TV Review: ‘The Originals’

The Originals CW Review

CW's 'Vampire Diaries' spinoff is hardly original, and doesn't possess much bite

“The Originals” is a rather unfortunate name for a series that so clearly isn’t — a “Vampire Diaries” spinoff that at least has less awkward initials than its sire. Vampires in various forms have become a swoon-inducing conceit in terms of wooing young female demos, which is certainly in CW’s wheelhouse. Still, this busy pilot — teeming with vamps, witches and werewolves — is so dense with backstory it fails to provide uninitiated viewers with what vampires require: An overt invitation to come in. “These aren’t just any vampires,” we’re told at the outset. But yeah, they sort of are.

The title — repeated so often as to sound like fodder for a drinking game (red wine will suffice) — refers to the Original Vampires (not to be confused with Original Gangstas), a family transformed to the undead side a millennium ago that eventually fled Europe for New Orleans. Leaving no prior screen Nosferatu unturned, the setting inevitably evokes parallels to “Interview With the Vampire,” made even more conspicuous by an opening flashback and voiceover.

Flash to the present day and after a 100-year absence, the Originals are back — the werewolf/vamp hybrid Klaus (Joseph Morgan) and his half-brother Elijah (Daniel Gillies) — but their old haunt has changed. For starters, the witches are living under the dominion of vampire leader Marcel (Charles Michael Davis), a protege of Klaus’ with an army of bloodsuckers at his disposal.

The mismatched brothers thus threaten to upend the status quo, but not without a lot of tedious exposition about the transcendent power and importance of family, and just how special Klaus is, while introducing an array of supernatural players of different stripes, a la later seasons of “True Blood.”

Even with bursts of reasonably gruesome action, the biggest threat in the premiere (which receives a post-“Vampire Diaries” preview before perching Tuesdays after “Supernatural”) is getting talked to death. And while CW hasn’t lost its knack for casting talent well suited to gracing billboards, the heavy-handed dialogue, courtesy of series creator Julie Plec and Michael Narducci, doesn’t deliver much bite.

So while “The Originals” comes with a built-in audience, it seemingly has nowhere to go but down from the foundation of “Vampire Diaries” loyalists potentially hungry for a second similarly flavored hour when twilight time rolls around.

Perhaps it’ll all work out, but to those even mildly resistant to vampires’ hypnotic charms, the been-there, seen-that nature of this latest permutation on the undead — despite all the hushed reverence the Originals elicit — appears to have an age-old problem, if not an old-age one.

TV Review: 'The Originals'

(Series; CW, Thurs. Oct. 3, 9 p.m.)

Production

Filmed in Georgia by My So-Called Company, Alloy Entertainment, Warner Bros. Television and CBS Television Studios.

Crew

Executive producers, Julie Plec, Leslie Morgenstein, Gina Girolamo; co-executive producers, Michael Narducci, Diane Ademu-John; producers, Lance Anderson, Ron McLeod; director, Chris Grismer; writers, Narducci, Plec; based in part on the character Klaus from “The Vampire Diaries” novels by L.J. Smith; camera, Paul Sommers; production designer, Chester Kaczenski; editor, Tyler Cook; music, Michael Suby; casting, Greg Orson, Lesli Gelles-Raymond. 60 MIN.

Cast

Joseph Morgan, Daniel Gillies, Claire Holt, Phoebe Tonkin, Daniella Pineda, Charles Michael Davis, Leah Pipes, Danielle Campbell

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  1. Kiki says:

    I loved it! Hooked already!

  2. Why let someone review this who is so clearly not within the targeted demographics. Sorry, but this review is so condescending that I couldn’t take it serious. I may or may not watch this, but this review did nothing to prepare me or warn me.

  3. I just wished they would get rid off Hayley and the baby plot. I also hope that Klaus would stop daggering his siblings.

  4. Selina says:

    Come on people !!!!! It’s a guilty pleasure show!!!! Stop analyzing it ! It’s not Oscar material , it’s just fun! No ones right or wrong . If you like it watch it, if you don’t then don’t. It’s better than some crap that seems to stay on tv.

  5. kevin says:

    Funny how some guyz never see a good in Anything.. The originals n Vampire diaries are the best supernatural shows I’ve watched n will continue with my condition of being addicted to em

  6. kelly says:

    Kinda I’m So For Giving Them All A Chance Too I Think The Actors Are Wonderful LovePhoebe Everyone Needs To Let Her Have The Opportunity ToGrow HateHow ‘judgy’ Ppl CanBe I’mHooked FYI LOVE MYVAMPS butDidn’T Like Twilight AndDidn’tWatchTrueBlood Either Dark Shadows Tvd TheOriginals Yea That’sMy Kinda Vampires :)

  7. Arn says:

    i hate phoebe my opinion please leave hollywood never act ….. and as off originals i would definitely give it a chance for Joseph morgan baby or no baby only for Joseph……i aso wanna know what will be caroline’s reaction when she finds out that klaus is gonna be a DAD

  8. Lala says:

    I was so excited about this spinoff, until the ridiculous baby plot was revealed. I feel bad for Joseph Morgan, he deserves better than this. Please bring The Originals back to Mystic Falls! Oh, but leave Hayley in NOLA. That epic fail of a character has completely ruined this spinoff for me.

