The Vampire Diaries

TVD_3It’s safe to say I’ve seen my fair amount of TV shows over the past 10-15 years. But there are very few shows I started around the time its first season debuted on a TV network. Let alone the week the series pilot aired on television. This is why it is very bittersweet to say farewell to The Vampire Diaries (TVD). The Vampire Diaries pilot episode aired on The CW network back in September 10, 2009. The pilot was available on iTunes for free the following day. On random whim, I decided to buy it. I didn’t have much to lose.

Around this time, I was in the early stage of my Twilight phase. The Vampire Diaries series by LJ Smith had been around much longer than The Twilight saga by Stephanie Meyers. Yet it was Twilight saga books and movies that commenced the widespread popularity for vampire genre. The popularity of vampire genre books, movies, and TV shows within pop culture resurged between late 2000s and early 2010s. Otherwise, vampire genre was a very niche market. Up to this point, only aficionados cherished this niche genre. The CW bought the copyrights from Alloy Entertainment to adapt The Vampire Diaries book series into a television series. Most of all, The CW network chose the perfect the time to debut TVD in 2009.

TVD bookThis CW show is loosely based off LJ Smith’s The Vampire Diaries book series. LJ Smith wrote The Vampire Diaries books 1-7. Four books are part of first phase. The Awakening: Volume I. The Struggle: Volume II. The Fury: Volume III. Dark Reunion: Volume IV. These first four novels were written between 1991 and 1992. Many trilogy series continued from The Vampire Diaries series. After more than 10 years, LJ Smith wrote The Return trilogy which consisted of three books. The Return: Nightfall (February 2009). The Return: Shadow Souls (March 2010). The Return: Midnight (March 2011). As part of her original contract, Alloy Entertainment publishers owned copyrights to this book series. The publisher fired LJ Smith in 2011. Ghostwriters have written consecutive books in The Vampire Diaries trilogies. The Hunters trilogy (books 8-10) and The Salvation trilogy (books 11-13) were not written by LJ Smith, the original author.

I’d read the books first before I even know they were adapted into a CW series. Between 10th and 11th grade, a fellow classmate let me borrow her copies of The Vampires Diaries books 1-5. It wasn’t until college I finally got around to read book 6. But I stopped reading after The Return: Shadow Souls. I’d lost interest in the books at this point. This rarely happens to me. But I no long cared enough to continue The Vampire Diaries trilogies.

The books provided me enough background to understand the TV show. I was curious how the books would translate into a television series. Yet, I didn’t want the TV show to be marketed like another Twilight. In comparison, I much prefer LJ Smith’s The Vampire Diaries book series than Twilight saga books. Better character development among major and minor characters. Plus, the plot arcs were more complex and captivating.

There will obviously be changes when a book is adapted into a TV show. In the book series, Bonnie McCullough a young human psychic turn witch. She is a descendant of ancient Celtic Druids. But this character was drastically altered for the TV show adaptation. Bonnie McCollough became Bonnie Bennett. She was still a novice psychic turned full witch. One of Elena’s best friends, Meredith Sulez is completely eliminated from the main cast ensemble. Meredith was one of the few human characters with no extraordinary abilities. She eventually becomes vampire hunter. Meredith merely winds up being a recurring character in TVD season 4. Compared to book versus TV show, Elena Gilbert’s character development and storylines are radically different. Literally day and night. No overlap at all. The TV show took the bare bones of the book series and put their own unique twist on it. By Season 2, the show stopped pretending they were remotely trying to follow the book series at all. This is where I had to mentally detach these two entities. Ironically, I actually ended up loving the TV show’s storylines way more than the books’ storylines.

TVD S1 Promo

Season 1 Promotion Poster

TVD’s pilot aired September 10, 2009 but I didn’t watch it until the next day. I watch it with an open-mind. Halfway through the pilot, I still wasn’t convinced to continue watching The Vampire Diaries television series. Then, Damon Salvatore (played by Ian Somerhalder) appeared on the screen. “Hello brother” was all it took to convinced me to stick with this show. Bad boys aren’t my type. Yet, I cannot help but feel attracted to the bad boy stereotype character(s) in my bias books, TV shows, and movies. I was pleasantly surprised by the plot complexity and dark themes in the pilot episode. Most importantly, the casting for main TVD cast ensemble was perfect! All the actors brilliantly bring out the rich multi-faceted layers of their characters on screen. Off-screen chemistry among the cast ensemble enhances the on-screen chemistry between the characters in the episodes. Damon Salvatore is the main reason I stuck with the show for eight years. But I eventually grew attached to the other main characters within the first few seasons. Some sooner than others.

