Do you like vampires? Or YA novels? Are you at all fond of True Blood or Twilight? Do you like playing a spirited game of Hey, It’s That Canadian Actor? Do you miss seeing Mia on Degrassi, or Boone on Lost? THEN YOU SHOULD BE WATCHING THIS SHOW.

[Contain spoilers for both the books and the show.]

(For those of you unaware, The Vampire Diaries is a series of YA horror/romance novels written in the early nineties by LJ Smith. Smith has also written several other series of YA supernatural romance, most notable the Night World series. Book 10 of NW – and the latest VD trilogy – were delayed for about ten years due to a serious illness on Smith’s part; her own current estimates for Strange Fate, the last NW book, put it at being roughly two thousand pages. Seriously. It comes out April 6 of next year, roughly two months after the next VD book. I am already metaphorically camping out for this shit. AWWWW YEAH, LET’S GO.)

There are, however, changes that have been made. Some – “Fell’s Church” is now “Mystic Falls”, because the actual town of Fell’s Church wouldn’t give them the rights to use the name – make sense. Some – like, say, giving everyone siblings and making Bonnie’s last name “Bennett” – don’t seem to make a lick of goddamned sense.

According to producers, we will eventually get Meredith. They just didn’t have room to put her in the pilot, what with so many characters to introduce. Like…Jeremy, Elena’s made-up little brother. Or Zach, the Salvatore descendant who runs the boardinghouse. Or Vicki, because God forbid we not see Vicki. Meredith would have taken away from the valuable time spent with Brooke and Darren!

Damon can’t turn into a bird. Don’t think I’m not pissed about that. HE CAN’T TURN INTO A BIRD. He can summon birds, and apparently fog, but he can’t turn into birds. I guess in a series where vampires can walk around in direct sunlight if they wear their magical rings, someone turning into a bird would be waaaaaay too much disbelief to suspend.

This show is the weirdest thing I’ve ever seen, re: race/sexuality issues. They’ve done a better job than I frankly expected from the CW; Bonnie’s now African-American instead of red-headed Irish, and Meredith’s probably going to still be Hispanic. Caroline is the blonde, blue-eyed one, while Elena has dark hair and eyes and is played by Nina Dobrev, who was born in Russia. However, Bonnie does ask if the phrase “tranny mess” is still in fashion, which: not unless you’re Christian Siriano, honey. And arguably, not even then.

Bonnie (Bennett, formerly McCollough): Is now descended from the Salem witches instead of the druids. (“DROOO-IDS.”) Bonnie being African-American makes me nervous the name Tituba is gonna come up more often than not, or that they’re gonna somehow mix in, like, voodoo or something. (Dear show: please don’t do that.) She’s still psychic, and still hinky about it. Elena’s best friend, you know? I don’t hate her. (Caveat: Bonnie is my favorite character in the books. Until she does something egregiously stupid, I’m probably gonna like her on the show, too. So.) Although, predicting Heath Ledger’s death? Wow. Not great taste, show.

Matt (Donovan, formerly Honeycutt): Yes, Matt is now Vicki’s brother. I KNOW. He’s also kind of a bland, whiney guy whose defining character traits are A) playing football and B) really missing Elena. So—you know, other than the Vicki’s brother thing, kind of spot-on. Except he’s also friends with Tyler Smallwood, which--the hell? Seriously?

Tyler Smallwood: Tyler looks a lot like Alexis Arquette, if you’ve ever seen her when she was still dressing as a male. Also, if they follow the books at ALL—and they seem to be, roughly 50-60% of the time—he will eventually be a werewolf. This will, unsurprisingly, not tone down the instances of date rape.

I would pay money to see grunge!Stefan. Cash money. Actually, if they could just randomly do a series of stills featuring Stefan and Damon in period clothes throughout the ages, that would be great.

Vicki Donovan: Prone to drinking and being a wee bit loose with her affections. I kind of like tv!Vickie, though, especially her assertion that Tyler and Jeremy (we’ll get to him) aren’t any different; Jeremy wants to save Vicki before he fucks her, while Tyler just wants to fuck her, which sort of makes Jeremy fucking worse, because he’s trying to be a Nice Guy. You know, that one.

