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Sunday, September 14, 2014

The Vampire Diaries: The Complete Fifth Season Blu-ray Review

Get ready for more suspense, romance and thrills as the hit series The Vampire Diaries continues for a fifth season on DVD and Blu-ray. After a sizzling summer with Damon, Elena leaves Mystic Falls for Whitmore College and moves into a dorm with Caroline as her roomie, ready for new adventures and new friends. But dark thoughts gnaw at Elena, and soon familiar faces are back in the girls’ lives. There’s Stefan with his shadow self, Silas, plus Katherine, with a diabolical agenda and a jaw-dropping transformation. As the doppelgangers test destiny, pitting the Salvatore brothers against each other, the student body count rises — evidence of powerful forces on campus. The struggle later continues between the mysterious Travelers, new witches and our favorite vampires, fighting for their own survival and, ultimately, the fate of Mystic Falls. Sink your teeth into all 22 bloodthirsty episodes of this passionate, heart-ripping, supernatural series.
Show (3 1/2 out of 5 stars)
Vampires, werewolves and witches..oh my! It seems as though there have been vampire shows everywhere (HBO’s recently wrapped True Blood, then there's The Vampire Diaries and it’s spin off The Originals, as well as Being Human). Many of these shows start out with standard vampire lore but quickly add in werewolves and all kinds of supernatural creatures to their dramatic story lines. The Vampire Diaries admittedly has a soap-opera like quality to it and a target audience much younger than myself. I dare to call The Vampire Diaries a little Twilight-ish. If you couldn’t make yourself care about those movies, you might have a hard time getting on board with this although Nina Dobrev is a lot easier to take than Kristen Stewart.

The big question for True Blood fans was “Team Eric or Team Bill?” Twilight asked the question “Team Edward or Team Jacob?” For Vampire Diaries fans its “Team Stefan or Team Damon?” The show centers around Elena (Nina Dobrev) and the town of Mystic Falls. Elena has spent a hot summer with her new love Damon (Ian Somerhalder) and prepares for college life. Fellow vampire Caroline (Candice Accola) is her roommate and brother Jeremy (Steven R. McQueen) stays behind to finish high school. As if high school isn’t stressful enough, Jeremy has recently returned from the dead. Matt (Zach Roerig) returns from Europe with a new face, Nadia (Olga Fonda). As the season begins, Stefan (Paul Wesley) is missing and Damon hasn’t shared that information with Elena.

Right away, there are problems at Whitmore College for Elena and Caroline. They want to blend in, but their roommate dies and the complications mount. There are students who are not what they seem and a professor with a lot to hide. Literally everything that happens after that would be a spoiler to read about. The season involves a whole lot of doppelganger drama. Lives are saved, lives are lost. There is a costume ball where Damon and Elena dress as Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn. There are kidnappings, curses, and a whole lot of details I just can’t find a good way to talk about.

The Blu-ray set contains an insert which gives a brief synopsis of each episode and even that’s way too much information if you haven’t seen this show. If you haven’t seen previous episodes you could figure out the basics of what’s going on. It’s easy to tell who is human, who is a vampire, and who is something else. With all the craziness happening this season it is important to know about the previous four seasons of crazy. You can’t appreciate any of it without knowing the history of the Gilbert Family and all that went on in Mystic Falls. 

If you’re trying to catch up, or like me, you just need a reminder of what you saw last season. The next season of The Vampire Diaries premieres on the CW on Thursday October 2nd – five days before the premiere of Supernatural. If you’ve got a lot of television to watch in the next few weeks it helps to know you can start with The Vampire Diaries and then have a binge weekend of Supernatural and still be on track. If you didn’t like any of the previous seasons nothing about season five will make you love The Vampire Diaries. The show has found a formula that works, and is sticking to it. The story arcs are getting bigger and the season ends with a huge cliffhanger. If you’ve been on the fence about “breaking up” with the show, this might be the season to make you do it. I’m not there yet…I’m still interested.

The Blu-ray contains 22 episodes on 4 discs. To avoid spoilers, all I can really tell you is the titles:
  1. I Know What You Did Last Summer
  2. True Lies
  3. Original Sin
  4. For Whom the Bell Tolls
  5. Monster’s Ball
  6. Handle with Care
  7. Death and the Maiden
  8. Dead Man on Campus
  9. The Cell
  10. Fifty Shades of Grayson
  11. 500 Years of Solitute
  12. The Devil Inside
  13. Total Eclipse of the Heart
  14. No Exit
  15. Gone Girl
  16. While You Were Sleeping
  17. Rescue Me
  18. Resident Evil
  19. Man on Fire
  20. What Lies Beneath
  21. Promised Land
  22. Home
Video (4 out of 5 stars)
The Vampire Diaries: The Complete Fifth Season appears a bit better than previous seasons on Blu-ray but inferior to the recent Blu-ray release of The Originals. The detail is above average and the color, contrast and clarity are good in both the darkest interiors and the outdoors in the daylight (they do have daylight rings). Fleshtones, in both the living and the dead are consistent and overall I had no major complaints.
Audio (4 out of 5 stars)
The Vampire Diaries: The Complete Fifth Season features a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which is more than adequate. Most importantly, dialogue is intelligible in all circumstances and the background and peripherals have enough weight and authenticity to sell the story.
Extras (3 out of 5 stars)
There's some decent extras added for this set including:
  • 2013 Comic-Con Panel – Over thirty minutes of footage from last years Comic-Con Panel featuring Creator Julie Plec and the principal actors.
  • I Know What You Did…In The Last 100 Episodes – The cast and crew reflect on the favorite moments from the first 100 episodes.
  • To the Other Side and Back – A look at The Other Side (after death) with an overview of the rules and limits.
  • A Day in the Afterlife – Actress Kat Graham (Bonnie Bennett) gives a behind the scenes look at a typical day of production in this 7 minute featurette.
  • Deleted Scenes – Seven unaired/deleted scenes.
  • Second Bite: Gag Reel – Five minutes of silliness.
Summary (3 1/2 out of 5 stars)
The Vampire Diaries offer a lot more drama this season, but not a whole lot of anything “new” that will create new fans or hold on to those on the fence about this show. With all the doppelgangers and returning from the dead they have failed to keep the audience on the edge of its seat. I personally don’t feel like anyone could be in jeopardy and don’t mourn the death of these characters because in The Vampire Diaries there are just too many options for returning or living on - too many loopholes. I do enjoy the show and they have managed to keep me interested enough to watch another season. At this point, it’s a show for the fans, not for the casual watcher or newbie. If you tried to jump on board at this season you would likely be confused and quit watching. If you liked seasons one through four, five is more of the same. This season there are whole new set of problems for Elena and her friends. If the Katharine story-line bothered you in the past, be warned there is a lot more to come. The Blu- ray looks and sounds good and offers a few solid extras. Fans of the show should be happy and will feel good adding the Blu-ray to their collection.

Order your copy today!

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