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25 September 2010 @ 07:49 pm
The Vampire Diaries 2.03  
So I should probably just come out of the closet and admit that The Vampire Diaries is kinda my show now. :) Yeah, yeah, Smallville just premiered for its final season ... but I am WAY more excited about TVD. Truthfully, I'm going to catch up with SV over the next couple of weeks and get onboard for S10 because it DOES have Erica, Erica, Erica, but I have REALLY enjoyed my little Smallville vacation and I am happy for it to last a couple of weeks more. *puts on chilled vacation shades*

So... Vampire Diaries... I'll admit I was heavily skeptical in season 1. So many shows had been my Extremely Emotionally Abusive Boyfriends by then that I pretty much approached every ep with my arms crossed and a cynical 'oh rly?' expression on my face. You have cute vampire brothers, do you? You have a range of interesting female characters, do you? You have an amusingly snarky villain, do you? You are surprisingly well plotted, are you? I resisted, people. I resisted HARD. And that should have been easy given that the Vampire Diaries is full of pop culture cliches and isn't humorous about it (or at least leaves it to Damen alone to be humorous about it).

However! The show totally won we round. I admit it. I got attached. I am attached. And I say this knowing it's probably going to fall apart around me in season 2, because I've been so continually surprised by its ability to produce actual plot twists, and also by its consistent handling of characters and the relationships between them in such a way as to maximise the storytelling potential. There are no filler episodes in this show, people! And yes, it is 'just' a gothic teen romance. But it really knows its tropes well and handles them brilliantly. The writing is certainly not prize-winning, but it is pitched at the level it needs to be. And the cast do great work with the scripts. The casting overall is stellar. The CW totally cast for looks, yeah--the male and female eye candy on this show is high calibre--but they don't skimp on acting ability either. Also, the cast is large enough to sustain a lot of storytelling.

Admittedly, I would be happier if they hadn't killed off Anna. :( She was probably my favourite character to date on the show. However, I like a lot of the characters, including Elena, at least somewhat, which is insanely unusual for me since I rarely if ever like protagonists. I think Elena is an interesting heroine in part because she's an emotional caretaker. She looks after others--that's how she defines herself. While it can be problematic (e.g. when they don't want her interference) it also gives her a solid self-identity that isn't all about her boyfriend.

Stefan kind of fascinates me but I do not like him. Neither do I hate him, but I do find him smug, self-congratulatory and more than a little hypocritical. Which ... I kind of enjoy because it's so obvious. I pretty much find all 'hero'/'good guy' characters hypocrites eventually, so it saves a whole lot of hassle that Stefan is so obviously problematic straight away. I'm weirdly fond of him in this reverse psychology way: I'm glad he's around so he can annoy me. :) And push me into Damen's point of view. :p Also I'm mesmerised by the actor's body--does he have a GRAM of fat? ANYWHERE?!

Yeah, yeah, I love Damen. I was even more resistant to him than I was to the show overall. At first I thought 'oh yeah, Damen's fun' but assumed that his characterisation wouldn't be solid over time or that he would suffer badass decay. In retrospect I love so much that the showrunners were confident enough with making him truly villainous in season 1, and only revealing the sympathetic backstory relatively slowly. Also, I love, love, LOVE that as soon as they did reveal the details of Damen's epic love of Katherine and her abuse of him, they pressed a huge reset on Damen's badass status by having him kill Jeremy in a fit of Katherine-enduced rage! It meant that at the same time as we were given most reason to sympathise with him, they also ensured that his fundamental characterisation would not devolve in some annoying 'finding my inner woobie' way. So yeah: totally smitten! But I don't want him to change. I want him to keep on being 'evil' because the show is waaaay more interesting that way. (DAMEN AGREES.)

Also Katherine? IS VERY FUN. And I cannot WAIT to see what shenanigans she and Caroline are going to get up to! :D But omg, BAD taste in guys. Who would pick Stefan?! Booooooooring.

Other character faves of mine are Alaric (yay, it's so good to see you back in 2.03!), Jenna (she's sweet!) and Caroline. I have a soft spot for intellectually limited entitled bitches, and I am really enjoying her vamp plotline so far. The show subtly made sure that she and Matt were at their cutest as a couple right before she got turned. I was so glad they had her actually kill someone too--showing how horrible it really is. Also, I am VERY amused at the revelation that vampirism exacerbates personality traits. LOL, Stefan thinks he is just SUPER-EMPATHETIC. HA! Yeah, super hypocritical and entitled too, dude! You and Caroline are well matched actually.

While I'm not naturally drawn to her, I also appreciate Bonnie's contribution to the show. I like the work they did in Season 1 with her character, and I particularly loved her grandma, so killing her off and giving Bonnie a legit reason to hate vampires played really well to me. Her motives are really coherent and I like that she draws her own lines, even in her friendships.

Stefan amused me greatly in 2.03 by protecting Caroline so completely ineptly. I mean, first of all it's ridiculous that he protects her at all given that (as explored in 2.02) if it was anyone else he would totally stake them. But when told that werewolf bites are fatal to vampires, it's possibly not the smartest idea in the world to go poking around in search of a werewolf!

And once again, I have to say the show exceeded expectations in terms of plotting. I would normally yawn at the cliched introduction of werewolves in a vampire storyline. But I really love the way they've constrained the werewolf mythology on this show and that there aren't heaps of them running around.

Most amusing aspect of this episode for me was Caroline's new eye make-up. LOL! I love it when shows indicate characterisation shifts with make-up. Emo!Caroline is amusing, even if it totally detracts from her looks. I do feel sorry for Matt though--I kinda like that sweet, simple, good-hearted guy, and he has been ROYALLY screwed by having his sister vamped and killed and his girlfriend vamped and nearly kill/rape him. It totally worked for the overall plot though because having Caroline have to mindwipe her own boyfriend was another great way to explore the horribleness of vampiredom, and the fact that there isn't really any way to not be a hypocrite about it.

I also enjoyed the new Vanessa character, even though she was hopelessly naive (shooting, Damen? HA!) and foolishly put the moves on Alaric (fair enough, dude's hot). Damen and Elena on a roadtrip will never not be good, and the handling in this case was perfect. Damen tried to riff off their previous trip which helped build their friendship, but Elena was immovable. I really enjoyed their power struggle over this and the fact that Elena's characterisation remained so solid despite Damen's charms. Killing Jeremy is definitely one thing that Elena won't forgive. (Oh, Elena, but you were willing to presumptuously 'look after' your little bro by wiping his mind in the first place!) However, you could see Damen desperately trying to reach her in being willing to be honest about the killing. His honesty may not have worked on her, but it definitely worked on me. :) Also loved his impatience with Stefan and Elena PDA-ing in front of him.

Eee! Eee! This show is so much fun! \o/

ETA: Apologies for mis-spelling Damon! *facepalm* In my head, it's always Damen because of freece (even though the characters couldn't be more different).
 
 
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Ms Cranky Pants of the Depresso Blogbofoddity on September 25th, 2010 12:51 pm (UTC)
The Vampire Diaries is totally my show too! When I first heard about it I thought it was basically Roswell with vampires, and I started watching it I thought it was basically Roswell with vampires, only without Roswell's heart. (I know, it was a crappy show, but I really loved it!) Then WHAM it started surprising me every week, exceeding my expectations time after time so now I'm totally in love with it too. I hated Damon first, but I've really grown to both like and appreciate him as a character, I've been liking Stefan much better than I expected him to and I just adore the girls on this show. I love that Elena is so smart and sensible, I love that Bonnie is badass and both willing and capable to be hard when necessary, I love Caroline and how she's both shamelessly shallow and has so much hidden depths. I love Alaric and his solid competent nice guyness. I love the evil fabulousness that is Katherine and what Nina Dobrev does with her. Just about the only thing I didn't like about this show was Jeremy, and even he is improving this season! But the thing I love absolutely best about the show is that it's so much more competent than you expect it to be, and that it's both willing and able to hit where it hurts and damn, I thought the Whedon-vampires would be the last vampires I'd like but I was wrong. Can you tell I'm kind of scarily intense about this show?

*looks at the massive blob of a comment*

Scarily intense is an understatement. *goes to be creepy somewhere else*
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Damen bearbop_radar on September 25th, 2010 11:39 pm (UTC)
Yes! Surprising you every week! :) Yup, I hated Damon too and hating him was fun. Loving him is fun also! :)

Yeah, the girls are what really makes the show for me and the breadth in the cast means my sympathies move around a lot--which is good because it means the show sustains my interest beyond one character's plotline.

