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4.7 out of 5 stars
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on 1 March 2010
It would be tempting to dismiss 'The Vampire Diaries' as another mediocre show riding on the wave of the public's fascination for all things vampire, by conveniently cashing in on the multi-million franchise that started it all. Taken at the pilot episode's most basic premise, 'The Vampire Diaries' doesn't sound exactly original: a teenage girl is drawn to a mysterious new boy hiding a dark secret; 'so far, so Twilight' you might think. But once the show gets going, it becomes obvious that 'The Vampire Diaries' is far more epic in scope than 'Twilight'.
The story is set in the small town of Mystic Falls, Virginia, where our heroine, Elena Gilbert (Nina Dobrev) is trying to hold her family together after losing her parents in a car accident four months before. At the start of a new school year, she finds herself immediately attracted to new student Stefan Salvatore (Paul Wesley), a vampire who has lived in solitude for a century but who is unwillingly lured from his shadowy existence by his infatuation with Elena. Elena bears an uncanny resemblance to a picture of a woman called Katherine, whom Stefan and his older brother who is also a vampire, Damon (Ian Somerhalder) loved more than a century ago, a story which ended in tragedy and a bitter feud. Stefan hasn't spoken to Damon for 15 years, but when he shows up in Mystic Falls in the wake of several brutal murders, Stefan is deeply troubled.
Stefan is the sensitive, 'good' brother who refuses to drink human blood because he believes killing people is wrong. Damon however, does not share his conviction and does not hesitate when it comes to feeding on, or taking human life to sate his thirst. He continually ridicules Stefan's moral principles and sees it as a betrayal of their identity as vampires. Damon is significantly stronger than Stefan and possesses the ability to manipulate people's minds through a power called compulsion.
It would be easy to describe Damon as evil, but even as early as episode 3 his 'evil' intentions regarding his brother and Elena are questionable. Stefan challenges Damon, stating "You're not going to hurt her (Elena) Damon, because deep down inside of you there's a part of you that feels for her." He argues that Damon isn't the monster he pretends to be. When Damon shockingly kills Stefan's football coach, Stefan sadly concludes that he was wrong to hope. "There's nothing human left in Damon...only a monster who must be stopped." But even as he's speaking, we know this isn't true as we see Damon at the sleeping Elena's bedside, gently caressing her cheek with his fingertip. At the heart of the show is a love triangle, but a far more engrossing one than seen in 'Twilight': two vampire brothers, one good, one evil, battling for the soul of a mortal girl who is caught between them. But is Damon really evil? Glimpses of his humanity is one of the most intriguing thing about him. Although the writers focus on Elena's romance with Stefan, there is something captivating about her scenes with Damon. I can appreciate that Stefan and Elena have chemistry though, I just find Elena and Damon a more exciting, compelling match. I suppose I find Stefan a little dull in comparison to Damon, but then Damon would make any vampire - Edward Cullen included -look dull. Apart from being gorgeous and charming, Damon is pretty much the antithesis of Edward: arrogant, sarcastic, funny, devastatingly sexy and deadly; often all at once. He gets all the best lines in the show and steals every scene he's in. Ian Somerhalder (who clearly relishes his role as a bad boy) is brilliant as Damon.
A word of caution - I have never read any of LJ Smith's books, but there are many people who have, who feel strongly about how the show should work out, and who should get together based on what happens in the books. Do not expect the show to be a duplicate of them, because the TV show will inevitably go a completely different way. Two of the producers, Bob Levy and Leslie Morgenstein also produce 'Gossip Girl', which took Cecily Von Zeigesar's characters and then did their own thing. If you are a die-hard fan of the books, do not spoil your enjoyment of this amazing show by trying to anticipate how closely the writers will follow the books. Otherwise, 'The Vampire Diaries' has it all: a cast so beautiful it shouldn't be allowed, the potential for an epic love triangle, humour, darkness, witty dialogue, charismatic multi-layered characters and fantastic story-telling. It also has an incredible soundtrack, with songs that always capture and accentuate the intensity of the scene. Anberlin's 'Enjoy The Silence', 'Cut' by Plumb (Stefan and Elena's love scene) and Within Temptation's 'All I Need' (Elena and Damon's dance) are some stand-outs. Even the most cynical fans of the vampire genre may not be able to resist this.
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on 26 March 2010
Vampire Diaries is based around Elena Gilbert and her relationship with Stefan and Damon Salvatore. Two brothers. Both vampires. It's set in Mystic Falls, a mysterious place steeped in history. Vampire Diaries was originally a book series written by L.J. Smith -- although it's not necessary to have read them to enjoy the show. For the record this show isn't like Twilight. In fact, Vampire Diaries actively rags on it and attempts to distance itself from it very early on. Vampire Diaries is more adult in tone and would probably appeal more to people who read/watch True Blood or Supernatural than Twilight fans. The first few episodes have a Dawson's Creek feel to them (the showrunner is the guy who created Dawson's Creek!) but Vampire Diaries soon picks up its pace and gradually finds its footing as a successful horror/fantasy melding. The romance is present, but it takes a backseat to the overall arcs of the show.

Going into this show I wasn't expecting very much at all. I thought 'silly name', 'silly tweeny books' and 'ooh Ian Somerhalder! I'm there!' So that was the main draw for me. Upon watching the first three episodes I was surprised that it actually wasn't that bad. It had the odd moment of campiness in the beginning, but as the season progressed the show has proved to me that the writers know exactly what they're doing. Vampire Diaries is rather violent and on the darker side of things; it isn't afraid to kill people off (in the bloodiest way possible); and like Supernatural, the washed-out picture reflects the darker world that exists in Mystic Falls -- the place these characters call home.

