So The Vampire Diaries pilot episode didn’t suck. The CW may say it’s on a new path, but the old winning WB ointment is all over this “Scream on Dawson’s Creek” teen angstfest. It’s no shock though since Kevin Williamson created those too.
*Spoilers* and snark for the Pilot episode follow the break.
A car drives along a dark foggy road. The couple in the front seat is talking until a body crashes into the windshield. Hubby jumps out to investigate and gets attacked by a vampire. The wife quickly follows him to her shrieking death on the deserted road. Cue the Title Card.
This could be the tease for a season 1 episode of the CW’s companion show Supernatural, but the tone of Vampire Diaries shifts to a bright domestic kitchen scene. The teen children of the dead couple are getting ready for the first day of high school. Elena and her brother Jeremy are now orphans living with their young “cool” (clueless) aunt Jenna. They spent the summer dealing with the death of the parents. Elena spent time alone journaling, while the younger Jeremy got stoned and chased the wrong SkankyGirl.
This high school has the cliché bunch often found in CW ensembles. Elena seems popular for no reason. Jeremy is crushing on Vicky, the SkankyGirl, but she is dating Tyler (ThatGuy – the handsome selfish pig). Elena’s friend Bonnie comes from a line of psychics and is occasionally correct. Caroline is Elena’s Frenemy. Matt is Elena’s Spurned Ex (and Vicky’s brother), filling out the support characters orbiting Elena. They are all blandly beautiful but nobody, not even the psychic is interesting yet.
Mystic Falls is a hotspot for vampires. Enter the conflicted and mysterious Stefan Salvatore, who stands out for his hawt-ness (according to Bonnie). He has Angel’s hair but Max’s blank expressions. Stefan lives with his “Uncle Zach” who is really Stefan’s nephew. It’s every teen’s fantasy to see an adult deferring to them, so that’s the uncle’s job (until Zach and ClueLess Aunt Jenna eventually hookup in future episodes.)
Stefan is from Mystic Falls, but left around the Civil War. It gets very Dark Shadows once we learn that Stefan has returned because Elena is a live ringer for dead Katherine from 1864. Stefan’s brother, Damon (Ian Somerholder) makes memorable entrances – first as a fog stalking Elena, and then as a crow pecking at his brother. Damon has returned to torment his brother and steal his crush for reasons yet-to-be revealed.
At first look this is a more gothic Joey-Dawson-Pacey triangle. Damon is all bad and Stefan is all bland. Stefan and Elena have a common love of mopey journaling in graveyards as their attraction. The only thing duller would be if they start journaling about Spielburg movies. If Damon continues to bring the menace and add some Pacey-like humour and vulnerability, then he’s got Dawson beat easy to win Elena.
The gothic mystery finally starts at the underage drinking party in the woods. The whispery angst and fog churns until Vicky gets bitten. BitGirl somehow immediately recognizes that a vampire attacked her and tells her brother Matt. Tee up Matt to be lead investigator next week into Stefan’s mysterious ways. Damon is the real prime suspect of course, and the one interesting character thus far.
As a person way past the Twilight years, the gothic fog and the Scream elements are interesting enough to check in again next week on Damon’s growing body count and the town’s paranoia about vampires returning home to roost.
Check out the CW teaser for the next episode: