Step right up, and plop yourselves right down on your favorite couch for guilty-pleasure TV at its most recent, if not its finest. The Vampire Diaries is one of those shows that's bound to suck me in by my carotid, and if I wasn't getting paid to tell you about it, I might never admit that unless under oath. But watch it, I did. Yessirreebob. And are you ready? Because this is so bad it's gooooooooooooooood.
Recently orphaned 17-year-old Elena (Nina Dobrev) and 15-year-old Jeremy Gilbert (Steve R. McQueen; oh yeah, babies, grandson of the Steve McQueen), live in Mystic Falls, Virginia, with their cool grad-student Aunt Jenna (Sarah Canning), who has to remind herself she's the grownup of the family. Elena is trying to get back to normal by hanging with her probably-psychic friend, Bonnie (Katerina Graham) and frenemy Caroline (Candice Accola), so she saves all her orphaned-teenaged-angst for her journal -- which she updates IN THE LOCAL CEMETERY! Brother Jeremy is getting back to normal by getting high and drunk, selling drugs and chasing after Vicki Donovan (Kayla Ellwell) who only sees him as a three-night-stand, or three one-night-stands (or her favorite dealer who takes trade). Vicki prefers to hook up with Jeremy's arch-rival, Taylor (Michael Trevino), at least until he morphs into a date-rapist. Taylor looks like the love child of Zach Braff and Eric Balfour, but I digress. He is BFFs with Matt (Zach Roerig), who is not only Vicki's brother, but also Elena's ex (and pines for her, still).
Stefan Salvatore (Paul Wesley) is the new hottie in town, but this is a CW show, so everyone is young and beautiful, thus the term hottie is reduced to redundancy. He lives with his uncle Zach (but Stefan's actually Zach's uncle of sorts, and possibly his own grandpa; we'll get there, I'm sure), who is way less cool than Elena's aunt, because he's all over Stefan about getting control of himself and not killing people and blah blah blah bloodpudding-cakes. The thing is, Stefan hasn't killed anyone. At least, not recently. Parents (and guardians, and pseudo-uncle-nephews) just don't understand! Stefan is a vampire, you see, but he's trying to "live at peace with humans" (the CW's words, not mine). I'd just say: "It's different, he has a soul now. Or a chip. Or principles...or something," but I'm trying to keep my Buffy the Vampire Slayer Tourette's in check as much as I can (and I'm not doing a great job). Anyhow, Stefan also has a big-ass crush on Elena, not least of all because she looks just like his long lost love circa 1864, Katherine. Stefan keeps a journal too, just like Elena. Isn't that incredible? Surely, this is fate!
But... Fear not, fang hags, this is not all schmoop. At 42 minutes in, Stefan's big-bad big brother Damon (Ian Somerhalder) appears, and he is as bad as he is pretty, and is about as pleased that his brother is off human blood as Spike was when the Gypsies re-ensouled Angel. Damon attacks Vicki, but doesn't kill her, which leaves her to whisper to her brother that a vampire got her. What's more, Damon fights with Stefan, because obviously Katherine (and her newest doppelganger, Elena) was the thorn between these two painfully beautiful roses.
Before, meanwhile, and after, Stefan and Elena make goo-goo eyes at each other, and are utterly twipperpated, much to the chagrin of Matt and Caroline. The episode closes with Damon making pedophile-eyes at Caroline at the local hang-out where she's gone to sober up, as Stefan goes to Elena's and finally receives a proper invite (which he needs, because? Vampire).
All and all, I'd say this is a must-add to your fall schedule, but I have a few nitpicks. Look, I'm an unapologetic narrator junkie. Veronica Mars voice-overs and Pushing Daisies narration rocked my world, but even though the premise here is that we're getting a look-see into the diaries of Stefan and Elena, I hope the diarist-style narration is dialed down at some point -- soon. It was okay tonight, but it should be applied with the lightest of hands, once the premise is established (which I think happened tonight). Also, the crow and the fog were... corny. Now, I'm not against corn, but please don't give me high-fructose corn syrup, m'kay? I know Thursday nights are a heavy one, but God didn't make dual-tuner TiVos for nothing, my loves, and the pretty in this show flows right into the pretty on Supernatural. Come on, get sucked in. I reckon this is the most embarrassing show you'll ever love -- at least this season. I'll catch you on the flip side with the full weecap.
Now where were we? Lessee -- it's a dark and stormy night, well okay, it's foggy, or soon will be. Take a moment and get used to it, as over a shot of a fog filled forest, Stefan Salvatore (Paul Wesley) narrates that for over a century he's lived in secret, hiding in the shadows, "Until now. I am a vampire and this is my story." Did anyone else go here? I am a vampire. I am a vampire. Just me, then. M'kay.
