The world has a pretty big obsession with vampires. From its humble yet monstrous beginnings on screen with 1922’s Nosferatu, the craze grew stronger with Bram Stoker’s Dracula and Interview with a Vampire, before it reached fever pitch with film translations of Stephanie Meyers immensely popular Twilight Saga book series, where the fanged bloodsuckers were reintroduced as sparkling love-interests. The appreciation for the immortal folklore beings also continued on the small screen, with incredibly popular shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and True Blood, with both leaning towards the fact that Vampires could be loved as well as feared.
Network CW jumped on the bandwagon when they adapted L. J. Smith’s popular novel saga The Vampire Diaries, turning it into an American supernatural drama television show. The series (which premiered on September 10th 2009) proved to be an immediate hit, with the pilot audience gathering in the biggest audience that the network had seen since its inception in 2006. Until the very recent premier of the latest episode, the show had aired a healthy 156 episodes across seven seasons. The show was renewed on July 23rd 2016 for its eighth and final season, which began airing on the 21st October 2016. In addition to the main series, The Vampires also had a spin-off series titled The Originals, which first aired in 2013 and is also still going – enjoying fairly good viewership and reviews.
So of course you know that VD features immortal beings of the night, but who are the characters and what is it truly about at its heart? Well, the show takes place in an entirely fictional town known as Mystic Falls in the state of Virginia, which is renowned within the context of the series for its rich history charged with supernatural folklore. The main part of the series (until her departure at the end of season 6) focuses on Elena Gilbert (Nina Dobrev, The Roommate, Let’s Be Cops), who has just suffered the tragic loss of her parents in a fatal car accident. Lost and confused, she falls madly in love with a mysterious boy, who also happens to be a century old vampire called Stefan Salvatore (played by Paul Wesley Fallen, Peaceful Warrior).
What initially seems to be a burgeoning romance is made far more difficult when Stephan’s even more mysterious and decidedly more deadly older brother (Ian Somerhalder, Lost) returns to the town with a plan to raise a past lover from the grave…one who looks just like Elena. Eventually a complicated love triangle emerges between the three, which beyond causing tensions, causes threat and macabre events as other villains are made aware and are drawn to the town, whilst Elena continues to court darkness.
More specifically, Elena is an intelligent and independent young woman who is blindsided by the arrival of the two vampires whom she can’t help but have strong romantic feelings for. As a result, she is drawn into the dark underbelly of the supernatural world that hides from mortals, and the show spends much of its time focusing on the difficulties she faces being presented with a secret life, where she is no more than prey against creatures far more powerful. Stephan (like Edward Cullen from Twilight) is a fundamentally good vampire, who struggles with the immortal life he has been cursed with, only wanting to find love and be happy. From time to time he is willing to give in to his dark desires, especially if it is to protect Elena or his brother.
On the other hand, Damon is far darker and more malevolent in his attitude, flitting between villain and anti-hero. Although he initially appears to have stone heart, as the show progresses, more of his compassionate side is shown – especially as he begins to fall for Elena. In addition to the main three cast, there are several supporting characters who make reoccurring appearances in the show. For example, there is Jeremy – Elena’s younger brother, who seems innocent, but might just hold a dark secret. There is also Jenna Sommers – Elena’s aunt and legal guardian after their parents are killed in the car crash. Plus there is Bonnie Bennett – Elena’s best friend who also happens to be an incredibly powerful witch, capable of resurrecting herself after death. She has an initial hatred towards vampires that softens as the series progresses. There are many, many more returning characters, but way too many to list and would spoil too much about the series. The best way to get to know them all is to watch the show! At its heart, the show seems to be about love, support and friendship in the face of hardship, which seems to be a common thread that runs through many of CW’s shows.
Normally we would take a look at the show and analyse its chances of renewal. However, in the case of Vampire Diaries, we already know that it has entered its final season, which will conclude its narrative arc. Still let’s see how popular it is and what kind of feedback it’s gotten over its history. The first season averaged 3.60 million viewers and was the most-watched series (until Arrow premiered). This number has dropped substantially to 1.08 million during the premier of the eighth season, but is still good enough for a long running show on a smaller network.
In addition, it has received numerous award nominations, winning 4 People’s Choice Award and an impressive 25 Teen Choice Awards, showing that it has been very well received among audiences. Critics have been fairly kind, and the show has a healthy rating of 7.8 out of 10 on IMDb from over 220,000 reviews. With everything taken into account, #VD can stand tall as one of the shows that has managed to stand the test of time and be considered good enough to be allowed to finish its story arc, which is a testament to the writers, actors and directors.
You can get hold of both Blu-Ray and DVD copies of #VampireDiaries, ranging in price from $9.98 to $32.96 depending on the series. If you prefer to watch your shows online, then you can either head over to iTunes store or Amazon Instant Video. At the latter, you can pick up each episode for $2.99 or between $24.99 and $34.99 for each complete season – depending on how recent it is. You will also able to catch reruns of the show on CW, as they air quite frequently. Just check your local television guide for details of airdates and episode lists.
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