Many people who tune in to The Vampire Dairies tonight at 8 p.m. ET will assume that the series, about a romance between a teenage girl and a vampire guy, is a quick knockoff of the popular Twilight book and movie series. Those people will be wrong.
Years before Twilight was published, New York Times best-selling author L.J. Smith wrote a series of books called The Vampire Dairies about a high school girl who was torn between two warring vampire brothers, one good and one evil. The CW wisely decided to jump on the popularity of the teen vampire romance genre and brought on experienced writers, Kevin Williamson (Dawson's Creek) and Julie Plec (Kyle XY), to write the pilot.
There's plenty of moodiness, mysterious fog and spooky black crows in the excellent pilot, which sets the stage for poor, beautiful Elena (Nina Dobrev) to deal with far more than just losing her parents in a car accident.
It's back to school at Mystic Falls High for 17-year-old Elena and her younger, drug-dealing brother, Jeremy (Steven R. McQueen), four months after their tragic loss. Elena works hard at smiling and telling everyone she's fine, despite her heavy heart. However, when she literally bumps into a deeply mysterious and hot new student named Stefan (Paul Wesley), she is immediately drawn to him.
Meanwhile, strange things are beginning to happen in the town of Mystic Falls. A young couple is ripped apart, and fog rolls in out of nowhere. Something very dangerous has come to the small Virginia town.
Stefan knows what evil things can lurk in the dark. He's not the 17-year-old teenager he pretends to be. Instead, he's more than 100 years old and he's a vampire. Stefan has returned to the town of Mystic Falls for a reason. Unfortunately for Stefan, his brother Damon, also a vampire, and an evil one at that, has followed him, and he's not about to let Stefan get the girl.
The new series offers a good mix of creativity, strong source material and appealing young stars to create one of the most promising teen series since Roswell. Dobrev does a terrific job in the key role, and her Elena is sadly sweet. We can understand her attraction to the slightly awkward Stefan.
While it's hard to imagine Wesley or Somerhalder actually being more than 100 years old, considering that they are such modern actors, we do get a hint of how deliciously evil Somerhalder's Damon will be as the bad guy. So a sweet young heroine, a hunk of a hero and a vicious vampire with a grudge set on destroying them (along with more than a little fog) ... what more could you hope from a romantic/horror teenage television series?