Friday, December 23, 2011

Happy Holidays

I think many people are going to be busy and distracted for the next few days, while Christmas and other winter holidays take over for a few more days. Well, I know I am. I have a blanket I have to finish crocheting for my cousin and some real, actual work that needs doing. And, hopefully, I have a movie to see.

I wish you all well, whether you are celebrating a big day with your family or are staying home. Have a (pick all that apply: (1) Festive Yule, (2) Happy Hanukkah, (3) Merry Christmas, (4) Pleasant Day Off, (5) Happy Kwanzaa, (6) Wonderful Wintry Non-secular Gift Exchange with Loved Ones, AKA Giftmas and (7) Other _________ 

As a side note, I am working on TVD recaps, and hopefully will have some for next week, leading into January. I will not meet my goal of catching up, there are far too many, but hopefully as we get into the end of this season of TVD I'll be able to keep up.

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Vampire Diaries Recap S1E2

I am going to have friends in town this week, so it may be another "I forget to do one of these for a week." There are a LOT of Vampire Diaries, and my goal is to get through them all before the mid-season break is over in January, so we're all caught up. I'll try to throw other things in for color, but basically: hold on to your butts, it's vampire time.

I am doing these recaps because I want to talk about them and nobody I knows watch the show. So if  I ramble (I do) that's why. I'm trying to make these not so long so if I don't have anything to say, I may not mention it. There's a lot of stuff that isn't necessarily inconsequential, but isn't called back until later in the series.

Season 1 Episode 2: Night of the Comet

The first death in this episode is another urban legend, this is the one about the girl who's sitting in the car hearing something drip on the roof, and when she gets out it's her boyfriend's blood. Except, this time it's a tent, and then the girl gets eaten by Damon, who is doing this for lulz as far as I can tell.
The start of a bad evening.

Next we get diary voice overs. Elena is gonna carpe that diem and so is Stefan. They are writing very similar things in their diaries which honestly makes me want to puke just a little. This is one of the things I was talking about, where the voice overs were stomping all over the actual acting going on. I don't need to be told how compatible they are, because they clearly are. I give the show a pass on this only because it was the plot device from the books, so it's not surprising they stuck it out in the show for a while.

Jenna and Elena have a cute scene, which demonstrates how much more they are like peers than any kind of adult/child relationship. Jenna is another one of those characters I liked instantly for reminding me of one of my family members, and I will admit that it's another small part of the reason I persisted with this show, in spite of its more annoying early habits.

Stefan brought Elena a copy of Wuthering Heights from when Emily Bronte was using a pen name, which is I think another jab at Twilight. This also establishes that they've been speaking to each other off screen, and assumes you're smart enough to follow anyway. One of the annoying things about television is that often people are telling each other things they've been told but that we've heard 2 or 3 times by this point, which gets repetitive and annoying. Speaking of repetitive and annoying...

Obligatory "Grams said I'm a witch" conversation for the episode.
Jeremy whips out his best angry walk and does his best to make Tyler feel like an asshole for not checking up on Vicki. It's hard to make Tyler feel like any more of an asshole than he already is, though. Jeremy also threatens to kill him if he hurts Vicki. Which sorta set an alarm off for me because they're on campus, and I was like "Oh snap, Jeremy's gonna get expelled!" This doesn't go anywhere, though.

We learn a little more about Vicki and Matt's family- no Dad in the picture, and their Mom is Elsewhere with some dude. So Matt and Vicki live on their own in town, and that's probably why Vicki is working at the Grill. Matt also mentions to Elena that Vicki thought it was a vampire, which is only important because Stefan is within Vampire Hearing Distance. Matt and Elena both blow it off. Matt takes off for the hospital when things between him and Elena get awkward (still more exes than friends) and Stefan disappears at the same moment, both headed for the hospital.
Mr. Tanner: *is an asshole to Jenna*
Then, Mister Tanner implies Jenna shouldn't be taking care of the kids. To be fair, Jenna is not really taking this parenting thing seriously, she assumes these two older kids can mostly taker care of themselves (Jeremy can, but isn't, and needs a bit of parenting) but she's like ...10? years older than Elena. It's an adjustment for everyone, and while she needs a wake-up call she also does not need you being a dick, good sir. This officially establishes that Elena and Jeremy lost their parents 4 months previously. Also this was the precise moment I wished Mr. Tanner dead. If you were curious.

Stefan goes to the hospital and somehow arrives at the same time as Matt, even though Stefan has Vampire Speed and should have been there and gone before Matt got in. Vicki is awake and has a full on freak out. When Matt goes for help, Stefan slips in and Compels her to forget about the vampire attack. Stefan leaves, again NOT using Vampire Speed, and when Matt sees that she's fully calm he spots Stefan leaving in the distance. He follows Stefan, but Stefan disappears out a window and finally uses his Vampire Speed to ninja vanish. (This is implied rather than seen, Matt just thinks he lost the guy.)

Caroline is having lunch with Elena and Bonnie, and they're talking about Elena's not-yet sex life. Caroline reminds Elena that she was gonna carpe that diem (or maybe just Stefan) and Elena leaves to find Stefan.
Caroline: Elena, we are your friends, okay? You are supposed to share the smut.*
Elena goes over to the Salvatore Boardinghouse and the front door falls open when she knocks. So she goes inside and starts calling for Stefan (she doesn't go past the foyer) and it seems like nobody's home until the crow flies in through the front door (subtle, Damon, subtle) and then Damon is RIGHT THE FUCK BEHIND HER. My first thought was that Damon was going to turn her into Elena burgers, but he invites her in and is remarkably normal and charming.

Damon: I'm Damon, Stefan's brother.
Elena: He didn't tell me he had a brother.
Damon: Well, Stefan's not one to brag.*

Also, he's clearly trolling Stefan by dropping Relationship Bombs. "Oh, I never thought he'd get over the last girlfriend, she broke his heart." Stefan is kind of a jerk to Elena because Damon is there. He's basically "Hey, nice to see you, bye," while glaring daggers at Damon. When she leaves, Damon kisses her hand and you can actually see Stefan's blood boiling.

Not pictured: Steam pouring off of Stefan
It's funny, though. Stefan and Damon clearly are not friends, but Damon still knows Stefan well enough to tell when he's pushed himself too hard. Damon really wants Stefan to start eating people, which seems counter-intuitive as it would mean that Stefan would be strong enough to be a threat to Damon. Maybe Damon just wants a really good throw-down and Stefan is too weak to do so.

Later, Damon manages to creep on Elena and Caroline at the same time. He's a multi-tasker like that.

He's also about as subtle as a brick.
The episode is so-named because a comet is passing and everyone's going to go outside and watch it, and they're all lighting candles and waiting. Stefan shows up and things are AWKWARD. Stefan apologizes for being a jerk earlier and Elena's kinda like "maybe this is a little too complicated, we're both on the rebound with brother issues and we just lost our parents". So she dumps him before things start.

Vicki sees Damon in the bar and semi recognizes him, so he decides to eat her, again. Damon does make a habit of snarfling her, poor dear. Jeremy picks up that she's missing, brings it up. Drama ensues. Then they split to find Vicki. Matt is apparently suspicious of Stefan, largely due to his disappearing act at the hospital.

Damon has got Vicki on the edge of the building and is threatening to drop her when Stefan finds them. Damon gets her to remember she was attacked by a vampire, and then Compels her to believe that Stefan did it. He's trying to get Stefan to eat Vicki, in order to protect himself. This is part of Damon's whole "pro-Stefan-eating-people" thing (and possibly part of Damon's "I'm bored and there's nothing on cable" thing). Stefan has more willpower than Damon supposes, though, and is willing to out himself as a vampire rather than be more like Damon. Damon makes Vicki forget everything rather than let that happen. If anybody's gonna torture Stefan, it's gonna be him.
It's not to say Stefan wasn't tempted, though.
Stefan: What are you up to, Damon?
Damon: That's for me to know and for you to... Dot dot dot.*

The upshot is that Matt is less suspicious of Stefan since he found Vicki and brought her back to the bar. Bonnie gives Stefan Elena's digits, since she thinks Elena is being too timid. Also, ladies and gentlemen, our first instance of Bonnie Bennet being witchy! She feels something WEIRD about Stefan when she hands off the number, and then wanders off.
Bonnie's Witch Face
Jenna has to hunt down all of Jeremy's paraphernalia (feeling like a big ole hypocrite the whole time), and she reminds us that when Jeremy and Elena lost their parents, she lost her sister. She also does it without uttering those words, so props. Elena tells Jenna something that, conveniently, she herself needs to hear. She takes off to at least make things up to Stefan, if not jump his bones. Elena shows up at the Salvatore Boardinghouse and invites Stefan out to watch the comet with her. They talk, and then kiss! It is a very sweet kind of kiss.

Later, at the Forbes house, Damon eats Caroline. No, I mean literally.
Poor Caroline. We knew ye well. 
  *= actual lines.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Nearly a Month Later, the First TVD Recap!

I've been wanting to talk about this show for a while because I kinda love it like pie. It's cheesy and the first few episodes aren't super great, but almost all of the characters have a surprising amount of depth. I am recapping these with foreknowledge of what's happened because I marathoned them all on Netflix a while back. (As a note, you can find all but like the first four of season three on either Netflix or Hulu). In all honesty, the first few episodes are kinda boring until episode 4, which is when shit starts to get bananas.Need it be said, this contains spoilers about the episode and hints at the season to come.

I was told before I began that "The Vampire Diaries" was like Twilight, with a silly character torn between a nice guy and an evil one. The reality is that the resemblance is superficial, and literally so. In a move that was very self aware, Stefan (the main vampire and overall Good Guy, played by Paul Wesley) resembles Edward Cullen. Nina Dobrev, a brown haired, brown eyed girl plays the main character Elena (who was a blonde in the books), echoing Bella Swan's coloring.  The show also often makes references to Twilight as well- it's very aware of what it's doing here.  "The Vampire Diaries" is roughly based on the series of books by L. J. Smith but, as I understand, the show covers different ground and changes up lots of stuff, including Elena's appearance and personality. I don't know, I never read the books. I may occasionally reference things I heard about being in the books, but I assume they have separate canons due to the race and personality differences. Just so we're clear.

Season 1 Episode 1: Pilot

The episode starts out with a death scene right out of an urban legend. This kind of thing (urban legend death) starts the first two or three episodes and is eventually dropped. In this episode, I *think* it's the hook but I swear to nothing, I'm tired. We later (not that much later) find out it is the work of Damon Salvatore, Stefan's eternal brother, who is played by the insanely hot and talented Ian Somerhalder.

While this plot point is eventually dropped, I don't mind- Damon could easily stage deaths like urban legends for his own personal amusement before something else distracts him.

One of the weaknesses of the early shows, which they later ditch, is the lame voiceover that kind of is all over the place in the earlier episodes. It is far too literal and ruins the subtleties of the acting, which is a shame because the cast is actually really good. Elena starts off telling us how she's gonna fake it til she makes it. Stefan also does VO a lot, and at one point they VO ending in the same sentence. The phrase "gag me with a spoon" comes to mind. I don't blame the actors, voice over is hard to pull off properly.
I'm kinda in love with her myself, honestly.
Jeremy and Elena lost their parents in a car accident that Elena was also in (but survived). I'm unsure of the timing, six to eight months before the pilot I believe. Jeremy is a stoner who also deals drugs, largely pills. Jeremy also has the fashion sense and hair cut of someone who spends a lot of money at Hot Topic. They live with their aunt Jenna, who... isn't really much of an adult to them. She's younger and she reminds me of my youngest aunt, who is 14 years older than me and more like an older sister to me than an aunt. I peg Jenna as maybe 10 years older than them, at the very most. I think she mostly regards them as old enough to take care of their own shit, which is true in Elena's case and not so true in Jeremy's case, for now.
I liked Jeremy right off, but he kinda reminds me of my brother, so take that as you will.
Bonnie is one of Elena's BFFs. She is also eventually going to be a witch. I know this because this plot point is dropped with all the subtelty of a fucking brick, with each episode leading up to Bonnie's revelation being filled with her going "So, my grandma says I'm a witch" and going on about it for a few minutes. It makes her confusion later seem a little artificial and also serves to make the character a little bit annoying and repetitive in the beginning.
Grams says I'm a witch. Did I mention that Grams says I'm a witch? Because she totally does.
Matt spends most of the episode emo-staring at Elena, because they recently broke up. He believes in them but she broke up with him because although she likes him (and, indeed, they remain friends) it just wasn't... enough for her. And props to the show for never shaming her for breaking up with a great guy who wasn't doing it for her and not villainizing either of them. As a result, though, Matt does a lot of staring at her longingly.
Matt and his Emo-stare
Caroline is kinda bitchy, she reveals some of her insecurities in this episode but she also makes snarky comments to Elena and admits to being in competition with her to Bonnie. They are all supposed to be BFFs with each other but it's clear why, early on, Elena relies so much on Bonnie for friendship.
Also, because she always says the wrong thing. But she's working on that.
Stefan Salvatore is the hot new guy who's part of one of Mystic Fall's founding families. He's also got some kind of dark secret (hint: he's a vampire). He's hot, polite, and smart, and so most of the girls in school want him.
He also has the Brow of Brooding and a hair style I refer to as The Cullen
Elena chases her brother into the men's room and essentially kills his buzz because she doesn't approve of his druggy ways. While I dislike how much disapproval is heaped upon the kid for being a stoner when there's a lot of underage drinking in the show which Elena never actively disapproves of (and even participates in), I do think she's more irritated that he's flaking out on school and doing drugs on campus. Later on, though, (mild spoiler) Jeremy does become kind of straight-laced, sober, and nerdy, with a far better haircut, which may prove Elena's "this isn't you" point. Also, Elena just barges into the men's room because she's pissed off, which is kinda awesome.

