Thursday, April 25, 2013

Review - The Originals (unofficial pilot)

It's quite common for future spin-offs to be introduced via an isolated episode of the show they're branching off from, and so it is with next fall's The Originals, spinning off from the hit CW series The Vampire Diaries, now in its fifth season.

I admit I was not a TVD fan right from the start. I actually resented it a lot because I felt the CW spent so much time and money promoting its premiere and whole season, consequently neglecting my beloved Supernatural, which was going into its fourth season and desperately needed promotion, since it had barely escaped cancellation and was very much a "bubble" show (in very great danger of not being renewed again). 

But after the net aired the first 10 episodes in a week where I had nothing else to watch, I gave it a chance -  and got hooked.  It is a very strong, fast-moving show with good acting, lots of plot lines that progress quickly and episodes that feature so much - everything - it's hard to believe they don't burn out of stories half-way through a season.

It's only natural, then, that such a show - one with so many strong characters to choose from - would be ripe to "sire" a spin-off (hey, had to use a vampire reference here, didn't I?).  And an obvious choice would be vampire trio Klaus (Joseph Morgan), Elijah (Daniel Gillies) and Rebekah (Claire Holt), a.k.a. the Originals.  TVD has gone to great lengths to establish these characters and their long-standing backstory (between them they probably have over a thousand years of existence and history).  Klaus is a true bad boy, relentless and blood-thirsty, who has made the lives of many of the citizens of Mystic Falls a living hell, particularly new vampire/former good girl Elena (Nina Dobrev) and former Ripper Stefan (Paul Wesley).  But Klaus has also shown a more merciful side from time to time, which has helped make a complex, possibly redeemable man.


Even though TVD has played around this season with a possible romance between Klaus and the sweet Caroline (Candice Accola), it seems a stronger story may be to move his story to New Orleans, a city with a reputation of being a very mysterious, mystical place.  The Originals takes us into the dark underbelly of the city, where witches and vampires thrive.  Klaus is told that one witch in particular is plotting something big against him.  When he arrives, he meets up with brother Elijah, who brings him to a group of supernaturals who have taken it upon themselves to protect Hayley (Phoebe Tonkin, The Secret Circle), a werewolf we met last season on TVD with whom Klaus slept with before she left town to find out more about her family.  Turns out Hayley is pregnant with Klaus' child - a supposed impossibility - and will be killed for it. 

Elijah tells Klaus that this is their chance to have what they've always wanted:  a family.  But Klaus wants none of it ... or does he?  He sure seems not to care, but as we've come to know Klaus, we know he's not all what he seems.  As nemesis Katherine (also played by the talented Dobrev) puts it:

"Klaus won't be able to walk away from this.  He and I are the same:  we manipulate, we thirst for power, we control, we punish, but our actions are driven by one singular place deep inside - we're alone, and we hate it."

Then again, by his own words, Klaus wants to be king and, regarding his child, "every king needs an heir."  So good daddy or bad daddy?  With this complex character, could go either way ... or both. Either way, after tonight episode, it seems we've seen the last of Klaus in Mystic Falls for the rest of TVD's season.  Shame ... didn't really get closure there.

Personally, I would prefer to keep these characters as part of TVD, being that they add so much tastiness to the ongoing storylines.  But I can also see how they have perhaps run their course and need to stretch out on their own and tell a different story.  And this spin-off is made for the CW and will fit right in, especially if they pair it with TVD next season.  New Orleans is definitely a perfect setting, and the three leads are strong enough to hold it on their own.  Guess time will tell.  Fortunately, the CW is really good about giving their new shows time to breathe and develop (no hot-button cancellations here, thankfully in most cases), so look for The Originals to have life for a while in the fall.

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