Tuesday, October 05, 2010

‘Vampire Diaries’: Books, beasts and bloodlust

(Published Oct. 4, PDI-Entertainment)
By Oliver M. Pulumbarit

Derivative but intriguing, the monster drama series “The Vampire Diaries” properly utilizes an attractive and talented cast. Developed by Kevin Williamson and based on a successful series of books, the new show also manages to weave its own vampire mythology despite some unoriginal concepts.

In season one, a good vampire, Stefan Salvatore (Paul Wesley), finds himself drawn to Elena Gilbert (Nina Dobrev), a high school cheerleader resembling his old lover. Elena, an orphaned teen who therapeutically confides in a diary, is likewise attracted to Stefan. Enter Stefan’s sinister vampire brother Damon (Ian Somerhalder), who notices the girl’s resemblance to Stefan’s old lover—and his. The brothers suspect that Elena is a descendant of Katherine, the vampire who manipulated and “turned” the siblings over a century ago.

The bitter rivalry between two monsters over one human girl reminds one of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” and even “Twilight,” while the “immortal love” angle initially feels like an iteration of the scenario from “Bram Stoker’s Dracula.”

Those obvious similarities aside, “Vampire Diaries” has characters that keep things appealingly circuitous, even edgy. Elena’s brother Jeremy (Steven R. McQueen) is an ex-druggie who discovers their ancestor’s vampire-hunting journal. Elena’s best friend Bonnie (Katerina Graham) is a powerful sorceress who learns of her family’s part in the banishment of Katherine’s vampire army in 1864.

From vengeful monster-exterminators to long-lost biological parents, “Vampire Diaries” manages to turn some preposterous or dubious plot twists into compelling story lines.

Stefan’s brooding and Damon’s incessant swaggering get occasionally tiring, and some characters ultimately lack dimension or are just obvious plot devices. Still, the distinct figures in the blood-streaked tapestry outnumber the flat ones, and there won’t be any shortage in conflict and drama any time soon.

“The Vampire Diaries” airs Tuesdays, 8 p.m., on ETC.

No comments: