Kevin Williamson created the teen drama Dawson's Creek. He wrote the very satirical, horror film Scream (1996). This new series would seem to be a combination of the two. Williamson is definitely treading through familiar territory, too familiar as not to be innovative but rather boring.
There are a million shows and films that deal with high school students like this one. There's more than enough, but when it comes to commenting on the present-state of teenage life, this show might as well have been produced a decade ago.
There was a classroom scene where a teacher is challenging the memorization skills of one of the students. While I was impressed at the back-and-forth, a less-than-inspiring ploy to make the student seem smarter than the teacher, an obvious question arose. What is the point of memorizing dates and places, when kids can Google anything on their iPhones?
In reality, students do have to memorize things with or without the context, the nuance or the philosophical meaning that are behind them, but in an increasingly digital age where information is so readily available, it would have been nice to see a program address that. This one missed that.
Paul Wesley stars as Stefan, the aforementioned student with the good memorization skills who also happens to be a 100-year-old vampire, trapped in a teenage boy's body. After a long absence, Stefan returns to the town of Mystic Falls where he meets Elena, played by Nina Dobrev. Stefan is immediately attracted.
Ian Somerhalder co-stars as Damon, the brother of Stefan, who is also vying for the affection of Elena. Damon isn't as sweet and loving as Stefan. Damon is instead manipulative and murderous. If this were Interview with a Vampire (1994), Damon would be Lestat. Somerhalder has the look and charm of Tom Cruise in that movie. He's only taller.
That would make Stefan like the character Brad Pitt played, only nowhere near as interesting or sexy. L.J. Smith who wrote the books on which this series is based is clearly no Anne Rice. No real depth can be found here. Smith is merely derivative. This show is nothing if not derivative, and not just about the vampire stuff, but if you watch, not even that closely, you'll see this is just a carbon copy of Roswell.
Roswell was a teen, supernatural series that premiered in 1999. It was about a mysterious boy with strange abilities who falls in love with a mild-mannered, long, dark-haired girl who writes in a journal and/or diary. The only difference was the boy turned out to be an alien not a vampire.
There are a bunch of insignificant plot threads involving lame characters that I won't bore anyone with. Compared to other vampire stories, the only thing you need to know is these walking undead can walk around in the daytime. They have super speed and super strength, most especially after feeding on human blood, and they can do Jedi mind-tricks to make people do what they want.
In the first episode, the director delayed showing the face of Stefan as was done in the film Twilight (2008) with Edward Cullen. Recognizing that parallel didn't bode well with me. This series felt just as shallow as that movie.
Unlike with HBO's brilliant True Blood, this show doesn't advance the conversation. At least, True Blood didn't resort to the default position of vampires are secret. It was bolder. Vampire Diaries is just recycled garbage. It adds nothing.
Honestly, if you care, rent the DVDs for Buffy the Vampire Slayer and skip this show.
One Star out of Five
Running Time: 1 hr.
Thurs. on 8 p.m. on CW.