The season long arc is played out subtly. With each episode adding another piece to the puzzle that will form the picture of the season -- as the episodes play out you get this slow burn of tension, getting higher and higher. The flashback episodes are fascinating and the only thing I could criticise is that I wish the flashbacks themselves were longer; rather than just mere snapshots of a bygone time. The turbulent relationship between Damon and Stefan is a highlight of the show, with the fascinating layers of their relationship being peeled back over time. The more ordinary secondary characters like Caroline and Matt are lovely to watch and provide a nice contrast to the supernatural characters. Elena is a likeable and grounded protagonist who doubts and questions like any fully rounded person would do. She could have easily ended up as insipid and annoying, but they've instead made her sympathetic and intelligent. I'm also very fond of Elena's little brother Jeremy, their aunt Jenna and the enigmatic new teacher, Alaric.

Stefan is not just the nice brooding good guy vampire who abstains from blood, he has a sense of humour, charisma and a personality all his own. A far cry from the stereotypical types that so pervade the genre. Ian Somerhalder is perfect as the psychotic Damon Salvatore. Damon is the unstable brother; the one who switches on the flip of a coin. He's quite the little hedonist but isn't smug about it. Instead he's manipulative and smart and gets the job done. Somerhalder is intense when the need calls for it and unnervingly light at just the right moments. I was very impressed with the way he played Damon's deep grief in the latter episodes. In the hands of a lesser actor the character would have been a train wreck -- instead he's more Lestat than caricature. Actually, no caricature at all. Just crazy good!
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on 30 June 2010
But where is the information on the DVD extras? The Vampire Diaries page has promised features which include

Into Mystic Falls: Bringing Vampire Lore and the High School Experience from Page to Screen
When Vampires Don't Suck!: The Popularity of Vampires and the Fans Who Love Them
The Vampire Diaries: A New Breed of Vampires -- Casting the Series
The Vampire Diaries: Vampires 101 - The Rules of the Vampire
Creators/Director pilot commentary
Unaired scenes
The Vampire Diaries: A Darker Truth Webisodes
Second Bite: gag reel
Downloadable Audiobook of the Bestselling Novel The Vampire Diaries: The Awakening by L.J. Smith

It would be nice if could at least include info on whether or not we get any of the extra content, rather than leaving us wondering. Should we assume that no mention of them means that UK buyers get ripped off again?
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on 4 September 2013
I heard people saying it's not like the book, they changed everything and yes they have it's very little on the book, I only see faint lines or snippets of bits from the books. The only thing they kept are the characters names, which I was surprised about Elena I would pronounce her name 'Ellena' not 'Elaina' Whether this is genuinely how her name is or not I am not 100% certain.

Wrong characters:
Elena is described as a beautiful girl with pale skin, long blonde hair, Lapis Lazuli (dark blue eyes) and we get Nina Dobrev?? Hmm not true to form AT ALL.
Damon's eyes are the incorrect colour but I'm not going to fuss over that.
Bonnie is COMPLETELY different to book Bonnie in looks and personality.
Caroline looks the way she should (almost) but her personality is nothing like the books, she is like some stupid little giggly girl that loves everything and everyone especially Bonnie and Elena.... in the books she was nothing like that.

The series follows very, VERY loosely on the books but it is a good series and if you are picky about books and films matching then this might not be for you but if you don't care then go for it. It's an entertaining series I won't lie and it's much cheaper here than anywhere else too.
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on 3 July 2010
I'm going to keep this brief, as other people have written far better reviews than I could. All I wanted to say is that this is a great series and in my opinion beats the Twilight films hands down. On the subject of books v show. I've only just started reading the books after getting into the show, and while a lot of characters and story arcs have been changed, I don't feel it spoils my enjoyment of either - unlike True Blood, which at times is sooo inconsistant with the books, that it becomes annoying and confusing. Can't wait for Vampire diaries season 2!
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on 16 May 2016
The first season grips you are immediately. It is well acted, Beautifully filmed, I'm actually well-written which makes it more than just teen vampire love story. I left behind my teens many many decades ago, and I loved every minute the characters are wonderful the writing is Sharp and interesting and the themes are universal. Do you really warm to the characters, Especially as there played by amazing actors and actresses. Highly recommend, although it does not involve a great deal of engagement with the brain it is not frivolous or shallow either.
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on 24 October 2009
Ive only seen about 7 episodes and its fantastic. im totally hooked. Im a twilight fan and was sorely dissapointed with the last book and the film. i heard about this tv series and watched the pilot episode, then bought the books. i liked the older books (except the 3rd book), and i absolutley LOVE the re newed book! Yes the tv series is very different from the book's, and if your a overprotective fan of the novels, this may not be for you. But i actually prefer the tv version! x
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on 28 February 2010
I never thought that anything would top Twilight, until this came along...

I saw this advertised on the tele for quite some time, and I always liked the look of it, but never really got round to watching it...until the other day. I was messing around on the computer and soon decided to take a look...well...I have watched 10 episodes in 3 days :) It's incredible, and Twilight seems so boring now :O
I being one of the biggest Twilight fans EVER, can not even belive that I said that, but I can't lie...
I'm hooked, and will being buying this AS SOON AS it becomes available so that I can watch it as many times as I want...
Stefan Salvatore, is one fit guy :)<<3
Sorry Twilight make way, The Vampire Diaries is coming through ;)
Watch it!!!! Watch it!!!! Watch it!!!!
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on 5 June 2016
This is a great first season where they introduce the characters. Stick with until the end and you'll be hooked and ready for season 2 which is even better! The characters are interesting and there is a great story and the leads all have great chemistry
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on 13 April 2016
I am glad I took a chance with this. I love it. Damon and Stefan are total eye candy. The storylines are so addictive that I can,t stop watching them. Now I want to get all the seasons as I can,t wait to see what happens next.
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