The Vampire Diaries: The Complete First Season

The Vampire Diaries: The Complete First Season
Considering the number of people lining up to see the Twilight movies, it wasn't a surprise that television decided to jump on the teenage vampire bandwagon. In the case of the CW Network, they recruited Kevin Williamson (of Dawson's Creek fame) to bring L.J. Smith's The Vampire Diaries series of novels to life, and to add his particular brand of magic to the proceedings. The show follows Elena Gilbert (Nina Dobrev), a newly orphaned high school student who falls for the new kid in town, Stefan Salvatore (Paul Wesley). But not only does Stefan turn out to be a vampire, he also has an evil brother (played by Ian Somerhalder) who likes the look of Elena, as she's the spitting image of a woman caught in a love triangle with the bloodsucking brothers hundreds of years ago. Add to that the usual high school issues and a small town dealing with more than its fair share of unexpected deaths and it sounds like a winning combination. There's no denying that the first few episodes are very much a mix of Twilight and Dawson's Creek, but thankfully, it has more ambition than it needed in order to make it to season two. The story, courtesy of the source material, is well formed, picking up speed about halfway through, then hurtles along with a new sense of urgency until the finale. There's plenty of action, a surprising amount of gore and the requisite level of teenage angst to keep the target demographic tuning in. The Vampire Diaries is better than it should be; it's no Buffy, but it's way above the likes of Tru Calling and many of the other supernatural shows that make it onto network television. Both the picture and sound on the Blu-Ray are pretty close to perfect, plus there is plenty of extra space for a healthy number of special features. The lone commentary track on the very first episode gives insight into the making of the show, as does the "Inside Mystic Fall" featurette. The other featurettes cover the fans' response to the show and how it was cast, with the usual combo of deleted scenes and a gag reel thrown in. Topping things off is the audio book of The Vampire Diaries: The Awakening, the first novel in the series; it's a great way for people to delve into the author's vision, which is rather different than Williamson's. The only problem is how to get the damn audio book onto an iPod if you aren't using a Blu-Ray drive in a computer. Not very practical. (Warner)