October 7, 2014

SHOWBUZZDAILY Season Premiere Review: “The Originals”



THE ORIGINALS, that gloomier and more gothic cousin of The Vampire Diaries, essentially revolves around an endless turf war, the territory at issue being New Orleans.  (The show itself shoots in Georgia rather than the Big Easy for financial reasons, which limits it to mostly verbal celebrations of the real city.)  Various cliques of vampires, werewolves, witches and the occasional human all lay claim to the place, and do a recurring loop of forming untrustworthy alliances, then betraying one another and making violent plays to take over.  It’s a different dynamic than Vampire Diaries, where Mystic Falls is the location for supernatural skullduggery but not its goal, and as Originals enters its second season, it’s in danger of becoming repetitive.

The Season 2 premiere, written by series creator Julie Plec and Story Editor Marguerite MacIntyre, and directed by Lance Anderson, was one of those initial hours that exists to undo the events of the previous finale.  When we left the Crescent City in May, the werewolves and witches had joined together to destroy the vampires, killing many extras and rendering our main blood-drinking heroes, Klaus (Joseph Morgan), his brother Elijah (Daniel Gillies), and Klaus’s surrogate son and often nemesis Marcel (Charles Michael Davis), powerless with the help of some magic rings.  Most notably, after an entire season built around the seemingly impossible pregnancy of werewolf Hayley (Phoebe Tonkin) by Klaus, the evil werewolf/witch alliance forced Klaus and Hayley to pretend their daughter was dead, sending her to live with one-time series regular Rebekah (Claire Holt).

Two months later, it was still unsafe for the baby to return (and the show’s producers, much like Homeland‘s Carrie Mathison, probably don’t really want their violent action to be burdened with an infant), but everything else was due for a swift reversal.  By the end of the hour, and without all that much effort, the werewolves had been slaughtered, the witches vanquished, and it was the vampires’ turn once again to claim their blood and beignets.  The circular nature of the conflict doesn’t allow for one to get too enthused or upset when any one group takes over, and the same goes for the other recurring theme of The Originals, the endless cycle of Mikaelson family members wanting to kill their relatives.  Klaus and Elijah don’t know it, but their separately murderous parents, Mikael (Sebastian Roche) and Esther, are both in town, the first being imprisoned by the witch Davina (Danielle Campbell), and the second a powerful witch herself (she’s the one who created vampires in the first place), currently in the body of a teenage girl.  Since all the Mikaelsons have been killed at one time or another and then raised from the dead, it’s also difficult to get too worked up about their comings and goings through mortality.

The Originals has a nice brooding intensity, and strong stars in Morgan and Gillies, but it lacks the humor of Vampire Diaries, and that show’s interplay of the supernatural with some semblance of ordinary life.  There’s no one for Klaus to play off of nearly as effectively as he did the much more junior vampires of Diaries, on which his and his brother’s angst tended to be viewed with some level of mockery.  After Holt’s departure, Originals also lacks a real female lead, despite the many women in the cast.  (Holt’s cameo in the Season 2 premiere was just a reminder of how much the show misses her.)  Originals is a diverting show, but not an essential one.

The Originals did well in the ratings last year, but it’s been moved to a new day by CW, and given as its companion the extremely unlikely match-up of Jane the Virgin, with which it shares hardly anything.  Originals is in no danger, considering how low the bar is on CW, but it may not be positioned well for a sophomore surge, either.  Sometime during the course of this season, if the series wants to establish itself as a more memorable drama, it would benefit by finding a way past its circular storylines of supernatural gang warfare and poisonous families.


About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."