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TV Reviews

MPAA Rating
Genre
Drama, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Cast
Nina Dobrev as Elena Gilbert; Paul Wesley as Stefan Salvatore; Ian Somerhalder as Damon Salvatore; Steven R. McQueen as Jeremy Gilbert; Katerina Graham as Bonnie Bennett; Candice Accola as Caroline Forbes; Michael Trevino as Tyler Lockwood; Taylor Kinney as Mason Lockwood
Channel
CW
Reviewer
Paul Asay and Meredith Whitmore with Bob Hoose
The Vampire Diaries

The Vampire Diaries

They say blood is thicker than water, and that's particularly true for the Salvatore brothers, born, raised and transformed into vampires in Mystic Falls, Va. The supernatural sibs have been lapping up the thick stuff for the last century-plus, feeding an undying rivalry from which neither can seem to shake free.

In the present day, Stefan, the "good" vampire bro, doesn't feed on humans like his bad brother Damon does. And he's fallen madly in love with Mystic Falls high schooler Elena—a girl who's the spitting image of his Civil War-era girlfriend, Katherine.

Not that Katherine is actually dead and gone, mind you. Not in this kind of drama. She's still fully in the mix after turning Stefan and Damon into vampires way back when. And although Elena is just your average gorgeous high school student, Katherine seems none too pleased she's on the scene at all—making for a natural, if undead, rivalry.

Other cast members include: Elena's uptight friend Caroline, who's just been turned into a vampire. Elena's best friend Bonnie, who's a witch. And Elena's teen brother, Jeremy, who has already faced death twice: once by a suicide attempt and once courtesy of Damon, who snapped his neck like a twig. Luckily, Jeremy wore a protective vampire ring that brought him back to life—and also protects the fanged clan in sunlight.

These particular vampires, by the way, are demigods—fast, strong and good-looking with few of the weaknesses traditionally associated with their kind. Crucifixes and holy water have no effect on them, and Stefan professes a love for garlic. Still, being undead isn't quite the party it would seem to be. Newly "converted" vampires are very distraught over their transformation, and Stefan confesses to Elena that he never wanted this "life."

But all that is just one side of a dark tale. The mysterious Lockwood family has its own issues. Tyler Lockwood is a three-sport varsity athlete who struggles with rage. Long-lost Uncle Mason has returned and is secretly some sort of supernatural beast—probably a werewolf. Thus, Mason is subtly grooming Tyler for the family "canine business."

Now, if all this has your head spinning, just think how the folks in Mystic Falls must be feeling. Something strange has got to be in the water. And after decades—maybe even centuries—of supernatural beasts eating the locals, the townspeople are a little put out. Crusades against vampires abound. And you'd think all those nocturnal supercreatures would decide to set up shop in a place where, perhaps, their names weren't plastered on historical documents, their faces weren't captured in sepia-tone photographs, and where the townspeople weren't forever vigilant of the walking undead.

But that's just us. Nobody's ever accused the CW of applying clearheaded logic to its teen melodramas.

Episode Reviews

"Know Thy Enemy"

In true vampire soap opera style, this episode is rife with double- and triple-crosses … without any actual crosses, of course. And all the pretty players' current backstabbing and scurrying is apparently centered around the imminent arrival of an ancient Original vampire named Klaus.

Elena's vampire mom, Isobel, shows up to offer protection for her little girl. But Elena is doubtful—as well she should be, since it looks like Isobel is really working to save doppelgänger Katherine by handing Elena and the mysterious curse-binding moonstone over to Klaus. Or is she? This newest threat to Elena causes the Salvatore brothers to start slogging along on the same team for a change. Damon even goes so far as to help witch-pal Bonnie find the spot where 100 witches were once burned. One witch-power-sucking spell later and Bonnie might just have enough invocation-murmuring juice to take down an Original.

A remorseful vampire burns. Blood is forcibly drained. A needle full of drugs is plunged. Youthful skin (shoulders and cleavage) is exposed. Alcohol flows.

"Brave New World"

Caroline is in the hospital and slowly turning into a bloodsucker. After feasting on stolen bags of AB negative, she savagely assaults a nurse for more, then leaves the hospital and kills a man for his blood. (Squirting sounds are included.) Stefan later teaches her how to control her thirst, but Damon just tries to kill her. Elena saves her friend by coming between the two just as Damon is about to put a stake through Caroline's heart.

Trying to figure out what type of preternatural beings Tyler and his uncle are, Damon hypnotizes a hapless human and has him pick a violent fight with the rage-prone Tyler. (He wants to test Tyler's physical abilities.) Later, Bonnie uses her witch powers to incapacitate Damon by setting him on fire. As he screams, Elena stops Bonnie, telling her they need to be above torturing others.

And that's the moral of this story in an ash urn.

It's lightheartedly set against graphic violence, gore and an extremely cavalier attitude toward human life. Characters drink alcohol. God's name is abused and the foul words "d‑‑k," "h‑‑," "a‑‑," "p‑‑‑ed" and "d‑‑n" are used.

"Lost Girls"

Elena confronts Stefan about his past and why elderly folks recognize him, saying he hasn't aged a day. He tells all, including how Katherine changed him into a vampire around the time of the Civil War. In a flashback we see Stefan and Katherine in bed together right before she takes a bite out of his throat. We learn that she also turned Damon into a vampire in the hope that they could all be "together forever."

Meanwhile, Damon is killing local drug addicts. He turns one of them, Vickie, into a vampire—for unclear but nefarious purposes. To do this he drinks her blood, then rips open one of his veins to let her drink his. He breaks her neck to seal the deal. She wakes as undead and soon kills a man for his blood.

Violence, gore and bad language mar this already flawed drama. One of Diaries' motives seems to be pushing the notion that it's cool to be preternatural, beautiful and superhuman—even if killing people to survive is occasionally disconcerting. Thus, we're asked to relate to and feel sympathy for this morally conflicted bunch.

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