Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Eternally dysfunctional clan reunites in 'The Originals'

(Published Dec. 16, PDI-Entertainment)
By Oliver M. Pulumbarit

The last time a TV vampire spun off his own series was when Angel (David Boreanaz) left “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” in 1999. “The Originals,” a new horror-drama series with characters that originally appeared in “The Vampire Diaries,” (TVD) recently replicated this, but its vampire protagonist isn’t like the heroic titular character of “Angel” at all.

For starters, Klaus (Joseph Morgan) was “TVD’s” main villain for several seasons, an indelible antagonist that made the already serious series even more tense, his presence ultimately compounding an already humorless show. 

Klaus Mikaelson is a hybrid—half-vampire, half-werewolf—a menace that kept life for “TVD” heroes perpetually problematic. The town Mystic Falls became a war zone, with Klaus constantly concocting deadly schemes, but he often got outsmarted by his foes.

Doubtless, Morgan is a charming and effective actor, but can his character thrive in this all-different setting in “The Originals”? More importantly, are there sides to him that are still unexplored?

“The Originals” is set in New Orleans, old home of Klaus’ family. He and his siblings are the original, centuries-old vampires. His sentimental brother Elijah (Daniel Gillies) and reluctant sister Rebekah (Claire Holt) rejoin Klaus for his impending milestone: fatherhood.

Klaus and an erstwhile werewolf lover, Hayley (Phoebe Tonkin), will be parents to a miracle child (which “Angel” did years ago, incidentally). And speaking of offspring, the slave he once freed and treated like his own child, Marcel (Charles Michael Davis), now firmly rules New Orleans as vampire “king.”

The reunion isn’t a happy one; Klaus muscling in on Marcel’s territory unearths buried memories and connections. Rebekah and Marcel used to share an unconsummated attraction that might get rekindled, now that the situation has shifted.

The show is for fans of “The Vampire Diaries,” at least the ones who didn’t tire of the long, repetitive villainy of the Mikaelsons and the unending rivalries. It already has the foreboding tone of the seminal show, but whether or not these reviled old characters can sustain their own series remains to be seen.

Still, the eternally dysfunctional family reunion is quite accessible in its first few episodes; the uninitiated can still grasp backstories through indispensable flashbacks. While one may find it difficult to side with the mostly unlikable characters, it consciously veers away from its previous haunts. Hopefully, it will skip the convolution that dreadfully hobbled its predecessor as well.

(“The Originals” airs Tuesdays, 10 p.m. on ETC.)

No comments: