Sunday, April 26, 2009

Pilot Script Review - The Vampire Diaries

Written By: Kevin Williamson & Julie Plec
Draft Date: February 4, 2009
Pages: 61
Network: CW
Category: Jury's Out

Sigh. I'm tired of flat out bad reviews. I've decided to whip through the three remaining CW drama scripts that I have (since I don't have either the Gossip Girl spin-off or Melrose Place... both of which are locks for the fall schedule). All three wound up in my Jury's Out category and all for similar reasons... teen dramas are all about casting and chemistry. Sure, you can have a bad script (see: Pilot Script Review - Light Years), but even if you have a good script, the central couples can fail if the actors don't work out (see 90210... not that it was a good script). So, the reason Vampire Diaries, Body Politic, and Beautiful Life are all "Jury's Out" is because I truly believe that in order to judge I need to see them on the screen. None were horrible scripts, none were amazing.

Vampire Diaries, to borrow a term from thefutoncritic's review is pretty boilerplate teen drama / vampire drama stuff. It starts out with a couple pages of "Ooh, isn't this creepy? Oh, noes! Vampire attack!" but doesn't subvert that cliché the way, say, Buffy did by having the blonde school girl turn out to be the vampire.

While I know that the VD (lol, can't wait for the show to be on the air for people to start commenting on its ratings by referring to it as that...) books vastly predate the Twilight series, the fact is Twilight is the current phenomenon and is what today's teens are familiar with and fervent about. So the central romance between troubled teen Elena and wants-to-be-good vampire Stefan plays very "been there, seen that" and likely won't scorch the screen the way Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson did (um, if it did? I wasn't really sold... but then again while I dug the last three books of the Twilight series, the first one didn't do a ton for me and I didn't think the movie was that well done at all). Also, Elena doesn't find out that Stefan is a vampire in the pilot, so... that's something that's going to be dragged out. Yay...

Other characters... Stefan has an evil older brother, Damon. Elena has a prescription pill-dealing younger brother, Jeremy, who had a summer thing with a junkie hot girl, Vicki, but now that school is starting up again, she's back with her lout of a boyfriend, Tyler, and Jeremy isn't pleased with that. Jeremy and Elena have a barely seen grad student guardian cousin in Jenna Moyer. Elena has a good, talkative friend in Bonnie, who might be slightly psychic. Then there's frienemy/hot bitch Caroline, who lusts after Elena's all-American ex-boyfriend, Matt, who is still in love with Elena. I mean, you really could remove the vampires from the story and instead of just have Stefan and Damon be extremely wealthy residents of Mystic Falls and the show would play as a standard teen drama with its relationship dodecahedrons.

As far as vampirism goes, there's nothing new/special about the vampires in VD. They wear sunglasses to prevent immolation from sunlight, they need to be invited into someone's house, they can transform into animals, they have super-strength, can hypnotize / enthrall people, and are, y'know, impossibly attractive.

One thing this series does have that excites me is Ian Somerhalder as Stefan's evil vampire older brother, Damon. Boone Carlyle, we miss you on our TV screens.

Again, this all comes down to execution. I have few doubts this will be on CW's fall schedule... after all, vampires are so in.

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