I couldn't sit down to watch The Vampire Diaries last Thursday night without Smallville on my mind. Never before had I watched a new episode of Supernatural without watching Smallville first, but now there was a new show in the 8PM slot. The two shows have nothing to do with each another, and TVD is based on a series of books that were written long before Smallville ever aired, so I know all the similarities I saw between the two were coincidental at best, and at worst, just the crazy imaginings of my Smallville-obsessed brain. But c'mon, indulge me all the same. It'll be fun. :)
The Vampire Diaries stars three main characters, two guys and a girl. The girl, Elena, is off-the-charts pretty, with long, dark, shiny hair, and great big eyes. Everyone LOVES her. She lost her parents in a tragic accident that has come to define her, and now lives with her single aunt. She likes to hang out in the cemetery, next to her parents' grave. She is the object of affection of both of the guys, one "good" and one "bad." They were once close (they're brothers), but are now estranged, and both have big secrets to keep (they're vampires).
The younger, "good" guy, Stefan, seems fascinated with Elena to the point of obsession, but can never be completely honest with her, for fear she will recoil in horror if she learns the truth about him. Still, he wants nothing more than to live a "normal" life with her. The older, "bad" guy, Damon, might be interested in Elena for herself alone, or maybe all he truly cares about is what she means to Stefan. In any case, he has set his sights on her, and Stefan has vowed to protect her from his evil influence. Damon and Elena don't meet in the Pilot, but there is one scene where she is in the cemetery, surrounded by fog, and she sees Damon outlined in the mist, appearing to become one with the angel statue next to him.
Okay, I can't be the only one who sees this, right? But wait, here's the best part (Hi, Clark!):
It's the same high school! There's also a scene between Stefan and Elena on the bridge where Emily Dinsmore confronted Lana in Accelerate, and I'm pretty sure Elena's cemetery is the same one we saw at the end of Crush. I'm telling you, it's downright spooky! :) Although I hear the show films in Atlanta now, so no more playing spot the Smallville location after this. Bummer.
Okay, all kidding aside, what did I think of the show? Well, it wasn't awesome, but I didn't hate it either. The acting by some of the supporting actors is truly awful, and the dialogue is painful at times ("No, you're worse. You want to talk to me, get to know me, see into my soul, and screw and screw and screw, until you're done with me."). Between Elena's tragic sorrow, Stefan's earnest angst, and Damon's creepy maliciousness, it can be a bit melodramatic. And in a testament to how truly shallow I am, my interest is severely tempered by the fact that I don't find any of the guys on TVD particularly attractive. But still, I have to say I enjoyed most of it.
I like all three of the principle actors. Nina Dobrev is captivating to watch, and she has this husky voice I could listen to all day. I believe in Elena's sadness, but I also believe she's trying to get past it. Paul Wesley (Smallville's Lucas Luthor) won me over when he was on Everwood, and I like him here as well. I think he's a good actor, and while I think Stefan needs to get over himself, Paul's portrayal keeps the character from being annoying. Ian Somerhalder (Smallville's Adam Knight, and LOST's Boone) is completely over the top as Damon, but he has such fun with it I'm charmed. His character is ridiculous, and skeevy, and already my favorite!
An unexpected pleasure was discovering that Elena's little brother, Jeremy, is played by Steven R. McQueen, another Everwood favorite of mine. I also like Elena's BFF, Bonnie, played by Katerina Graham. She's vibrant, and fun, and psychic, which is cool. And all the other kids are vampire fodder, as far as I'm concerned.
Although this is a genre show, it's much more like Gossip Girl than Supernatural. There are lots of pretty people wearing pretty clothes, it's a given that the kids drink, do drugs, and have sex, and pretty much all the adults are either jerks or idiots. The teenagers rule, in every way possible, and are unfettered by pesky little things like curfews, homework, or parents who know or care where they are. But there are some hidden depths with just the right touch of eeriness to draw me in.
There's a mystery surrounding Elena. She looks exactly like a woman from the brothers' distant past. Is she a descendant? Or is she something else altogether? Stefan is determined to protect Elena from Damon, but he won't be strong enough to do so unless he goes back to feeding on human blood. Will he raid the local blood bank? Will he start feeding on people the world would be better off without? Or will he lose himself to temptation? And just for a moment there in the Pilot, Ian showed us a thin edge of true darkness in Damon that was absolutely delicious. More, please!
The Pilot is full of music, by The Fray, Mat Keating, OneRepublic, and Placebo, just to name a few. I'm so jealous! I miss my Smallville music SO MUCH. I don't know if Smallville stopped using my beloved alt rock because of budget constraints, or because they wanted to move on from the teen feel of the early years now that all the characters on the show are living their adult lives, but I mourn its absence. After watching this episode, I went straight to iTunes to download my favorites. Good times.
And there's one more thing that makes me like TVD. Somehow it feels more like a WB show than a CW show, if that makes any sense. The pretty is there, but not the glitz, and there's something more there as well, under the surface. Watching it took me back, with a flood of emotion, to Buffy, and Lorelai, and yes, Dawson. And I can't explain it any better than that. So, yeah, I'll be tuning in again. I'm not sure for how long, especially once all my other shows are back vying for my attention, but for now I'm curious enough, and entertained enough, to add it to my list. And since I'm totally up for Smallville on Friday nights now, I'm not even holding a grudge about the time slot.