Critic’s Notebook: When ‘The Vampire Diaries’ Was Good, It Was Great

In 2010 and 2011, in a heart of what we keep job a Golden Age of TV, there were 4 shows that finished my Top 10 lists in both years.

Three of those shows won’t be surprising. Friday Night Lights finished a run with dual classical seasons finished probable by an doubtful partnership between DirecTV and NBC. Parks and Recreation continued a expansion after a severe initial deteriorate by delivering dual scarcely ideal runs of episodes. And Breaking Bad kept rambling a screws as a third and fourth seasons became a tensest yet.

The fourth uncover to make my Top 10 in both 2010 and 2011?

The CW’s The Vampire Diaries.


The Vampire Diaries concludes on Friday (March 10) after 8 seasons and 171 episodes, and nonetheless we haven’t missed an hour, it’s not a uncover we speak about unequivocally many anymore. The uncover has left by a qualitative arc that verges on singular — I’d review it to Sons of Anarchy, yet usually since we know being tied to a CW abnormal soap uncover would means fans of a FX motorcycle soap uncover to go into conniptions — and no matter a turn on that it’s going out, it feels right for me to give a curtsy to a array that unequivocally was a many undervalued good play on network TV for dual years.

When The Vampire Diaries premiered in 2009, let’s usually contend we didn’t like it.

I called Julie Plec and Kevin Williamson’s commander “a shameless bit of pandering to a fang-banging throngs” and complained of stars Nina Dobrev, Paul Wesley and Ian Somerhalder, “the group all poise some-more than act and Dobrev usually has a shade some-more expressiveness.”

This was how we described a show’s best-case scenario: “Much some-more self-consciously stupid than Twilight, featuring some-more rolling haze than an ’80s stone video and driven by a half-dozen of a many pretentious performances East of Melrose Place, The Vampire Diaries competence emerge as a arrange of witless guilty pleasure The CW hoped a new Fox retreads competence become.”

Somehow, that was adequate for me to hang with The Vampire Diaries and for a while, Plec and Williamson were forced to wade by L.J. Smith’s gloomy novel and a array was a hammy disaster of bad behaving and even worse plotting. Don’t make me remind we of those few episodes in that Stefan (Wesley) assimilated a football group since his vampire powers finished him an unstoppable force as far-reaching receiver. This happened and it wasn’t good.

The show’s branch indicate was not, in fact, a initial midseason culmination episode, that was patrician “The Turning Point.” It came a small bit progressing and it concerned a all-too-fast arc in that Vicki Donovan (Kayla Ewell), not-hugely-compelling adore seductiveness to Steven R. McQueen’s Jeremy and sister to Zach Roerig’s Matt, was bitten, became a vampire, afterwards became an wild beast and afterwards was staked permanently, in a space of 3 episodes.

The arc represented all The Vampire Diaries would settle into doing so good for a dual years that followed. Vicki wasn’t all that good as a tellurian impression and Ewell wasn’t all that sparkling as an actor, yet Vampire Vicki was marvelously infamous and untamed and it took accurately dual episodes for Ewell to go from an afterthought to my favorite actor in a expel and afterwards usually as quickly, she was gone. More than a few shows would have milked this Vicki storyline over 12 episodes or over a deteriorate and some-more than a few showrunners would have, after rightly famous a strength or item in Ewell’s ability to play bad, found a approach to behind divided from Vicki’s passing and kept a singer in a fold. I’d try to say, in fact, that a after chronicle of Vampire Diaries would have finished those compromises.

Plec and Williamson laughed in a face of sustainability and assembly comfort. For a subsequent dual years, we could count on The Vampire Diaries doing dual or 3 positively crazy things per episode, going to mid-episode commercials with a arrange of cliffhangers or twists many shows would save for a finish of a season. To watch The Vampire Diaries in those seasons was to lay with one’s jaw frequently agape as characters died or topsy-turvy dignified instruction and did things that seemed unfit for a writers to repair or live with, yet a writers found ways to make scarcely any dumb or weird choice land. There aren’t many shows we feel a need to watch immediately so as to equivocate carrying a surprises spoiled, yet for dual years The Vampire Diaries had to be watched live and it was so entertaining, voluptuous and humorous that prompt observation was never an imposition.

Make no mistake, The Vampire Diaries was, as I’ve said, a abnormal teen soap uncover with all of a inherently stupid trappings, from high propagandize characters who never attended classes to a infrequently laughable confluence to a holiday schedule; any Christmas or Halloween became tied to a Mystic Falls city jubilee that afterwards became tied to a fancy-dress celebration that afterwards became tied to a flashback.

