Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Review – The Vampire Diaries Season One DVD boxset

The notion of vampires intrigues me.  I enjoy the mythology in which vampires are steeped; the historical truth behind them; the superstitions from whence they sprang.  I even wrote tens of thousands of words on it for my major dissertation at university (the Buffy the Vampire Slayer television show to be more precise).

The fairly modern idea of teen supernatural dramas – of which I believe Buffy the Vampire Slayer was the first – brought forth an interesting concept of high school as the stage for metaphorical battles and issues which teenagers face every day (such as ‘fitting in’ and being accepted by peers, being popular, bullying and teenage romance).  If you think about it's quite fitting - vampires are sexualised beings and adolescents have raging hormones of their own as they deal with puberty and, inevitably, sex.

Where Buffy began, others have followed and the Vampire Diaries is one of the most recent in this line of American teenage vampire angst dramas.  I’ve come to this particular television show relatively late – its fourth season is about to begin on ITV2 tonight, while I’m still languishing in the midst of season one – but it’s an interesting one to watch.

If you don't know the premise to the show, the Vampire Diaries is set in the fictional town of Mystic Falls, Virginia and based around the lives of three main characters; Elena Gilbert and the vampire brothers, Stefan and Damon Salvatore.  It centres on a complicated love triangle between the three.  The show is based on a series of books (of the same name) by L. J. Smith and one of the brains behind adapting the books for the small screen is Kevin Williamson (of Scream, I Know What You Did Last Summer and Dawson's Creek fame). 

I must admit, I wasn't sure what I would think about this when I sat down to watch the very first episode of season one.  I felt it was piggybacking on the back of the popularity of the Twilight books and films and I wondered if it would be a case of style - and good looks - over substance.  But, I'm pleased to say that I didn't really find that to be the case.

Yes, the Vampire Diaries is stylishly made, but you'd expect that from an American TV show.  Yes, it is full of good looking characters and, while it would be refreshing to have more diversity in terms of body shapes, this again is to be expected from an American TV show.  But, as I said, it does have substance.

Watching the first season, I can tell a lot of thought has obviously gone into developing its storylines.  It's not just about present day, but features a storytelling style that allows us to discover the history behind the Salvatore brothers' relationship.  It allows the viewer a glimpse into their background; to understand the viewpoint of both brothers; to empathise.  There are twists and turns in the season's narrative, as you might expect, but it leads you to more intrigue rather than implausibility.

The issue of loss and grief plays a big part in the first season as Elena and her brother Jeremy adapt to life following the death of their parents.  At various points throughout the series, other characters have to face these issues too.  However, that doesn't mean the series is depressing and Damon's quips and eyebrow-raising in particular always seem to lighten the tone.

The Vampire Diaries Season One DVD Boxset

The Vampire Diaries has much in common with Buffy the Vampire Slayer; the vampire with a conscience who briefly turns malevolent before regaining his morals (Angel/Stefan); a witch (Willow/Bonnie); werewolves (Oz/Tyler); the appearance of a 'master' vampire (The Master/Klaus)*.  However, the comedy element in the Vampire Diaries is rarer and more dark and subtle.  It is a drama first and foremost and stays true to that type.

Will I continue to watch the Vampire Diaries?  I may well do that.  One thing I definitely won't be doing however, is moving to Mystic Falls.

* For the sake of transparency, the last two points made here do not happen in season one but in later seasons. I discovered these while reading up on the television show.

Please note: I was sent The Vampire Diaries Season One DVD boxset to review.  All opinions and views in this review are my own and are 100% honest.

Share this


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...