HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: The Originals : Season 1
HTS Overall Score:82
I remember watching a season or two of “The Vampire Diaries” and not really being that impressed. I’m an enormous vampire lover, but the angsty teen drama was just a bit too much for me. “Smallville” was hard enough to get through at times due to the melodrama and tweeny vibe, but the CW has put out some amazingly good shows such as “Supernatural” and “Arrow”, so I decided to give “The Originals” a chance, even with its very obvious connection to “The Vampire Diaries” and am rather glad that I did. There’s still some angst and melodrama to the series, as it’s hard to COMPLETELY separate itself from the main series tone and feel, but the feel is much darker and more gothic in nature, which turned out to temper the melodrama and gave a much more enjoyable experience.
If you know “Vampire Diaries,” then you will already know who our main characters are, but for the uninitiated, I’ll elaborate. As you might have guessed, the show is about the “original” vampires and their rise and fall from fame in the modern era. It seems that 1000 years ago there were no vampires, only witches and werewolves, and that an ancient witch used her magic to create a living weapon against the scourge of the barbaric wolves that ravaged the land. With this magic she created the first vampires, of which all other vampires are sired from. There were originally 6 of them, Michael (the father), Elijah (the eldest), Rebecca (the daughter), Niklaus (another son) along with 2 other siblings. The other two siblings died leaving only Michael and the others aforenamed. However, Niklaus had a bit of something else in him as well, for once he made his first kill as a vampire he transformed into a werewolf as well. It seems that his mother had an affair with a werewolf at one time, and now that he had been turned into BOTH a werewolf and a vampire, he became a hybrid, gaining the best of both worlds. Michael was a cruel father and not one to take this lying down, which caused the siblings to flee their father and hide for the better part of 900 years. In those years, they came to the city of New Orleans as some of the original settlers during French rule and created an empire there, only to be driven off a century ago by their father, who they were able to defeat in the process. Now they have returned to the city of New Orleans, almost 100 years later, to reclaim the city that they called home for over 300 long years.
It seems that there is some mopping up to do. Niklaus left behind a protégé that he believed was dead, only to find that his “son” has taken over the city. Not only that, it seems that a bit of a miracle has happened, as Vampires are not able to procreate normally, only somehow he has gotten a young werewolf pregnant (it seems that his werewolf half has few tricks up its sleeves). His protégé, Marcel (Charles Michael Davis) has put martial law into effect and has banished the werewolves to the outskirts of town and keeps the witches subjugated. Now his mentor and better has come back with the rest of the originals and it's all-out war in the city. While Marcell is a powerful leader, he’s up against the most powerful vampires (and one hybrid) in the history of the world, as the siblings are not only 1000 years old and powerful as all get-out, they cannot be killed either. While other vampires can be staked in the heart or be susceptible to sunlight, the originals are magically created and do not suffer such weakness, which is both a blessing and a curse you might say.
The season is split into three distinct acts, with the 1st act being the dethroning of Marcel. The originals are in town and they are back with a vengeance as they are manipulated by the witches into helping them get rid of the vampire leader, who has subjugated them with an extremely powerful witch under his control. Once Marcel is out of power, Elijah, Rebecca, and Niklaus have to contend with the fact that the witches used them, as well as by an enemy that they didn’t see coming, someone VERY close to home. With that victory underway, the trio must face off against their worst and final enemy, an enemy so insidious, so caustic and so hidden that you won’t see who it is until the very end as they are distracted by the very reason they were created, the werewolves themselves.
“The Originals” is not exactly an original story, but it’s still a lot of gooey bloody fun (in a certainly CW twist). As you would guess from it being a CW show, everyone is as pretty as can be with lots of dramatic flair and tension between the characters. Who’s in love with whom, who’s stabbing who in the back etc.; however as much as there is a good amount of angst, the show has a decidedly cruel and dark take. Alliances are forged, blood is spilled only to find out that your friends are your enemies, and your enemies are still enemies, and some of your enemies my actually be friends. There is a lot of skulking around and making treacherous deals, and Niklaus is by far one of the more cruel and twisted anti-heroes I’ve seen in quite a while. Never trust him, for he will do what serves him best, but there are still those rare moments when you realize that behind that damaged exterior there is a piece of his humanity left. Elijah is the aristocratic one who will do whatever it takes to keep his family together, even if that love and devotion stabs him in the back over and over again, while Rebecca just wants a life, one free of her brother Klaus’ cruelty.
The show definitely has some rocky legs as the 1st two acts feel a bit rough and disjointed. The characters needed to have time to grow and create their legacies in the city, with hours spent on treacherous dealings and shifting alliances. Those twists and turns in the plot are its biggest boon and largest detractor at the same time, as they serve to create a dark and brutal world, but also tend to tax the viewer as they get exhausted by too many characters switching sides. First they’re good, then they’re bad, then they’re badder and then they’re good again. It all gets to feel strained in the 2nd act. It’s not till the third act that the show really finds its feet and the main villain rears its ugly head. That 3rd act gives us a glimpse at the true potential of the show and has me eagerly awaiting next month’s airing of season 2 and hoping they will keep that momentum.
The episode list:
Always and Forever
House of the Rising Son
Tangled up in Blue
Girl in New Orleans
Sinners and Saints
Fruit of the Poisoned Tree
The River in Reverse
Reigning Pain in New Orleans
The Casket Girls
Apres Moi, Le Deluge
Dance Back from the Grave
Long Way Back from Hell
Le Grand Guignol
Farewell to Storyville
Moon Over Bourbon Street
The Big Uneasy
An Unblinking Death
A Closer Walk With Thee
The Battle of New Orleans
From a Cradle to a Grave
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=25457[/img]Well well well, I remember back in the day when Warner Brothers TV series tended to be a bit lackluster. Usually decent picture quality, but marred with a 640 kbps Dolby Digital track instead of full lossless. In recent years WB has upped the ante and “The Originals: Season 1” stands up there with the likes of “Arrow” and other newer titles for quality. The image occasionally has a soft sheen to it and a few minute scenes where banding is present, but for the other 95% of the time the picture is excellent. The series is shrouded in darkness and given a sort of gothic feel to its nature. Blacks and deep gothic purples and reds saturate the picture and the shadow detail is especially important when you have a series that likes to stick to the shadows just as much as the vampires do. There’s some crushing, but it’s not a whole lot, usually most noticeable on clothing. Colors can be vibrant and bright when the few sunlit scenes are present, and those daylight sequences have a tendency to be slightly orange/gold tinged, especially in flashbacks. Besides that slight crush and banding there doesn’t seem to be any compression issues as the detail is stunning throughout.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=25465[/img]As with all things, that old fashioned lossy audio has been replaced by a full-fledged DTS-HD MA track that really stretches its wings. The audio is vibrant and full of power, with a bass line that gives some serious bite to the bark. Dialogue is clean and clear, and very well dispersed amount the three mains, something not a lot of TV shows can do well. Dynamic range is fluid, fluxing from one end of the spectrum to another, which gives the show a more cinematic feel. Especially with how many special audio effects the series has and the pleasant use of the surround channels. Arrows whistling through the air, the rush and roar of New Orleans on a party night and the explosions of wood and glass during full out war between the Witches and the Vampires make very impressive use of any surround channels in your system. I’m impressed with WB’s latest offerings as the action oriented shows really show an uptick in sound quality with the inclusion of lossless audio and better sound mastering as time goes on. Well done.
• Pilot Commentary - With Creator Julie Plec and Director Chris Grismer
• 2013 Comic-Con Panel - Executive producer Julie Plec and the cast discuss the origins of The Originals, and what you can expect in this spin-off of The Vampire Diaries.
• 2014 PaleyFest Panel - Cast and producers discuss the creative process in these highlights from the panel at PaleyFest 2014
• The Originals: Origins - In this featurette, creator Julie Plec leads us on the journey of creating The Originals and continuing through to the production of the pilot in New Orleans.
• The Originals: Re-mixing History – In this featurette, the writers of The Originals will describe how they were able to blend fact with fiction, generating strong roots in New Orleans for the Mikaelson family.
“The Originals” isn’t as “original” as could be expected 30 years ago in film history due to the massive increase in supernatural shows and movies (especially Vampire ones), but it has a delicious mix of dark and angsty that blends quite well together. The first act is excellent, with the second act dragging just a bit, but that final act pulls it back up and above even the first and will have you begging for the new season to start. The audio and video are amazing, with Warner Brothers putting a lot of effort into the encode, which makes me give this a solid recommended for viewers. Especially those who enjoy Vampire lore.
Starring: Joseph Morgan, Daniel Gillies, Phoebe Tonkin
Created by: Julie Plec
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1, French, Spanish DD 2.0
Studio: Warner Brothers
Runtime: 929 minutes
Own Season 1 on Blu-ray™ Combo, DVD & Digital HD September 2nd
Buy The Originals : Season 1 Blu-ray on Amazon
Recommendation: Watch It
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