A spin-off of the popular series The Vampire Diaries, The Originals centers on the Mikaelson clan, specifically, Klaus (Joseph Morgan)—part vampire and part werewolf—his half brother Elijah (Daniel Gillies), and half sister Rebekah (Claire Holt). The series begins with a flashback of their arrival in New Orleans three hundred years ago. “We’re vampires, darling, the original vampires,” Rebekah tells an infantryman who boards their ship in waters off the coast of Louisiana.
In the present day, Klaus and Elijah have reunited in New Orleans (Klaus had left town one hundred years ago), where vampire Marcel Girard (Charles Michael Davis), has declared himself “King.” Klaus nor Elijah is pleased with the situation, but Elijah is more diplomatic about the situation. Marcel, rescued as a boy from slavery and mentored by Klaus, is doing things his own way; he has banned witches from using magic and has little respect for their traditions. Klaus is determined to methodically take back ‘his’ city. At the same time, Klaus is awaiting the birth of his child, the product of a one night stand with werewolf girl (Phoebe Tonkin). The city’s various groups want the baby dead for their own purposes: witches want to steal its power; vampires want it dead because Klaus could use it to create more hybrids, leading to their extinction. Elijah and Rebekah are simply hoping that the child’s arrival brings Klaus a purpose in life. In the midst of all this is 16-year old witch Davina (Danielle Campbell) who is working with Marcel, but ends up a pawn in the power struggle.
In a refreshing break from The Vampire Diaries and other likeminded entities (yes, I’m referring to The Twilight Saga), creator Julie Plec (who co-created The Vampire Diaries with Kevin Williamson), has chosen to focus more on family dynamics and relationships, than the love triangles that have dominated The Vampire Diaries. Evolving allegiances and potential double crosses are the motor that makes this show go. While the story does deal with numerous threads at a time, it’s never very confusing. While fans of The Vampire Diaries are the obvious audience here, you needn’t be familiar with that series to enjoy The Originals.
While Klaus and Marcel clearly love each other, their relationship is a rocky one. They will deceive each other whenever necessary; even resorting to violence. Their personalities are different and worse, at one point, they’re in love with the same woman, bartender Camille (Leah Pipes), who is just a plain human. Rebekah is the lost sibling, in the sense that she stays untangled from the century’s long struggle between her brothers. Nonetheless, Klaus seems jealous of any man who might want to get close to her. In a sense, The Originals is Dallas if the characters were vampires and Klaus is J.R.
Presented in the 1.78:1 aspect ratio, The Originals looks as good as a standard definition presentation can. The image is sharp and clean, while the colors are bright and vivid throughout. The English 5.1 audio is solid, offering a fairly immersive experience with more than adequate effect and perfectly clear dialogue.
English SDH, Chinese, Portuguese, Spanish, French and Thai subtitles are included.
The following extras, spread across the five DVDs, are available:
- Pilot Audio Commentary with Creator Julie Plec and Director Chris Grismer: The two largely discuss what’s on screen, but they provide a good deal of information, identifying locations, discussing the actors, and their roles and expressing their overall excitement about the project.
- 2013 Comic-Con Panel (29:21) TV Guide’s Debra Birnbaum serves as moderator as creator/ executive producer Julie Plec, along with cast members Joseph Morgan, Claire Holt, Daniel Gillies, Phoebe Tonkin, and Charles Michael Davis discuss what to expect from the series, before allowing a room full of excited fans to ask their own questions.
- 2014 PaleyFest Panel (29:14) Recorded last March, moderator Jarett Wieselman is joined by creator/ executive producer Julie Plec, executive producer Michael Narducci, cast members Charles Michael Davis, Phoebe Tonkin, Daniel Gillies, Joseph Morgan, Claire Holt, Leah Pipes, and Danielle Campbell for this very loose and fun Q&A. Among other things, they discuss their characters and their relationships, the setting and working together.
- The Originals: Origins (13:24) Creator Julie Plec takes us through the process of creating and filming the pilot episode.
- The Originals: Re-mixing History (9:32) A look at how the writers blend fact with fiction, setting the series in New Orleans.
- The Original Vampires: A Bite-sized Backstory (5:33) A clip compilation and narration explaining how The Originals came to be.
- Deleted Scenes (42:27) Thirteen of the twenty two episodes offer deleted scenes. They can be watched individually or together.