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The Originals: The Complete First
Warner Home Video
Blu-ray Disc Released: 9/9/2014
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 9/8/2014
Ah, the television show spin-off, is there any better example of the old saying, "Nothing succeeds like success."? Once a TV show has made its mark and created well-loved, established characters, Hollywood loves taking that next step and creating another show to spotlight said characters. Of course, this idea doesn't always pan out. Do you remember The Ropers? Or Flo? Or Fish? Probably not. (Or, did you know that seven shows emerged from All in the Family?) The unpredictable nature of the spin-off hasn't stopped the networks bringing them to light and thus we get The Originals which was spawned from The Vampire Diaries.
Klaus (Joseph Morgan), Elijah (Daniel Gillies), and Rebekah (Claire Holt) are siblings who are the original vampires. Their mother was a witch who used her powers to make her children immortal, but also cursed them with vampirism. Not only are they powerful, they cannot be killed. Thus, they have walked the Earth for centuries seeking solace. Klaus (who is actually a half-sibling to Elijah and Rebekah) is power-hungry and mean-spirited. He is also a hybrid, as he also has the powers of a werewolf. Elijah is much more cultured and diplomatic. Rebekah often feels caught between her brothers. This trio visited the town of Mystic Falls (as seen in The Vampire Diaries) where Klaus wreaked havoc. While there, he had a run-in with a werewolf named Hayley (Phoebe Tonkin).
As The Originals opens, Klaus, Elijah, and Rebekah have returned to New Orleans, a city which they ruled in the early 20th Century. They've arrived at a time when the vampires are at war with the witches. Marcel Gerard (Charles Michael Davis), a vampire sired by Klaus, rules the French Quarter with an iron fist and he's forbidden the witches from doing magic. Marcel has a young witch named Davina (Danielle Campbell) at his disposal who can detect when other witches are casting spells. However, a bigger concern for Klaus is that Hayley is in New Orleans and she's pregnant with his hybrid baby! As Klaus struggles to reclaim his rule over the Big East, Elijah finds himself attracted to Hayley.
In the event that you aren't familiar with The Vampire Diaries, it's about two vampire brothers who are constantly at odds. Essentially, one is nice and one is mean and they are often vying over the same woman. In The Originals, again, the spin-off of The Vampire Diaries, we meet two vampire brothers who are constantly at odds. One is nice and one is mean and they find that they are both involved with the same woman. Yes, there is no doubt that The Originals has a lot in common with its predecessor. Knowing that the core audience probably wouldn't be very comfortable with a radical amount of change, series creator Julie Plec has crafted a show which is only slightly different from The Vampires Diaries.
The primary difference, and the one which makes the show watchable in the beginning is the fact that The Originals moves away from the high school drama shown in The Vampire Diaries. Saying that it's more "mature" may be an overstatement, but the show deals with turf wars, relationships, and politics in a more detailed and realistic (sort of) way. Gone is the "I'm a teenager in love with a vampire" angle (which could become very silly at times), having been replaced with a look at the extremely extended adulthood experienced by these vampires. The first few episodes are also engrossing due to the fact that each one ends with a nice, twisty cliffhanger. However, about halfway through the season, I began to notice how redundant the show was. It would throw various combinations of vampires, witches, and werewolves at us, but the very slight differences in these stories started to grow very thin. The show then made the mistake of attempting to solve the problem by throwing more characters at it. Seeing something like this makes one appreciate the shorter seasons practiced by the cable shows.
The one thing that The Originals does have going for it is the cast. Joseph Morgan is truly despicable as Klaus, the vampire who never got over his adolescent issues and keeps lashing out at the world. In contrast Daniel Gillies is the model of restraint as Elijah, the best-dressed vampire on TV. These performances help to anchor a show which shows some promise, and wants to break out of the The Vampire Diaries mold, but winds up feeling like True Blood-lite.
The Originals: The Complete First Season never differentiates between ghosts or zombies on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Warner Home Video. The four disc set contains all 22 episodes of the show's first season. The show has been letterboxed at 1.78:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 17 Mbps. The image is sharp and clear, showing only trace amounts of grain at times and no defects from the source materials. This is a dark show, but the image is never overly dark and the action is always visible. The colors look good, most notably the reds. The image is nicely detailed and shows adequate depth. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 2.4 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. For a TV shows, there are some very nice surround and stereo effects, most notably during the scenes where a spell has been cast, as audio moves nicely around the room. There are some detailed rear channel effects are times, and the subwoofer only adds to the action.
The Originals: The Complete First Season Blu-ray Disc contains an assortment of extras. Disc 1 is kicked off with an AUDIO COMMENTARY on the Pilot with Creator Julie Plec and Director Chris Grismer. "2013 Comic-Con Panel" (30 minutes) offers a Q&A panel in which the cast and Plec talk about their plans for the show. This Disc offers DELETED SCENES for four episodes. Disc 2 has DELETED SCENES for three episodes, as does Disc 3. The remainder of the special features are found on Disc 4. "The Originals: Origins" (13 minutes) has Executive Producer Julie Plec describing how the show spun-off from The Vampire Diaries. We hear the thoughts of the cast and go on-set to see the show being shot. This is peppered with comments from the creative team. "The Original Vampires: A Bite-Sized Backstory" (6 minutes) uses clips from the show to tell how Klaus, Elijah, and Rebekah came to be. "The Originals: Remixing History" (10 minutes) explores how the real-life events and the vibe in New Orleans are used to give the supernatural stories a realistic edge. "The Originals Panel at PaleyFest 2014" (30 minutes) offers a Q&A with Plec and the main cast, which is mostly drowned out by screams of adoring fans. This Disc offers DELETED SCENES from three episodes.
Review Copyright 2014 by Mike Long