Keep a wooden stake on your coffee table because Thursday is genre night in TV land. Tonight the CW has the series premiere of The Vampire Diaries and the fifth season opener of Supernatural, while Fox and ABC have the season and series premieres of their genre shows Fringe and FlashForward on September 17th and 24th, respectively. For the TV enthusiast who isn’t a fan of science-fiction, there’s always the medical drama Grey’s Anatomy, or CBS procedurals The Mentalist, and C.S.I., all shows I’ve also watched and liked to varying degrees, but as a fan of genre shows, my night is pretty full.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer remains one my favourite shows of all-time, so it may come as a surprise that I’m not a big fan of vampires. I don’t have any desire to read the Twilight books, haven’t watched Moonlight or Blood Ties, and never tried Anne Rice. In fact the only vampire themed show, aside from Buffy and Angel, that I’ve watched is True Blood, and although I enjoyed the first season I don’t particularly care for Bill or Eric. So I won’t be watching tonight’s premiere of new CW show The Vampire Diaries.
Although the show hopes to capitalize on the popularity of True Blood and Twilight, the story actually predates both of them. L.J. Smith’s series of young adult horror novels were originally published in 1991 & 92, but in 2008 she announced plans for a new spin-off trilogy, the first of which was published in February of this year. Like the books, the show revolves around Elena Gilbert, a Virginia high school student who is torn between two vampire brothers, Stefan and Damon. The lead actors are familiar, but not too familiar, faces, having played teen roles before. Nina Dobrev (Elena) has been seen on Degrassi: The Next Generation as single mother Mia, while Ian Somerhalder (Damon) is best known for his role as Boone on Lost but has also been seen in Smallville and Young Americans. Paul Wesley guest starred on teen-targeted shows Everwood and Smallville before getting the role of the good vampire brother Stefan.
Although The Vampire Diaries may not be my cup of tea, it has been receiving generally favourable reviews from critics. EW’s Ken Tucker gave the pilot episode a B+, writing that the show “promises us a season of sharp-tongued amusement”, and IGN called it “exactly what you’d expect from a marriage of Dawson’s Creek and Twilight, which may or may not be a good thing, depending on your tastes,” rating the episode a respectable 7.0 out of 10. Only time will tell if viewers have had their fill of vampire tales or are ready to sink their teeth (yup, I went there) into a new show.
As I said in a previous post, I’ve become a Supernatural convert over the summer and I’m looking forward to tonight’s season premiere. When we last saw the Winchester boys Sam had killed the demon Lilith, only to find out seconds later that she was the sixty-sixth seal to be broken and that her death would release Lucifer. Dean had been told that God wasn’t giving the orders anymore and that the Angels wanted Lucifer to rise, and Castiel had chosen to disobey, turning his back on The Host to help Dean. The episode ended with Cas facing off against an archangel, Heaven’s most fearsome warrior, and Sam and Dean watching helplessly as the last seal broke.
Although the stakes have increased with each season and this year, with Lucifer (played by Dexter and Lost actor Mark Pellegrino) at the core, promises to have its darker moments, Supernatural clearly hasn’t lost its sense of humour. Heiress Paris Hilton will guest star in an October episode as a demonic creature taking the form of… Paris Hilton. For those who shudder at this announcement, just remember that she also had a guest role in an early episode of Veronica Mars and that didn’t turn out so badly!
It may or may not be the final season for the CW drama. Creator Eric Kripke set out with a five season plan for the show and has “every intention of ending the story with a bang and not drawing it out or watering it down,” but that doesn’t necessarily mean the end of the road for the Winchester brothers. Kripke says, “I’m looking at this season as the last chapter in this particular story. That doesn’t mean there can’t be a new story. Buffy did it. The X-Files did it. You close a chapter on a big mythology storyline and then you begin a new one.” It’s also helpful to note that stars Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki have deals in place that cover a possible sixth season, although Kripke himself does not have a deal beyond the fifth season. As a latecomer to the show I’m hoping for a sixth season, but whether this is the end for Supernatural or not, I’m going to enjoy the ride.