Caroline: Blonde, pretty, too self-conscious, nowhere near enough of an opinion of herself. This does, however, make it much more plausible that she eventually goes to the dark side (though that’s as much because of inertia as actively trying to be evil). When/if Caroline starts dating Tyler, no one look surprised.

Mr. Tanner: Still a douche! Still gets smacked down by Stefan in history class, which is one of the better things Stefan ever does. (And it’s still appropriate, only now it’s the Civil War instead of Renaissance Italy.) They’ve already cast an Alaric, though, so let’s just say that if you’re gonna write Mr. Tanner fic, you…should maybe get on that.

NO: Turning into animals
YES: Magical rings, summoning fog and animal familiars (...), having to be invited in, The Whammy

You make no sense sometimes, show.

Tyler, to Jeremy: “Pete Wentz called, he wants his look back.” AHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. A++, show.

For the record:

Opening attack on Brooke (fuck Brooke, what about Darren?): Maybe Damon, maybe not. It reads more like a red herring, so I don’t know.
The fog/bird combo in the graveyard at 3 PM: probably Damon. God forbid he be subtle.
Attack on Vicki: In the books it isn’t Damon, but—I don’t know. Maybe 70% him?

Jeremy Gilbert: Elena’s brand-new little brother, who looks like Hot Topic threw up on him. Bitch, don’t lie, you own My Chem merch. You know you do! He’s also a minor-league drug dealer and boned Vicki over the summer, and apparently is a Nice Guy, which makes me want to kick his ass. I’m not loving him.

Zach Salvatore: Owns the Salvatore Boardinghouse (subtle!) and knows his ancestors are vampires. The man loves him some cable-knit sweaters, I tell you what.

Damon/Bonnie: I ship it. Yes, just from the books so far, but shut up.

I’m not surprised that they used Katy Perry and the Fray, or even AAR, but Matt Kearney and the Placebo version of Running Up That Hill? Fucking quit having decent music, show. That’s cheating.

Stefan doesn’t keep a journal ‘til Nightfall. Bonnie keeps a journal before he does.

Damon Salvatore: STILL NOT A BIRD.

Stefan Salvatore: OH MY GOD, STEFAN, I DON’T HATE YOU. He’s still very “no one touch my stuff”? And I bet he scrapbooks? But Paul Wesley does a surprisingly good job of playing Stefan as the old guy who is tired of being a vampire, and who overcompensates for not really being 17 by playing up being the brooding, handsome stranger a tiiiiiiiiiiny bit too much. He’s much less “wooo, I’m ancient” in his everyday speech, and just—I don’t know. He comes across less standoffish on the show, which is nice.

Elena Gilbert: I KIND OF LOVE YOU, TV ELENA. Part of book!Elena’s arc is that she’s close with Bonnie and Meredith (and formerly Caroline, before Caroline went all bitchcakes over the summer), but is otherwise a horrible bitch and kind of an ice queen. TV!Elena seems nice and normal: she clearly misses her parents and isn’t over their deaths, but she’s trying to be a good older sister to Jeremy. She’s nice without being smarmy, and the chemistry between her and Stefan isn’t forced. She can stay.

Damon Salvatore: Okay, be honest: if you’ve read the books, you knew goddamn good and well than Ian Somerhalder was going to do this. It’s fucking perfect. It’s insane. He loves being a vampire! And fucking with Stefan’s head! Did I mention they both died in 1864? And that they killed each other over a girl? Who made them both vampires? And was Elena’s physical reincarnation? And that Damon eats people? Because all of those things are true.

Stefan & Damon: I—you know what? As soon as Damon started talking about how good Elena smells, and Stefan was all “SHUT UP!” and panting with red eyes, and then Damon was like, “Let’s do it! Together!” And then they knocked each other out a window and beat the shit out of each other, because that’s what you do when you’re brothers from Civil War-era Virginia who haven’t yet figured out that the best way to work out your issues is to make out pretty fucking hardcore. It’s not Sam/Dean levels yet, but man. MAN. And then Stefan tried to jump Damon, and Damon casually backhanded him into a tree, and said “Hi, Zach!” as he sauntered away, and—oh my God, I kind of love this show.

(Seriously, the Stefan-Damon bits are kind of fucking perfect. Stefan tries so hard to be a good guy, and Damon shows up just long enough to fuck with him. Congratulations! Welcome to the books. Except they speak Italian.)
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