A Review of CW’s The Vampire Diaries

So last night I settled in to watch the premier of The Vampire Diaries on CW.  I had my tea at hand, Myra McEntire (who was lucky enough to see the pilot like 6 weeks ago) on GoogleTalk to compare notes and impressions, and my attention was rapt.  For approximately 65 minutes (between interruptions to deal with laundry, the TV audio having to compete with Callie’s favorite squeaky toy for dominance, and a malfunction of the receiver I was giving great thanks to God for DVR and the ability to pause live TV) I watched and chatted.

This show should be more “sort of loosely inspired by with a few of the same characters as” L.J. Smith’s books.  I haven’t read the books in probably ten years, but prior to that I’d read them (the original 4 anyway) at least a dozen times, so I know the story very well.  Mr. Dawson’s Creek guy took a lot of creative license.  There were small changes that didn’t bother me much (changing the name of the town and the last names of several characters, making Caroline a blonde instead of an auburn haired chick, and changing Bonnie from a very Irish redhead to a spunky and with it African American chick).  Then there were bigger changes.  A lot of them.

  • Elena is supposed to be a blue eyed blonde (I don’t know why this bothers me, but it does)
  • Elena in the books does not have a brother, nor is her aunt a grad student who’s only maybe a decade older.  I can’t remember but I think she may have a little sister.
  • Vicky is supposed to be Vicky Bennett and is, in the book, no relation to Elena’s ex boyfriend Matt Honeycutt (which I think is Donovan in the show).
  • Meredith as a character doesn’t even EXIST in the show.  Myra and I hypothesize that she and Bonnie got morphed into one.
  • And they really played fast and loose with Stefan’s backstory.  Here’s the deal.  Stefan (and his brother) are supposed to be Renaissance Italians not Civil War Virginians.  Fall’s Church/Mystic Falls (in the show) is NOT HOME.   They do not have any progeny or progeny of relatives that own the boarding house and know what they are.  Stefan is supposed to be an exchange student.  And as I recall he is supposed to have a really sexy Italian sports car.  It’s this change in the backstory that really bugs me the most.  It’s…unnecessary.
  • They also seemed to cover huge chunks of the entire first book in just the pilot episode, so I’m really not sure what they plan on covering for the rest of the series.

All that having been said, I really enjoyed the show as its own thing.  Some of the adaptations were reasonable and make it more believable to current audiences.  Like having the “Uncle” who’s really a great great nephew or something who runs the boarding house.  That’s more believable than an alleged teen living on his own.  And I can see why they canned little sister.  Not particularly helpful in a show about teens.  The aunt is more hip.  Some of the other character dynamics have changed, but in ways that maket hem more relatable.  Elena in the show is far more likeable than she is in the books (I never read for her in the first place–it was all about the brothers).  I’m not sure why they added her brother other than to give her more stuff to worry about. Anyway I think it’s worth watching.  Just don’t go into it thinking it’s a purist adaptation of the books.

And as a total aside, was I just really sheltered as a teen?  TV and movies are ALWAYS showing these huge bonfire parties where teens get drunk and or have sex and don’t seem to run afoul of grown ups.  Do these actually exist?  Was I so much a geek that I simply wasn’t invited or even knew about them?

Anyway, it’s got me itching to revisit my YA idea again.  It’s been hanging out on the backburner for quite some time, but between Vampire Diaries and having recently read Lili St. Crow’s Strange Angels and adding several very interesting and very dark YA books to my wishlist, it makes me want to jump on the YA bandwagon too.  Everybody’s doing it!  Even my CP!

But no, I need to finish my current project first…

3 thoughts on “A Review of CW’s The Vampire Diaries

  1. No, I don’t think they did exist. Bonfire parties are a TV construction.

    I’m looking forward to this show, so glad to see you didn’t hate it. Not having read the books, I won’t be bothered by the alterations.

  2. Bonfire parties happen regularly here in Maine from the north to the south. I’m from the north so I’d thought it was something from up there since it’s country land with miles and miles between farms and towns. But they also happen in the southern part of the state; usually in a wooded area, by train tracks, in cemeteries, sand pits, at lakes, playgrounds, and the oddest one…piggeries. (which is Maine-ish for where they raise pigs for slaughter) Don’t ask how I know. Plausible deniability.

    They also happened in Tampa, Fla…sometimes right on a main drag in the slummier areas and projects.

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