When the hell did vampires learn how to walk around during the day? Is this a thing now? I know they've been given sparkly chests and androgynous builds, but come on, the creature of the night angle is like their entire thing. That's what makes them vampires. Without that, a modern vamp's just another dick in an Ed Hardy shirt.
There are two vampires on The CW's The Vampire Diaries: Stefan (Paul Wesley) and Damon (Ian Somerhalder). I am going to call Damon "Boone." Stefan is new to the high school in Mystic Falls (eesh), where he's gotten close and done some kissing with Elena, whose parents died in a car wreck. Elena's friend Bonnie is apparently some kind of witch. The show's got all the makings of an occult soap, plus it's got Kevin Williamson -- he of Scream and Dawson's Creek and, uh, Teaching Mrs. Tingle -- as a writer and producer. But it's still cheeseball, badly acted and totally crappy. Let's drink!
Remember the Angel episode where Angel turns into a puppet? Stefan looks like that.
The episode opens on campus, with the jocks jocking out and throwing the football. One jock, Matt, is played by the guy who played Cash and broke Tyra's heart on Friday Night Lights, so I dislike him a little. Another jock throws the ball at Stefan, who spins and catches it in a whoa bitchin' display of reflexes you've seen in every other vampire movie or TV series. That's gonna be the biggest problem for The Vampire Diaries: By now, haven't we seen it all?
Stefan then totally wows everyone in history class by knowing the dates of major wars and assassinations. How is that impressive in the skills-I-gained-being-a-vampire sense? Congrats, you can pass 10th-grade social studies.
Speaking of: Stefan has a magic ring that lets him walk in the sun. But man, that's cheating! You're not an exiled member of the damned, doomed to walk the night and hunt, you're just a moody high schooler! You don't get cool points for that one, Angel Puppet Man.
The first third of the episode, entitled "Friday Night Bites" (ugh), deals with Stefan's tryout for the football team while Elena and the other cheerleaders practice. The head cheerleader, Caroline, shows up late because she spent the night having sex with Boone and then getting bit. She shows up wearing a scarf and sunglasses, which is the norm for cheerleading practice, so nobody worries. Stefan's tryout goes well, what with his undead speed and reflexes, and he makes the team.
Quote from Stefan: "Salem witches are heroic examples of individualism and nonconformity." Well, that makes me feel better about all those murders.
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Elena and Stefan and Bonnie have dinner, which Caroline and Boone crash. There's a potentially tense moment when Boone has to wait outside for Elena to invite him in, but she does, so that's gonna probably be bad. They have an awkward group talk in the living room, and Stefan pouts while wearing an awesome black tunic. The whole sequence is dull and uneventful, even when Boone tries to be cool and catch a glass before it falls to the ground. That's twice in 30 minutes the show has used sped-up reaction time to make these guys look good.
Stefan tries to look under Caroline's scarf, but Boone uses the Jedi mind trick to make her do the dishes. (Yay strong heroines!) He threatens to come back and kill her, then leaves. Later, Elena has a sex dream where Stefan turns into Boone, and she wakes up without noticing a crow outside her window, which is either Boone or one of his minions or who cares.
FINALLY: Stefan writes in his diary! I suddenly get the title of the show. There goes the last shred of suspense.
Stefan stops a fight before Friday night's game, and Elena catches him doing some quick healing magicks. But I can't stress enough the series' essential plotlessness. Things just sort of happen, and there are horrible attempts at jump-scares with music stings, and Stefan and Boone threaten each other, but sweet merciful Zeus what I wouldn't give for a monster of the week, you know? The Vampire Diaries is as open-ended, melodramatic, and shallow as any soap. The logline -- high school girl in love with vampire -- is as far as the show seems determined to go, showing no ambition three episodes in to do anything but spin its wheels in perpetuity.