‘The Vampire Diaries’: The CW Takes a Bite into Another Season

I'm Thinking of You All The While

Well, I had prepared a lengthy article for you all a few weeks back, getting into whether or not “The Vampire Diaries” (or “The Originals,” for that matter) would be getting renewed or not, complete with a variety of theories as to why that might or might not happen, but as some of you might know, the show was recently renewed.

In fact, in a near-unprecedented move, the CW actually renewed all of its shows in one fell swoop, from its highest-rated shows, “The Flash,” “Legends of Tomorrow” and “Arrow,” to the critically-acclaimed and award-winning “Jane the Virgin” and “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend,” which aren’t exactly their most successful shows, at least in terms of ratings. Hell, even the much-maligned “Reign” got renewed. Go figure.

I honestly can’t think of another occasion- at least since I’ve been actively watching and, more recently, reviewing television- in which a major network has done this sort of thing. I mean, renewing most of one’s shows, sure, but ALL of them? That’s something.

I guess it says a lot about the network, that they’re willing to stick by even their most lowest-rated shows, though I suppose one could argue that maybe they didn’t have anything better in the pipe to replace any of their shows with, should they have cancelled anything.

Whatever the case, it’s certainly a welcome development, especially to those of us who love the shows involved, some of which are admittedly a bit long in the tooth, as it were, if you’ll pardon the vampiric pun. Indeed, it will be a whopping twelfth season for “Supernatural,” the CW’s longest-running show, with “The Vampire Diaries” clocking in second for a still-impressive eighth season.

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That across-the-board sweep also means that “The Originals” will be coming back, which is certainly great news for those of us who think that the companion show may actually be even better than the one that spawned it at this point. I would have to confess to being one of those people at this point in time.

That said, it’s not as if the show couldn’t pull itself out of dire straits, even this late in the game. I mean, with the departure of star Nina Dobrev, it’s only natural that the show would hit a speed bump or two (or three or four) in the following season, which it certainly did.

At least part of it seems to have to do with the recent shifting of show-runners, which has led to some ongoing plotlines going in decidedly unexpected directions, not to mention some of our favorite characters behaving in often inexplicable and contradictory ways, to say nothing of questionable plotting and the season-spanning time-jumping arc.

Much has also been made by fans of the oddly random pairing off of certain people with others in a way that doesn’t add up, notably Bonnie and Enzo (aka “Benzo” to the ‘shipping contingent), rather than the much-anticipated and more sensible coupling of Bonnie and Damon (aka “Bamon”), which has considerable precedent on the show. (See my previous article for more on this subject, if you’re interested!)

The combination of all of these things has led to dwindling ratings and a precipitous move to Fridays, which many suspected would be the death knell for the show, along with its spin-off “The Originals,” which is often cited as the better of the two these days, given its more action-packed and exciting approach to things.

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Instead, the only thing it ended up putting a stop to was my article. (Sorry- I put a lot of work into it, lol.) Thankfully, this early renewal by the CW is not only a welcome vote of confidence in its current line-up, but a chance for all concerned to rectify things, which, if the next seasons should later prove to be their last, would give both “The Vampire Diaries” and “The Originals” a chance to go out on a high note, at the very least.

Granted, it’s not the easiest thing in the world to do for a show that’s been on as long as “TVD” has- to say nothing of the likes of “Supernatural,” which has to be running out of formidable foes at this point, after having battled everything from Death himself to, um, death itself, not to mention battling Lucifer and thwarting the apocalypse.

But I do think it’s possible to both reinvigorate things and set things up for a satisfying ending, especially if they go into things with more of a sense that that it could indeed be the last this time. This season’s main issues has been spending so much time setting up what’s going to happen that its seemed like it’s all set-up and little pay-off, or at least not anything we weren’t already suspecting, given that we already inherently knew things because of said time-jump.

Put another way, if we already know who’s alive and who’s dead and who’s with who, and have for some time now, it’s hard to get excited about what’s to come when we already know a lot of the outcome. Such is the downside of doing the whole time-jump thing, especially if you are constantly showing us glimpses of that future.

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Another show that adopted a similar approach before “TVD” was “Pretty Little Liars,” which just recently saw the downside of such an approach when they implied the death (or the impending one) of a major character we already knew to be alive in the future, thanks to a flash-forward at the beginning of the mid-season premiere.

Since we already know that character is going to be fine, it sort of ruins the whole “Are they really going to go there?” factor of the finale. Sure, it’s unlikely they were ever going to kill off one of the leads, but did you ever think that Nina Dobrev was going to leave “TVD” and it would keep going in her absence, much less for two more seasons at this point?

So, you see my point. There are upsides and downsides to such an approach. On the one hand, it has been mildly entertaining figuring out how things got from Point A to Point B, but on the other hand, we already know who is present and accounted for, regardless, so it’s not like any threat of harm coming to them before we get there was ever going to hold any weight, so that’s bad.

Another issue with the show is in introducing a new “Big Bad” so late in the game. I think most of us thought that Julian and the Heretics (which sounds like a bad 80’s band) were going to be the major threat this season. Instead, they knocked off Julian with little fanfare and simply made the remaining Heretics part of the gang, more or less.

Yes, the loss of Lily was much more affecting, but that was early on in the season, so I just assumed Julian would be going on a rampage in light of it- instead, he just ran everyone out of town and started a vampire night club, apparently. What the what? (Maybe Julian and the Heretics could have played there, if they hadn’t killed him off, lol.)

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The fact is, this season has been full of dubious decisions, but these things happen, and it doesn’t have to mean they can’t be rectified. I mean, “Twin Peaks” and “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” are two of my all-time favorite shows, and they both hit speed bumps along the way before ending strong.

There’s no reason “TVD” can’t do the same, but I do think a new regime change may be in order. At the very least, I would advise all concerned to be on the same page. At times, it seems like the show-runner is planning one thing and the writers are planning another- or more likely, that Julie Plec stepped in and changed things at the last minute because she didn’t like the direction some element of the story was headed in. Either way, it can make a mess of the show, and that’s no good at all.

The good news is, with this early renewal, the show has a great chance to cut its losses, finish out the remainder of the season as best as they can, and start fresh next season with a much-more structured plan to do things a certain way that makes more sense, especially in terms of the main characters’ motivations and actions. Otherwise, “TVD” may end up losing what fans they still have.

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What do you think of “The Vampire Diaries” getting renewed? Are you happy it did? Or should they have quit while they were ahead? ARE they ahead, really? Do you think this show can be saved? What would you suggest they do to get back on track? Anything you’d like to see happen in particular? How about characters you’d like to see get together? Sound off on this and more down below and thanks for reading!