Warner Bros. // 2011 // 927 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // September 24th, 2012
Where does anyone find the time to prepare for their SATs, with all the spell casting and vampire hunting going on?
The teenagers of Mystic Falls face issues far more intense than who to take to the prom and saying no to drugs. Each week, there seems to be a world-threatening cataclysm involving supernatural creatures. Luckily, the men wear eyeliner and the women are mostly all vampires and witches.
The CW's crown jewel is back, after a season finale that saw good-guy vampire hero Stefan (Paul Wesley, Killer Movie) begin a descent into a reality so angst-ridden his angst has angst. On the other side, his formerly evil-but-now-slightly-angst-ridden brother Damon (Ian Somerhalder, Lost) is working with his ex-girlfriend Elena (Nina Dobrev, The Perks of Being a Wallflower) to bring their boy back to the good side. Unfortunately for them, Stefan is neck-deep in some seriously bad mojo involving the original vampire Klaus (Joseph Morgan, Immortals), his fearsome minions, and a diabolical plan to score immortality and a never-ending supply of hair product.
Dismiss my snark. The Vampire Diaries actually has something cooking. On paper it looks like just another teeny-bopper undead also-ran, but in practice this show is surprisingly entertaining and (if you must know) viciously addictive.
Credit goes to the writing staff that ensures every episode has something huge going down. A major character might get whacked, turned into a terrifying beast, have a deadly secret revealed, or switch allegiances. In fact, these game-changers might hit before the first commercial break. That's how twist-packed this series is, and the main reason it's received such traction. No filler here. If you're invested in the ups and downs, you'll have a full plate to dine upon each week.
These aren't simple stories either. With Season Three, the plots have grown ever more intricate. More characters have been added, existing character arcs have been expanded, and the mythology is given even greater burn. You'll get flashback episodes, period shows, and huge reveals as to the origin of the vampires and werewolves. Lots to unravel.
Holding it all together is a decent ensemble headlined by a solid trio of Somerhalder, Dobrev, and Wesley. Elena is more or less a plot device and the source of pretty much all of the series' conflict, though this season the writers allow her to take a more proactive role in her fate. Stefan and Damon drive the momentum, however, and with Stefan's character leaving behind his Boy Scout characterization, their interaction is richer. Supporting characters have their moments and play their parts, but tend to be upstaged by either the brothers or the scenery-devouring villains.
The short of it is this: Season Three continues the game plan of the previous two, packing so much plot and character development into a 22 episode run, events that take place in the opener feel like they happened years ago. It's dense, sometimes over-the-top, and the romance is straight from a middle schooler's lunch hour scribbles, but I'm not going to sit here and say I didn't dissect the ramifications of that huge twist involving the magic oak dagger with my wife.
Plus, we get another fine Blu-ray from Warner Bros. which typically delivers the goods on its TV releases. Episodes are transferred in beautiful 1.78:1/1080p; a clean, detailed style that perfectly transmits the slickness of the show. Lots of eye candy here, from the coiffures that defy the laws of physics, to the nifty period sets that show up throughout the season, and the picture quality renders it all very well. Likewise the DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio mix, is a punchy arrangement that does what it has to do: deliver dialogue, the occasional scream, and an oppressive amount of sweeping CW score.
Extras: Featurettes on the vampire mythology and Stefan's descent into darkness, a 20-minute documentary on the writing process called "The Producer's Pages," deleted scenes, and a gag reel. Additionally, this "monster" set comes with standard def DVD copies and UltraViolet downloads.
The Vampire Diaries is the kind of show you'll rip on with your friends...until you watch it with your girlfriend and get hooked.
Dear Diary: Not Guilty!
Review content copyright © 2012 David Johnson; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Warner Bros.
* 1.78:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (English)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 927 Minutes
Release Year: 2011
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Deleted Scenes
* Gag Reel
* DVD Copy
* UltraViolet Download
* Official Site