-to-school" party? I find it disturbing that all of the sex and the drinking and the drugs are just assumed as a given. What message are they trying to convey? "This is what high school is like?" Or: "This is how high school SHOULD be?" Neither of those sounds like a good option to me.

When I think of vampire TV shows, the first one that comes to mind is "Buffy the Vampire Slayer", which also had the mysterious brooding vampire and high school setting. Even from the first episode, these characters seemed real. They had distinct personalities. The characters in Vampire Diaries, especially the girls, seemed pretty much interchangeable. I don't really feel like I know any of the characters yet--except for Damon. Maybe I'm just biased towards Buffy--the first episode wasn't the first one that I saw--but it is, in my mind, a much better pilot.

And here's the four-sentence summary!
The Vampire Diaries (new series; premiered fall 2009)
The Premise: Hottie brooding vampire moves to small town, followed by hottie evil vampire.
Why I love it: Damon is pretty hot.
If I could change one thing, I'd: get rid of a subplot or two, probably the "drug-dealing-younger-brother" one.
Girl power rating: Too early to tell. Initial score 2/5 for not really developing any of the female characters and making 2 girls vampire victims in the first episode already.