Cut to a 20-something couple driving through the night. The man (who we'll later learn is named Darren) complains about the concert they've just seen. "He sounded like James Blunt." The woman (Brooke) asks what's wrong with that. The man keeps his eyes on the road. "We already have a James Blunt. One's all we need." Somewhere, James Blunt -- not knowing why he feels a bit put off -- dedicates "You're Beautiful" to Brooke. Blind to her role in this international love triangle, Brooke laughs and asks Darren why he went to the concert. Darren steals a sidelong glance. "Because I love you." Oh dear, bye-bye Mr. Nice Boyfriend Guy.
Here it comes. The fog thickens. A dark figure stands in the middle of the road. Darren doesn't see him in time. THWACK! The figure bounces off the windshield, onto the roof, and over the top of the SUV, landing in the middle of the road, sort of like Olympia Snowe, or the Blue Dogs. As the couple comes to terms with their (mistaken) assumption that they've hit a human being, I yell, "That's about the oldest vamp trick in the book. Run, run, hit and run, it's a thing!" They don't listen. They never do. Darren brings his car to a screeching halt and tells Brooke to call for help, as he goes to tend to his victim. Sucker. Make that suckee. "Please be alive. Please be alive." Darren grabs Road-Kill's wrist, but the camera lingers on the unusual and unusually large ring Road-Kill's sporting. Not knowing he's in a vampire show and therefore that Road-Kill probably hasn't had a pulse in yonks, Darren freaks, thinking he's taken a life, even though he's clearly on the give side of that equation. Road-Kill springs up with a snarl, grabs Darren by the throat and sinks his fangs in, deep.
Brooke misses the commotion, because she can't get a signal on her cell phone. And of course, she gets out of the car to tell Darren that very thing, but Darren is nowhere to be found. CRASH! Oh, okay. There he is. Behind her, Darren's lifeless body is unceremoniously plopped onto the SUV's hood. Face flushed, hands clenched, she turns, screams and runs off through the flowing fog (which had been ebbing). Brooke is grabbed by an unseen force from above (and I don't think it's an angel), and screams again as we watch her ascent into what is surely not heaven. As we fade out, I like to imagine a single tear drops down James Blunt's cheek as he breaks into "Goodbye My Lover" then wonders who Brooke even is. Regardless? Title Card.
Over Stefan's shoulder, we watch the sunrise along with him. SUNRISE! The hell? This is a vampire show and I'm quite sure he's a vampire. Is he suicidal? It's not clear, but he is still talking to himself. I'm sure the people in the forums will diagnose him from their armchairs right quick, but if they go directly to Asperger's, I'm going beg TWoP Sun to make a new rule. Anyhow, Stefan says, "I shouldn't have come home. I know the risk, but I had no choice." The camera zooms out to reveal he's standing on the steeply pitched, mossy roof of a rather grand home. "I have to know her." In case you dozed off during the narration, Stefan leaps from the gable end of Mossy Manse, to hammer home that this is a big step for him. He lands lightly below and we cut to...
Gilbert House: Recently orphaned seventeen year old Elena Gilbert (DeGrassi's Nina Dobrev) starts her day in a cozy looking window seat. "Dear Diary..." Oh good. MORE narration. Elena's busy convincing her diary that this year will be different. She'll act all happy, peppy, and bursting with joy. I remember lying to my diary, too. When I was like eleven. Elena's eyes scan assorted photos of her family (mom, dad, brother and herself). "I will no longer be the sad little girl who lost her parents." She wants to start fresh. "...Be someone new. It's the only way I'll make it through." Oh man, is her diary going to rhyme? All the time? Ahem.
In the kitchen are guardian/grad-student Aunt Jenna Sommers (Sarah Canning), and Elena's fifteen year old brother, Jeremy (Steven R. McQueen; son of Chad, and grandson of the Steve McQueen). As a parenting newbie, Jenna offers to make these great big kids some toast. Psst, Jenna, my kids are way younger and already get their own breakfast. Elena and Jeremy don't want to eat, anyhow. They're all about the coffee. Really? Is that the norm now, even for a 15 year old? I wasn't in the throes of that addiction until college. Jenna has to book, because she's late for a meeting with her thesis advisor. Once she's gone, Elena reaches out to Jeremy to give him time to establish himself as a sullen S.O.B., which he does just before he walks out on her. Over Elena's shoulder, the Gilbert's TV features headshots of poor dead Darren Malloy -- age 24, and Brooke I-Can't-See-Her-Full-Last-Name -- age 22. Too bad. So sad.
As Bonnie (Katerina Graham) drives Elena through the streets of Mystic Falls, Virginia and off to school, she natters on about how her "Gram" says she's psychic and that they're descended from the witches of Salem and whatnot. Whatever. My cousin is a Wiccan