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TV Reviews

MPAA Rating
Drama, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Joseph Morgan as Klaus; Daniel Gillies as Elijah; Phoebe Tonkin as Hayley; Charles Michael Davis as Marcel; Claire Holt as Rebekah; Danielle Campbell as Davina; Steven Krueger as Josh; Daniella Pineda as Sophie; Leah Pipes as Cami
Paul Asay
The Originals

The Originals

They say that when you get old, you get set in your ways.

Take, for example, the Mikaelsons. Oh, they were vivacious youngsters back in the Middle Ages—Elijah, Rebekah and Klause—all crazy kids just frolicking on the family farm and trying not to contract the plague.

But when their younger brother was eaten by werewolves (a real nuisance, apparently, in the Old World), their father forced the three of them to become vampires, just 'cause. Now, a thousand years or so later, they're still hanging out together, growing ever-more cantankerous, rehashing ancient grievances and debating just who stabbed whom in the 19th century.

Elijah, the familial leader, has mellowed some over the last millennia. Or maybe he was just always the good vampiric egg in the bunch. Like a grandfather dishing out Werther's Originals to his grandkids, he believes that love and happiness are the keys to fulfillment. Of course, starting a family's impossible for the guy, given that he's technically dead and all. Vampires are remarkably lively, but they can't have kids. So he has to make do with his brother and sister. Oh, and the niece or nephew that's on its way.

Yeah, that "niece or nephew" thing is a bit confusing, I know, given that I just said vampires can't have kids. But Klaus is different: He's apparently the lovechild of his mother and a werewolf, which makes him sort of an undead hybrid—one still capable of producing offspring, it seems. Alas, the long passage of time has made him really cranky. If he had a lawn, he'd tell the kids to get off of it. And by telling them to get off it I mean he just eats 'em.

Rebekah? Well, she'd rather not be bothered by these family attachments. She'd rather gaze out the window or something and have people appreciate how special she is.

And so we might compare these three characters to blood types: positive, negative and type O—as in egO.

The vampire siblings have recently migrated to New Orleans for the second time in their long lives, coagulating around the French Quarter, just as they did back in the 18th century. This time around, they want to settle down and make the Big Easy their home. But it won't be, um, easy. There are witches to contend with. Werewolves. Rival vampires. There may even be a few regular humans left in the city—though, by the looks of things, that seems doubtful.

The CW named this show The Originals, because the Mikaelsons are supposedly the world's first vampires (spun off from The Vampire Diaries). But there's a hint of delightful irony with the title as well, given that there's absolutely nothing original about this show.

That's not all bad, by the way. The CW caters almost exclusively to teens and twentysomethings, and at least a few positive themes seem to show up in this network's supernatural series. The Originals, like the aforementioned Vampire DiariesSupernatural and others, talks a lot about how important family is—even as it shows how difficult family can be (a dynamic familiar to many an adolescent). It suggests that love is powerful, able to breathe new life even into the deadest of vampires.

But that brings us back to … the vampires. There's some Bram Stoker in these bloodsuckers, born out of black magic and unable to walk on sacred ground unless invited. But there's a little Edward Cullen, too. And, of course, a whole lot of influence from The Vampire Diaries. The vamps and other characters here are incredibly problematic in several ways: The witches engage in magic that taps into secret, presumably dark powers. Werewolves lope in and out of the picture, and there seems to be some effort to equate the natural, nothing-you-can-do-about-it condition of lycanthropy with homosexuality. (In the pilot, for instance, Elijah feels horrible that he didn't do anything to stop his father from forcing Klaus to reject his "natural" condition.)

So is this a well-meaning supernatural soap? Or a weekly advertisement for the occult and "too-modern" family values?

Maybe both, burried under tried and tired CW-style salacious silliness. Sex and gore ooze from the show's icy veins. Sex is a constant focus, even in episodes where the content is fairly tame. Males brood and smolder. Females pout and seduce. And all, of course, kill and eat quite messily, spreading blood-spattered corpses around New Orleans ... and your TV.

Episode Reviews

"Always and Forever"

Elijah arrives in New Orleans after hearing that Klaus is having troubles with some of its citizenry. He learns that Marcel, an old friend of Klaus' who runs the city, has thrown all the werewolves out and is making life difficult for witches. The witches tell him that Klaus has created a love child with a werewolf, and the unborn baby is important for some reason. So the witches are holding the pregnant mother hostage, threatening to kill her and her child unless something's done about Marcel. Klaus doesn't care, but Elijah pledges his help.

Vampires are shown attacking and biting people. Corpses are shown, half-eaten by vampires (or other beasts), blood streaking their faces and clothes and the walls around them. We see lots of gory neck wounds. Some vampires show off their bloodstained mouths. Someone gets stabbed in the chest. Others get impaled on trees. A character bites open his own wrist. Someone cuts open her own hand in order to wound someone else magically.

We hear lots and lots of talk about magic and spells. (One of the witches is magically bound to Klaus' lover, thanks to one such spell.) Tourists are encouraged to go into a store and "buy a hex." We're told that a witch has to be buried in a cemetery so that her soul will be at rest. And we see a witchy funeral service in the cemetery, and are told that the ground is "sacred" and thus impassible by vampires without an express invitation. Klaus says that he made Marcel in "my image." Costumes can be quite immodest. Rebekah lounges in a bubble bath, her body visible from the shoulders up. Characters drink at a bar. Profanities include "h‑‑‑" (six uses), "d‑‑n," "b‑‑ch," "b‑‑tard," "d‑‑k" and "p---."