On her way out of the men's room she bumps into future love interest and new hottie, Stefan Salvatore. He lives with his "Uncle" in the family boarding house on the edge of town. It's a really cute scene, actually, and Paul Wesley and Nina Dobrev have a lot of chemistry together as a young couple falling for each other. This is actually one of the reasons I kept watching, because Bella and Edward has as much on screen chemistry as two bits of wood. So I was interested to see where this went, and what happened when she found out Stefan was a vampire. In the interest of full disclosure, I was also interested in Ian Somerhalder. I find Damon, the character, reprehensible at best but incredibly hot.

Later, Elena is writing in her journal in a cemetery. She's sitting at her parent's grave, which is sad and sweet, but still a little weird. She also, as far as I recall, never does this again. But, again, they drop the journal writing voice overs and just take it as read that both Stefan and Elena are journaling. While she is busy writing her thoughts, a big black bird shows up. I'm still not sure if it's a crow or a raven, I'm betting a crow. He caws at her as the fog rolls in, and she tries to shoo the bird away. But things get too weird, so Elena does the smart thing and leaves.
Black bird and fog: also not subtle
She then runs flat into Stefan, who claims he's visiting family buried in the cemetery. (This is a meta joke, as his brother was the one creeping on Elena in the cemetery). He gets all creepy and knows she's hurt herself because he can smell the blood, then vanishes because he 'loses control'. She takes this as a simple aversion, which is actually pretty reasonable of her. I like the vamping-out effect but it seems familiar...
Dark Willow? Is that you?
Stefan later shows up with the diary she left when the cemetery got too real for her, and they bond over writing diaries. They end up going to the Mystic Grill, which is the only hangout in town (like the Bronze, but adults hang there too), crushing some of Matt's hopes and dreams. (Matt is a decent guy and introduces himself to Stefan without being too weird.)

Also, Caroline Forbes, ladies and gentlemen
Caroline: *knows everything about Stefan*
Bonnie: You got all that in one day?
Caroline: Oh please, I got all that between 3rd and 4th period.

There's a teacher known as Mister Tanner (I believe this is a jab at Full House and I don't care if you don't believe me) and he is a dick. He is also the breed of teacher I dislike most: the teacher who is also a coach. It's not that I haven't had good coach/teachers, but nearly all of the worst teachers I have had have also been coaches. But he's a dick to pretty much everyone, and actually gets mad when a student knows things. Stefan pwns him at the town history, largely because Tanner was being a jerk to Elena.
I like to think his first name is Richard.
At a party in the woods, Tyler Lockwood is a dick (this establishes a pattern), and Jeremy is a Nice Guy to Vicki, who is interested in Tyler and is kind of Jeremy's ex. Caroline also continually corrals Stefan at this party because, as she later claims, it's a competition against Elena. Stefan shuts her down after she offers to take her on a private tour of the falls.
Tyler Lockwood: also a bit rapey.
Vicki later becomes a victim to the "mysterious" vampire while, once again, Stefan is off screen. When the attack is discovered, Vicki is sent off to the hospital. Matt is sitting with her and she utters the word "vampire".
Snack. Also, hard to get an image of her smiling this episode. She's really pretty in an angular way.

Stefan goes home to his "Uncle" (who, btw, calls him "Uncle Stefan") and tells him there was another vampire. Then, Damon shows up. It's the first time we actually see him, of course.

Damon reveals that drinking human blood gives vampires more strength than Stefan's diet of woodland critters (he refuses to eat people blood of any kind) by roundly kicking Stefan's ass. The show ends later this same evening, with Caroline revealing all her insecurities while Damon is in earshot, looking smug.
His default look, really.
If it seems like the supernatural stuff is kinda on the backburner, that's because it is. Things improve next week on As the Vam Pires! If you want a different perspective, and/or information from someone who knows more about the book, I recommend this recap/lesson.