| || The Vampire Diaries Season 3 |
Blu-Ray / DVD Combo Set, 4 Blu-Ray 5 DVD Discs
1080P HD 16.9Mbps (General, aggregate average) in AVC CODEC
DTS-MA 5.1 Audio
It’s hard to really put “The Vampire Diaries” into a simple category. It’s a show that, at least for me, had a strong opening season that tailed off near the end, a so-so second season, and the third season seemed to be fresh out of real ideas. When it first began, I had thought: this is another vampire story aimed at fans of Twilight. But as the series has moved on it has adapted a far more comical element that reminds me much more of “True Blood”, but not necessarily in a good way.
I had thought about trying to explain the concept in some detail, especially catching up prior seasons, but it almost seems pointless – summarized into a paragraph or two, it would be make almost no sense and I don’t think it would convey what this show is really about. So, I will give a one paragraph effort at where we are now.
Previously, On the Vampire Diaries: Vampires are real, they are mostly brooding teenagers from the civil war era who lurk around except for some ancient vampires who are also turned somewhere around their early twenties, because that’s a good time to make sure you’re a permanently sexy vampire. Teenage witches, werewolves and others lurk around giving us tons of time to watch them all make out with each other. There are some great costume changes, more than attractive women, and some wildly inappropriate relationships that work primarily because the audience loves the concept of young guys and girls in various state of either pouting or seeming like something might happen.. and then it doesn't.
Season 3 takes this to a whole new level as Stefan finds himself creating an undead army of evil undoers as part of his subversive plan to only create an evil undead army as long as it protects his love interest, who may or may not be at risk for his creation of the evil undead army. It’s a bit complicated, but you know, his non-pumping heart is in the right place.
Now, Damon, the prior “evil brother” becomes the one with a moral compass, and a lot more screen time to be petulant and brooding while flashing himself also in many states of undress. (Realize, if the concept of seeing teens and 20 year old decent looking people half-naked is a turn off to you, then you really should pass on this series).
There are some great moments to Season 3, a few real horror moments and some decent tension, and again, if you enjoy the site of attractive girls & guys .. well, you got that above. Odds are, your teenager may have more interest in this then you do, but the best I can really say is: it’s not all bad; and at this point, it’s at least on par with the aging-badly True Blood.
Video Quality: 3/5
Video on the series is encoded at 16.9Mbps (AWBR) or near to that on every title, using AVC CODEC. I have very mixed feelings on this encode. In some sequences, the video quality is quite good, skin tons and close ups are quite good. But this is a show with a lot of very dark night time scenes and there are some serious issues with how this looks. I’m using a Samsung 7000 series to watch this title, and followed up with a test on a WD-73” DLP. The problem follows both so I feel pretty confident to say the issue with banding and artifacting is not a matter of the display device. In night scenes, there is a clear issue with shots that show gradients with banding at times being annoyingly obvious; artifacts float in and out of night scenes, causing minor “off black” patches which are a significant distraction.
As a whole, we’re talking a few seconds out of each episode.. but it’s enough that I can’t really give it the equivalent of a “B”
Audio Quality 4.5/5
While I think something went wrong with the video, something definitely went right with the audio. Presented in DTS-MA 5.1, the audio mix here is incredibly effective for a television series. Clear movements of creatures from the rear forward and vice versa give you a great soundstage and make this a joy to listen to. For while I disappointed with the video quality, the audio quality can snap you back into a title with great special effect sequences that absolutely work.
Extras: 2.5 / 5
The Producers Pages – 23 Minutes – This is a series of short features about the production of the series. It’s a passable behind-the-scenes featurette.
The Original Vampires – 22 Minutes – This is one of the more confused extras on a disc in a while. It apparently was originally thought to be one thing, and then along the way it became something else. This is not really the story of the original vampires, it’s more a story of how composition in the writing room comes together.
Decent Into Darkness – 10 Minutes – This is a catch-up featurette, taking you from Stefan’s fall in Season 2 to his character arc in Season 3, and why it happened.
Favorite Scenes – 19 Minutes – a highlight reel. Yes, a highlight reel with as near as I can tell no real changes from the show you just watched.
Unaired Scenes: a few episodes have extra sequences “Ordinary People” “Our Town” and “All My Children”
Conclusion: 3 / 5
You know, I had debated a lot how to rank this. The problem I boil down to is a simple one: people buy a show or a series because they like the storyline. The storyline of Season 3 was not very effective and as a result, it significantly lowers my interest in recommending this on. The other problem is that the video quality is simply not what it should be for a series that originally aired in HD. In the end, if you’re a fan of the series, you’ll pick it up. But it’s hard to put a real recommend on it as it sits for those who watch passively. At best, give it a rent – after you’ve caught up on Season 2. And, for those who are fans of the show, Season 3 isn’t on the same level as Season 2.