IN TWEET: WITCHES AND WEREWOLVES AND VAMPIRES, OH MY! THE NEWEST HORROR OPUS FROM THE CW REALLY SUCKS.
UPDATE 10/31/13: Now that the series has launched, I took a look at the re-shot pilot and the episode that followed. While things were tightened up enough to merit a slight bump in my overall grade (from an F to a D) this is still a far cry from THE VAMPIRE DIARIES and remains a major disappointment. I stand by the vast majority of my critiques of the "Director's Cut" version of the backdoor pilot, including my right as a critic and blogger to review it on its merits (which were few and far between). Contrary to some of the more childish comments that were made below, I was pretty spot-on in my assertion that the producers of THE ORIGINALS were not going to do a drastic re-shoot (no matter what BS Julie Plec was feeding you in online interviews). What eventually aired as the first official episode of the series was largely a re-edited version of the backdoor pilot with re-shoots giving us a more coherent and stronger opening, too much Elijah, too little Marcel and a few decent twists. All of the problems with the overall story, pacing and cast remain intact. While you are free to disagree, this blog was not created to serve the brat contingent. Sorry to school you on the way things work outside of your cozy Tumblr cocoon but, you are not always going to read things you agree with online. There are dozens of ways to disagree that don't involve name calling, accusations of wrong doing and some of the other silly hissy fits thrown my way. This is not a rubber-stamp fan site. It's a blog with a point of view. If you can't handle that simple fact, there are a million other places on the internet for you to visit.
A few years back, The CW scored big with the surprisingly addictive THE VAMPIRE DIARIES. Last season the network debuted ARROW, easily one of the best action dramas on television. Series like this are proof that The CW can launch great scripted programming. That’s why I’m at a loss to explain the existence of THE ORIGINALS, the TV equivalent of those dried up veggies in a Swanson’s frozen dinner. You know, the ones you never eat because it’s all of the other stuff in the microwave safe tray you were really into.
This spin-off from THE VAMPIRE DIARIES (more on that later) is one of those shows that starts off messy and then goes downhill. By the time you figure out what the hell is going on, you’ve already stopped caring. With writing this haphazard and lazy, I’m not even going to bother to try and sift through the tattered set-up for you. Suffice it to say, it’s a rancid gumbo of witches, vampires, werewolves and these pointless beasties known as hybrids. The key art for THE ORIGINALS (shown above) is more exciting than any scene in the pilot.
As if a murky plot wasn’t bad enough, with two exceptions, THE ORIGINALS showcases some of the worst acting on television. Seriously. Even the leads in that dreadful SAM & CAT abomination on Nickelodeon have more thespian prowess. I would encourage The CW to start a self-imposed ban on enabling the careers of wooden “actresses,” especially those from Australia. It’s never too late to kill off the characters played by Claire Holt (even worse here in the role of Rebekah Mikaelson than she is on THE VAMPIRE DIARES) and Phoebe Tonkin. It won’t save THE ORIGINALS but it would make it a little less unbearable.
Though the series is set in New Orleans (and shot on location), I guess all of the black folks were busy because this is the whitest version of The Big Easy I’ve ever seen. There is exactly one African American lead (Charles Michael Davis) and even he is bi-racial (half black, half Filipino). Oh, and guess who the bad guy is played by?
Speaking of Davis, he's easily the best thing in THE ORIGINALS. He brings infinitely more sexiness and depth to the character of Marcel than is written into the script and he’s the only actor who appears to be having fun. Considering the army of pretty, vapid cardboard cut-outs they’ve surrounded him with, that’s no small feat.
Also coming out unscathed is series lead Joseph Morgan (Niklaus Mikaelson), transplanted from THE VAMPIRE DIARIES. He tends to assuage his boredom with a little too much scenery chewing but, honestly, who can blame him? I hope his contract has a better escape clause than Normal Fell and Audra Lindley got with THE ROPERS.
If you’re expecting THE ORIGINALS to have any of the wit, charm and sparkle of THE VAMPIRE DIARES, you’ll be profoundly disappointed. Without Kevin Williamson’s involvement, this spin-off is a wormy apple that fell far, far away from the tree. I didn’t love the backdoor pilot for this mess when it was wedged into THE VAMPIRE DIARIES. As a stand-alone, it is even more of an abortive effort.
THE ORIGINALS debuts Thursday, October 3 at 9PM E/P then airs Tuesdays at 8PM E/P starting 10/8 on The CW.
RONTHINK GRADE: D