The Vampire Diaries

Season 2

 

The Vampire Diaries ~ Season 2

Based on the series of books by L.J. Smith

Developed by Kevin Williamson & Julie Plec

Written by Kevin Williamson, Julie Plec & LJ Smith

2009-10 on the CW network


Cast:

Nina Dobrev as Elena/Katherine

Paul Wesley as Stefan

Ian Somerhalder as Damon

Steven R. Mcqueen as Jeremy

Katerina Graham as Bonnie

Candice Accola as Caroline

Zach Roerig as Matt

Michael Trevino as Tyler

Sara Canning as Jenna

Matthew Davis as Alaric


Production:

Television: Outerbanks and Alloy Entertainment, CBS and Warner Television

Video: Warner Home Video

SRP: $69.97


Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.78:1

Resolution: 1080p

Codec: VC-1

Disc Size: BD-5 x 4

Bit Rate: Low-Moderate (15-25 Mbps)

Runtime: approx 935 minutes (15.5 hours)

Episodes: 22


Audio:

English DTS HD-Master Audio 5.1


Subtitles:

English SDH, Dutch, Finnish, French, Norwegian, Portuguese, Spanish, Swedish


Extras:

• Pages of the Wolf: 3 Production Featurettes
• Her Own Worst Enemy
• The Perfect Love Triangle: Vampires, Werewolves, Witches
• Unaired Scenes
• Audio Commentary with Kevin Williamson & Julie Plec
• Second Bite (Gag Reel)


BD Muti-Disc Case: BD x 4

Street Date: August 23, 2011



Synopsis:

[Wikipedia on the Series overview]:

The series follows the life of Elena Gilbert, a 17-year-old girl who falls for a dark 162-year-old vampire named Stefan Salvatore. Their relationship becomes increasingly complicated as Stefan's vicious and malevolent elder brother Damon  returns with a plan to wreak havoc on the town and also to plan a revenge against his younger brother. Both brothers begin to show affection towards Elena, mainly because of her resemblance to their past love Katherine Pierce. It is revealed that Elena is descended from Katherine, who eventually returns with plans against the trio.


The series is set in the fictional town of Mystic Falls, Virginia, a town charged with supernatural history since its settlement of migrants from New England in the late 17th century. Other story lines revolve around the other inhabitants of the town, most notably Elena's younger brother Jeremy Gilbert, Elena's best friend Bonnie Bennett, Elena's close friend, Caroline Forbes, Elena's childhood friend, Tyler Lockwood and Elena's childhood friend and ex-boyfriend, Matt Donovan. The town's politics are orchestrated by descendants of the original founding families, all comprising a "Founders' Council". Some of the founding families of Mystic Falls include the Salvatores, the Gilberts, the Fells, the Forbes and the Lockwoods. They guard the town mainly from vampires although they seem to be oblivious of other supernatural threats like from werewolves.


     

 

[Warner on Season Two]:

They’re back – and they’re not alone. The seductive characters of The Vampire Diaries return for a stunning 5-Disc 22-Episode Season Two. This time Elena, Stefan, Damon and the other residents of Mystic Falls are joined by sinister new blood. Released from the tomb, Katherine unleashes her personal brand of evil in a diabolical plot. The Originals – the world’s oldest and most dangerous vampires – hunt for Elena, who discovers she has a terrifying connection to their world. And now bloodsuckers aren’t the only monsters in town. On moonlit nights, werewolves roam in search of victims…including vampires, who succumb to a single werewolf bite. The Vampire Diaries: unending suspense, undying romance.


     


The Series : 2

Critical Reaction:

LA Times :

"The Vampire Diaries" [is] a CW-ized version of "Twilight" with a bunch of sensitive young lovelies yearning and burning for danger, romance and the ultimate penetration. In between bouts of underage drinking, texting, girl-bonding, and the inevitable minor-key whine of a soundtrack, that is. "True Blood Lite" or "Transylvania 90210." And you know what? It is. Almost exactly. But this is not a bad thing, not a bad thing at all. Because "Vampire Diaries" knows precisely what it is -- a Gothic romance -- and doesn't try to be anything else. It's not going for a spangly-skinned update of "The Catcher in the Rye" or a pretentious political metaphor or even a through-the-mirror-darkly Christ myth. "The Vampire Diaries" is a good old-fashioned love story with vampires.