Also, I love it when a show inserts subtle emotional context without always having dialogue in every scene. Facial expressions or body motions can sometimes convey more than actual conversational dialogue between characters. Music can further enhance this cinematic element. Over the eight seasons, the music soundtrack for TVD beautifully encapsulated the particular scene’s mood.

(Side note: Within Temptation is one of my favorite Dutch symphonic metal bands besides Nightwish. I didn’t realize they’d used a Within Temptation song in The Vampire Diaries. Best of all, “All I Need” song was used in an iconic Delena scene. The Founder’s Day dance scene firmly established the concept of Delena ship.)

TVD_2In the first season, I only recognized three actors out the main cast ensemble. Paul Wesley portrays Stefan Salvatore. Ian Somerhalder portrays Damon Salvatore. It’s funny how actors from other shows surprisingly tie back to Smallville. Paul Wesley had a guest role on Smallville in episode 2.15 as Lucas Luthor. Lucas was Lex Luthor’s half-brother. Also, Paul had a guest role on The OC as Donnie, a kid from Corona who befriends Ryan Atwood (portrayed by Ben McKenzie). Ian Somerhalder had a recurring role in Smallville Season 3 as Adam Knight. Adam Knight was resurrected by Luthor Corp to be a spy in order to learn more about Clark Kent’s true nature by getting close to Lana Lang. Matt Davies portrays Alaric Saltzman. Matt starred in 2001’s Legally Blonde alongside Reese Witherspoon. He portrayed Warner Huntington, Elle Wood’s ex-boyfriend. Now I’ll always associate him as Alaric.

Every TV show has its popular “ships”. “Ship” is the shortened abbreviation for relationship. Ships can be romantic or bromance in nature. CW’s The Vampire Diaries was full of interesting ships. Stelena. Delena. Beremy. Steroline. Bamon. Klaroline. Forwood. Dalaric. Not all ship pairings are confirmed with canon TVD universe. Fans can come up with their own non-canon ships. Even if I didn’t support a canonical ship, every romantic or bromance pairing has its purpose within TVD’s multi-season storylines.

I’m emotionally attached to only few canon ships. Delena (Damon+Elena) was the first ship I threw my full support into all way back in Season 1. The first few seasons revolved a complicated love triangle between Stefan, Damon, and Elena. Nothing against Stelena but it didn’t quite emotionally stir me as much as Delena. In Season 2, we were introduced to the Mikaelson clan. The first vampires ever created. The Originals have the motto of “always and forever”. They had recurring roles in season 2 but became series regulars in seasons 3 and 4. I myself was surprised how the dynamic bond between Caroline Forbes and Klaus Mikaelson really grew on me. Undeniable chemistry. I wholeheartedly support Klaroline. I hope Caroline can eventually transition to The Originals show universe.

Of the two Salvatore brothers, I’m very open about my bias towards Damon Salvatore. He never pretended to be a purely good person unlike Stefan. He will always be one of the my favorite characters on this show. Plus, Damon has some pretty damn epic bromances (literally and metaphorically). Three in particular  Damon non-romantic ships always pull at my heartstrings. Defan (Damon+Stefan). Dalaric (Damon+Alaric). Denzo (Damon+Enzo). Bamon (Bonnie+Damon). At some point, fans realized the show revolved more around the complex, dynamic relationship between the vampire brothers, Damon and Stefan Salvatore. Elena’s relationship with the brothers was not the intended main focus. Despite their tumultuous past history , Damon and Stefan realized they couldn’t live without each other in their lives. Emotionally vulnerable Defan scenes never failed to turn me into a puddle of feels. So many tears shed over the eight seasons. Outside of his brother, Damon considers very few people his dear friends. Alaric Saltzman, Lorenzo (aka Enzo) St. John, and Bonnie Bennett. We saw new depths of Damon’s sensitive side with each of them. I hardly  had a dry eye watching Dalaric, Denzo, or Bamon scenes. Out of the entire main characters. Damon Salvatore had the most drastic evolution since the pilot episode. He became a much better person. Over the eight seasons, he retained aspects of his bad boy personality thankfully .  That would have been a damn shame if Damon was totally tamed in the end. Also, his snarky personality provided many unforgettably awesome one-liners. Damon was one of the most multi-faceted main characters.

