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  • TV Series: The Vampire Diaries
  • Episode: Pilot
  • Starring: Ian Somerhalder, Nina Dobrev, Jennifer Rose Locke, Paul Wesley, Michael Trevino, Kayla Ewell
  • Written By: Julie Plec, Kevin Williamson
  • Directed By: Marcos Siega
  • Network: CW
  • Series:

The Vampire Diaries: Pilot Review

Not as Sucky As You Think

By Liana Aghajanian     September 11, 2009


Paul Wesley lends in a helping hand in THE VAMPIRE DIARIES: Pilot(2009).
© The CW

 

Although one can argue that pop culture’s obsession with vampires never went away, it certainly has had us on a whirlwind for the last few years, from Underworld to the abstinence porn that is Twilight and HBO’s sexy, yet sophisticated True Blood. The latest fixation brought to you by the CW network, “The Vampire Diaries,” a new series featuring every girl’s dream – a vampire with a conscience - is a clear indication that the trend shows no signs of sucking, er, slowing down.
 
Based on the young adult novels by L.J Smith, “The Vampire Diaries” tells the tale of high school student Elena Gilbert (Nina Dobrev) and the budding romance she develops with troubled vampire Stefan Salvatore (Paul Wesley, who has returned to the town of Mystic Falls, Virginia after being away for several lifetimes. Added to the brood-o-meter is Stefan’s third leg, otherwise known as his brother Damon (Ian Somerhalder) who follows him to the small town and immediately begins stirring trouble.
 
For all its plot similarities to other current vampire dramas, somewhat stagnant dialogue and hard to believe scare tactics, “The Vampire Diaries” has zoned in on an audience that will remain faithful to the show – no matter how many times they’ve seen the bites, camera and action before.
 
Unlike True Blood’s strictly adult focus, and Twilight’s tacky, laughable subject material (hello, sparkling vampires) the Vampire Diaries has enough soul to carry it through at least one season and is at its core, an old-fashioned romance in more ways than one, that comes alive in truly personable characters with real problems – an important piece of the puzzle that has been forgotten – at least by Twilight author Stephenie Meyer, whose vacant, remote anti-heroine Bella is no match for Elena, the raven haired lead who spends her time grieving the loss of her parents and coming to terms with her feelings through the pages of a hand-written diary (imagine that!).  
 
The vampires on the other hand, more or less have powers we’re familiar with, from glamoring their human counterparts to trying to control their blood-thirst and not being able to come inside a house unless they’ve invited to enrolling in high school with the squeals of teenage girls in the background as they watch the dark, mysterious newcomer glides down locker-filled hallways.
 
Though Ian Somerhalder has thus far gotten a good handle on Damon, Stefan’s sinister cock-blocking brother that rounds out the love triangle, his incessant ability to produce fog before he appears to feast on his next victim is a downfall. The unnecessary special effect is more foreboding of a troop of badly dressed 90s teenagers at the junior prom than any menacing vampire.
 
For its shortcomings and contributions to the oversaturated vampire market, Vampire Diaries offers characters that young women can relate to – from Elena’s self-rationalizing when Stefan’s eyes suddenly start convulsing with earthworm-like veins under his skin at the sight of her injury (“I get it, you’re squeamish about blood”) and her friend Jenna Sommers (Sara Canning) lamenting over the mysterious new comers lack of interest in her (“How come the guys I want never want me?”) Stefan’s introspective nature that mirrors Elena’s, both in tribulations and habit to keep a diary is exactly what viewers want to see – two tortured souls whose pain and anguish evaporates, if only just a little, when they find each other.
 
“The Vampire Diaries” has director Kevin Williamson’s (Dawson’s Creek, Scream) fingerprints all over it, with tinges of teenage self discovery set to the sounds of MGMT and Placebo’s cover of Kate Bush classic “Running Up That Hill.” Though critics and viewers will definitely see the similarities between other vampire favorites that might leave them bored, it’s good to keep in mind that the novels arrived on the scene some 18 years ago. Still, it’s no secret that show and its network are trying to cash in on the undead craze, and with a tried and tested formula full of passionate romance, underdogs and unpretentious high-schoolers, it seems safe to say that they will.

COMMENTS AND RESPONSES

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StarlightGuard 9/11/2009 9:12:16 AM

First off, I'd written my blog about this show last night in between commercial breaks, because something told me some maniacs would act just like overgrown 13 year old boys that would bitch and moan and throw out the Twilight and True Blood references -- too  much like one, not nearly enough like the other.

I Am Pointing At You Rob...but nicely.

And...hey, Liana used that "cock blocking" phrase as well. Jarrod's not alone...I still say "to hell with the urban dictionary," Sarafin.

A groundwork was laid here -- it's not fantastic, but it's not terrible. Hey, what do you expect from a pilot episode? The pilots of Star Trek, Buffy, Angel, etc. aren't all that great, but they lay out the general structure of what's to come.

This was a good pilot. And I see it's going to repeat a few times in the next few days, so that'll give me a chance to actually try to get involved in the story instead of just shedding off the arguments of "it's this" or "it's that" other hardline, Twilight hating maniacs want to throw at it.

gentlemen...grow the hell up

Keep 'em coming Liana...the rest will scream and whine as if they caught their manhoods in the nearest mouse trap, but at least we know SOMEONE will view the show (and review) the show for its own strengths, merits, and whatever weaknesses that may crop up.

I'm not yet at the point of recommending the show to anyone, but I'm not going to say don't watch it on the basis of it not being True Blood for teens.

Ghostsith 9/11/2009 9:14:10 AM

It wasn't a bad show. It was alot better than I thought it would be. I'll give this show more of a chance.

jppintar326 9/11/2009 10:10:36 AM

If I were a vampire, would I even bother going to high school?  I mean, come on, you're over a hundred years old. Wouldn't you have something better to do than go to school.  If I didn't have to go to school, I would have ditched it. 

Note:  Did all vampires fight for the Confederacy during the civil war? 

At least I didn't have to waste seven bucks and two hours of my life on this show.  I am willing to keep an open mind about it.  This episode was for me time filler anticipating Supernatural's season premiere.  Next episode, I might actually some more attention.

hanso 9/11/2009 10:13:29 AM

Holy hell did we watch the same episode?  The Vampire Diaries was fucking laughable!  That shit made me wish I was watching Twilight.  Probably the shittiest vampire show out in awhile, definitely the worst of what's on today.  Gotta give it up to the CW though, they know their female audience will show up.  4.8 millions vieweres last night, more than for the Winchester cats, ouch.

Glad NBC and ABC are coming with their shows next week so I won't be checking this out again unless by some miracle it turns it around but I doubt it cause its CW.

 

livewiremaxx 9/11/2009 11:43:15 AM

I thoguht the show was good - not great.  I see room for improvement.  It defiently had the twilight feel though - which hey if it works great.  Ill watch it some more and see whereit goes

ponyboy76 9/11/2009 1:37:25 PM

I`m sorry but a "B"? Somebody must have been sniffing some serious glue, because it was definitely a "D" episode D for Dumb D for Deeply unsatisfying D for did you watch the same show I did? I`m just ging to repost what I wrote in the True Blood article about Vampire Diaries.

Vampire Diaries was so horrible. I watched it because I like everything vampire but it was just plain horrible. I don't know what`s worse, the stereotypical one dimensional supporting cast, the terrible vampie cliche'd dialogue, the Twilight wannabe location or the fact that every 5 minutes I felt that Iw as listening to some tweens Itunes playlist. i can't believe that Kevin Williamson who I think is a good writer when it comes to the horror/teen genre helped to write. I hate to say it, Twilight is so much better its not even funny. And yes VD, haha, (V.D. how appropriate,) anyway it predates Twilight, but you don't have to wonder after watching the first episode why it wasn't optioned into a movie.

hanso 9/11/2009 2:54:10 PM

Ponyboy, if you remember that Kevin Williamson wrote "Cursed" then you can see how he can be behind Vampire Diaires.

ponyboy76 9/11/2009 3:45:41 PM

True, but he also helped come up with Scream , The Faculty and Teaching Mrs Tingle which I thought were good flicks. He has no excuse.

DaForce1 9/11/2009 8:57:55 PM

I watched the opening sequence, the titles, and then I got about 2 minutes into the start of the story when I ended up switching to a repeat of something on the History channel while I waited for Supernatural to start.

The only way I could tell this crap show apart from 90210/The Hills/Melrose Place/Etc. was that they had people with fangs that could fly. Sorry, but masturbating with a cheese grater seems like a better option than watching this show.

CaptAmerica04 9/12/2009 9:34:07 AM

Once I saw the trailer for this online, I knew it was destined to be a steamer. Kevin Williamson got lucky with Scream... since then, everything he does reeks of "Dawson's Creek."

I don't care which came first, this AND Twilight are laughable passes at vampire lore. I love most things vampire, but I'll pass on this, just the way I'm passing on anything future that contains Meyers's "bedazzled undead." (DUMBEST, most LAUGHABLE fantasy-genre concept EVER!!!)

Last night I watched Francis Ford Coppola's "Dracula," just to purge myself. Gary Oldman and Anthony Hopkins reminded me that vampires are MORE than just a lame vehicle for teen female sexual angst and self-aggrandizing whining.
 

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