Self-pitying whining doesn’t really work for me. Luckily my pinball stream of consciousness doesn’t allow me to maintain any mood for more than a few minutes, let alone a bad one. Eleven hours’ sleep and I’m right as rain. Which is more than can be said for Jeremy Gilbert.
He’s the only Vampire Diaries character to exist in an unending quagmire of angst, but then again, he is a teenager. The rest of the inhabitants of Mystic Falls are refreshingly flippant about the rising body counts and supernatural weirdness that surrounds their town. It’s what makes the show such compelling television – that point-blank refusal to wallow and indulge in overwrought tearful recriminations – and I was pleased that the first season ended as well as it did. Can’t wait for more.
Sorting out my old VHS tapes following the move, I found old episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which I had previously thought was the progenitor of this type of programme, but then realised we have to look further back to find its real sire: The Vampire Diaries owes much more to Twin Peaks. Even though David Lynch’s surreal series has aged very badly, the rustic charm of the inhabitants is unforgettable, as is their unfazed reaction to the weirdness that surrounds them. Yes, Sunnydale has its share of likeable oddballs, but it’s too rooted in teen drama and comedy. Like Twin Peaks, while the teens take the spotlight in TVD, the town itself is the star.
It’s certainly less self-consciously quirky and doesn’t have that edge of the surreal – closer in tone to Sam Raimi’s American Gothic – which itself would not have existed without Twin Peaks. What American Gothic, Twin Peaks and The Vampire Diaries certainly share is that the plot is almost incidental to the developing relationships between the characters. Yes, it has soapy components and high (supernatural) drama, but all these events serve simply to bring out and consolidate aspects of the very well-rounded personalities of the people in the town. They feel real in a way that makes other shows look choc-full of cardboard cutouts. Don’t let the just-another-vamp-show setup put you off: I’ll be buying this one on DVD.