  9. Dani says:

    I was so excited to watch this show, but the baby plot killed it for me.

  10. ruth says:

    i cannot wait i just think it is goint to be great

  11. Whatever...sodone says:

    Personally, I don’t mind that vampire stories are an old guilty pleasure. This show should have been a no brainer hit. I do mind it though when the stupid writers ruin a good thing with a nonsense baby plot played by a no talent actress. They had gold in their hands and tossed it out the window for unfathomable reasons.

    • Carolyn says:

      There are some who appreciates the baby-plot. Anyway, it’s unfair to judge (and what are we, experts??) a show not yet aired. Tried and tested themes done over and over obviously gathers its own audience. Otherwise why would they be repeated? NCIS repeats the same formula every single episode and 20 million viewers are hooked.. T.O. will have its fans and supporters who keeps an open-mind and decide for themselves if they are entertained / affected by it. Genres exists to cater to a whole world of different tastes. Watch for your favourite actor/actress. By the way, can you act?

      • Annie says:

        Wait, wait, wait. I want to clarify a few things. Firstly, you’re saying you “appreciate” the baby plot, a mystical storyline that has literally never been an effective storytelling tool in television, even from much more capable writers like Joss Whedon? Not to mention the fact that by virtue of basic fundamental biology, a vampire’s status as ‘undead’ is the only reason why they would be unable to procreate, and since–you betcha–Klaus is, in fact, still undead, he too cannot possibly procreate. What you’re saying there is that you appreciate a storyline that literally contradicts the very existence of the show’s universe by disrespecting its own mythology, AND a storyline that is renowned for being one of the worst decisions a writer can make for a fantasy show?

        Secondly, you’re assuming that it’s unfair to judge a show which hasn’t aired yet–despite the fact that the characters, storyline and universe DO already exist in the show The Vampire Diaries, with a backdoor pilot that had some of the worst backlash in the show’s history. It’s fair to say you can’t criticize a brand new show before it airs, but The Originals isn’t a new show, it’s a spinoff. Viewers have already seen the steady decline in the quality of the show TVD and the characters therein, as well as the backdoor pilot which is supposed to entice them to watch the spinoff and instead has caused many fans to boycott both the spinoff AND The Vampire Diaries? And you’re saying that people have no right to decide if the show is garbage?

        Thirdly, correct me if I’m wrong, but you are in fact drawing a comparison between NCIS, one of TV’s most popular shows, with a spinoff whose parent show started out on less than 5 million viewers in 2009 and has decreased from there, with the backdoor pilot itself getting less than 2.3 million viewers–and trying to justify recycled plots that haven’t worked for the CW because recycled plots HAVE worked for NCIS?

        Fourthly, you’re of the opinion that someone may only weigh in on someone’s acting ability if they themselves are an actor? Critics exist for a reason. Not to mention casting directors, too, which are usually there to assess an actors ability (or, in the case of some, how attractive they’ll look on screen). If we followed this line of logic, shows like American Idol wouldn’t exist, because Simon Cowell isn’t a singer and therefore has no right to weigh in on what good singing is.

        Honestly, it’s called common sense. The same way that almost anyone could spot a terrible singer when they hear them, people invested in and who enjoy media will be able to spot a bad actor. Phoebe Tonkin reduces her performance almost exclusively to drawling her lines (no doubt due to the illogical struggle she has with an American accent, despite the fact that it is, in fact part of her JOB to do accents well), biting her lip and holding/moving herself so that she appears most attractive. These are the mannerisms of a model–which Phoebe started out as and probably should have stayed as.

        … and yes, that actually DOES come from someone who can act, and who spent years of schooling observing and criticizing performances so as better to hone her own.

        Now, I’m of the firm belief that people can watch whatever they want to, but I’m singularly horrified by the compulsive need some people have to try to cover up all the failings of something they enjoy. You can enjoy problematic things. It’s no big deal. But it’s pretty telling when someone would rather live in denial than fess up “yes, the baby plot makes no sense, and yes the whitewashing of the casting despite the fact that the show is set in NOLA is pretty horrible, and yes, sure the whole thing has sexist undertones, but I like vampires and I like violence and also babies are cute so I’m going to support the show”.

        Like whatever you want. But don’t try to invalidate people who have genuine criticism just because you can’t cope with it.

      • Maya says:

        Exactly. There is an audience that are into the genre, however played the topic seems to others.

        I like the baby plot. First I am very curious to see how the writers deal with it, like watching a trapeze artist walking a very fine line. Secondly, I really love the idea of doing Klaus redemption through filial love than the really old plot of doing it through romantic love.

        I am giving Phoebe T. another chance. I doubt that the disaster of Hayley in TVD was her fault. The character was terribly written. I will pretend TVD did not exist. That season 4 makes amnesia desirable.

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