“The Vampire Diaries”: The Complete Fourth Season is, for a lack of a better term, a compelling soap opera guised as a vampire fantasy-drama. The core cast share great chemistry and this year fans of “Delena” (Damon & Elena) will rejoice. All in all, season four moves at a brisk pace even when the plots, and subplots, get kind of convoluted.
Genre(s): Drama, Fantasy, Romance
Warner Home Video | NR – 970 min. – $69.97 | September 3, 2013
Directed by: Various
Writer(s): L.J. Smith (book); Kevin Williamson and Julie Plec (developed by)
Cast: Nina Dobrev, Paul Wesley, Ian Somerhalder, Steven R. McQueen, Kat Graham, Zach Roerig, Candice Accola, Michael Trevino, Joseph Morgan, Claire Holt
Features: Featurettes, Deleted Scenes, Gag Reel, Gallery, UltraViolet Digital Copy
Number of Discs: 4 Blu-rays, 5 DVDs
Audio: English (DTS-HD MA 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 2.0)
Video: 1080p/Widescreen 1.78
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Disc Size: Various
Codec: MPEG-4 AVC
Region(s): A, B, C
THE MOVIE – 3.75/5
Relationships become more complicated and the tone is darker for this fourth season of the hit vampire romantic-drama, “The Vampire Diaries” and as much as I loathe the craze that brought us the “Twilight” movies and numerous others in the fantasy subgenre, this series, while soap operatic in nature, is still a fun and guilty pleasure. This is a show you can’t admit to your friends you actually watch. Call it the “Melrose Place” of the 21st century. With fangs. And claws. And blood sucking. Otherwise, it’s EXACTLY like “MP”.
The fourth season of “The Vampire Diaries” begins where the third season left off: Elena (NINA DOBREV) and Matt (ZACH ROERIG), run off the road and into the water by Rebekah (CLAIRE HOLT). Drowning, Stefan (PAUL WESLEY) comes to Elena’s rescue but she insists he save Matt instead allowing her to drown. However, earlier in the day she had been in dire straits in the hospital and received vampire blood by Meredith (TORREY DEVITTO). Not being 100% familiar with the series, I take it that when she died, Nina became a vampire.
Now Nina must deal with a whole new world with senses going on overload and while boyfriend Stefan tries to help her, she instead turns to Damon after she can’t drink blood from a bag, can’t have animal blood, and only can drink from the vein. So Damon takes her out and teaches her to control it and not completely draining her victims.
Meanwhile, and the focal point of this fourth season, is the discovery of a cure to vampirism, becoming an obsession for Stefan to bring back the old Nina before she loses her humanity. However, over the course of the season, Nina becomes more attracted to Damon, finding solace in his dark side.
The Cure storyline also introduces a couple new characters: Professor Atticus Shane (DAVID ALPAY) is an expert on the occult and apparently has intimate knowledge about the cure. Also entering the foray is the first half villain named Connor Jordan (TODD WILLIAMS), a vampire hunter who has rolled into Mystic Falls and finds a rich field to hunt from. However, he too has a close connection with the Cure’s location, the map of which is tattooed on his body, a tattoo that can only be seen by a potential vampire slayer. And who might that be? Well, this wouldn’t be a tween soap opera if it weren’t Nina’s own brother, Jeremy (STEVEN R. MCQUEEN)!
Receiving a larger role this season is the delightfully evil, albeit complicating, Klaus (JOSPEH MORGAN) who also has a personal stake in getting the cure, so much that he and Stefan strike up an unlikely, and uneasy, alliance. Being an Original, along with Rebekah, we see more glimpses of their past, dating back 900 years which interlined with a group of vampire hunters called The Five. It’s an interesting side-story and cemented my interest in Klaus as a wonderful antagonist and eventual lead “Vampire Diaries” spin-off, “The Originals” set to air this coming fall.
