When I reviewed the first season of this show, I commented that its strength was keeping up the pace while still always serving the longer plot arc. I never felt like an episode was filler, everything always seemed to be moving somewhere and the number of twists and turns kept the ride interestng.
I'm pleased to say Season 2 keeps that up, and it also does a great deal to expand upon on and develop the core characters. I don't want to spoil anything for anybody who hasn't seen it, but Caroline and Tyler in particular have some excellent writing and progression this year. There are some absolutely brilliant new players in town, one of whom (Elijah) has become a great favourite of mine. The core chemistry between the three leads continues to sizzle, and Nina Dobrev in particular does an excellent job inhabiting two entirely different characters. It can be hard to keep up the tension in a triangle without having people get exasperated and "will you pick one and stick to it" but the writers do a good job of keeping things at a simmer without overdoing it. They also take care not to let the Salvatore brothers settle into two dimensional "good guy, bad guy" stereotypes - Damon may be dangerous but he never feels irredeemable, and Stefan may be a nice guy but there are always glimpses of the darker side within. That's important not just to keep the triangle plausible but to stop the whole thing being cliched and dull.
The stakes are raised and the show broadens its mythology, the performances and writing are consistently good... the show is keeping up the good work and hitting new strides without becoming convoluted or taking itself too seriously. Every time I thought someone or something had been too quiet, the next episode all was being revealed and the ongoing mystery kept me sucked in (pun intended). It's still a glossy teen drama, but it's far more than the fluff that such shows get stereotyped as. This is a really enjoyable bit of fantasy.
on 9 January 2011
A number of reviewers say that this show grows on you episode by episode, and I agree. It seems that the writers and actors have now really found their pace here in season 2.
This is a season of many developments in the town of Mystic Falls after the major drama that ended season 1.
Poor baby vampire Anna, plus Mayor Lockwood, are dead but everyone else is pretty much still around.
Vampire Diaries has so much more to offer than the Twilight series - people who can act for starters (and do not merely look really hot), plus a great script.
As I understand it, 'The Vampire Diaries' is supposedly aimed at teenage girls. Well I am neither, yet this series (I think at least) is one of the best shows on TV right now.
The performances are first rate, and constantly go off in directions that are full of surprises, not to mention fun.
The founding families of Mystic Falls are mostly all back, including the Salvatores, the Gilberts, the Fells, the Forbes and the Lockwoods. As ever, they guard the town mainly from vampires, but also creatures such as werewolves and witches, some of whom are themselves members of the Founders' Council.
I would hate to give too much away, but there are several key developments in Season2:
1. a key character is 'turned' and becomes a vampire
2. werewolves start to make an appearance, courtesy of the Lockwood family. They are able to kill a vampire with one bite at full moon
3. Elena Gilbert's (Nina Dobrev), doppelganger, Katherine, wreaks all kinds of havoc
4. more witches come to town...not a good thing
5. Damon (the excellent Ian Somerhalder)gets a love interest
6. an all round bad-ass vampire appears, Elijah (Daniel Gillies), with a curious agenda.
on 5 December 2010
For those of you who are familiar with 'The Vampire Diaries' you probably don't need to be reminded that it's a million miles away from 'Twilight' and that it's not just for teenagers. 'The Vampire Diaries' supernatural elements mixed with high school, romance, at least one shocking incident per episode and twists and turns in the plot to leave you on the edge of your seat, have all combined to create one of the most addictive shows on television. The show possesses a unique ability through the story-telling to continually challenge the viewer's perceptions of who a character is. So no-one is quite who they appear to be. Stefan has been shown to have a dark side, while everyone's favourite bad boy Damon stuns you by doing something surprisingly selfless and noble...an enemy could become an ally, and a friend could become an enemy.
This season, a lot of the questions that cropped up in the First Season are explained, particularly about why Elena looks exactly like Katherine. We find out a lot more about Katherine, going back to before she became a vampire in 1400s Bulgaria. Her return to Mystic Falls turns everything upside-down, and Stefan and Damon have to put their differences aside to protect the town and the people they love. Stefan has to face his inner demons, Damon has to come to terms with his destructive tendencies and his love for Elena, and Elena has to come to terms with the fact that her feelings for Damon might run deeper than friendship and that being connected to Katherine could mean losing everyone she loves.
