‘True Blood’ has ended; ‘Twilight’ is old news; ‘The Strain’ hardly lived up to expectations. As such, CW’s sister shows ‘The Vampire Diaries’ and ‘The Originals’ have risen up the ranks and become the two premier television shows this year to feature eternally hot bloodsuckers, werewolves full of pent up sexual energy and witches cursed with curves. In a world seemingly overrun by spin-offs, (‘Agent Carter’, ‘Fargo’, if you think about it, season 2 of ‘True Detective’ is essentially a spin-off) ‘Originals’ has cast off its humble spin-off origins to become a fully fleshed out series that can stand on its own and, in fact, was the better show of the two last season.
One thing ‘Vamp D’s’ did better than any show in recent memory was humanize its villains and side characters, so much so that the show soon became far too crowded as the evil family of original vampires began to align with the forces of good, their leader and brother, Klaus Mikaelson, becoming slightly less of a dick. It was fitting and necessary, then, that the incredible cast assembled on ‘Vampire Diaries’ would be split in two in order to populate another city, series and hour-long time slot on CW primetime.
Joseph Morgan’s Klaus, with immortal confidence blazing from his eyes, owns the screen and would be enough to propel an entire show on his own. Daniel Gillies as the reserved, immaculate, best dressed Elijah and Claire Holt, with her Devilishly Smiling Lips playing sister Rebekah, add a degree of civility to a series set in the ever-partying French Quarter of New Orleans.
Once the lightning bolt that is Charles Michael Davis (Marcel) and future Hot 100 placeholder Danielle Campbell (Davina) filled out the series’ cast, with werewolf Phoebe Tonkin (Hayley) brought along as Klaus’s love interest and babymomma, ‘The Originals’ put together a two-arc first season that gave us everything we could ask for in heat, action and emotion.
Betrayal, Rebellion, Death and Rebirth, two separate love-triangles, and a freaking hybrid vampire/werewolf! (yes, the hybrid has been done before, introduced in this universe in Vampire Diaries, but the transformation that comes in the first season finale, “From a Cradle to a Grave” is by far the most awesome of the trope).
That, however, was last season, and the current storyline playing out on ‘Originals’ has left me a tad wanting. The return of both mother and father to the Mikaelson clan is intense, yes, and there have been plenty of emotion filled scenes that set the worlds of our favorite characters on edge. But the whole body-swapping thing, which forces me, as a television critic, to think about actors and contracts and ‘Face-Off’, doesn’t really get my goat going. A show is only as good as its villain, and Sonja Sohn playing Lenore who is taken over by Esther (witch-mother of the Mikaelsons) simply can’t get the heat that Kai Parker a few nights over is getting on ‘Vampire Diaries’.
The Traveller hellspawn known as Kai (played by Chris Wood) has brought with him an incredible new life force for the series. The term “getting heat” comes from the business of professional wrestling and is used to describe when a heel (villain) draws actual anger and hatred from the fans. This is no easy task in sports entertainment or television. But my God if that Kai isn’t an annoying little prick.
And turns out, Kai isn’t just some random annoying little prick, but a prick that ties the lives of Liv, Luke and Alaric’s hot doctor girlfriend (I always forget her name) together into a neat little murderously dysfunctional family package. Penelope Mitchell (witch with a ‘tude: Liv) morphs into a role she seems to have been born for, and her love/hate song with Tyler is a welcome refreshment from the Dalena/Stalena blabbidy blah blah that has been so much of the last four seasons of ‘Vamp D’s’ (Nina Dobrev’s Elena has her pick of the two most eligible and immortal bachelors in the history of Mystic Falls, so she does what any head cheerleader would do, and keeps them both on the hook for four seasons…)
It’s already been established that between Jo, Kai, Liv and Luke, due to some ancient Traveller prophecy/custom/curse, at least one of them has to die. And if my above-mentioned hatred of Kai has you thinking that I’m hoping it’s him, you’re dead wrong. It’s actually my hatred of him that has me hoping he survives (just please don’t kill off Liv, she’s sooooooooo…good at acting. Yeah, that’s it, she’s good at acting).
A villain as hate-able as Mordakai Parker really is hard to come by, and a show that seems to burn through it’s villains every season (they either get their own show or die the real, 100%, this-time-for-good death), the showrunners would do well to keep Kai on active prick duty for at least another season.
Of course, a discussion of the character growth evident on ‘Vampire Diaries’ wouldn’t be complete without my favorite sexy blonde, Caroline Forbes (I have many favorite sexy blondes, two of which have already been mentioned and gif-ed, I have only one favorite sexy brunette, and she knows who she is). From annoying type A to Damon’s suck toy to Klaus’s out-of-reach redemption to the undying glue holding the Mystic Falls Fang Gang together, actress Candice Accola shines brighter than ever as the series enters the second half of it’s sixth season. As wholesomely beautiful as her smile is, she also “vamps out” better than anyone on both shows.
With only a couple of guest spots traded here and there among the shows since the break up, I’m still waiting for the all-encompassing season long crossover ‘Secret Wars’ event that rocks both shows to their respective cores. We’ve already seen the impact and internet talking points a primetime crossover event can create for television shows (see my article on the ‘Arrow’ ‘Flash’ crossover). It’s hard to pull off and would make the DVD box set configuration an absolute mess, but if you’re talking about creating must see TV (harder and harder to do these days), that would be the way to go. Until I get the showrunning job, however, we may just have to imagine what could be…..