It's Elena's first day back at Mystic Falls High School since the tragic death of her parents. Along with her Aunt Jenna, Elena tries her best to look after her troubled younger brother, Jeremy, and salvage what family they have left. The first day is already shaping up to be a struggle for Elena until she meets the mysterious new kid at school, Stefan. Elena is touched that he can relate to what she's going through. What Elena doesn't know is that Stefan is a vampire, constantly resisting the urge to taste her blood. As their undeniable connection grows deeper, Stefan's dangerous older brother, Damon, shows up to wreak havoc on the town of Mystic Falls - and claim Elena for himself. The Vampire Diaries is based on the bestselling book series from Alloy Entertainment.
Like HBO's True Blood, the CW's Vampire Diaries proves there's always room for more good-looking bloodsuckers. Cocreated by Kevin Williamson (Dawson's Creek) and based on the young adult series by L.J. Smith, the show revolves around Elena (Nina Dobrev), an orphan who lives with her aunt Jenna (Sara Canning) and her underachieving brother, Jeremy (Steven R. McQueen), who has a thing for bad girl Vicki (Kayla Ewell). As the school year begins, Elena meets Stefan (Paul Wesley of the smoldering stare) and sparks fly. With the aid of a special ring, he can go out during the day, thus keeping his true nature a secret. After he returns to Mystic Falls, his ancestral home, Vicki gets bit, and Elena's best friend, Bonnie (Katerina Graham), has strange premonitions (Jasmine Guy plays her grandmother).
Upon uncovering Stefan's secret, Elena learns that he and his brother, Damon (Lost's Ian Somerhalder), once loved a woman who looks just like her (their Civil War past plays out through flashbacks), while Elena used to date Vicki's brother, Matt (Zach Roerig), a football player with a flaky mother (The O.C.'s Melinda Clarke). As more citizens turn up dead, the town council sets out to stop the culprits with help from Elena's uncle John (Alias's David Anders) and his ex, Isobel (The L Word's Mia Kirshner).
It's easy to take a cynical attitude toward a supernatural soap like The Vampire Diaries, but it gets more things right than wrong. There's moping, goopy ballads, and mumbo jumbo about crystals, but the story lines are compelling and the writers are smart enough to anticipate the Twilight comparisons. When his girlfriend Caroline (Candice Accola) asks why he doesn't sparkle, Damon quips, "Because I live in the real world." Extras include deleted scenes, featurettes, and commentary on the pilot. --Kathleen C. Fennessy