Friday, September 16, 2011
The Vampire Diaries: Sink Your Teeth Into This...
With True Blood over for yet another year, I'm happy to have a substitute I can rely on to get my weekly vampire fix. Granted there isn't near the gratuitous nudity, crazy plot-lines, and over-the-top violence as the bloodsuckers from Bon Temps, but I can still enjoy a fang-fest every Thursday night courtesy of The Vampire Diaries.
The first thing I want to say about The Vampire Diaries is that you should be watching it. And I know you're not. Well, some of you probably are, but there are others that are ready to hit the backspace button here and move on. And here is where I implore you not to do so.
Remember how everyone loved the hell out of Buffy? Even though a whole lot of you were supposedly too old to be watching the teen vampire soap-opera? This is what I'm talking about. Who the hell cares if it isn't PC to be watching (and lusting over, quite frankly) a bunch of teens whose mission is to bite their way through half the small town they live in and have sex with the other half. Repeat after me: THIS SHOW IS NOT TWILIGHT, FOLKS.
Based on (in my opinion) a less than stellar (but nowhere near as pathetic and vapid as Twilight) series of books by L.J. Smith, The television version of The Vampire Diaries (TVD) doesn't shy away from biting necks - nor does it stray from the copius amounts of sex we all know the vampires (and teens, if I'm being serious) want/need. And guess what, not only are the vamps on this show heaps better looking than those pasty boys of Twilight, but they actually have fangs! What a concept. And they are not afraid to use them. Likewise, they are not the chaste, sparkling variety of bloodsuckers most of the teenage world are enamored and obsessed with.
To recap, the show centers on Elena Gilbert (played by - in my husband's words - the "extremely do-able" Nina Dobrev), a teen whose parents were killed in an accident and she is being raised by her aunt Jenna (Sara Canning). Into her life come two very attractive vampire brothers both vying for her affection. Paul Wesley stars as Stefan, the "good" brother and Elena's first choice. A man whose eyebrows have their own zip code, Wesley spends most of his screen time brooding and telling Elena they shouldn't be together because it's so dangerous. (One outright difference between TVD's Elena and Twilight's Bella is that Elena absolutely does not want to become a vampire, whereas Bella (a sheep if I've ever seen one) practically begs throughout each book/film for Edward to change her.)
While Elena and Stefan try to live their happy little angst-free lives, we all know that isn't going to happen simply because what the hell fun would that be? Enter Damon, the "bad" brother played to snarky perfection by too-hot-for-his-own-good Ian Somerhalder of LOST fame.
It must be said that while it may seem like I lust for these boys perhaps a bit too much for my own good, let us remember that with Wesley clocking in at age 29 and Somerhalder at the ripe old age of 32, I don't think I'm robbing the proverbial cradle too much here...
In the first two seasons the storyline opened up and explained that the Salvatore brothers lived in Mystic Falls (is that a typical supernatural town moniker or what?) during the Civil War era and both fell in love with the same woman, Katherine Pierce (a.k.a.Katerina Petrova). Even more unfortunate than the fact that both boys loved the same girl is the fact that ol' Kat was a vampire. She ends up making both of them vamps as well, then subsequently breaks both their hearts. Perhaps unsurprising is the fact that Elena is a dead ringer for Katherine, making the Salvatore brothers swoon with affection for her. When Elena chooses Stefan she sets Damon off on a course of severe envy - and has him breaking just about every commandment out there. Near the middle of last season we saw a gradual change overtaking Damon - he began to peel off the layers of malice in his cold, cold heart and you could see some of the sensitivity we knew was under there somewhere.
Besides the core actors, there are a lot of other characters with intricately weaved storylines throughout the show, including Elena's younger brother Jeremy (Steven R. McQueen, grandson of 'King of Cool', Steve McQueen!) who last year was brought back from the dead by his witchy girlfriend (and Elena's BFF) Bonnie Bennett (Katerina Graham). This year he has went all Sixth Sense on us by aquiring a rather undesirable ability to see dead people - specifically past girlfriends. What a bitch that would be, eh? Bonnie herself comes from a long line of Mystic Falls witches, and her story has only just breached the surface.
We also have Caroline Forbes (Candice Accola), a somewhat overbearing and generally spiteful friend of Elena's who last year was unwillingly turned into a vampire (by Damon no less) and this year has taken to being a kinder friend and ally for Elena - and also has discovered her wilder vampire side by taking up with the resident reluctant werewolf, Tyler Lockwood (Michael Trevino).
Adding to the hot-guy factor is the local history teacher at the high school, Alaric Saltzman (Matt Davis). Once a vampire hunter, he has not only crossed sides to help Damon and Stefan, but his former wife has turned out to be Elena's real mother (who left him to become a vampire of her own free will.) Additionally, he was the boyfriend of Jenna until (SPOILER ALERT) she was killed in last year's finale.
This season has marked a change for several reasons. At the end of last season, Stefan had to sacrifice his own freedom to save his brother's life - he had to join forces with baddie vamp-werewolf hybrid Klaus (of course he'd have a name like Klaus!). Stefan left at the end of the season to start on a murderous rampage, leaving bodies in his wake like victims after a hurricane.
Of course Elena is left behind pining for him, but in all honesty I don't know what all the fuss is about - she's got herself the better of the two brothers anyway, in my opinion. And it is obvious she will be torn between them quite rightly before mid-season sweeps. Damon feels compelled to protect Elena, even knowing Stefan is her one true love (aw, how sticky-sweet!). They will grow closer, mark my words. And it will no doubt look damn authentic considering Dobrev and Somerhalder are apparently in a relationship outside the show as well. (Just like Sookie and Bill, how friggin' sugary delicious!)
If you're wondering if the vampires of TVD are more Twilight than True Blood, the answer wouold be no. There is as much violence on this show as possible for a straight-laced network show. In this year's season opener, Stefan threw a vampy fit and ripped his victims apart. We saw the initial violent bite, but the "ripping" occurred off-screen. However, when Damon and Alaric found Stefan's house of horrors, one of the best scenes was Damon simply touching one of the female victims and watching her head fall off her body and roll across the floor. Apparently Stefan blacks out during his rampage but then feels remorse and tries to put the bodies back together. Nice.
There is a lot of growling, mucho biting of jugulars, fairly decent morphing werewolf effects, and hot and hurried sex. Never too saccharin or schmaltzy, and thankfully taking place mostly outside the high school (though this town has one-too-many festivals, parties, and dances taking place!), The Vampire Diaries is a fun and entertaining romp into the world of the supernatural.
A far cry from Twilight, these vamps have bite. Literally.