The Vampire Diaries: The Complete First Season Blu-ray Review
- Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
- Video Codec: VC-1
- Resolution: 1080p/24
- Audio Codec: English Dolby Digital 5.1 (640kbps), Portuguese Dolby Digital 2.0
- Subtitles: English, English SDH, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, Norwegian, Portuguese, Spanish, Swedish
- Region: ABC (Region-Free)
- Rating: Not Rated
- Discs: 4
- Studio: Warner Home Video
- Blu-ray Release Date: August 31, 2010
- List Price: $69.97
Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures
(Screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG thus are meant as a general representation of the content and do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)
The popularity of modern-day vampire culture continues its reign with The CW network’s hit teen drama The Vampire Diaries, based on the L.J. Smith series of novels by the same name. One might be tempted to write off The Vampire Diaries as yet more overwrought, teen angst high school romance with some supernatural twists thrown in, a la Twilight, and one would be correct if tuning in for only the first quarter of the series. The Vampire Diaries, however, has a bit more charm and dark allure and successfully marries the teen high school drama with vampire lore for an irresistible bit of weekly guilty pleasures that teen (and not-so-teen) audiences can appreciate.
It’s Mystic Falls, Virginia, and Elena (Nena Dobrev, whom target audiences will recognize from Degrassi: The Next Generation) is returning to high school. It’s her first year back after her parents died in a car accident. She’s now under the guidance of her aunt Jenna (Sara Canning) and must help to look after her troubled younger brother Jeremy (Steven R. McQueen, yes, that Steve McQueen)
It’s not long before Elena is attracted to mysterious newcomer Stefan Salvatore (Paula Wesley) who, it turns out, is a vampire over a century-and-a-half years old. Things become complicated, and dangerous, when Stefan’s older brother, also a vampire, Damon (Ian Sommerhalder), also returns to town with a vendetta against Stefan. Since every good vampire story needs a love triangle, Damon also has eyes for Elena, and she becomes caught between the two brothers feelings for her, all because she strongly resembles a woman, Katherine (also played by Dobrev), that the brothers both loved over a century earlier.
As the story unfolds, it becomes apparent that Mystic Falls is hiding many secrets and that the town’s human founders may just be laying in wait with a plan to wipe them out the vampires when they return. It’s the town’s dirty little secret, everyone knows the stories, but everyone keeps it quiet.
With a new twist on vampire lore and mythology, romance, horror and teen angst mixed in with enough suspense and thrill to keep it interesting as it moves along, The Vampire Diaries: The Complete First Season succeeds in avoiding the über-cheese (pardon the made up word) of the Twilight saga and charts its own territory. Not quite as dark as its network’s sister show Supernatural, but just as Gothic, it just may have room enough to grow into something a lot more special than the other teen/romance dramas the network has fielded.
This is a series focused on vampires, so of course there’s lots of darkness, shadows, and full moons. The 1.78:1 1080p/24 VC-1 encoding captures the quality of the show very well. The Vampire Diaries is originally captured in high definition ion an Arriflex D-21 digital camera and it looks almost like its been captured on standard 35mm film, which is apparently the intention of the Arriflex. What little video noise is there looks more film-like, like grain. Detail is strong, blacks are inky and shadow detail is nicely extended.
This is yet another Blu-ray television series released by Warner where they insist on providing the audio in nothing more than lossy Dolby Digital 5.1, so I must once again insist on asking why, when other studios can give us televisions series like LOST with DTS-HD Master Audio lossless sound, must we still endure DVD-era sound quality from Warner in 2010 on Blu-ray? The overall mix for The Vampire Diaries is nothing special. Sounds are a bit thin, the surround channels are not used to their fullest potential, and the ambient score sounds a bit squeezed and boxed in.
The Vampire Diaries has been provided with a relatively strong set of supplemental materials that its rabid fan base is sure to appreciate. The audio book will be of the most value, but certainly the numerous deleted scenes, commentaries, and interview segments with the show’s stars should please the intended audience.
The supplements provided with this release are:
- Disc 1:
- Pilot Commentary with Kevin Williamson, Julie Plec, and Marcoss Siega
- Deleted Scenes (1.78:1; 480i/60) — Four deleted scenes from three episodes on disc one.
- Disc 2:
- Deleted Scenes (1.78:1; 480i/60) — Four deleted scenes from two episodes.
- Disc 3:
- Deleted Scenes (1.78:1; 480i/60) — Five deleted scenes.
- Disc 4:
- Into Mystic Falls (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 0:25.03) — Executive producers Kevin Williamson and Julie Plec will take us into the Vampire Myst, and show us how the fantastical amalgamation of the vampire genre with some of the universal themes of high school experience are at the heart of The Vampire Diaries.
- When Vampires Don’t Suck! (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 0:18.49) — A documentary featurette on the rabid fan base, which feeds the vampire craze, making The Vampire Diaries a front-runner in today’s vampire culture.
- A Darker Truth — webisodes (1.78:1; 1080i/60; 0:07.44) — Four episodes of the Webseries (Exposed, Vengeance, Hunted, Uninvited).
- A Second Bite (1.78:1; 480i/60; 0:03.57) — Gag reel.
- A New Breed of Vampire (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 0:12.43)
- Vampires 101 (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 0:06.44)
- The Vampire Diaries: The Awakening — audiobook
The Definitive Word
The Vampire Diaries looks great and will certainly show off the capabilities of any HD display and the series should find an audience with vamp lovers far and wide.
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