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Thursday, September 24, 2009

Take a bite out of "Vampire Diaries" -- it's campy fun

Vampires seem to be the "it" crowd nowadays, but our fanged friends have found success on the small screen as everything from bloodsucking villains to remorseful detectives.

CW's newest drama "Vampire Diaries" -- which snagged a cool 4.91 million viewers on its debut night -- is the latest in the series of vampire lore to capitalize on the "Twilight"/"True Blood" frenzy that's overtaken teenage girls, their middle-aged moms and every other female in the last few years. But truthfully, it's not all bad. In fact, it's almost good. (I say almost because I fear liking this show will ruin my credibility as a normally discerning viewer).

I haven't yet watched HBO's "True Blood," but from my brief foray into "Vampire Diaries" (which I will try not to abbreviate as VD even though I'm sorely tempted) puts it somewhere in between the campiness of "Twilight" and the darker, sexier aspects of the HBO hit. The show is based on popular books that were written well before Stephanie Meyer penned her novels, but there's a bit of a striking similarity between the stories that you'll instantly recognize, unless you've been under a rock these past few years. You know, the brooding vampire and his soon-to-be lady love are caught in the midst of star-crossed circumstances beyond their control. But comparisons should end there. By the end of the premiere and well into episode two, it's clear that this isn't just a girl-meets-vampire story, it's a girl (Elena played by Nina Dobrev of "Degrassi" fame) caught in the middle of a good-versus-evil battle between competing vampire brothers Stevan (Paul Wesley) and Damon (Ian Somerhalder from "Lost"). Oh, plus Elena has an uncanny resemblance to Stefan's ex... from the 1800s... who everything so far suggests he may have killed.

Now, doesn't that just intrigue you a little bit?

Admittedly, this is not "Masterpiece Theater" quality television. Producer Kevin Williamson, best known for his work on "Dawson's Creek," is still as soapy as ever with lots of smoldering/longing looks between Stefan and Elena. The whole "diary" bit -- both Stefan and Elena pour their hearts and souls into their journals every day and we're treated to these via Meredith Grey-esque voiceovers -- is just plain annoying. But since the show is called "Vampire Diaries," I can't really see this aspect going away.

But it's clear this show is going to be a hit, and it's not just because of this vampire fad. The combination of mystery, romance and a dash of slasher-suspense (the opening sequences of both episodes kick off with an unsuspecting couple getting the bite from the resident vampire, and I won't lie, I closed my eyes during them) works really well for the pacing of the show. Somerhalder is great as the bad guy (just ignore all that eye liner he's wearing) and Wesley, despite his Robert Pattinson hair, has gotten the hang of playing the tortured, remorseful anti-hero. The show is interesting and feels original amid a sea of remakes invading television this fall. With CW ordering up nine more episodes of the show, why not give in and take a bite of this fun teen drama?

"Vampire Diaries" airs on the CW at 7 p.m. on Thursdays. The first two episodes are available online.

-- Malavika Jagannathan, mjaganna@greenbaypressgazette.com

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2 Comments:

True Blood is fan-effing-tastic. I caught up with the first two seasons (no premium Time Warner for me) in a matter of days.

By Blogger Ms. Quarter, At September 24, 2009 at 1:44 PM  

I need to watch that show. Perhaps this weekend. I've heard nothing but good things about it!

--Malavika

By Blogger Malavika Jagannathan, At September 24, 2009 at 3:09 PM  

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