Perhaps one of the slight weaknesses of Season One was trying to integrate characters who weren't involved in the supernatual aspects (like Caroline and Tyler) into the main story. The good news is, by creating the werewolf story, the curse and Katherine's determination to wreak havoc, Caroline, Jeremy, Tyler and Bonnie have a much bigger part to play in Season 2. Tyler in particular, has a big story and has really evolved since last season. We see more interactions with characters who before, didn't share a lot of screen time together and that helps to keep things fresh and interesting. We also see the development of two more love triangles possibly developing, in the shape of Matt/Caroline/Tyler and Jeremy/Bonnie and new guy Luka. There are new characters to meet - Tyler's Uncle Mason, and some new vampires including ancient 'Original' vampires Elijah and Klaus who are so deadly and powerful, they make Katherine and Damon look positively angelic in comparison. As more of the mythology is revealed, it becomes rather convoluted and dare I say it, cloudy at times. For example, I'm not sure if the writers have made it clear why Klaus wants to break the curse by sacrificing Elena, other than not wanting the werewolves to be the ones to do it. Also, as Katherine is herself a doppelganger, (she becomes a vampire to escape), then it must mean there was another one before her. Who was the first, and how many doppelgangers have there been? The more answers that are revealed, the more questions you find yourself asking.
I have to commend Nina's performances as Elena and Katherine. Playing two different characters (sometimes in different eras) could have been a handful for any actress, but she manages to juggle both effortlessly. She is completely convincing and brilliant as the manipulative seductress Katherine, and empathetic playing high school student Elena. I've read at least one review on Amazon from someone who discredits Nina's acting, but after watching her play two complex roles, I think any doubters will change their minds. I have one slight concern about Elena's character though. At the beginning of the season, say around episodes 4 and 5, I felt Elena was in danger of fading into a rather colourless character. I'm not sure if that's because she was being over-shadowed by powerful female figures like Caroline (who became doubly entertaining and really came into her own after she became a vampire), or due to a flaw in the writing, but I felt she was losing some of her independence and spark. Fortunately this problem (if it is a problem, it's just my opinion), is rectified fairly quickly.
As for the love triangle, the writers pull a jaw-dropping twist in the first episode and another at the end of episode 8. Dramatic twists aside however, the progression of the triangle between Stefan, Elena and Damon feels VERY slow at times; there are long lapses when nothing much seems to be happening between the three of them at all, often for 4 episodes at a time. Just when you think the triangle is finally showing signs of springing into action at the end of 2x10, with Stefan trapped in the tomb with Katherine, and Damon promising to protect Elena, the next episode totally veers off course and ultimately, nothing happens. I found this completely aggravating, not to mention, pointless. It seemed very strange for the writers to hint that things were being kicked up a notch, and then not do anything with the situation they'd created. I know that the triangle has got to last the length of the series, so it's undoubtedly a good sign that the writers are so painstakingly slow in its development. It certainly keeps you watching but you can't help wondering when, and how, this much discussed love triangle is really going to take off and start hotting up, particularly when Stefan and Elena, although cute, are far from satisfactory in the couples department. Maybe it's because they got together in about 10 episodes last season, more likely it's because they lack depth, but I feel like there's something missing in their scenes together. I can't help feeling that Elena and Damon have a dynamic that is more intense, exciting and intriguing. Weirdly enough, in spite of all the things he does, Damon can sometimes come across as being more human than the human characters on the show; probably because of the spectrum of emotions he goes through: vulnerable, heart-broken and desperate in his dealings with Elena and Katherine in 'The Return'; psychotic and menacing when torturing Mason. This season, we get much closer to Damon than we ever have before, including discovering a secret of his which is made all the more heart-rending and shocking because it's not what you would imagine it to be. Ian Somerhalder is fabulous as Damon and is nothing less than extraordinary, especially in 'The Return', 'The Descent' and the bathtub scene in 2x13. But I also have to single out Michael Trevino (Tyler) and the terrific Candice Accola (Caroline).
While the writers try to balance all the aspects of the show, this season has posed quite a challenge to them with the many different stories they are trying to tell. My overall feeling is that while it has made for gripping viewing, they have neglected the development of the love triangle, which is arguably the most important part of the show. It made me wonder if perhaps the writers were trying to do a bit too much. Case in point: 'The Dinner Party' episode. How did the dagger that was used to kill Elijah in the Salvatore mansion end up in the lakehouse?? If Season 2 has a weakness, it might be that it is overly ambitious, to the detriment of some of the story-telling. However, with the exception of the love triangle and some of the weaker moments, Season 2 is just as good as the first. There's a lot more action, a lot more plot twists which will leave you reeling, and a lot more of Damon. If you loved 'Twilight' but are disappointed with the films, then watch this. If you hated 'Twilight' and love vampires, then watch this. And if you loved the First Season, then this is a must-buy.
on 15 August 2011
In all honesty, I have read all of the books to date and I much prefer the TV Series. The casting is spot on, the characters are to a tee. The storylines of the series are loosely based on those in the books, however, the writers (Kevin Williamson & Julie Plec) have their own ideas of where they want the series and characters to go. It is this that makes the series so fantastic, watchable, enjoyable and unique.
I'm a huge fan and have followed it from the beginning...you have humans, vampires, werewolves, witches and so much more! And I believe that there's a heck of a lot more to come and I'm so excited....so what are you waiting for...give it a try...it won't bite!