Sunday, September 7, 2014

The Originals: The Complete First Season Blu-ray Review

Reviewed by Jami Ferguson
This sexy and thrilling new series from "The Vampire Diaries" executive producer centers on the Original vampire family and the dangerous vampire/werewolf hybrid, Klaus (Joseph Morgan), who returns to the magical melting pot that is the French Quarter of New Orleans — a town he helped build centuries ago. Acting on a mysterious tip that a plot is brewing against him, Klaus’ questions lead him to his diabolical former protégé, Marcel (Charles Michael Davis), a charismatic vampire with total control over the human and supernatural inhabitants of the city. Determined to help his brother Klaus find redemption, Elijah (Daniel Gillies) follows Klaus and is soon forced to side with Marcel’s enemies. Meanwhile, Klaus and Elijah’s sister, Rebekah (Claire Holt), must decide if she’ll join her brothers in New Orleans and help them to reclaim their hometown and all its extraordinary offerings. Phoebe Tonkin also stars, among others.
Show (4 out of 5 stars)
"The Originals" is laid out so that you don’t need to know anything about the "Vampire Diaries" in order to jump right on board. Of course, it’s always better to have a little extra knowledge and understanding of where the characters have been. You won’t be confused if you didn’t meet the members of the Original family back in Mystic Falls. The show was created by "The Vampire Diaries" executive producer Julie Plec, and offers a more mature cast and story.

The vampire/werewolf hybrid Niklaus aka Klaus (Joseph Morgan) is the center of the Mikaelson Family, the world’s original vampires. Klaus has returned home to New Orleans to discover that his protege Marcel (Charles Michael David) has become the master, controlling vampires, witches and werewolves in his territory. The werewolf Hayley (Phoebe Tonkin) is pregnant with Klaus’ child in a world where vampires cannot procreate. She is a very valuable person and is held hostage by the witches who need Klaus’ help. 

As the season begins, Klaus doesn’t believe the child exists, then acts as if he doesn’t care as his brother Elijah (Daniel Gillies) fiercely protects the mother to be. He enlists the help of sister Rebekah (Claire Holt) who has a more than strained relationship with Klaus but is very close to Elijah. Original vampires can’t be killed, but Klaus has a habit of staking them and locking them away suspended in time for years and sometimes even decades.

The first season of the spin off from the hit CW show the "Vampire Diaries" released on September 2nd. Season two airs on October 6th giving you plenty of time to catch up if you missed the show on TV. With 22 episodes, you’ll want to get started right away to avoid a weekend of binge watching right before season two.

To avoid spoilers, I won’t say much more about the plot lines of season one. There is a significant amount of drama brewing between all the supernatural creatures in New Orleans. Allies become enemies and family secrets are revealed over the course of 22 episodes. I wasn’t a big fan of the Klaus storyline on "The Vampire Diaries" but find the original family much more interesting in its own show. The Originals: The Complete First Season shows us the story of how the Originals ended up in New Orleans. This is new information, not just a recap of what we learned in "The Vampire Diaries." 

Fans of the show will recognize some historical footage. No one is stressing about their love lives next to their high school lockers. No matter how old "The Vampire Diaries" main characters Damon and Stefan are, they are definitely stuck in a teenage love triangle. For those who watched and thought “I’m too old for this” "The Originals" might be the show for you. Klaus is full of surprises and he and his family can definitely keep a story going for seasons to come.
Video (4 1/2 out of 5 stars)
The Originals: The Complete First Season is presented on Blu-ray in 1080p high definition with a 16x9 1.78:1 ratio. Even though there are daylight rings, the show is predominantly dark. Many of the scenes are on the shadowy streets of New Orleans and in gloomy cemeteries or dimly light homes. In any setting the show is remarkably crisp and clear. Skin tones are accurate and there is a striking difference between the living and the dead. The colors are true, and special effects are very well done in the freshman season of the spin off show.
Audio (4 out of 5 stars)
The Originals: The Complete First Season offers an impressive audio presentation with a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix. With the supernatural, the background noises are often as important as the dialogue and all can be heard on a clean and clear audio track. The show is also available in Dolby Digital French 2.0 and Spanish 2.0 and has subtitles in English SDH, French and Spanish.
Extras (4 out of 5 stars)
Blu- ray discs one through four offer a variety of special features. I especially like the fact that whichever disc you are on you can see not only the titles, but also the descriptions of the features on the other discs. The Originals: The Complete First Season has the following special features:

Disc One:
  • Pilot Commentary – Creator Julie Plec and Director Chris Grismer offer an informative commentary discussing visual effects, sets, stunts and more.
  • 2013 Comic Con Panel (29:21) – Cast and Director discuss filming the pilot and the series.
  • Deleted Scenes – Unaired scenes from “Always and Forever”, “House of the Rising Son”, “Girl in New Orleans” and “Fruit of the Poisoned Tree”.
Disc Two:
  • Deleted Scenes – Unaired scenes from “Bloodletting”, “The River in Reverse”, and “Dance Back from the Grave”.
Disc Three:
  • Deleted Scenes – Unaired scenes from “Long way Back From Hell”, “Farewell to Storyville”, and “The Big Uneasy”.
Disc Four:
  • The Originals: Origins (13:24) – Creator Julie Plec leads us through creating the show to the pilot in New Orleans.
  • The Original Vampires: A Bite-Sized Backstory (5:33) – A montage featuring the original family story-lines and key scenes from the upcoming season.
  • The Originals: Re-mixing history (9:32) – A featurette where the writers discuss fact and fiction adding historic roots to the plot.
  • The Originals Panel at Paley Fest 2014 – Highlights from Paley Fest with cast and producers discussing the creative process.
  • Deleted Scenes – Unaired scenes from “A Closer Walk With Thee”, The Battle of New Orleans” and “From a Cradle to a Grave”.
Summary (4 out of 5 stars)
The Blu-ray offers an exceptional audio and video quality and well planned and easy to find special features. Inside the case is also an episode by episode brief summary, which I appreciate when trying to remember exactly where I left off. I can recall what happened but rarely remember the episode names. The Originals: The Complete First Season is worth watching, and I recommend adding the Blu-ray to your television collection.
Order your copy today!

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