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The Vampire Diaries: The Complete First Season [Blu-ray] by Various Directors
Review by Charles Mohapel
Warner Home Video Blu-ray  ISBN/ITEM#: B002JVWRAE
Date: 29 October 2010 List Price $69.97 Amazon US / Amazon UK

Links: / L.J. Smith / Charlaine Harris / Stephenie Meyer / Show Official Info /

There is no doubt that vampires are more than the Flavor-of-the-Day, what with 3 seasons of True Blood having aired on HBO, 3 of the Twilight movies on the Silver Screen, and Season 2 of The Vampires Diaries currently being broadcast on The CW Network. Theoretically there is a lot more to come since each season of True Blood is based on one of the 10 The Southern Vampire Mysteries novels by author Charlaine Harris (Number 11, Dead Reckoning"is scheduled for release in May 2011). Given the tremendous popularity of Twilight among tweens and their mothers, it is a given that the 4th (and currently the last) novel will be made into a movie. Actually according to Wikipedia, "A two-part adaptation of Breaking Dawn is projected to begin shooting late in 2010 with November 18, 2011, and November 16, 2012, release dates.", perhaps copying the decision to split Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows into two parts.

With 6 books in The Vampire Diaries series currently available and two more scheduled for release in 2011, there is a wealth of new material for Kevin Williamson, Julie Plec, and Marcos Siega to work with.

While all three series have vampires (and werewolves, as well as other supernatural creatures) in common, each set of vampires has their own specific abilities and vulnerabilities. Additionally, the True Blood TV series is definitely geared to an adult audience, while The Vampire Diaries TV series targets an audience between the other two series.

Developed by: Kevin Williamson and Julie Plec
Based on the "The Vampire Diaries" book series by L.J. Smith

Series Cast:
Nina Dobrev ... Elena Gilbert / Katherine Pierce
Paul Wesley ... Stefan Salvatore
Ian Somerhalder ... Damon Salvatore
Steven R McQueen... Jeremy Gilbert
Katerina Graham ... Bonnie Bennett
Candice Accola ... Caroline Forbes
Zach Roerig ... Matt Donovan
Sara Canning ... Jenna Sommers
Michael Trevino ... Tyler Lockwood
Matthew Davis ... Alaric Saltzman

I'm not ashamed to admit that I had never even heard of the The Vampire Diaries book series by L.J. Smith, let alone read one before seeing the TV commercials for The Vampire Diaries on The CW Network, but those commercials definitely piqued my interest in checking out the show.

While I can't say that Season 1, Episode 1: "Pilot" blew me away, it definitely tantalized me with enough signs of promise for me to want to watch the second episode.

I particularly enjoyed watching Episode 6: "Lost Girls" because unlike the five previous episodes where you learned enough tidbits about the back stories of Stefan and Damon Salvatore to keep you coming back, here we find out significantly more about Katherine Pierce, the beautiful vampire who seduced the brothers and turned both of them.

Episode 7: "Haunted", Episode 8: "162 Candles", and Episode 9: "History Repeating" form a mini story arc that proves to be very important since it goes into the back story of Elena's best friend Bonnie Bennett, her great-grandmother Emily Bennett, the spelled necklace Damon took from Emily many years ago, and how it all leads Bonnie to investigate the witch lineage of the Bennett women.

The Commentary on Episode 1: "Pilot" with Kevin Williamson (Executive Producer / Writer), Julie Plec (Executive Producer / Co-Executive Producer / Writer), and Marcos Siega (Director)provided a very nice glimpse into the background of the show, beginning with casting the characters, shooting the pilot in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, and then picking up the production and moving to Georgia where the rest of the show is shot.

Deleted Scenes, Disc 1:
"The Night of the Comet" – He really cares about you Me: Very good; too bad it was cut
"You're Undead to Me" – Year's worth of story Me: OK.
"Lost Girls" – Too messed up to be with Me: Excellent
"Lost Girls" – It’s Halloween Me: Very good

Deleted Scenes, Disc 2:
"Haunted" – Damon, Bonnie, and the necklace Me: Excellent and a real shame it was cut.
"The Turning Point" – Action back your way
"The Turning Point" – Something's up with Elena
"The Turning Point" – What you are, what are we Me: All three were very good, but not essential to the story. That said, I'm happy to see these deleted scenes.

