The Vampire Diaries: The Complete First Season (2009) [Blu-ray]

Genre(s): Drama / Fantasy / Romance
Warner Brothers || NR - 935 minutes - $69.97 || August 31, 2010
Reviewer: Brad Lowenberg || Posted On: 2010-08-31


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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

S P E C I A L
.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

.:: V I D E O ::.
Video

.:: A U D I O ::.
Audio

B L U - R A Y
.:: EXCLUSIVES ::.

Blu-ray Exclusives

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Overall
.::MOVIE INFORMATION::.
Director: NA
Writer(s): L.J. Smith (book); Julie Plec & Kevin Williamson (developed by)
Cast: Nina Dobrev, Ian Somerhalder, Paul Wesley


.::DVD INFORMATION::.
Supplemental Material:
  • Episode Commentary
  • Deleted Scenes
  • 4 Featurettes
  • Webisodes
  • Gag Reel
  • Audiobook
  • BD-Live


Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 4
  • Widescreen (1.78)
  • English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish

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.::THE FILM::.

Synopsis: "For over a century, I have lived in secret. Until now. I know the risk, but I have to know her". Dark, brooding, pulsing with bloodlust and transcendent with romance, "The Vampire Diaries" - which started as a series of must-read novels by L.J. Smith - has become a must-watch television event. Stefan (Wesley) and Damon (Somerhalder) are brothers - one good and one evil. Elena (Dobrev), a double for the beauty both brothers loved some 150 years earlier; plus Jeremy, Bonnie, Matt and more people from the town of Mystic Falls, VA.

Thanks to a friend, I managed to get a hold of the pilot script for several months before it was officially picked up by The CW. After reading it (and all of the other Pilot scripts the CW was considering), I was delighted to read what turned out to be a fantastic script. But, of course, just because a script is great does not mean the show will be. There are so many factors involved (casting, location, secondary characters), that I was a little hesitant since I wasn't sure The CW could pull it off. Aside from "Smallville" and "Supernatural" (at this time "Supernatural" had four seasons under its belt and "Smallville" with eight), the CW had not really had any success with shows that skewed out of their very female demographic. But with the hype for the film Twilight, it was pretty much a given that The CW would pick it up ("True Blood" was a hit after its first season, and "Moonlight", even though canceled after one season by CBS still had a very vocal and supportive cult following). And I was right. CW picked the show up, and teenage girls everywhere went nuts.

Fast forward to the first episode. Alright, first few episodes. The show still feels very Twilight-y. Yeah, before I get the backlash from fans, "The Vampire Diaries" was a series of books long before Stephanie Meyer dreamed of a Vampire who shimmers in the sun. But really, without Twilight I don't know how successful the show would have been. Going back to the First few episodes, it was no surprise how it followed the Twilight formula. Girl likes boy. Boy likes girl. They fall for each other. Uh-oh, he's a Vampire. Werewolves. Oh he's a good Vampire. But there are bad Vampires. Yaaaaawn. It's nothing new, and so far "True Blood" and Twilight both follow the Vampire/Werewolf mythology in some way. But we got an interesting twist this time. Our "Edward" has an evil brother! Oh snap! That throws a wrench into the show.

So is the show worth watching? As usual, I'll break it down into the good and bad of the season.

The Good. There is so freaking' much of it. As I wrote a few paragraphs above, the first few episodes are pretty average. We learn the history of the two brothers, the back stories to some of the main characters and generally just get to know the mythos surrounding the show (very much like "Buffy" and Twilight). After episode five things really start to kick into gear and a show that was generally considered a rip off falls into its own. Thankfully we have Kevin Williamson ("Dawsons Creek", Scream) to help guide us with his perfection of being a linguist. Both brothers are fantastic in their roles, with the edge going to Somerhalder for his role as the 'evil' brother Damon (get it? His name is the evil). Wesley does a decent job of playing the 'nice' Vampire, but comes off being a bit too much like an Edward clone. Dobrev, will cute as a button, sometimes gets a bit annoying, much like her brother on the show (McQueen). But after the First few episodes, things tend to fall into place and the actors settle in their roles. What's great about the show is each episode feels very complete - not really a monster of the week type show, but more and less a series of several arcs that most shows in their first season tend not to do (they don't want to alienate potential new viewers who randomly tuned in). When the core three are on screen, good times are to be had. And thanks to brining in Vampire Slayer Alaric (Davis), another fine actor who took a small role and made it huge.