Haha, I know everyone hates Jeremy but I always kinda liked him. I mean he mopes too much and I did think he'd be more fun as a vamp, but I have always thought there was potential there and I love his weird sick relationship with Damon now. :D :D :D

I'm thrilled to share some show joy! It's been forever since I actually had that online, having been :/ about most shows for the past two years, so babble away any time!
(no subject) - amnisias on September 26th, 2010 10:53 am (UTC) (Expand)
cathexyscathexys on September 25th, 2010 03:02 pm (UTC)
I LOVE TVD!!! So glad someone else on my flist is on the rollercoaster that is that show!

I did dislike them for killing Anna, but everything else has been marvelous!

His honesty may not have worked on her, but it definitely worked on me. :) Yes~!!! :)
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Damen bearbop_radar on September 25th, 2010 11:42 pm (UTC)
Yay!! I'm glad someone else is loving it! And yes, boo to the Anna killing--I remain partially in denial--but the show is otherwise continually surprisingly enjoyable.
Nora Norwichnorwich36 on September 25th, 2010 04:34 pm (UTC)
I am completely addicted myself, though I am so busy these days I rarely write commentary.
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: TVD Annabop_radar on September 25th, 2010 11:43 pm (UTC)
It is so addictive! Even when I was THE MOST RESISTANT viewer ever! Now I am bouncing to that download so fast every week and every week it puts me in a happy, happy place.
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K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Damen BRB murderbop_radar on September 25th, 2010 11:44 pm (UTC)
Ack, too long betaing for freece! So hard for me to imagine it spelled 'Damon'! I'll work on that.

Yeah, I have deep love of Alaric/Damon. And I have an epicly good song for Damon that I'm dying to vid which will totally have a line about Alaric in it. :D :D
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(no subject) - bop_radar on September 25th, 2010 11:52 pm (UTC) (Expand)
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(no subject) - bop_radar on September 26th, 2010 12:02 am (UTC) (Expand)
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(no subject) - bop_radar on September 26th, 2010 12:10 am (UTC) (Expand)
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(no subject) - bop_radar on September 26th, 2010 09:31 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - amnisias on September 26th, 2010 11:10 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - amnisias on September 26th, 2010 10:59 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - bop_radar on September 27th, 2010 08:59 am (UTC) (Expand)
Alexandra Leavingalexandral on September 25th, 2010 10:29 pm (UTC)
I am so loving this show, I am trying to pretend that I am only watching it because my daughter is watching it, but who am I kidding?
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Stefan is smugbop_radar on September 25th, 2010 11:45 pm (UTC)
Hahaha, don't kid yourself!
Dualbunny: LotSeeker - Rahl is holding a kittendualbunny on September 26th, 2010 02:31 am (UTC)
It's the show I'm most excited about this year too. :D The only thing I'm sad about is that Seeker and VD were perfect compliments for me last year. Thank god this one is still around.

(I miss Anna too!)
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Damen BRB murderbop_radar on September 26th, 2010 09:41 am (UTC)
Yay! :D Hopefully VD will take some of the edge off losing Seeker... somehow! And ohh, you should VID IT. *begins savings account so she can buy you in some future auction* :p
amnisiasamnisias on September 26th, 2010 10:51 am (UTC)
Ah, isn't this a glorious show? When it started out I was only watching it for Ian Somerhalder, I've got a soft spot for him since he was exploring his non-existent gayness on Young Americans.

So I approached the Vampire Diaries all snarky and superior, thinking that clearly the Twilight generation has no clue about what makes a good vampire show and expecting it to be all Highschool drama mixed with twilighty moping and brooding. So I was sitting there "Oh, my god, this is so bad..." - for about three episodes. Then they had me.

The show has such a great ensemble cast and the writing combines episode plots and season arcs really well. But what really makes the show for me is that it manages to play the drama totally straight but at the same time not to take itself too seriously. The Whedon-girl in me also appreciated the demise of Vicky. So few shows have the guts to make the viewers care about a character and then kill him/her off (and keeping him dead). It was unexpected (I thought they were setting her up as a companion for Damon) and heartbreaking, it had impact on the viewers, and it set off a whole range of plot and character development - and inspired you to do an awesome vid!
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: TVD Annabop_radar on September 27th, 2010 08:55 am (UTC)
I remember Young Americans! :D I love him too--and you can tell he's having the time of his life in this role! And yes, I was all snobby about it to begin with too. I really had to push myself through the first few episodes but then... it crept up ton me!

manages to play the drama totally straight but at the same time not to take itself too seriously
Yes! I do not know how that is possible but the show proves that sometimes taking yourself seriously (as entertainment) really pays off! You can feel the self-awareness in the writing--and they know how to enjoy their material while still pack a punch.