So what of it? Genres are there for a reason and all creators can do is live adult to a top intensity of their genre and The Vampire Diaries was, for a prolonged time, a best darned abnormal teen soap uncover it presumably could be. Plot shake is a biggest stumbling retard for so many fast-paced soaps and if something like The OC proved it usually had engine adequate to final one deteriorate during Josh Schwartz’s strange bake rate, The Vampire Diaries had maybe 3 seasons operative during this clip. [The Vampire Diaries did not have a same late-series liberation as The OC, yet that’s a opposite story.]

I didn’t primarily like a show’s stars, yet Dobrev, Wesley and Somerhalder finished Elena, Damon and Stefan into a singular adore triangle in that all 3 actors had chemistry of opposite types, giving Plec and association plenty regretful variations to play. Knowing there’s zero immature actors suffer some-more than removing to play a same characters in both good and immorality incarnations, Plec and a writers finished Stefan and Damon into vampires whose amiability could be literally switched on or off and both actors thrived. If we suspicion Dobrev had stipulations as a mopey, lovelorn Elena, a uncover valid how gifted she was with a introduction of Elena’s ultra-wicked doppelgänger Katherine — and afterwards had an faulty volume of fun creation Elena fake to be Katherine and Katherine fake to be Elena and Katherine live Elena and Elena live Katherine and other character-blending oddities.

The uncover also found value in tools of a core ancillary cast, generally Candice Accola as Caroline, and then, in a second season, gave a good introduction to a “original” vampires in Elijah (Daniel Gillies) and Klaus Mikaelson (Joseph Morgan) and afterwards after in Rebekah Mikaelson (Claire Holt). There were unequivocally moments in a third and fourth deteriorate in that it felt like Morgan, Gillies and Holt were what was holding The Vampire Diaries together, yet they were so beguiling to watch that we didn’t care. That’s around 2012, when The Vampire Diaries didn’t make my Top 10 list, yet still was hovering in an honest discuss position.

It would be easy to call a spinning off of The Originals as a point-of-decline for The Vampire Diaries and a final dual seasons have, in particular, been a genuine toil for me, that would afterwards advise that if spinning off The Originals was a point-of-decline, Dobrev’s depart substantially should have been a end. we consider a answer is easier and reduction accurate than that. Shows like this are frequency built for 171 episodes. [“Tell that to Dark Shadows and a 1225 episodes!” you’d be right to protest.]

Where did The Vampire Diaries degenerate? Let me count some ways!

*** Too many abnormal people. In a beginning, The Vampire Diaries was a story of one tellurian lady who fell for a vampire boy, yet step by step by step, everybody on a uncover other than Matt, a slightest engaging chairman on a show, became a vampire, a werewolf, a hybrid or a magician or an extended hunter. we can’t indicate to that was a overpass too far, yet it’s somewhere. Humanity was a unequivocally good counterpoint to all of a abnormal transpiring and in a deficiency of humanity, it became a uncover about who could kill whom with that enchanting tool.

*** Too many celebration diversion catchphrases. Man, The Vampire Diaries desired entrance adult with concepts and giving them code names and afterwards repeating those concepts over and over and over again. Doppelgänger! Turning off a amiability switch! Hybrids! Originals! Ripper! The Cure! This also ties into how many of a season-to-season large bads were conjunction large nor bad adequate and unsuccessful to turn bigger or badder when we steady their names. Travelers! The Gemini Coven! Sirens! Augustine! Oh and going off to college didn’t kill The Vampire Diaries, yet like so many high propagandize shows, that was not a tour it finished fluidly.

*** Too many heated relations we didn’t caring about or trust in. I didn’t have a welfare between Stefan and Damon when it came to Elena’s affections, yet we bought into it. As a uncover went along, though, it kept perplexing to remonstrate me of too many “true love” situations we didn’t buy. Whether it was Stefan or Klaus or Alaric, we never cared many who Caroline was with, yet a uncover certain did. The uncover also attempted unequivocally tough to remonstrate me that Damon and Caroline’s Mom were best friends and afterwards that Damon and Bonnie were best friends and afterwards that anybody would caring if Jeremy was finally gone. It got to a indicate where any time a impression was killed or sealed in another dimension or even overslept and missed Sunday brunch, it was like a finish of a universe for another character. Buffy a Vampire Slayer got divided with doing this, yet not any uncover with vampires can be Buffy a Vampire Slayer.

*** Enzo. Nah, I’m usually kidding. Or am I? An awful lot of a final Vampire Diaries season was about being emotionally invested in Enzo. we wasn’t. Ever.

The Vampire Diaries will finish on Friday night and we appreciated that they brought Vicki behind a integrate times in this final season, that differently has been a lifeless and repeated cycle of Damon and Stefan both gaining and losing their amiability and several characters arguing over how many of a bad things finished during a march of a uncover they were prepared to pardon any other for.

You’d never know it from a Emmys or Golden Globes or TCA Awards it won, nor from a series of other Top 10 lists it made, yet as The Vampire Diaries completes a run, we wanted to check in one final time to remind you: When it was good, it was very, unequivocally good.

The Vampire Diaries