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The Vampire Diaries: The Complete Third Season(TV) (2011-2012)
The sexy, sinister beings of The Vampire Diaries are back in a thrilling Season 3. As Stefan succumbs to Klaus, Damon and Elena join forces to try to save him, rekindling their long-repressed emotions. Meanwhile the door to the other side opens wide, allowing spirits to invade and come between Jeremy and Bonnie. Caroline and Tyler grow closer, pushing their families farther apart. But when the original vampire hunter and his kin arise from their caskets after 1,000 years, every hybrid, ghost, witch, vampire and werewolf of Mystic Falls had better beware.
For more about The Vampire Diaries: The Complete Third Season and the The Vampire Diaries: The Complete Third Season Blu-ray release, see the The Vampire Diaries: The Complete Third Season Blu-ray Review published by Kenneth Brown on September 10, 2012 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Starring: Nina Dobrev, Paul Wesley, Ian Somerhalder, Kat Graham, Steven R. McQueen, Candice Accola
Directors: Patrick R. Norris, John Behring, Greg Nicotero
» See full cast & crew
The Vampire Diaries: The Complete Third Season Blu-ray Review
The CW series' small but passionate fanbase rallies around another season, now with more vampires!
Reviewed by Kenneth Brown, September 10, 2012
Beg, borrow and steal. Your favorite TV shows do it, my favorite TV shows do it. Call it homage, call it influence, call it creative inspiration. Just don't shake your head at the notion that television genre writers and showrunners earn their keep, in part or (in some cases) in whole, by pickpocketing elements from other films and series, filing off the serial numbers as best they can, and repackaging and reselling old ideas as new high-concept series to audiences who either don't notice or have no qualms buying stolen goods. A strong show is one that hides its sources well. A great show is one that surpasses its sources, unafraid of comparison. An essential show is one that gives other pickpockets something to steal from and aspire to. The Vampire Diaries is none of the above, guilty pleasure or no.
You know the drill. Season Two spoilers ahead. When last we left the Mystic Falls vampires, werewolves, witches, doppelgängers and girls next door (who I assume need no introduction if you've made it this far), were-vamp hybrid Klaus (Joseph Morgan) had convinced Stefan (Paul Wesley) to consume human blood, give in to his darker urges and desires, and become a Ripper. Stefan, of course, was just trying to protect Elena (Nina Dobrev), even though Klaus was the least of her worries; chief among them a kiss she shared with Stefan's bad-boy boy-toy brother, Damon (Ian Somerhalder, ever the scene-stealer). And resident teen-witch Bonnie (Kat Graham) summoned a blast from her past to bring boyfriend Jeremy (Steven R. McQueen) back from the dead after Sheriff Forbes (Marguerite MacIntyre) accidentally shot him. Not exactly the most thrilling of season endgames, I'll admit, but the promise of the Salvatore Brothers' bloodless boyscout going dark, the idea that there might be side effects to Jeremy's resurrection, and the inevitability that the series' central love-triangle would grow even more complicated in the wake of Damon and Elena's liplocking was more than enough to entice viewers back for another twenty-two episode round of The Vampire Diaries.
Season Three quickly dilutes many of the relatively bold moves made in Season Two, both in an effort to draw out the tension of the ever-crisscrossing character arcs and eliminate the finality of any one decision or act (particularly Stefan's sacrifice). While that makes for a more compelling third season, I refuse to accept that watering down the events of a preceding season is the way to do it. It's the sort of typical TV trickery many a series' writer indulges in. Threaten to change the rules of the game yet play by the exact same rules when you return, after carefully writing your way around whatever much-too-drastic alterations were made in the process of creating a water-cooler cliffhanger sure to get plenty of coverage in the next issue of Entertainment Weekly. Stefan's villainy lasts all of fifteen seconds before he's slithering his way out of his cold, emotionless hole and doing whatever he can for the good of one-true-love Elena. Okay, he drank human blood. Who's perfect? He's killing people and helping create an army of hybrids for a hard-to-kill petulant child turned tyrant, sure. But it's to keep her safe! Cause that'll... keep her safe! Somehow. Um... If Stefan's going to the dark side, take him to the dark side while changing the playing field. Don't take him there, let him look around for nine episodes or so, and decide if he likes the digs or not. It's counter to the things that might make for more of a standout, expectation-shattering season. Not that Stefan doesn't dabble in darkness, or that several surprises aren't in store. He does, and there are. There are just too many pulled punches, too much hemming and hawing, and too little shock or steel to the Stefan-goes-Anakin bit.
