Sunday, September 12, 2010

Musings on a Theme of TVD

It should have been Paganini, but, no, it’s The Vampire Diaries.

What? Yet another TV series? Am I reaching menopause already? No, but I wouldn’t mind that if it meant the dismissal of cramps… but anyway. In the beginning of summer, after the total fiasco of Supernatular’s finale, a friend recommended me The Vampire Diaries and one day, when I was bored, a gave the first episode a try. I was not impressed by the teenage fantasy drama, not to mention yet another vampire movie, so I put it out of my mind and didn’t give it another thought.

Last week it was cold… and when it’s cold I get all cranky and all I want to do is curl up with the cat in my lap and bite the head off of whoever dares to interrupt my hibernation process. It’s like my brain is shutting down too, and I can’t even think straight. So no writing, unfortunately, and no reading either since I was too busy keeping my hands on the cat to keep them warm. She didn’t seem to mind that much, but I did because I was getting bored. I needed something to occupy my mind, and I thought a couple of less intellectually demanding episodes couldn’t hurt. I had to choose between Fringe and The Vampire Diaries and the latter won. My reasoning was simple: if it turned out I liked the show, at least it was shorter and I would be done with it faster, without a repeat of last fall’s disaster, when it took me a whole month to catch up with Supernatural. Another reason might be the fact that Joshua Jackson shows early signs of not aging well, which is a real shame, while the cast of TVD is full of eye candy. Yep, I was having a shallow moment.

The story is pretty simple: two vampire brothers, Damon and Stefan Salvatore, who love the same human girl, Elena. One needs to watch several episodes to discover its complexity, but the story has a fast pace and there’s no time to get bored. Instead of insisting on the subject and getting into more details and spoilers, I’ll only quote Dean and say “It’s compelling,” and rather focus on the characters so far:

Elena – it’s odd that I wasn’t that much drawn to her, like most people are. I mean, she’s smart, loyal, brave and determined, and of course good looking, so what’s not to like? The problem is that all my lead ladies are like that, so she didn’t enrich my universe, she didn’t bring anything new. She’s alright, but that’s all there is to it. It sort of bothered me that her name kept being pronounced wrong to my ears.

Stefan – the youngest Salvatore brother and Elena’s boyfriend has a laid back personality, often brooding, partially because of his ‘vegetarian’ diet. He’s even channeling Edward Cullen at times, so much that his story with Elena resembles too much to Twilight, at the surface at least, as it follows similar steps. Paul Wesley has a nice enough voice, but his face seems to be stuck on one expression only, like he is constantly in pain. It doesn’t help the fact that his character isn’t given much to do, but his relationship with Elena seems to be solid, even if boring, and there are good chances for them to still be together in the end.

Damon – now here’s a whole different story. He’s the life of the party, sort of speak, the trouble maker but also the problem solver. He could be seen as a psychopath, I guess, after all he’s quick at killing and retaliating, favorite method is neck snapping, he feeds on human blood and drinks too much alcohol, and we’ve seen him making out with half of the female population of Mystic Fall already. But as the story evolves, we discover there are more layers to his character and there is some shred of humanity left underneath all that “I don’t care” crap. He is a fun character, in an odd twisted way, and he has great one liners. I only knew Ian Somerhalder as being that annoying and totally waste of film guy from Lost, but watching him play this particular character has made me improve my impression on him a big deal. He’s great at expressing feelings with his face and eyes, and sometimes a smile can make the whole difference in a scene.

Katherine – the current villain of the show is the former lover of both brothers and the reason for them becoming vampires in the first place. Unfortunately, Nina Dobrev, here in double role, goes for a stiff approach of the character, totally missing the playfulness from the flashbacks. Katherine is too damn serious and looks a little lost and out of place in this universe. She’s not the type of character you would love to hate, you just hate her and want her gone. For obvious reasons, I hope Damon gets the satisfaction to stake her and kill her for good in the season’s finale.

