The CW, once a struggling also-ran broadcast channel, though still lower than its peers in the ratings, has established itself pretty firmly as a network this past decade or so. One of the series instrumental in building that brand was The Vampire Diaries. Throughout its eight years, it mixed soapy teen angst with a supernatural fun ride. These are the two primary genres that the CW has become known for. This melding of story is not unusual right now in pop culture, but rarely is it done as well as it is here. You can see what I mean as The Vampire Diaries – The Complete Series is now available on Blu-ray and DVD.
The Vampire Diaries began as a love triangle between two brothers and a girl. Stefan Salvatore (Paul Wesley) was the ‘good’ guy and the obvious choice. Damon Salvatore (Ian Somerhalder) was the brooding bad boy. The Salvatores were vampires, so of course they’d done horrible, murderous things. But Stefan was sorry for them, while Damon seemed completely unapologetic. Elena Gilbert’s (Nina Dobrev) choice was clear, right?
Of course not. As the series went on, layers of complexities were added to all three that muddy the waters. Sometimes it was predictable, the show firmly playing to tropes and familiar conceits. But other times, it found its own unique footing, and had some surprises. Over the course of eight years, the relationships between all three were explored in-depth, and romance was merely one facet of a messy grouping.
Fleshing Out the World
The Vampire Diaries wasn’t just about three people, though. Magic, witches, doppelgangers, family and local history, and werewolves were just some of the elements added as the program went on. Dobrev also played the role of Katherine Pierce, a vampire the Salvatore brothers had history with. Among the main cast members were Bonnie Bennett (Kat Graham), whom found power within herself, Tyler Lockwood (Michael Trevino), who became a furry beast, and Alaric Saltzman (Matthew Davis), a teacher and historian.
Some of the characters seemed to be a stereotype, but went through major growth arcs. For instance, Caroline Forbes (Candice King) was just the pretty, popular girl at first. Then she hooked up with the wrong guy and became much more interesting. Matt Donovan (Zach Reorig) was the safe, nice guy who stayed away from the supernatural for the longest time, but eventually found his place in the crazy. Ancient, ‘original’ vampires like Klaus Mikaelson (Joseph Morgan) seemed very mysterious at first, but eventually were fleshed out and went over to their own spin-off.
So The Vampire Diaries may have seemed relatively familiar in makeup at the start, but with the longevity of the series, it had the freedom to go quite a bit further, and it did.
The Blu-ray Release
All eight seasons are packaged in this latest set, on shelves just in time for the holidays. Inside the outer shell, a tasteful design featuring most of the show’s longest-serving leads, there are separate sets with the artwork used when first marketing each season, though the cases are uniform. The appearance is pleasing and looks like it was just put together.
Start opening them up, though, and it’s clear that the older releases were just boxed together. For example, season one contains an insert for The Secret Circle ‘Thursdays this fall.’ That was a short-lived series from many years ago. That in of itself isn’t much of an annoyance, but the fact that only two of the eight seasons contain codes for digital copies is. There are a plethora of bonus features, the same ones previously available, seemingly nothing new added for the incarnation.
The Vampire Diaries was an excellent show, this is a good looking set, and there’s a lot here. The episodes alone will keep you busy for months. Add the extra features, and you’ve got an extensive collection. The disappointing thing is that they didn’t include digital copies for all the seasons. And there is nothing new to make this set worth it if you already own most of the seasons. I do recommend getting The Vampire Diaries. But I only recommend The Complete Series if whatever seasons you don’t already own price at more than this package. Hopefully, one day we’ll get a more retrospective set; this one is just to complete your collection of episodes.
The Vampire Diaries – The Complete Series is available now.