September 11, 2009

Sympathy For The Devilishly Handsome

The fall season has (finally) begun to bring us new episodes of our old favorites as well as some new shows. All is right with the world once more!

New eps actually kicked off earlier this week with the unholy pairing of 90210 and Melrose Place. Having tried to watch 90210 last year I knew better than to make that mistake again with Melrose Place. I think these versions are strictly for the contingent of the audience who wasn't around to enjoy the originals. I'm sitting these out permanently.

Season 6 of So You Think You Can Dance premiered on Wednesday with the first of several audition episodes. It doesn't get good until Vegas and it doesn't get awesome until the Top 20 so I probably won't have much to say about it until then. Except that it is a little odd to be watching it in the fall along with all of the scripted shows. I hope that doesn't diminish it's awesomeness.

That brings us to last night where things really start to get good.

Supernatural - I know that the masses were particularly pleased with the direction of the show last year - angels and all - but I was mostly annoyed by the lying, secret keeping and general lack of trust and respect between the brothers. I was so hoping that this year they'd mend the relationship and let the drama come from the fact that Satan is on the loose.

Alas, 'twas not to be. Sam is beating himself up for letting Lucifer out and Dean has resolutely decided not to forgive his "little" brother for being the victim of a seriously elaborate demon brainwashing scheme. As if that weren't a big enough downer for me, they went and nearly killed my beloved Bobby and now he may be paralyzed.

I'm painting a bad picture of Kripke and Company's work though - it was a fairly good episode with several laughs, decent action and a good set up for the season's arc. Castiel and Carver are both back which is excellent news for me because I'm a big fan. The Devil found a meat suit and is ready to start terrorizing the world, and the scenes from upcoming eps had me on the edge of my seat. I just wish they'd get their heads out of their asses and realize that fighting Winchesters are not nearly as endearing or fun to watch as Winchesters who are fiercely loyal and protective of one another.

The Vampire Diaries - I only gave this show a try-out based on the rave reviews it's received from nearly every critic I've read. They all have it on their "must watch" lists and while they admit it's a guilty pleasure show, they said it was great despite all evidence to the contrary.

If you've heard or seen anything about it, you've probably assumed that it's a little Twilight-esque and having just spent my summer trudging through that series for Book Club, I really didn't want to dive right back into similar nonsense again. But while the campaign definitely seemed to be courting the Twilight contingent, it really isn't the same at all and that is a GREAT thing.

The premise: Elena and her brother Jeremy are orphans living with their 20-something aunt since their parents were killed in a car accident last spring. Elena copes by telling everyone she's fine and writing endlessly about her pain and misery in her diary; Jeremy copes chemically (using and selling) and by having secret sex with Elena's ex-boyfriend's sister, Vicki, while she dates massive dickhead Taylor who is her brother Matt's best friend. Elena's best friend, Bonnie, is probably psychic and her frenemy Caroline is overly pushy to mask deep insecurities.

They all live in Mystic Falls, Virginia which is a cute, creepy, little town with a long and possibly mysterious history that's been home to vampires in the past. One of those vamps, Stefan Salvatore, has come back to town because he's smitten with Elena who happens to be a dead wringer (no pun intended) for his lost love Katherine (circa 1864). He's going to high school and living with his "uncle" who is actually his nephew except not really, because he's really more probably his great-grandson. Anyway, all is hunky-dorey in the hood until "Uncle" Zach realizes that the reported "animal attacks" are actually vamp attacks and rips his nephew/uncle/grandpa a new one about eating the people. Stefan swears he's off the human blood, he doesn't know what could be happening. But then at a party, Vicki is nearly killed by a vamp in the woods and Stefan races home to find his long-lost, estranged, evil and extremely attractive brother, Damon, hanging about. When Vicki wakes in the hospital she tells her brother that she was attacked by a VAMPIRE. Dun dun DUN!

Here's what I really like about the show:

1) They follow the typical vampire mythology. The vamps can't come into your house unless you invite them in, they're not ice cold but rather they're equal to the ambient temperature, they aren't hard as marble, they turn to dust when they go into the sun (except that Stefan has some kind of magic ring that keeps him safe in the sun - like Angel got that one time in the first season of his show when Spike and Oz came to town...good times!). They haven't said for sure, but I'd be willing to bet that wooden stakes and decapitation are also sure fire ways of dusting them.

2) There is a touch of mystery surrounding most of the characters.

3) As is the CW's want, they cast this thing chock full of the best looking people they could find and while sometimes that means they end up with pretty faces that can't act, this time, they've got mostly very good actors who happen to be unbelievably beautiful. Steven R. McQueen (grandson of THE Steve McQueen), who my fellow Everwood fans will remember as Kyle, Ephram's Season 4 gay piano student, is playing Jeremy; Chris William Martin, Felicity's health center beau Greg Stinson, is uncle/nephew/grandson Zach; Paul Wesley, another Everwood vet having played Amy's druggy boyfriend Tommy in season 2, is Stefan; Ian Somerhalder, who most probably know from the first season of Lost but who I'll always fondly remember from that summer he was in Young Americans as Hamilton, the boarding school student who fell in love with his classmate and panicked about being gay until it turned out the classmate was actually a girl pretending to be a that show was terrible/awesome; Kayla Ewell, Marissa's public school friend who I think used to date Volchok on The O.C., is Vicki; Katrina Graham, who, to be honest, is not especially memorable to me for any of her other work, is terrific as Bonnie; and Zach Roerig, seen just last season as Tyra's detestable rodeo boyfriend Cash on Friday Night Lights, is Matt.

There are a few things that I don't necessarily love - Nina Dobrev's portrayal of Elena is ever-so-slightly reminiscent of Shiri Appleby's Liz on Roswell. She's the weakest acting link on the show, playing the female lead and acting as narrator via her fairly insipid diary entries. There is also a ridiculous lack of parents which is typical for teen-centric shows, but still rankles. Vicki ends up in the hospital and only her brother is there; Elena and Jeremy's aunt seemed practically like an afterthought - all we learned about her was that she's in grad school and she's not quite used to taking care of teenagers yet.

Comparisons to Buffy and Angel and Twilight, even Roswell and Dawson's Creek, are inevitable. But, when it's all said and done, I give it a thumbs up and a season pass.

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