‘The Originals’ TV pilot review

| Caroline Gutbezahl | Staff Writer

Though it may seem like interest in supernatural dramas is dying down, The CW is hoping to keep loyal viewers attached to the world of vampires with its latest premiere, “The Originals.” Viewers first got a look into the world of the original vampire family with a backdoor pilot in the last season of “The Vampire Diaries.” As a spin-off of “The Vampire Diaries,” the new show’s premise is to further explain the world of the Mikaelson family, the original vampires, both in their extensive past and in the present.

Many familiar faces from “The Vampire Diaries” appear in the pilot, including Klaus (Joseph Morgan), Elijah (Daniel Gillies), Rebekah (Claire Holt) and Hayley (Phoebe Tonkin). But with these familiar faces come some new challenges. While attractive to loyal viewers of “The Vampire Diaries,” these characters may be confusing for those unfamiliar with the original show. Many story arcs from the pilot are extensions of those found on “The Vampire Diaries,” which makes “The Originals” difficult to follow as a stand-alone show. As the show progresses, hopefully storylines will become more independent and self-sustaining, allowing new viewers to pick up the storylines that they have missed from “The Vampire Diaries.” Though it’s unclear whether that will happen, it seems likely that the show will soon take off as it has a lot to offer in terms of potential storylines.

The pilot seems like a necessary step toward creating a worthwhile spin-off series, but it wasn’t very exciting. The show’s French Quarter setting is an interesting backdrop for a closer look into the world of vampires, witches and werewolves. When Elijah returns to New Orleans, nearly 100 years after last leaving it in the hands of vampire Marcel (Charles Michael Davis, “Switched at Birth”), not only is he searching for his brother Klaus, but he soon becomes ensnared in a power struggle with the local witches and vampires. The witches have captured Hayley, who is pregnant with Klaus’ child (who will be the first werewolf-vampire hybrid child), to try to get the Mikaelsons to take back control of the city’s vampires so that the witches can practice their magic again.

As confusing as that summary is, there isn’t an easier way to describe the twisted drama that is “The Originals.” Even for fans of “The Vampire Diaries,” the premiere was so busy that it was hard to understand. Also, its complicated nature was one of the most detracting features of the premiere as it required a lot of brainpower to keep up with everything that was going on and all of the characters being introduced.

Perhaps the most interesting and clear moment of “The Originals” was the opening scene, set 300 years in the past, when Elijah, Klaus and Rebekah first arrive in what will soon be New Orleans. The scene reveals a lot about the characters’ personalities, which is crucial to a new viewer’s comprehension, while still being entertaining. Hopefully, the show’s early episodes will continue to find this proper balance that will allow new viewers to follow the show as well as appeal to “The Vampire Diaries” fans.

Banking on the excitement of the season premiere of “The Vampire Diaries,” “The Originals” premiered immediately after it last week. This week, however, “The Originals” will move to its regular time slot of Tuesdays at 7 p.m., before “Supernatural.”