Moral ambivalence aside, Stefan's early on-again, off-again departure from Mystic Falls promotes Damon to Moral Center of the Vampire Universe for a time, which doesn't suit his heart-plucking instincts, Somerhalder's killer performance, or the direction Williamson and Plec take the third season. More time is spent returning things to the Diaries status quo than in taking risks and dragging faithful viewers, kicking and screaming if necessary, on an unpredictable uphill ascent. Instead we're treated to some of the same pouty high-school hysterics, the same will-she/won't-she romancing, and the same supernaturally charged hookups, breakups, visions and near-deaths, few of which actually have any real episode-to-episode ramifications or consequences. The most frequent offenders? Bonnie with her boy drama and abandonment issues, Jeremy with his sudden ability to see dead exes, vampire Caroline (Candice Accola) and her up and down relationship with werewolf Tyler (Michael Trevino), Matt (Zach Roerig) and his "I see dead people too" routine, and Damon with his pseudo-sexcapades. Sending Elena's evil double Katherine (Dobrev) on a season sabbatical and having history teacher/vampire hunter Alaric (Matt Davis) take up guardianship of Elena and Jeremy doesn't help either, nor does the constant constraint of returning to Mystic High for classwork and extracurricular activities. Graduate already. Let's be done with lockers, between-class chats and homecoming dances. Besides, the teen girl/ancient vampire shtick is getting old and, beneath it all, remains as creepy and pedophilic a romantic fantasy as ever.
That said, it's not too difficult to see why Comic-Con, and fandom in general, would embrace a teen soap opera like The Vampire Diaries. Even stripping away its obvious assets -- vampires killing vampires, vampires breeding werewolf hybrids, vampires unraveling the mysterious origins of their kind, vampires being vampy -- reveals a show that functions very much like an ongoing monthly comicbook series. Plot threads are stretched to within an inch of breaking, drawing out each story, doubling back to extend it further, and then hitting hard, twisting left and right, and dispensing a climactic ending that isn't really an ending at all; just a continuation designed to pull fans deeper and deeper into the requisite vampire lore and supernatural fisticuffs. Death isn't a permanent state of being, blood and action cures all ills, and the vamp-on-vamp violence and in-fighting is enough to overshadow anything that might chip away at a fanboy's comic shop cred. When Williamson and Plec focus on the vampires -- the nuts-n-bolts of Mystic Falls' beasties and baddies -- and waylay the girlish daydreaming and tiresome pining, The Vampire Diaries is able to sink its teeth in. The Originals' backstory and 21st Century dealings are second only to Stefan and Damon's brotherly rivalry and alpha-vamp chest puffing, and the werewolves and witches are the only ones who seem to wear out their welcome. The more vampires the better. All those in favor? All those opposed? The yeas have it.
I'm eagerly looking forward to the revival of true TV horror, a resurgence that's already begun taking place. The genre crossbreeding thing has been fun, especially for those who need to temper their queasy stomachs and take the wind out of their scares. (Or those, like me, who adore Supernatural, even if its most recent season showed troubling signs of aging.) Horror, regardless of what you've been told, is capable of standing on its own bloody stumps, without the relief of romance, comedy or anything else broadcast and cable networks have tossed in the mix for the better part of two decades. Does Diaries' third season entertain? I'll give it that; it can be entertaining. Does it suck in those willing to commit? Sure, I made it through to the end, and not begrudgingly. Does it elevate the series to greatness or essentiality? Ah, there's the rub. Season Three represents an uptick, yes, but not to the point that it begins fixing the show's fundamental problems, changing the Salvatore Brothers' game for the better, or converting the unconverted.
