The Vampire Diaries may have only just returned after the winter break, but chatter in the fandom is much more focused on the upcoming backdoor pilot proposal than whatever way the perpetual love triangle is leaning. As you’re all aware, over the break the CW announced that a potential spin-off series was currently in the works, and thus we were suitably warned of some imminent departures from the parent show. Klaus (Joseph Morgan) and Hayley (Phoebe Tonkin) were the first guys mentioned, and now it seems Elijah (Daniel Gillies) will also be taking part. The question is: do we really want to watch a Klaus-centric series?
Of course, before we whip ourselves into a frenzy of excitement and/or anxiety, it’s important to note that the show hasn’t yet been officially commissioned by the network. Right now, we’re to be treated with an experimental faux-pilot at the end of Vampire Diaries season four, in which Klaus returns to New Orleans and hooks ups with a former protégé. Aside from the fact that Elijah will finally be showing his face after an eternal hiatus for the character, the idea behind the venture is undoubtedly an exciting one. Klaus has a lot of fans, and an episode told from his perspective sounds more than a little bit fascinating.
But can the character support an entire show? The doubts and questions must be very similar to those posed back in 1999 when Buffy the Vampire Slayer spawned sister-show Angel. Now remembered with equal fondness (though I, like many others, believe Angel to be the better show) and respected as such by critics and fantasy enthusiasts, The Originals has every chance of repeating this encouraging era in television history. If we’re being honest, The Vampire Diaries is the closest thing we have to a modern-day Buffy, so creating a new show based around a popular, yet morally ambiguous, character could quite easily yield similar results.
Can you think of anything better than a 2-hour session in the world of Vampire Diaries, much like those nights of Buffy and Angel on the WB? It could also be key to tapping into the loyal viewership that the CW’s Secret Circle tried to and, even if that show only lasted one season, the network and Vampire Diaries executive producers are obviously still keen to take over Thursday nights. One would be the lighter, more ‘girly’ (for lack of a better term) hour at 8pm, and the other could take more risks, delve deeper, and get away with more. It’s hard to imagine that a show focused on Klaus could ever be light and fluffy, after all.
But it would effectively signal the end of an era for Vampire Diaries much bigger than anything an undead Elena or a Delena sex scene could. I still think of Klaus as a late arrival to Mystic Falls, never as part of the central cast, but the character has actually been hanging around since way back in season two. Since he entered the frame as an out-and-out villain, the original ‘Original’ has developed hugely, and managed to change the show accordingly. It was all very well falling in love Damon when he was trying to be a better person and win the girl, but Klaus is a different animal altogether. He is, without question, evil, and has done terrible things to out central cast, but fans still seem to adore him.
This has helped Vampire Diaries to mature and become more complex over the years. We’re bombarded with themes surrounding family and the things that come between them, but the original vampires offer us the ultimate example and help to ground that premise. That’s why I think people have warmed to the Klaus/Caroline pairing so much, because it lends a romanticism and innocence to a character that is too often steeped in his own history and dastardly agenda. ‘Oh Come All Ye Faithful’ depicted this beautifully, with the hummingbird story followed almost instantly by his murder of Tyler’s mother. It wasn’t a planned attack, but a gut reaction to being betrayed. It’s not black or white – but a very, very, very dark grey.
Of course, the point remains that, essentially, if we don’t like The Originals, the series won’t even be made. Gossip Girl made a similar move at the end of their second season, in which the season’s penultimate episode was used to pose a period-set Lily van der Woodsen teen drama, strikingly similar to the now airing The Carrie Diaries. Sadly, the ideas behind this spin-off show just weren’t strong enough and nothing ever came from the episode, but it’s still a nice little distraction from Blair, Serena and co. when re-watching the show. If nothing else, it’s lovely to be able to sample of new show without making the commitment, and I’m sure the network are thinking along similar lines.
No matter how much we love the character, Klaus might have reached the end of his journey on Vampire Diaries. Supported by brother Elijah, were-girl Hayley and possibly more, a series of his own would give the writers a bigger canvas on which to explore his history and his future, and would also leave the parent show to forge their own path away from the Originals. With the potential for crossover episodes, also, we should all be open to spending an extra hour of our week with one of Vampire Diaries‘ most complex and compelling characters.