It’s this episode where it’s revealed that Connor’s tattoo, which only Jeremy can see, is a map to the location of the Cure. Complications arise, as they always do, when Connor is killed thus making Jeremy the new hunter and with his own sister being a vampire, things get interesting eventually leading to Nina moving out of their house and moving in with Damon, and Klaus and Stefan taking Jeremy under their wing to teach him and help hunt other vampires as each kill leads to a new tattoo.
The rest of “The Vampire Diaries” Season Four finds alliances broken, new one’s formed, such as Caroline (CANDICE ACCOLA) getting closer to boyfriend Tyler’s (MICHAEL TEVINO) mortal enemy Klaus while Rebekah and Stefan banding together despite the former attempting to kill Nina. These and many other little character traits lead to some intriguing dynamics and helps propel and keep interest throughout the 23-episodes.
Episodes (favorites marked with an asterisk):
1. Growing Pains*
3. The Rager
4. The Five*
5. The Killer*
6. We All Go a Little Mad Sometimes*
7. My Brother’s Keeper*
8. We’ll Always Have Bourbon Street
9. O Come, All Ye Faithful*
10. After School Special
11. Catch Me If You Can*
12. A View to a Kill
13. Into the Wild*
14. Down the Rabbit Hole*
15. Stand by Me*
16. Bring it On
17. Because the Night*
18. American Gothic
19. Pictures of You*
20. The Originals*
21. She’s Come Undone*
22. The Walking Dead
SPECIAL FEATURES – 2.75/5
The 9-discs come housed in a double-wide HD Keep Case. Inside are an episode guide booklet and a separate paper with the code for the UltraViolet Digital Copy of the entire season.
Unaired Scenes (25:00; HD) – Due to time constraints of a TV series, some scenes were trimmed or cut completely. Included are scenes from 13 of the 23 episodes.
All of these featurettes are pretty much fluff material with some typical interviews from the cast and crew, but they’re still worth checking out.
Inking the Brotherhood: The Hunter’s Mark (6:38; HD) – This featurette takes a look at the mystery behind superhuman muscles and supernatural tattoos.
Creating Silas’s Island (5:44; HD) – Discover how the search for Silas took the show on new adventures, both in the storyline and with the actual production through shooting on location.
Blood, Boys, and Bad Behavior: Becoming a Vampire (5:26; HD) looks at the new dynamics caused by Elena’s transformation into a vampire and then hear from the cast and creators whether they are Team Damon or Team Stefan.
The Evolution of Elena Gilbert (8:36; HD) – The cast and creators’ tell their favorite moments of Elena in transition from human to vampire.
The Vampire Diaries: The Ultimate Prop Master (4:38; HD) follows the prop master as he creates the various stakes, swords, and stuff of vampires the actors handle.
Second Bite (3:24; HD) is a gag reel with flubbed lines and on-set hilarity.
VIDEO – 4.5/5
“The Vampire Diaries” The Complete Fourth Season swoops in on Blu-ray thanks to Warner Home Video presented in its original network 1.78 widescreen aspect ratio. This is the kind of show that benefits from Blu-ray with good detail levels, bright and vibrant colors and deep blacks which don’t show off any signs of artifacting or pixilation. The 1080p high-def transfer is almost top notch.
AUDIO – 4.25/5
The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track benefits from clear dialogue levels coming from the center channel; some of the more action-oriented scenes get to show off the front and rear channels and adding to the mix are the on-the-nose tween sad music which plays over key and dramatic scenes. Also, the LFE channel, which often gets overlooked for TV releases, does kick in, adding the necessary punch to begin and end episodes.
OVERALL – 3.5/5
Overall, “The Vampire Diaries”: The Complete Fourth Season is, for a lack of a better term, a compelling soap opera guised as a vampire fantasy-drama. The core cast share great chemistry and this year fans of “Delena” (Damon & Elena) will rejoice. All in all, season four moves at a brisk pace even when the plots, and subplots, get kind of convoluted, though I expect it for television needing to fill 23-episodes. The Blu-ray released by Warner Home Video, the video and audio transfers are both top notch while the features are one-note and forgettable. However, speaking to those who aren’t week-to-week fans (which is where I am), I still enjoyed the season and there’s no better time to get into the series.