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Since the day that Dan Curtis decided to add a vampire character to his foundering soap opera DARK SHADOWS, it seem that the children of the night have found a forever home in that particular TV genre. Of course, with the immense popularity of the (soap opera-ish) TWILIGHT saga in both print and film, it should come as no surprise that the undead would find themselves trotted out again for a nighttime TV soap. Adapted for television by Kevin Williamson from the series of novels by L. J. Smith, THE VAMPIRE DIARIES is best described as a teen angst laden soap opera that melds Williamson's DAWSON'S CREEK with Curtis' DARK SHADOWS. Of course, Williamson's horror knowhow is evidenced by his by the SCREAM movies, which helps the soap aspects of the show from washing away the supernatural. Like DARK SHADOWS and TWILIGHT, THE VAMPIRE DIARIES has added werewolves to the mix, with the series tapping into a pre-built audience, ready to swoon over pretty-boy vampires and werewolves that have a penchant for teenage girls.

Set in the small town of Mystic Falls, Virginia (a sort of TWIN PEAKS where supernatural beasties run amok), THE VAMPIRE DIARIES tells the story of school student Elena Gilbert (Nina Dobrev), who has been dealing with the deaths of her parents. However, Elena’s younger brother Jeremy (Steven R. McQueen) has had more difficulty moving forward past their parents deaths; making a number of wrong decisions to help bury his pain. Elena's life (and the life of everyone in Mystic Falls) is forever changed with the arrival of Stefan Salvatore (Paul Wesley) and his older brother Damon (Ian Somerhalder). Stefan and Damon purport to be decedents of one of Mystic Falls’ founding families… even being named for two of their Civil War era ancestors. However, Stefan and Damon are soon revealed to be vampires, who have been around since The Civil War, and are the actual Salvatore family members they were supposedly named for. While romance blossoms between Elena and the good Salvatore brother Stefan… Damon proves to be a darker, malevolent force, who has followed Stefan back to their ancestral home to continue his eternal vendetta against his younger sibling. As it turns out, Elena is a dead ringer for Katherine, the vampire who made Stefan and Damon immortal… and the proximate cause of "blood feud" between brothers.

Other denizens of Mystic Falls include Elena’s best friend Bonnie Bennett (Katerina Graham), who is descended from a long line of powerful witches; Tyler Lockwood (Michael Trevino) a descendant of another founding family with a lycanthropic taint; Caroline Forbes (Candice Accola) is another of Elena’s closest friends, who finds herself with an unexpected sanguinary dietary requirement; Matt Donovan (Zach Roerig) is Elena’s ex-boyfriend, who becomes involved with Caroline. The season three cast of THE VAMPIRE DIARIES also features Matthew Davis, Joseph Morgan, Susan Walters, Marguerite MacIntyre, Daniel Gillies and Torrey DeVitto.

THE VAMPIRE DIARIES: THE COMPLETE THIRD SEASON ($70) comes to Blu-ray in a four-disc set that features the following twenty-two episodes that were aired during year three: The Birthday, The Hybrid, The End Of The Affair, Disturbing Behavior, The Reckoning, Smells Like Teen Spirit, Ghost World, Ordinary People, Homecoming, The New Deal, Our Town, The Ties That Bind, Bringing Out The Dead, Dangerous Liaisons, All My Children, 1912, Break On Through, The Murder Of One, Heart Of Darkness, Do Not Go Gentle, Before Sunset and The Departed. Season three offers up more soapy goodness as the sometimes unrequited love triangle between Elena, Stefan and Damon takes a new twist, when self-sacrificing good brother goes bad to protect his love, only to have bad brother take advantage of an opportunity. Season three also includes a reckless original vampire seeking to procreate a new hybrid race of supernatural creatures... by any means necessary.

Warner Home Video has made all twenty-two episodes from THE VAMPIRE DIARIES available on Blu-ray Disc in 1.78:1 wide screen presentations that have been encoded onto the disc with the AVC codec. The 1080p presentations contained on the season three set are very similar to what was seen in season two, thus maintaining the Blu-ray's ability to render the series’, dark, brooding, vampire accommodating cinematography without incident. Once again, daylight sequences still look best, offering sharper, more detailed and better textured images. Darker sequence look more stylized, often being purposely less distinct to heighten the atmosphere and horror elements. Colors are strongly saturated and are at their most appealing when the light is in the photography's favor. Darker sequences are less colorful, but never appear as though a vampire has sucked all the life out of them. Blacks are pure and whites are completely stable. Contrast is smooth, but shadow detail is sometime diminished for effect- sometimes disappearing all the way down the rabbit hole. The elements from which the episodes are transferred appear very clean. Grain/noise is noticeable, becoming more obvious during darker sequences.

All the episodes that comprise THE VAMPIRE DIARIES: THE COMPLETE THIRD SEASON are presented on Blu-ray Disc with 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtracks. At times, THE VAMPIRE DIARIES is a surprisingly well mixed television series, sure it doesn't reach theatrical levels, but sequences with supernatural elements and bits of action make excellent use of all the outlying channels. In addition, there is plenty of atmosphere and musical fill that is spread to the mix. Of course, once THE VAMPIRE DIARIES reverts to talky soap opera mode, the sound becomes more focused to the front and center. Thanks to the lossless encode, the musical component is quite full bodied, while sound effects are convincing. The bass channel adds weight to the effects. Dialogue is very cleanly rendered and the actors' voices maintain a warm, natural timbre. No other language tracks have been included on the disc, but English subtitles are provided.

The interactive menus allow one access to the standard episode selection and set up features, as well as, as well as the supplements. Featurettes and other programs include the following: The Producer's Pages (twenty three minutes), The Original Vampires: The Beginning (twenty two minutes), Stefan's Descent Into Darkness (ten minutes) and Favorite Scenes (nineteen minutes of fan favorites). A Gag Reel entitled Second Bite and Deleted Scenes close out the standard extras. THE VAMPIRE DIARIES: THE COMPLETE THIRD SEASON also includes five DVDs containing the entire third season. An authorization code is provided for an UltraViolet Digital Copy of the episodes, which are just a stream away.

Not allowing the teen angst laden soap opera elements to overwhelm the supernatural, THE VAMPIRE DIARIES is an enjoyable guilty pleasure. The Blu-ray presentations look and sound great. If you are a fan, you can't go wrong with this collection. Recommended.


The Vampire Diaries: The Complete Third Season [Blu-ray]


DVD & Blu-ray Disc reviews are Copyright 2012 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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