The Bad. Not a whole lot, but a few things that irked me a bit. Secondary characters tend to suck. McQueen, who play's Elena (I keep wanting to write Bella) brother is incredibly annoying. He tends to spazz out a lot during the first 13 episodes (the original order CW placed) and never really fits in - until the back nine get ordered. His character finally see's some development (and a haircut) and the introduction of a potential love interest (Anna) who might not be alive really brings his character up to speed. His first interest, Vicki (Ewell) ends up not really... well.

Which brings up my biggest complaint - death. This show is not afraid to kill off characters, evident by the path of two pretty large characters in the show who were fan favorite. I suppose there might be a way for one of them to come back next season, but it's tough to get the audience so used to seeing these well defined characters only to kill them off just to show people we mean business (unlike "Heroes"). Gees, even the season finale leaves two characters lives on the table. I supposed the first major death is alright, but the second (season finale) was just brutal. We needed more characters like that, and they just decided to pick that person to off. One of the other complaints is the other secondary characters of Matt, Bonnie, Tyler and Caroline. We don't care about them. Please, please, kill them off. One of them might be a Witch and the other a Werewolf, but gees, they just bring the show to a screeching halt the first twenty episodes. It isn't until the final two that they start to actually make a difference. Let's see how that plays out in season two.

So is the show worth your time? Absolutely. Witty dialog, some great effects, amazing story arcs, and more characters that you will like over ones that you could potentially hate make this show a real winner. The CW has a huge hit with "The Vampire Diaries".



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

The Blu-ray comes housed in an attractive shimmering slip box.

Commentary on the Pilot Episode with Kevin Williamson, Julie Plec and Marcos Siega

Deleted Scenes (15 Minutes; SD) - Roughly a dozen trimmed scenes from about a dozen episodes. All cut for time issues and nothing worth talking about. Just dialog.

Into Mystic Falls (25 Minutes; HD) - A typical 'making of' which goes into detail of how the show was created, how Julie Plec and Kevin Williamson came on board, the casting choices, flashbacks, why they chose Georgia...it's all very much what one might expect.

A New Breed of Vampires (14 Minutes; HD) - Audition tapes and scattered memories fill this featurette which delves into how each actor was chosen for his or her part.

When Vampires Don't Suck (19 Minutes; HD) - Longer than it should be, this goes over the current Vampire craze that is sweeping the nation (or at least 14 and 45 year old girl’s hearts)

Webisodes (8 Minutes; HD) - Umm, no. Four embarrassing webisodes about some kid who breaks into Stefan and Damon's house because he wants to kill a Vampire.

Rounding out the set is Vampires 101 (7 Minutes; HD), a Gag Reel (5 Minutes; HD), BD-Live and an Audiobook (7 Hours) of the first book in the series that can only be played on a Blu-ray player (really lame).



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

"The Vampire Diaries" is presented in 1.78:1 on 5 BD50 Discs. Sort of like "Chuck", the show has a much intended feel to it, and that feel is darkness. Nearly every scene is barely lit and Black might as well be a main character. Luckily for us Warner has replicated this perfectly for Blu-ray. While some scenes do tend to show a bit more grain then others (intended, but it looks weird as it shifts from scene to scene) this is a pretty darn faithful representation of how the show is supposed to look.

Warner continues on with its use of Dolby Digital 5.1 for its TV on Blu-ray properties and now going into year three, well, get over it. Like most CW shows (low budgets), the show hardly even uses the rear speakers, so all the work is done in the front three. Good for us, since it sounds pretty good.



.::OVERALL::.

"The Vampire Diaries" has been misinterpreted for a Twilight rip-off, but that's in no ways true. The show really falls into its own after the first few episodes, and once it hits episode six, the show starts firing on all cylinders until the end. The Blu-ray packs a decent amount of features and great picture and audio quality that makes this a must purchase.