I can tell when a long-running TV show is running out of ideas for its storylines. Even my favorite shows. Smallville. Gossip Girl. The end is near when US viewer ratings start to slip below 1.5 million. I give it no more than two seasons before it is cancelled. CW’s The Vampire Diaries began to struggle in US viewership in Season 7. Ratings officially dipped below one million viewers in its final season. The CW has a cruel tactic for when shows enter its final season. They are given what I dub the “graveyard” time slot. Friday nights. TVD firmly held onto the highly coveted Thursday 8 pm time slot until the first half of Season 7. Then, it moved to Friday nights at 8 pm during the second half of Season 7. This was a tell-tale sign that the end was coming. I’ve been watching The CW network since fall of 2006 so I’ve learned their sneaky tactics in terms of scheduling time slots. Ultimately, reach and viewership statistics is how networks determine whether a show gets renewed or cancelled.

When a TV show runs longer than 3-4 seasons, there will certainly be at least one or two seasons with weak overarching plot arcs and sub-plots. I struggled to get through a couple seasons of CW’s The Vampire Dairies. Yet, it’s very rare that I entirely give up on a television show. I’d invest hundreds of hours into TVD so I might as well see it to the end. For better or worse.

Over the past eight years, I’ve cried rivers of tears watching CW’s The Vampire Dairies. Hell it’s probably an ocean at this point. They certainly know how to send the viewers on an emotional rollercoaster of feels. Absolutely no dry eye especially with the season finales. So it wasn’t surprising that I basically balled like a baby watching TVD series finale. Series finale episodes are presented with a daunting challenge. Simultaneously wrap up the final season’s plot arc and any other unresolved storylines in previous seasons. Some shows do a good job of accomplishing this arduous task. Others miserably fail. When this happens, it leaves the fans even more distraught and heartbroken but for a different reason. I know from personal experience.

Thankfully, The Vampires Diaries delivered a satisfactory series finale. It is bittersweet to say goodbye to your beloved TV shows. When you’ve dedicated 8 years, you don’t want it to end. But all TV shows must come to an end eventually.  At least it got a long run to tell many incredible storylines.

It’s worse when your favorite TV show gets prematurely cancelled by the network. I’m still angry at NBC, TV Land, and The CW for prematurely cancelling certain television shows. I’m not a person to hold grudges against people for past wrongs. Nope. I’m the type of person to hold grudges against television networks for how they’ve wronged me. Prematurely cancelled shows never get to live to their full potential.

You gain a better overall perspective once you’ve finished a whole season of show. You see the connection among previous season storylines as well. Season 8 had its valleys and peaks. (I won’t reveal any major spoilers. They’re all over the internet and social media platforms anyway.) I personally felt the siren plot arc dragged on way too long. The final four episodes felt a bit rushed in some ways. I had a nagging feeling TVD would pull a “True Blood”-esque ending. Sadly, my prediction turned out to be fairly accurate for one particular character. Despite its flaws, the show took the main characters on insane plot arcs which directly resulted in dynamic, strong character development. None of the main ensemble characters are the same people they were in the pilot episode. So much heartbreak and loss over eight seasons. Yet, they persevered through those hardships and triumphantly overcame it all. Becoming stronger people in the end. Despite all the supernatural madness, it never ceases to amaze me how Matt Donovan remained human all eight seasons! He is the “normal” human among the Mystic Falls gang. Overall, TVD’s final season was a befitting sendoff.

The CW’s The Vampire Diaries appeared on the television scene during the resurgence of vampire genre around 2008 and 2009. Twilight saga films spawned a worldwide phenomenon from 2008 to 2012. True Blood aired on HBO from 2008 to 2014. Yet, TVD was still airing on television. Its longevity is proof of their immense success. A true testament considering vampire genre’s popularity faded from pop culture relevance.

CW’s The Vampire Diaries is over. But it shall forever live in my fond, nostalgic memories. Thank goodness for FanFiction stories too. Since I was 15, this show has been part of my life. This chapter of my life has closed for good. Cue TVD hangover and withdrawal. I won’t get my Ian Somerhalder fix anymore. I will properly mourn the loss of this beloved show. Then, I shall discover other supernatural genre TV shows. At least, I still have CW’s The Originals, a spin-off of The Vampire Diaries. I’ll be very pissed off if it gets cancelled after its fourth season. I can’t lose both shows in such a short span of time.

