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'The Vampire Diaries': Slowly but surely crawling out of 'Twilight's' shadow


The second episode of “Vampire Diaries” had a lot of hype to live up to. Not only did last week's "Diaries" boast the CW's most-watched premiere since the network's 2006 debut, but the episode was followed by a minor scandal when details of four cast members' arrests leaked. The arrests were more misunderstanding than misdemeanor (and the all-smiles mug shots looked more like head shots -- did they think it was a photo shoot). But otherwise the press was mostly positive, stirring up plenty of free publicity for the show.

I'll admit it – I like my entertainment as soapy and cheesy as it gets. I still watch “One Tree Hill,” and I'm ashamed to say that my DVD collection includes at least one movie where Paris Hilton dies. So when the CW announced “Vampire Diaries,” I salivated. Broody guys with dark secrets and perfect hair! Mean high school history teachers! Love triangle angst!

Thursday night delivered all the gooey first-kiss melodrama I'd been hoping for, as well as a healthy dose of the good old-fashioned horror. The series has guilty pleasure written all over it.

Yeah, yeah, we all know the “Twilight” phenomenon is undeniably what got this show on the air. But if anything is going to pull it out of Edward Cullen's sparkly shadow, it's that there are two hot vamps on the loose: Stefan and Damon, (Paul Wesley and Ian Somerhalder). The chemistry between the estranged brothers is palpable: Stefan's every move is calculated and careful, and Damon's reckless, bloodthirsty antics seem all the more dangerous. 

Their showdown on the roof Thursday night was, as the kids say, pretty epic... 

Damon tried to tempt Stefan into feeding on the high school's hot stoner chick, Vicki, but in the end, Stefan was the master manipulator. He may be the strong silent type, but he's got his brother wrapped around his finger -– he not only made Damon let Vicki go, but he got Damon to happily wipe Vicki's memory of the incident. I'm looking forward to seeing how their relationship plays out -- sibling rivalry probably gets a little intense after a couple of centuries.

By the way, how chilling is Somerhalder's devious little smirk? I was way more uneasy when he smiled than I was when he jumped out of the shadows with bloodshot eyes and bared fangs. 

VD101b_0335b The good guy vs. bad boy thing could have been overdone, but there's something refreshingly different about this one: While Stefan would love to date Elena, Damon would love to slaughter her and drink her like a nice Chianti.  

Speaking of Elena, I'm still undecided on our heroine (Nina Dobrev).  She’s recently orphaned and that's really sad and all, but writing in your diary about how no one sees your inner pain while sitting alone in a foggy graveyard is a little melodramatic, even for my tastes.  

Still, Executive Producer Kevin Williamson has a pretty good history when it comes to his dark-haired ingénues. Sidney Prescott toughed it out through the entire “Scream” trilogy, and who didn't love Joey Potter's wordy banter? So I'm willing to stick it out with Elena for now (but whether she’s worthy of sharing a network with Blair Waldorf? That remains unclear.)

The show hasn't yet addressed the creep factor of a centuries-old vampire lusting after an emotionally vulnerable teenage girl. She's talking to her friends about texting as an "important milestone in any relationship," while he's haunted by grisly memories of the Civil War. When Stefan and Elena shared their first kiss, I was half enthralled and half waiting for Chris Hansen to pop out from around the corner.  "Hello, Mr. Vampire, why don't you have a seat right there…"

Thoughts? Think I'm being too hard on Elena? Prefer Damon over Stefan? Let me know below. And check back after next week's episode.

--Carina MacKenzie

Photo credit: CW

Comments () | Archives (52)

Ok you can't compare Twilight with Vampire Diaries. Yes, they both have similarities like Love Triangles and Vampires but Twilight is more of a romance and Vampire Diaries is more of a Vampire's in general.

Elena annoys me (to stereotypical and judgmental)
Stephan is a stalker who can't seem to have control, and you can't compare him to Edward. Stephan tries hard to be Edward but can't to cheap for him. In the book I'm more for Edward bcus he got his mind and he tries to play it safe but in the movie I'm for Jacob (face it you can't compare Pattinson and Lautner). I was dissapointed in the first movie and prefer the 1st book over it. 2nd movie seems more interesting bcus Pattinson is not there that much. So I'll stick with Vampire Diaries to occupy me during the wait of November 20th.

As for Damon I'm on his side for the show. He is dangerous and totally magnetic thus of his appeal. I don't even mind him killing people and trying to get Stephen in trouble (which I would too, he was to nice on the roof to erase the girls memory). He seems more attracted to Elena then Stephen if you ask me.

I hope the show will make some progress and keep things going or I'll die from Stephan and Elena's boring characters.

I've always liked Damon much better in the books and still like him better than Stefan in the series! Elena is pretty bland like the typical female protagonist in vampire books so I'm not surprised. This series so far seems alright - it's watch-able so I'm fine with that :)! Yay for team Damon!

Well being a book lover of Vampire Series I just want the shows to show the books some respect clearly they will never compare just dont want the drastic butchering like what happened with True Blood. I love Stephan there is something about the whole you complete me that makes me feel puppy love all over again.

im a hopeless romantic... TEAM STEFAN! and im hooked with the show.

Hi there,
I found the show without searching for it... and it's my new love!
I'm in Europe but I can keep up online ;)
I saw yesterday the 2º episode and I'm more and more in love with Stefan.. the way he looks, the way he touchs..Can I have my very own private vampire "Stefan"!?? :)
In my opinion, Damon "demon" lol it's to cliche...typical u know? The show would be awsome anyway if he wasn't in th story.. But yes Carina, the show is slowly but surely crawling out of twilight shadow.. and u know what? I'm loving it :)
Good article!Congrat's*

Carina-loved your article...you were spot on....haven't decided about Elena either..
can't wait for next week to read your thoughts.....btw, "....as the kids say????.." how old are you anyway?????