Deleted Scenes, Disc 3:
"Fool Me Once" – All I have left. Me: OK.
"Fool Me Once" – Vicious kiss Me: Very interesting – what is Matt's mother – a succubus?
"A Few Good Men" – Empty space, kinda depressing Me: Nothing special.
"There Goes the Neighborhood" – Part of our nature Me: Excellent insight into Stefan's character.
"There Goes the Neighborhood" – Sneak attack Me: Nothing special
:Let the Right One In" – Can't find Stefan Me: Nothing special

"Into Mystic Falls: Bringing Vampire Lore and the High School Experience from Page to Screen" with Julie Plec, Kevin Williamson, Bob Levy, Ian Somerhalder, Nina Dobrev, Paul Wesley, Sara Canning, Candice Accola, Katerina Graham, Steven R. McQueen, Michael Trevino, Matthew Davis, Marcos Siega, Paul M. Sommers, Garreth Stover, and Zach Roerig is my favorite featurette since it covers the period from the inception of The Vampire Diaries through to the end of Season 1. It's hard work and the hours are wacky but you can see how much the cast and crew enjoy working together.

Another enjoyable featurette is "When Vampires Don't Suck!: The Popularity of Vampires and the Fans Who Love Them" with Julie Plec, Carina MacKenzie, Matthew Davis, Sara Canning, Candice Accola, Heather Cordova, Kevin Williamson, David Skal, Katerina Graham, Angela Aleiss, Marcos Siega, Steven R. McQueen, Ian Somerhalder, Nina Dobrev, Paul Wesley, Michael Trevino, and Zach Roerig. Here we learn how Bram Stoker wouldn't recognize his character Dracula since his version was almost indistinguishable from a zombie, not the suave elegantly dressed gentleman that stage versions of Dracula turned him into. Did you know that The Vampire Diaries won the 2010 People’s Choice Award for Favorite New TV Drama, beating out FlashForward, The Good Wife, NCIS: Los Angeles, and V, all shows with larger audiences?

When it comes to The Vampire Diaries: A Darker Truth Webisodes, these four Webisodes ("Exposed", "Vengeance", "Hunted", and "Uninvited")were so lame I want that 7 minutes and 43 seconds of my life back. I know fans which could produce better webisodes than this or at least make them funny.

"A Second Bite" is the name of the gag reel of The Vampire Diaries and it was way too short – I'm quite certain that they had lots more bloopers, mishaps, and swear words they could have bleeped out.

Another of the fun featurettes is The Vampire Diaries: A New Breed of Vampires with Julie Plec, Kevin Williamson, Katerina Graham, Nina Dobrev, Paul Wesley, Candice Accola, Matthew Davis, Ian Somerhalder, Steven R. McQueen, Michael Trevino, Sara Canning, Zach Roerig, and Bob Levy discussing casting the series. This was a very tantalizing blend of snippets from some of the screen tests mixed with the actors and executive producers speaking on camera. While I didn't pay a lot of attention to the character of Jeremy Gilbert, the name of the actor who plays him made me wonder if he is related to the late actor Steve McQueen - as it turns out the acting icon is his grandfather.

The Vampire Diaries: Vampires 101 -- The Rules of the Vampire with Julie Plec, Candice Accola, Nina Dobrev, Ian Somerhalder, Sara Canning, Zach Roerig, Kevin Williamson, and Steven R. McQueen is an interactive fun featurette in the form of a multiple choice quiz.

I was very disappointed and frustrated to discover that the only way to get access to the Downloadable Audiobook of the Bestselling Novel The Vampire Diaries: The Awakening by L.J. Smith, is to run it on a computer or laptop with a Blu-ray drive.

Like many of you I can never get enough good bonus features and although The Vampire Diaries: The Complete First Season [Blu-ray] seemed a little light on bonuses, most of the featurettes were worth the wait. That said, the featurettes are the icing on the cake and what a cake! I enjoyed The Vampire Diaries: The Complete First Season [Blu-ray] so much (and it gave me a much greater understanding of the series), that I'm looking at getting all of the available books as a Christmas present to myself.

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