And yes, I agree that the show was brave in building sympathetic characters (Vicky and Anna both) before killing them. I mean I don't want them to keep killing female characters, but I do like that they are prepared to go there with the darkness of vampirism and not make it all glossy and (snerk) sparkly!
Naomi: VD Damon and Alaric By wicked_signsfrelling_tralk on September 26th, 2010 07:08 pm (UTC)
I've been loving The Vampire Diaries too :D I've been pleasantly surprised at how they've kept up the quality in season 2 so far. It worked out for them leaving so many storylines open, like Tylar's warewolf hints being more background in season 1, and keeping Katherine as a mystery, so season 2 can continue finding new ground to tread. And of course the awesomeness that is vampire Caroline.

I was disappointed about Anna (and Pearl) as well though :/ I really think the show messed up there as it would have been great to see Katherine's interacton with Pearl after the tomb betrayal, rather than having her return be all about Stefan and Damon. I mean those scenes are obviously great too, but having Pearl around would have mixed things up a little as there was apparently a lot of history there between her and Katherine. And really her death sequence was so lame they could have just as easily have left it as the character leaving town, and leaving it open for her return on a future date. And I was also really starting to get into Jeremy/Anna towards the end of season 1, it was about the only time that Jeremy was interesting to me :P And Damon's interaction with them was always fun too. There was such a lot left to explore with those two characters that I'm just hoping that we'll at least see more of them in flashbacks, I'm still curious as to how the mother/daughter connection works when they're both vampires

Edited at 2010-09-26 07:10 pm (UTC)
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Damen bearbop_radar on September 27th, 2010 08:58 am (UTC)
Mm, good point that Pearl/Katherine interactions would have ben very interesting. And yeah, I think most people felt that way re. Jeremy! He really needs to be around a kickass female character or he's very boring. ;) They need to find him a new one. And I'd be very interested in flashbacks about those characters--I do hope the show can keep up the pace. So far it's looking promising in Season 2.
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K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Stefan is smugbop_radar on September 27th, 2010 09:54 pm (UTC)
His charms almost work on me and then he does something to make me hate him again.
Haha, I think it's supposed to work like that. Yes! Don't worry--Stefan is a lot more sympathetic to me than most romantic leads, because I think the show handles his struggle with vampirism very well.

Yes, here's hoping it stays strong!
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deaver: Moondeaver on September 28th, 2010 09:26 pm (UTC)
Skipping all the 2.03 coments, as that's still sitting on my DVR (I'm so far behind on tv viewing!!)

I totally agree though that the show snuck up and went from I guess I'll watch to I HAVE to watch rather unexpectedly. For me part of this is that they never let the show be ONLY about smoopy romance or ONLY about evil vampires - they make it about a lot of things. Also, they aren't scared to kill off character who on any other teen show would be around for years. I mean, they killed Vicky (no great loss, IMHO), Anna (NO! I really liked Anna!), Bonnie's Grandma (also very sad), Anna's Mom (Didn't see that one coming) and too many vampires to name. I think it's that realization that the powers that be are willing to kill off semi-major character that keeps the storytelling, and our viewing exciting. They aren't tied down to keeping everyone alive nor are we as viewers dulled into believing that everyone will survive every crisis.
My only quibble with the first two episodes (and maybe they answer this in the third - I'll find out soon enough) is with Bonnie. They have got to give her more to do emotionally than just be angry. I wonder sometimes if TPTB just don't know entirely what to do with her character long-term. She's great as a convienent solution/foil for the vamps and their hijinks but she needs more to do long-term to be interesting. Also, on some level it peeves me that the only dark skinned character is the only one without any romantic life whatsoever, but that's just a personal pet peeve.
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: TVD Annabop_radar on September 28th, 2010 10:21 pm (UTC)
Yes, I agree the willingness to kill off middle tier characters keeps the viewing interesting and the show fresh. That's interesting about Bonnie--I'm not particularly attached to her but I don't mind her anger, however I'd like to see more of her friendship with Elena. They could balance it more. And I totally agree that it's disappointing to see she has no romantic life at all.