Let the other franchises sniff with disdain at moldy old genre conventions, "The Vampire Diaries" stacks them up like corpses in a mausoleum and dances howling on the roof. Lonely road plus attractive couple plus swirling mist equals horrific death. Dueling diaries and anguished voice-overs compete with emo-soundtrack tunes while amid the forest primeval, girls vamp and the vamp broods (someday we will have a torn and troubled female vampire as a protagonist, but that day is not today). Eternal life results in bitter tenderness while true love keeps diaries and transcends centuries. - Mary McNamara


     


SF Chronicle:

"Vampire Diaries” . . . plays out like a viral marketing campaign from overly worried Midwestern mothers about the influence of vampires on youth culture. Even if you love HBO's "True Blood" and "Twilight" is calling the younger ones, you will never want anything to do with vampires again after this series. Wait - not true. You will want all the extras who played vamps on "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" (which was great, by the way, and not to be blamed for this lackluster cousin) to return en masse to eat the cast of "Vampire Diaries," plus any remaining scripts. - Tim Goodman


     


LensView:

Newton Minow would have been both surprised and reassured by how much good television has come our way in the past ten or fifteen years.  I needn’t name them here.  As for the wasteland he predicted that is The Vampire Diaries, handsome as it is, the above ruminations on CW’s “Vampire Diaries” pretty much covers the graveyard of opinion.  The challenge that presents itself to me since this series’ very popularity leads me to worry about the future of our species, is how to offer an objective review that would interest its target audience. (Come to think of it, I wonder if anyone has done a study on the effects of a steady diet of mindless entertainment on brain functioning.)  I worried myself about objectivity, whatever that may mean, for all of two minutes before I realized that this is not my job.  My job is to talk about how I came to my opinion, not how to place myself in the mind of its target audience. As to that, I think it is enough to recognize that I am not that target audience, and am thankful that I never was.  (See my remarks about Buffy, below.)


     


Harlequin romances and the novels of Danielle Steele and Joan Wilder are one thing, but a television series is quite another. A novel provides a catalyst for one’s imagination (for me, the epitome of such a novel in my formative years was Dumas’ Count of Monte Cristo), television is a form of guided hypnosis; it is formative in ways that escapist literature cannnot be.  In the grand scheme of things it doesn’t much matter if one cares to while away their time in fantasy, but television is another creature entirely.  It molds the mind, it directs and fills it; it is an effective, insidious promoter of groupthink; it drives images into our soul of what is or should be or might be; and it offers a world in real dimensions to convince us of their reality.  When it is good - by which I mean: creative, self-observing, evolving, questioning - when it expects and insists that its audience come to the screen with their brains engaged, television can be an a humanizing experience.  It can open up our world rather than close it down, which is exactly what bad TV does.


     


“The Vampire Diaries” is bad television not only because it is mindnumbingly predictable and staggeringly simple-minded where every glance and line reading is conveyed with obvious portentous urgency and faux-irony (the cover photo says it all), whose only grace is its pretty actors, but because it expects its audience to embrace this construct for nine straight months, and then again on video.  The Vampire Diaries is a show that takes itself seriously when it has no business doing so, and even in that context it is utterly devoid of humor.  Of wit, it has none.  (I think I could be seen to crack a smile maybe four times over the entire first two episodes.)


     


True, it has plot, but no suspense.  In place of observation about anything under the sun or anywhere else The Vampire Diaries substitutes fashion plate actors who are almost indistinguishable from each other, who speak in voices that confuse amplitude with inflection, whose faces alternate “cool” and anguished expressions in place of drama, and who aren’t given the chance to show that acting is not acting, it is reacting.  Nor does it help that the great majority of the show frames those lovely complexions in close up, not expecting the setting to do much more than tell us where we are.  I don’t believe it violates any commandments, but it couldn’t have damaged the flow of things to sprinkle in a thought or two along with the eye candy and cotton-mouthed music, but, alas, there was none.  I’m not asking for Catcher in the Rye or Dostoyevsky; but with apologies to Mr. Steinbeck, a little East of Eden would have been nice. Instead, what we have here is a relentless cat and mouse game played with an inexhaustible supply of Alpha-cats.