Suprisingly impressed with the show.

And yes it is a guilty pleasure...stemmed off this whole vampire obsession from Twilight, but wasn't it Twilight that played off of the Underworld series for the teen scene? This is more my taste anyways.

Elena is definitely not living up to her part. Loving every minute of Stefan, wish it wasn't so wishy washy about his past...hopefully they interject some sort of flashback.

I disagree with most of the comments here, I love the show! Twilight was not as good as the books at all, but having not read the books for this series makes the show all the more interesting.

Team Damon for sure, and that was just from the trailer alone..lol. After looking at both episodes I can safely say that I'd be all over Damon like whipped cream on a Mocha Late. He's too damned sexy for it to be legal. That said, I will admit that Stefan is growing on me. And I don't care if it's all cliche. Sometimes we want more cliche.There's a reason why it's still around and because ppl lap it up. I like Stefan being the cliche Edward Cullen type, tortured vampire with a good "soul" and I love that Damon is the typical bad boy vampire with a vengence out for his bro. And I love that Elena is the typical, sad, over intense person that she is. It's what makes it all great and it's why we watch. Good job CW. And thanks for giving me my fix *wink*.

Is it just me, or do these vamp brothers look waaaay too old to be hanging out with a high school crowd? Reminds me of a SNL skit when they were making fun of the guy from Dawson's Creek by trying to hide his bald spot.

both super hot vampires, but you're right about elena. she's playing depressed sad girl fine, but at the end of this episode she's supposed to have her shining moment, like hey i'm going for this new relationship! but she still seemed very flat. hopefully they'll take her out of that character, because no one likes flat. stefan kinda is too, but he has that smoldering im a vampire/something bad happened to my old girlfriend backstory thing going on that lets him pull that off. im waiting to find out what exactly went down with catherine-im kinda hoping he's the one that offed her in a vamp moment, which is why he needs to be so restrained. of course that does make me wonder what he's doing totally chasin after elena, hopefully that'll get explained too. as for damon--love him! i know he's the bad guy, but he does the devil may care thing so well! and his evil little smirk does give chills--but it's super sexy too! stefan's hot too, but everyone should remember it's charisma that gets you everywhere! which ian somerhalder seems to have in abundance! anyway, really good review!

so, I absolutley loved the books and the differences between the series and the show is exactly what it needed! It adds so much friction and drama onto the show, making you realize that this is going to be more then a one time thing. Vampire Diaries is beginning to take over Twilight (which I am a fan off) but for a good reason. Vampire diaries is the original and deserves the credit.

And, have you seen the guys?! Sexy!

To truly come out of Twilight's shadow, the movie should prove that it has something different to which will pull it away from Twilight..

a nice change of vampires.. it's refreshing....i'm wayy over twilight and vampire diaries (the books) was much more action packed so i really hope this show lasts long....as we all know that many cw shows have been axed in the past but the hype from twilight will hopefully keep it around awhile.... stefan, damon....life is definitely sweet=]

1). Read the books in high school and fell head over heels in love w/ Stefan! He is my ultimate vampire crush with Damon coming close second.

2). Show is good so far but definitely not in line w/ the books except for the names of the characters. It has potential and I will try to continue watching it but it doesnt even hold a candle to the books.

3). I feel its almost "typical" for everyone to prefer Damon over Stefan, after all he is the bad boy and girls are just attracted to those kind of guys. Even in the old school 90210 all the girls liked Luke Perry, but I always preferred Jason Priestley. And sorry guys but I really really dislike Ian SomerWhatever! He doesnt even begin to scratch the surface of the Damon from the books! And has a long way to go before I give him my thumbs up. And arent we maybe overlooking another peripheral character...Matt? I mean he is no Stefan but still, his devotion to Elena is pretty attractive :-) Although for the life of me I cant see why these guys like her so much, her character as you said has a lot to prove. In the books its a bit more obvious why she is so coveted, in the show...not so much.

4). I am disappointed at how drastically Kevin Williamson has changed the series for tv adaptation, I always did want to see Stefan, Elena and Damon come to life, but not like this!

5). LOVED your review (maybe more than the actual show itself)! As a lover of the books I am trying to keep an open mind and give this series a chance.

I love the show, even if it is only the first two episodes. I have already read the three books that inspired the TV show, and also loved them. From what the books say the TV series isn't going to be the same as Twilight or True Blood. Of course it starts around the same lines, but it's just the beginning. Believe me it gets way better.

Very interesting piece. Don't "dismiss" Elena so quickly things might change like it they did in Breaking Dawn with Bella Cullen.
I like the show and I am all for Team Damon. Stephan is way too Edward Cullen for my taste. Damon is way hotter than his brother...

I hope we've reached Vampire overload after this show. Just another shameless attempt by Hollywood to suck all the life out of the latest fad among the teenyboppers.

I already knew everything would be wrong before i saw the pilot but i have been giving it a chance anyway. Its not good its bland! Nothing is the same from the books except some of the names. People are missing, some are added, some mashed into one, place changed, events not the same. Nothing mysterious. These books began in 1991 and are very detailed in descriptions! I don't get what was difficult to adapt? If they can make a whole season of true blood from one 200 page book and have it be amazing, whats so hard in taking a 311 page book with detailed descriptions and events and putting it on screen. Remove the fangs and its a gloomy 90210. Im only giving it a chance because the author is and i have been a fan for 18 years! But its not a great sign when an author says nothing about it but only"give it a chance"

Loved the books…..Like the show
I am totally on TEAM STEFAN. Where is Meredith? I understand that the TV adaptation can't be exactly like the books but Meredith is suck a big part of the book series.

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