TV Review – The Vampire Diaries, Season #1

The-Vampire-Diaries-Season-1

Source: Wikipedia

 

Seventeen-year-old Elena Gilbert is still reeling from the loss of her parents in a car accident four months prior to the beginning of the show. She lives in the small town of Mystic Falls in Virginia with her younger brother Jeremy and their aunt and guardian, Jenna. The new school year starts and Elena and her two best friends, Bonnie and Caroline, meet the new boy at school, Stefan, who turns out to be a vampire. The storyline mostly follows Elena, Stefan, and Stefan’s mysterious older brother Damon, as well as a secret town council, made up the founding families, that somehow knows about vampires and seeks to rid Mystic Falls of them.

 

This television series is based on the book series of the same name written by L. J. Smith. I will readily admit I have not read them. Because everyone told me the writing was really terrible. Also, I had already seen the first season of the show at that point and knowing it wasn’t going to be as good made me just not want to go there and potentially ruin something beautiful. Because I consider what the writer has written to be cannon and any adaptations secondary, and I really want this TV show to be my cannon for this series.

This is a rewatch for me, but since I binged it the first time, I couldn’t remember where the first season ended and the second season began. This, my friends, is an excellent show and probably not appropriate for teenagers with the amount of illegal substances, underage drinking, and hooking up going on without anyone’s parents seeming to care overly much as long as they don’t see it personally. Not that that stopped me from watching it in 2009 when it premiered and I was a seventeen-year-old senior in high school. That said, Elena and pals are juniors, not seniors.

Being that this season takes place from 2009-2010, the music is super nostalgic for me. A lot of it is what I listened to during that time, and the tunes I didn’t recognize the first watch through I noticed now because they were songs I loved in college that hadn’t quite found me yet in high school. I also quite enjoyed the references to TwilightThe X-Files, and How I Met Your Mother, amongst others. The CW, like MTV, has a habit of picking attractive actors and actresses to fill their roles, though the CW doesn’t usually go over the top like MTV tends to. In this case, they played it right down the line and it worked out exceptionally well. While we had quite a few one-off characters, the season felt really full.

My favorite parts of the season might be the flashback scenes. Because we’re dealing with the eternally dead-yet-alive, the writers were able to jump into the past and show us bits of American history through the eyes of Stefan and Damon. I happen to know from experience that the flashbacks only get even better from here.

We got 22 45-minute episodes, and the first 6-7 mostly deal with getting to know the characters and setting up the layout of the town for the rest of the show. This was done really quite well. The remaining 15 episodes are composed of a mix of plots, furthering the basic character back story bits while also allowing room for a ‘big bad’. In this case, a bunch of scary vampires from the past show up and try to murder everyone. The season ends by wrapping up the season one big bad and hinting at the bad things to come in season two. If season one could be called “Let’s get to know everyone and hope not too many people close to our characters die”, then season two will probably end up being called “Feelings suck”.

 

Since this is season one, I won’t share any spoilers. Starting with season two, however, I’ll be referencing things from previous seasons, so don’t read them if you don’t want the plot spoiled!

 

And since this is of the utmost importance, I’m going to keep a tally of which team I’m on as far as ‘ships’ go in this series (Only the obvious one this time, though. No spoilers!):

The first time I watched this show, I was hardcore Team Stefan. Having watched other seasons I am now biased, obviously, but rewatching this season allowed me to see all the little manipulative things Stefan is doing while not actually realizing he is doing them. You would think that after 150+ years on this Earth he would know better, but, alas, he does not. So, this time around, I am wholeheartedly Team Damon. And I have no regrets.

 

Favorite Episode: Episode 19 – Miss Mystic Falls

 

HHC Rating: 5 Stars

 

TV Review – Stranger Things, Season #1

Stranger-Things-logo-wikipedia

Source: Wikipedia

Alright, let’s start at the top, shall we? I’m pretty picky when it comes to entertainment consumption. Things tend to stick with me, to the point where I remember details of a plot for years after I’ve finished watching or reading something. This is frustrating when a book becomes my favorite because re-reading is pointless for about 10 years. It’s worse when it comes to TV and film, however. I saw The Birds when I was about eleven years old and it still gives me nightmares 14 years later. In general, I don’t like horror because of this. That being said, I really enjoy 80’s movies. So it was fairly difficult for me to decide whether or not Stranger Things was something I wanted to put into my head.

My brother watched it when it first came out and then proceeded to make the rst of my family watch it. At the time I was helping to plan two separate friends’ weddings and was living with one of them part-time to facilitate this process. Because of my living situation, my family was already on episode three when I figured out they were watching it, and at the time I didn’t want to miss anything if I was going to actually commit to it. Which brings us to how I ended up watching it.

The music was cool. That’s really all I could hear from my bedroom besides various characters screaming ‘Will!’ and ‘Barb!’ over and over again, so I didn’t have much to go on besides the music and the recommendation of my family.

I think I started watching it in January? It was well after the weddings were over, and after NaNoWriMo too, so I think it was January. The first episode was half creepy, half boring. I loved that they played Dungeons and Dragons (greatest game ever!), but nothing had really happened, and I had no sense of the world so I had no idea where the story could possibly be going. Fast forward another month and I had watched episodes two and three, and I was becoming seriously bored. I thought this was supposed to be scary? Nothing was happening to propel the story forward, and Winona Ryder was getting really good at playing a crazy lady. I was about ready to give up.

Then, near the end of April, my brother asked if I had finished it yet. I told him my feelings and he insisted that I watch episode four. We watched it together. I was still bored. He kept telling me “some episodes are slower, some are faster.” I didn’t believe him.

Finally, I went back to it at the end of May because I hate leaving things unfinished and I had other series I wanted to watch. I turned on episode five, and WOW! What a difference! In fact, the entire second half of the season moved at lightning speed compared to the first half. It honestly felt like watching an entirely different show. Characters developed! The plot moved along at a semi-reasonable pace! We got a good look at the monster!

Overall, I enjoyed it. It’s 80’s nostalgia wasn’t overpowering, but the setting was believable. The plot was well constructed in the last four episodes. We got clear answers to our burning Mike and El questions, and Lucas finally turned back into a normal human being. We got some backstory on Chief Hopper (though no hints as to what he’s currently up to), and Nancy turned into a pretty cool character.

Now the bad news:
Besides the first four episodes being more boring than watching paint dry, the actual ending killed me. I should probably warn you that I finished watching the finale about… 27.5 minutes ago at the time of writing this, so these impressions are piping hot and fresh, but come on, Steve? And what about the egg? And the stupid homage to Stephen King’s IT with that last bathroom scene? And I WANT EL BACK!!!

Plenty of it was cliche “Don’t open the door!” moments, and, I’m sorry, but can the library please not be the most dangerous place in everything? It’s just too obvious. (See every video game featuring a library. The ‘library’ level is the most difficult. Or it’s the lair of the evil beast. Always.) And I know these people have never dealt with *****SPOILER***** Infectious aliens personally before, but COME ON, this is the 80’s, the movie Alien had already been released! They’re all obsessed with Sci-fi and Fantasy and no one thinks to do an X-ray to see if anything else is inside of him? I mean, it’s not like you pulled a four-foot-monster-larva out of him or anything. *****END SPOILER*****

 

Will I be watching Season #2? Yes. Will I be angry if it ends anything like this one did? YES.

 

HHC Rating: 3.75 Stars.

 

One last burning question: How does their science teacher know so much? I smell a conspiracy.

 

Red Queen (Red Queen, #1) – Victoria Aveyard

Source: Goodreads 

Red Queen introduces us to Mare Barrow, a regular girl forced to live in the slums of civilization because her blood is red. The upper class, in addition to bleeding silver, are endowed with supernatural abilities. Some of them can read minds, while others can heal, or manipulate certain elements. The silvers live seemingly carefree lives while the reds are forced into enlistment at the age of 18. This is normal for Mare’s world. But some things are about to change. For one, Mare discovers her own powers, ones no one has ever heard of. For another, she suddenly finds herself engaged to a prince: a silver. Can Mare blend in with the upper classes? Or will the threat of rebellion rise, red as the dawn?

The concept sounds really cool, right? That’s because it is. This book is full to bursting with potential. But that’s about it. It’s not that the idea of a futuristic-middle-agey dystopian world is overused. In fact, it’s one that almost always interests me. But we don’t get very much of it. Aside from once or twice when a character is actively looking at a map or when they are traveling, we don’t get a very good idea of the world as a whole. Sure, there’s a massive war going on and I didn’t expect the reds to know everything, but I did expect more knowledge from the silvers. Aside from the immediate surroundings, the reader really doesn’t get very much in the way of layout for the cities and buildings, much less culture.

As far as characters and storyline go, I wouldn’t say I was surprised by anything or anyone. Granted, I had the plot twist spoiled for me, but I think I would have caught on pretty early anyway. I will say that my favorite character is not Mare. In fact, I’m not really a fan of Mare. For a girl who’s supposed to be really good at reading people she misses a lot. My favorite character is Evangeline. She’s the only person I feel like I really got a read on. She’s complex, while everyone else feels a little 1 or 2 dimensional. I think it would be awesome to follow Evangeline for a book or two. I can’t even begin to imagine what goes through her head.

At first, I thought the book was very much Hunger Games meets The Lunar Chronicles, but it did eventually deviate and do its own thing, at least for a little while. I picked up this book because just about every BookTuber and YA reader that I follow is obsessed with it. (The second book, Glass Sword, comes out in February 2016) After reading it and the reviews, I’m hearing a lot of comparisons to another futuristic dystopian series: Red Rising. (Which I haven’t read yet) Although Red Rising takes place on Mars and follows a male lead, it’s the ‘reds’ against the ‘golds’, and the main character has to infiltrate the upper classes and lead a rebellion, etc. So, it’s up to you which one you want to read, but they do sound extremely similar.

Will I read the sequel? Probably, but only because I like Evangeline and I’m really hoping Aveyard will flesh out the world some more. I’d be interested in seeing if all the silvers have the same abilities in the other countries, or if that varies. If you like YA or futuristic-middle age-y settings or dystopias or love triangles, this is the book for you. If you have a history of disliking main characters who are a tad oblivious and overly trusting, however, I’d say you should probably skip this one.

HHC Rating: 2 Stars