     


Buffy the Vampire Slayer engaged the minds and hearts of a similar demographic as much as by where it ventured as where it didn’t.  Sex was on everyone’s minds, but not in anyone’s bedroom until well into the second season, and then it demanded a catastrophic consequence that only a show that took its time to unravel while respecting its fans to wait for it could hope to bring off.


What keeps True Blood from a fate of bloody carnage and steamy sex is precisely that several of its major characters haven’t a clue what they’re doing.  At least for a brief time, the Diaries’ Caroline stumbles about once she is turned, but this is just a digression, lacking substance. That HBO series is about how its characters learn who they are.  Much the same could be said for the BBC’s Being Human, an infinitely more satisfying series where blood and sex have consequences and where, while its vampires still have no reflection, they and other monsters like them can reflect back to us something about ourselves.


Ditto this for television's most articulate monster, Dexter Morgan, in whose final episode of the fifth season there is more menace, more eroticism, more romance in Sick Boy Jonny Lee Miller’s threatening lunge at a tied up Julia Stiles than all of The Vampire Diaries’ deep throated embraces and bloodsucking slashes combined.


    

 

Image: 8/9

Warner Home Video presents the handsome faces and figures of The Vampire Diaries, its mansions, carnivals, hospital rooms and shadows with decent clarity and natural contrast.  There is a tendency for shadows to gobble up detail, but I found that in keeping with what I took to be its design.  Facial textures are most often clear and properly porous (even for these actors), despite a deliberate veneer of fine black grain that pervades most of the series.  All in all a good transfer, posibly better than what I gleaned from reviews of the first season.


     

 

Audio & Music: 7/4

I did not review the First Season, but I read that Warner did not supply an uncompressed audio mix, much to at least one reviewer’s wonder (and would have been mine too if I had seen it).  Warner has corrected this oversight for Season Two, but I can't say that the world of gothic romance is a better place for their effort.  The sound mix is simply too flat and lacking in contrast to have benefitted a great deal from the bump, much as I appreciate the proper thing to do here.  On the other hand, the dialogue is clear and properly shaped and placed in the soundfield. The surrounds come alive whenever there is a scuffle, which can be quite effective.


One thing hard not to notice is how relentlessly scored each episode is.  I’m not quite sure why this should be, but I suspect it’s what the producers feel is expected by its audience, rather than what is demanded by the drama.  The series does feel like an extended music video, so I suppose that non-stop music is just what the ghouls ordered, even if it doesn't make any sense at times.


     

 

Extras: 6

Warner offers a plateful of bonus features: 3 segments on production: – The Myth & The Mystery (Werewolf Lore), Building the Beasts (Working with Actual and Mechanical Wolves) and Howling at the Moon (Michael Trevino’s Transformative Makeup Process); “Her Own Worst Enemy…Elena, Catherine and Nina “ - a piece on how Nina Dobrev taking on the challenge of playing two characters; “The Perfect Love Triangle: Vampires, Werewolves, Witches” sets the record straight on who’s nibbling on whom for the first two seasons; a gag reel, and a single audio commentary to accompany “Masquerade” with Executive Producers and co-creators Kevin Williamson & Julie Plec.

 

Recommendation:

For fans of The Vampire Diaries, and the Second Season especially, the Blu-ray is a no-brainer: Warner's Blu-ray of the Second Season is an improvement over the first in just about every way: audio, bonus features, and, from what I can tell from a review of other sources, image quality as well. Twenty-two 42-minute episodes, plus another couple of hours of bonus features at Amazon’s current sale price of $45 makes this set a veritable steal.  Suck this one up while you can.


     
 



Leonard Norwitz

© LensViews

August 25, 2011


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