Bonnie – I’m starting to like the little witch more and more. She can be a little too smug at times, but watching her butting heads with Damon is always fun, even if I fear she bit more than she can chew.

Caroline – air headed blonde with no other purpose than to be Damon’s chew toy and Matt’s rebound girl. Her scenes were such a bore and held no interest whatsoever, but with her becoming a vampire she has the potential to become a very interesting character. Hopefully, they won’t get rid of her too soon.

Jeremy Elena’s little brother spent last season mopping after his parents and then his girlfriends, which in no way could make him appealing. Maybe now, after his close encounter with death, he’ll get a wake up call and start living for real. He could use a haircut too.

Vicky – annoying character, glad they didn’t keep her around any longer, although her dance with Damon in a certain scene made me never to look at Enjoy The Silence the same again.

Matt – cuddly teddy bear, but no real story arc and mostly used as a filler.

Tyler – a bully with temper issues, and his story should have ended along with Vicky’s death. I don’t care for the werewolf twist, I don’t see how this will affect the general storyline. I’m more interested to see who will replace the Mayor.

Jenna – for a psychology major and legal guardian of two teenagers she really doesn’t do a good job. She has no idea what happens under her own roof, and she lets Elena spend several nights at the Salvatore house. Come on!

Alaric – his character was intriguing when introduced, but as the mystery started to be unveiled he lost some of the appeal. His reluctant collaboration with Damon is the best part still.

Uncle John – the most annoying character in the show. I regret that instead of being killed he got to leave town in one piece, more or less, and we will have to suffer through seeing him again.

Anna – a well developed character, who was killed way too soon. Yes, they needed a significant death in the season finale, but couldn’t they find anyone else other than the only good vampire in town beside the Salvatores?

Pearl – another character whose potential was not fully used. Apparently the writers don’t want in town any other vampires who could sideline with the brothers. This makes me wonder what they have in store for them. Her interaction with newly returned best friend Katherine would have been interesting too.

As far as production goes, the vampires are ugly and scary, but not enough to give you nightmares, the action is fast packed, there aren’t too many mushy scenes, more sex scenes than I would have expected to see in a teenage show, but that’s not necessarily something bad, the shots are lively and full of colors, and the music is decent enough, even if taken separately the soundtrack is sort of slow and leans towards depressing.

Season two kicked in in full force, so I’m curious what will happen next. I tried to read the books, but I gave up after the first twenty pages. I mean, that’s bad writing even for YA. What’s the target audience, fourth graders? I used to read more advanced literature in fourth grade. So no help there, like it or not I’ll have to wait for the writers to see the new ways they found to torture the characters. Or I could just wait until the season ends and then have a TVD marathon like I just did last week. Supernatural’s return has a two week delay, plenty of time to decide. Of course, I could wait with both, these are just TV series and too much TV is bad for the brain. The skating season will also start soon, and that will keep me busy. We’ll see…

Since I mentioned both Dean and Damon earlier in this post, I’m gonna do a little character study. The idea came to me after I finished watching TVD season 1, and I started wondering what would happen if these two characters ever met. From there to having plot bunnies jumping all over the place with crossover fic ideas attached to their tails was just one step. No worries, I won’t write that fic, my fic writing days are pretty much over, but it did make me think.

Dean Winchester (SPN) vs. Damon Salvatore (TVD) – A Character Study


Myste said...

I thought your character summaries were spot on! I agree John is easily the most annoying character and I wish Katherine had killed him off. Elena does have all of these good qualities but she doesn't stand out for me as a heroine, I'm kinda glad she's getting to stretch her acting chops with playing Katherine more this season. Stefan is a better looking Edward Cullen. And Damon...*sigh* well he's the real reason I tune into this show. I could watch him (or write about him) all day long!

Weird Vision said...

Thank you. You know, if Damon wasn't so entertaining I wouldn't bother watching it either. :))