Show: “The Vampire Diaries”
Reel Rating: 4 of 5 Reels
Airtime: Thurs., 8 p.m. ET on The CW
FCC Rating: TV-14
Genre: Fantasy, Drama, Teen
Cast: Nina Dobrev, Paul Wesley, Ian Somerhalder, Steven R. McQueen, Sara Canning, Katerina Graham, Candice Accola
Ok for Ages: 14+
“The Vampire Diaries” proves that vampires are alive and well on TV. Well, I guess “alive” isn’t quite the right word, but it sounds better than “dead and well.”
Based on the books by L. J. Smith, this teen-focused fantasy drama follows high-schooler Elena Gilbert (Nina Dobrev), who prior to season one, had lost her parents in a tragic car accident (we learn more — much more — about this as the show progresses).
Elena falls in love with handsome, good-hearted vampire Stefan Salvatore (Paul Wesley), while his vampire brother Damon (Ian Somerhalder) is at first just out for his own gain, but as the series progresses, we learn there’s actually a heart buried in there somewhere (and an ongoing love triangle between the brothers and Elena).
Other core characters include Elena’s brother Jeremy (Steven R. McQueen – grandson of Steve McQueen); her aunt Jenna (Sara Canning); friend (and witch) Bonnie Bennett (Katerina Graham); Uncle John Gilbert (David Anders); Alaric Saltzman (Matt Davis); and other friends Caroline Forbes (Candice Accola), Matt Donovan (Zach Roerig), and Tyler Lockwood (Michael Trevino).
However, there’s a parade of other characters who’ve come and gone, died and been resurrected (some multiple times), been run out of town and forced their way back in. That’s part of the reason I love this show. There’s a core group of characters who’ve evolved since season one — some even evolving into different supernatural species — but there’s also enough new characters to keep it interesting.
Some of those new characters include “The Originals,” which I’ll talk more about in an upcoming review (the spinoff was just ordered to series for the 2013-2014 TV season). The Originals are a family of the world’s original vampires — yes, the very first ones who started the whole craze — and Joseph Morgan, who plays a sibling named Kraus, is an amazing actor. You can’t even imagine him as anything other than his character.
Because most of the “Vampire Diaries” actors are on Twitter, it makes it fun to watch the show and interact with both them and other fans. In fact, I wonder if a Twitter account is a prerequisite of actors on The CW shows, because most of them are big on Twitter.
Along with the vampires, “The Vampire Diaries” features witches, werewolves, hybrids (cross-species), ghosts and other supernatural characters. But like most vampire shows and movies, it’s as much about the relationships of the teens and the adults in their lives as it is about the supernatural elements. You definitely don’t have to be crazy about vampires to fall in love with this show.
Currently in its fourth season, expect at least one more season of “The Vampire Diaries.”
Parents Should Know: “The Vampire Diaries” is fast-paced, sexy and shocking, and includes everything you might expect from a teen-based vampire show: angst, dramatic tension, sexy creatures of the night, rampant neck-biting, and a soundtrack that includes artists like MGMT and The Killers. Overall, the TV-14 rating is on target. “The Vampire Diaries” is edgier than the “Twilight” franchise; also note that the books on which this series is based pre-date Stephenie Meyer’s “Twilight” books by about 15 years.
Sexy scenes involve heated kissing between teens, references to teen sex (“hooking up,” “getting laid” and “threesomes”), foreplay and teens in bed. Violence is fairly graphic, including bodies thrown against walls, body parts chopped off, fist-fights, vampires sucking blood from necks and arms, explosions, car crashes, stabbings, and fires.
Compared to the intense violence and sexual references, language is somewhat mild, including “crap,” “ass,” and “Oh my god.” Teens drink socially, sometimes to the point of getting drunk. Some drinking and drug use among teens, although it hasn’t been a major storyline up to this point.
JANE’S REEL RATING SYSTEM:
One Reel – Even the Force can’t save it.
Two Reels – Coulda been a contender
Three Reels – Something to talk about.
Four Reels – You want the truth? Great show!
Five Reels – Wow! The stuff dreams are made of.