The Vampire Diaries: The Complete Third Season Blu-ray, Video Quality
If the first two seasons of The Vampire Diaries already have a home on your shelves, rest easy: The Complete Third Season's 1080p/AVC-encoded presentation doesn't depart from its predecessors. The ongoing struggle between bright, sun-kissed mornings and sinister, shadowy nights produces some inconsistencies, most of them stylistic or inherent to the series' photography, but color richness and saturation is one of the more striking aspects of the at-times grim, ink-slathered image. Woodland greens and browns are earthy and natural, hearthside oranges are lovely, and reds make a visceral slash and splash. Skintones are suitably warm and lifelike too (or pale and bloodless as necessary), black levels are deep and ominous (too deep actually, more on that in a moment), and detail ranges from revealing to revelatory, with exceedingly well-resolved textures, refined edges and remarkable closeups. Even when darkness falls, fine detail is largely undeterred, despite the fact that delineation suffers mightily, noise spikes a bit and crush takes a heavy toll. (Oh, the crush.) I also noted instances of extremely minor artifacting and banding, but none of it amounted to the sort of problem that would leave videophiles brandishing pitchforks and torches and forming a bloodthirsty mob. All in all, fans will be more than satisfied and casual onlookers will be pleased.
The Vampire Diaries: The Complete Third Season Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Warner, having at long last made a fuller commitment to lossless audio last year by granting the vast majority of its television releases DTS-HD Master Audio mixes, continues its immersive TV streak with another strong, sinewy DTS-HD MA 5.1 surround track. Scenes centered around the teens' mundane school lives and ensuing high school melodrama tend to be ever so front-heavy -- specifically when the vampiric soundscape settles and snarky teen banter surges -- but ambience remains quite good regardless, with convincing acoustics and the subtlest of directional effects. When the vampires storm the screen, though, look out. No, Diaries isn't an action-packed series. And no, every encounter isn't as enveloping as the next. But when a vamp, werewolf, hybrid or witch abandons their romantic pursuits and bears their fangs, the soundfield roars to life. The LFE channel infuses the series with power and presence whenever called upon, rear speaker activity lunges for the jugular (without being too canned or too chaotic), and dynamics are precise. It only helps that dialogue is intelligible and carefully prioritized at all times, with only a handful of lines being overwhelmed by the ensuing supernatural conflicts. Ultimately, Season Three's DTS-HD MA track doesn't drain each episode of life; it grants each one new life, making the stories that much more engaging and involving.
The Vampire Diaries: The Complete Third Season Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The Vampire Diaries: The Complete Third Season Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
The Vampire Diaries lurks when it should lunge, lunges when it should kill, and kills when it should already be on the hunt again. Season Three is a bit better than Season Two, itself an improvement, but the series still isn't living up to its potential, even though its performances and supernaturally-charged subplots are strong. Too much teen melodrama, too many love triangles, too much emphasis on yet another girl torn between two (or more) fanged suitors. Bella, Sookie, Elena; Edward and Jacob, Bill and Eric, Stefan and Damon. The moves are different, but the pieces and, for the most part, the games are too similar. Williamson pulled off a bait and switch with the excellent Dawson's Creek (watch past its first season, you'll be shocked at what you discover). Here he pulls off a bait and bait, offering almost exactly what's expected, week in and week out, pithy pop culture references included. Oh, it's entertaining. Addicting to a point even. But great? Essential television? The sort of series that deserves the same high praise as the likes of Breaking Bad or Game of Thrones? Sorry, no. Then again, maybe I just don't get the appeal. It happens from time to time. Thankfully, the Blu-ray release of The Complete Third Season makes it easy for fans to fall in deeper love and easier for newcomers to get hooked on the show. Its supplemental package is much too light for a 22-episode television season, but its faithful video presentation and bark-n-bite DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track more than make up for it. All things considered, fans of the show shouldn't hesitate to add this one to their carts.
The Vampire Diaries: Other Seasons
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The Vampire Diaries: The Complete Third Season Blu-ray, News and Updates
• The Vampire Diaries: The Complete Third Season Blu-ray - June 7, 2012
In August, Warner Home Entertainment will bring The Vampire Diaries: The Complete Third Season to Blu-ray. The season collection features all twenty-two episodes of the supernatural soap opera; during the third season, the series delves more into the backstory ...
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