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Saturday, January 9, 2010

Vampire Die-aries

     CW presented yet another teen-angst drama this fall, this time taking our resurgence in vampires into account.  The Vampire Diaries is steeped in old mystery, history, and the fanged ones, but it is also the type of hour soap you would expect from the network that airs 90210 and Gossip Girl.  The problem is, it's a little too into the teenage genre and less into the vampire one.

     The high school characters are largely flat and one dimensional.  The main girl, Elena (Nina Dobrev, Degrassi: The Next Generation), tries to have depth, dealing with loss of her parents, and dating a one hundred and sixty-two year old, but the actress just doesn't have the acting ability to pull it off.  Similarly, her best friend, Bonnie (Katerina Graham), is a descendant of a witch, who the viewer sees in flashbacks, but her emotions are displayed only at surface level.  And don't even get me started on the guys, who have much less back story to work with, but aren't any better at it than the girls.  The only one who really succeeds is Candice Accola as Caroline.  Perhaps that's because her character actually is ditsy and shallow.

     The vampires, however, are mixed.  While Stefan (Paul Wesley, Everwood) only occasionally shows glimpses of talent, Damon is played deliciously evil by Ian Somerhalder (Lost).  Damon's motivation has barely been made clear, but he is played in such a way that he seems likable, and every time he does something monstrous, I am surprised anew.  Intellectually, I know that the character is not trustworthy in the least, but I am still drawn in.  This is the way to play a vampire, all atonce seductive, tricky, and villainous.  Currently, Damon is the best thing the show has going for it.

     That being said, the mythos and history of the town where the show is set is rich enough to keep things going for awhile as the actors grow into the roles.  It's been done before on other shows.  Sometimes it just takes time for a show to truly find its way.  The series was developed and is currently led by Kevin Williamson, creator of Dawson's Creek, so it has that going for it.  While currently it is barely worthy as a guilty pleasure show, take a lesson from Williamson's history and realize that it could grow into something really great down the line.  Either way, the tween fans of Twilight will find plenty to obsess over in the meantime.  After all, it just won Favorite New TV Drama at the People's Choice Awards.

     The Vampire Diaries is currently on hiatus and will return Thursday, January 21st at 8pm.

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