I’ll end on a slightly lighter note. In February 2011,  The Hillywood Show released The Vampire Diaries parody. It never fails to make me smile like a dork. I’ve legit lost track how many times I’ve seen it over the past six years. It’s easily one of my all-time favorite Hillywood Show parodies. I will eventually make a blog post about The Hillywood Show.

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Rock Music

I didn’t grow up listening to rock music. Middle school was truly when music became an integral part of my life. It wasn’t until 2006 I discovered the rock genre. There is a three way tie with artist/band who introduced me to this particular music genre. Skillet’s Comatose album. Three Days Grace’s One-X album. AFI’s Decemberunderground album. 2006 was a pivotal year that left an indelible impact on my musical taste. This would shape my music preference as a teenager along with well into adulthood years.

In my previous blog post, it recounted of my discovery of AFI thanks to Smallville’s episode 6.09 titled “Subterranean”. YouTube’s debut in 2005 was monumental for the music industry. People had more access to music from their favorite artists and bands. It wasn’t until 2006 I regularly used this video-sharing website. Around this time, Smallville and Gossip Girl were my TV show obsessions. Fandom subculture was further perpetuated within society thanks to technological advances of the internet. YouTube was one of the leading technological platforms which influenced the fandom subculture. TV show fan-made YouTube videos related to Smallville and Gossip Girl was my official introduction to Three Days Grace and Skillet.

100 Years of Rock Music’s Evolution (Infographic)

Rock music has a plethora of sub-genres. Further sub-genres continue to proliferate within the rock genre still to this day. My rock music interest lays mainly in “scene” genre. Although, some of my rock bands are on the heavier spectrum in terms of musical style. So they don’t exactly go into the “scene” categorization. Over the past 10 years, I’ve broadened my music horizons and discovered many more rock artists. Way too many to list. Often, I’ve branched out to other rock artists as a result of influences from my friends or social environment.

My bias rock bands are usually categorized in 3-5 sub-genres. It gets so confusing to keep track of what genre classifications my artists fit into. Cumulatively, my favorite rock bands have many genre labels. Pop punk rock. Alternative rock. Christian alternative rock. Nu-metal. Hardcore punk. Alternative metal. Progressive rock. Symphonic metal. Hard rock. Post-hardcore. Electronic rock. Gothic metal. Punk rock. Glam metal. Emo pop rock.

Rock subgenres

Over the past few years, I’ve adopted the philosophy of keeping genre classifications as broad as possible. I’m not even sure of the exact distinction between sub-genres at times. Some sub-genres sound too similar to me.

Also, certain rock sub-genres are surrounded with much stigma and inaccurate assumptions. It promotes a closed-minded, ignorant outlook on certain types of music. Those alone can cause a person to not give an artist or band a chance. This is why if people ask about my bands I keep genre labels as very general. Not using very niche sub-genre classifications. I will only do this with individuals who are already familiar with the particular niche sub-genre. Sometimes, sub-genres constrict people from generating more vast variety among their artists. It will pleasantly surprise you what artists/bands you discover when you embrace a more open-minded perspective. This is certainly true when it comes to my rock genre artists.

I tend to gravitate towards emotionally-charged rock with confessional lyrics about life in general. The moments of joy, frustration, hope, and sorrow to name a few emotions. Cliché concepts don’t bother me too much as long it is brilliantly executed within the song’s lyrics and musical style.

Lately, I’ve contemplated what drew me to my favorite rock bands. Often, people’s attachment to an artist or band revolves around emotional connection to song lyrical content. This is not case for majority of my rock bands. What a fascinating conundrum. Then why do I still listen to my bias rock bands many years later? I look for three essential elements in my rock music. Beautifully complex layering of drums and guitars, emotionally-charged vocals, and confessional lyrics. Not too repetitive lyrics or song beat. I want to be able to tell my rock songs apart. Often, this cannot be said about pop genre music.

To date, there are only three rock bands who have invoked such strong emotional connection from me through their confessional lyrics. Skillet, Three Days Grace, and Black Veil Brides. Also, they have a much heavier rock sound incorporated into their music. Times when I’m experiencing any sort of anger, frustration, or sorrow I’ll listen to heavier tone rock music from my hardcore genre artists.

Music Quote_1

I do listen to other music genres like soundtrack, Asian pop, and smidgen of mainstream pop. Yet I don’t listen to these genres as frequently compared to rock music. I can listen to my beloved rock artists regardless of my mood. Also, his particular music genre is extremely therapeutic. Over the past 10 years, my love for rock genre music keeps exponentially growing. It never gets old. Only getting better with age like a fine wine.