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Posted by | August 25, 2011, 19:18 (EST) | 20 Comments
Category: The Vampire Diaries TV


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Vampire Diaries Season 2 - UK DVD coverThis time last year I was reviewing The Vampire Diaries: The Complete First Season on DVD, and now I’m reviewing the second season on DVD. Time certainly seems to fly in this series, right? Unless we’re stuck in the middle of a hiatus, of course.

The following review is based on the UK DVD set. As far as we’re aware, both the DVD and Blu-ray editions in the UK and the US will have the exact same features, so what I’m reviewing is most likely what you’ll be getting regardless of what version you purchase.

So, on with the review!

Packaging

 
For reasons unknown, the UK cover art differs from the cover art advertised for the USA, featuring the the ballet promo image (left). I have to admit this fits better with the cover art for season 1, and I’ve seen quite a few American Vampire Diaries fans (Vee included) say that they prefer the ballet image themselves. While the cover may differ, the contents of the set should be exactly the same in the UK as they will be in the USA.

The rest of the artwork on the spine and back matches the first season with the scrollwork, vines and crows, though in purple rather than red. It’s clear that they’re all part of the same series, and the OCD perfectionists amongst us (of which I am one) will be very satisfied with them sitting on their shelves together. Just pray that they keep the theme up for season 3!

Vampire Diaries Season 2 DiscThe disc art, however, is completely different, using the flowers from the recent water promos. I loved the promo pics themselves (aside from certain shirt choices), but would have preferred more of the scrollwork as on the season 1 discs. But then I’m not a flowery kind of guy, and do admit my first thought was ‘why did it have to be flowers?!’. I’m sure I’m not alone, as the Vampire Diaries does have a surprising amount of males amongst its fanbase. Flowery issues aside, they do look really excellent.

Again, the packaging is pretty economical, fitting all 5 discs into a standard-sized DVD case. The sleeve is also compact, though these days I am questioning the need for such sleeves when the plastic box fits everything in it. But then I’d also rather that box sets (and CDs, for that matter) came entirely in cardboard packaging so we aren’t putting more plastic out there… I’ll get off my soapbox now. As these things go, thumbs up for not being needlessly wasteful.

I do, sadly, have gripes. The first is really quite minor, in that the DVD holders are flimsy and fiddly. Season 1 had fantastic flip holders that gave you easy access while being secure. I’m not sure I trust the season 2 holders and may well be sourcing out a better case for it. Which may also help solve my biggest problem with the packaging…

Season 1 contained a nifty booklet which contained episode and disc information. Sadly, this isn’t present in the Season 2 set. Instead the information is printed on the back of the cover slip. Now, while I’m all for saving resources and reducing packaging, this time it’s on the side of fail. As the DVDs are stored on both sides of the case, there’s no way to properly see the episode information – even with the discs removed – unless you remove the cover slip from the case. This is pretty sub-optimal, and I think even a sheet of paper with the info printed on both sides would be acceptable over this setup. For anyone who wants to be able to print this off so you have a copy you can fold into the case for easy access, there’s a hi-res version here.

On the subject of the episode synopses on the cover slip… some of them are pretty cheesy, and I can’t decide whether I should be amused or cringe away from them. “Katherine adds to her stable of conquests”? “Jules and her Wolfman lover”? Both of those have me cringing. Though there’s a certain hilarious something about “Stefan and Damon lurk behind party masks at a lavish masquerade ball, preparing to kill.”

Menus

 
Vampire Diaries Season 2 DVD - Main MenuAs with season 1, these are simple menus with the same background music by Michael Suby. While they may not be flashy, they are easy to navigate and prettied up with various episode and promotional stills. The deleted scenes are, thankfully, paired up with the correct episodes this time around. On the down side, episodes are still, sadly, listed only by number with no title, a feature which would have been nice to have seen fixed.

Once again, I’m very pleased to see the inclusion of English subtitles for the hard of hearing along with regular English, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Norwegian and Swedish subtitles.

Sound & Video

 
When I reviewed the season 1 DVDs I didn’t have a fancy television or sound system. I still don’t have a fancy sound system, but I do now have a decent television, and can say that the picture quality on these DVDs is crisp and clear, and a delight to watch. There’s nothing to grumble about the sound, either. All in all, the second season of the Vampire Diaries is preserved in excellent quality for repeat watching. Though whether the discs themselves can hold up to the abuse some fans may repeatedly put them through, who can tell?

Special Features

 
There are less special features on the season 2 set than there were on season 1, and my initial reaction when they were announced was to be a little worried that it would make the features somewhat lacking in comparison. However, what is lost in quantity is made up for in quality. Retrofit have produced a set of very interesting and often funny special features.

Her Own Worst Enemy… Elena, Katherine and Nina!: As if we didn’t already know that Nina Dobrev does an amazing job playing so many roles on the show, this featurette goes behind the scenes to show us how they shoot the scenes with both Elena and Katherine, and the painstaking detail they go to really is quite amazing. More to the point, the extra effort that Nina has to go to in order to pull these scenes off as an actress is mind-blowing, and she deserves so much respect for what she does. I was also a bit disturbed to discover what Nina and cast members have said about how her demeanour changes depending on who she’s playing. Dressed up as Katherine for the interview, I got a very real sense of her being an almost different person to the Nina we’re used to in most interviews.

The Perfect Love Triangle, Vampires Werewolves and Witches: Thought you were confused about who’s related and who’s dating? Don’t worry, the cast and producers are, too. Luckily, this handy featurette helps clear that up, providing a useful relationship tree to keep track of everyone. Not that it clears things up all that much, but it’s certainly hilarious as the cast and producers try and work everything out themselves and try to explain it. A special shout out has to go to Candice Accola for having the most entertaining summary of the whole Damon/Elena/Tomb deal. Seriously, she should be given her own feature spot recapping episodes.

Vampire Diaries Season 2 DVD - Features MenuPages of the Wolf: Werewolves have been a big focus this season, so it’s especially interesting to see what went on behind the scenes with the wolves and the transformation effects. We’ve all seen interviews with Michael Trevino and Candice Accola explaining how difficult and exhausting shooting Tyler’s transformation scene was, but these features allow them to go into far more depth along with insight from the producers and those responsible for the special effects. Seeing just how hard everyone worked on these scenes both in front of the camera, behind it and in the editing room just makes the viewer appreciate everything that goes into this show all the more.

Second Bite Gag Reel: Not much you can say about gag reels as they speak for themselves. This one does the job excellently, perhaps even better since season 1 as the cast and crew know each other a lot better, and more hilarity ensues. My particular favourite is Alaric’s ‘follow me on Twitter’ quip.

Unaired Scenes: Many of these are fun or interesting little snippets that were cut from episodes to save time, and nothing is lost from the episode with them missing. There are some interesting snippets to be learned (that may or may not be considered canon in the future), such as Katherine and Elena sharing 22nd June as their birthday (as if we needed the extra creep factor added to the whole doppelganger thing!). There are a couple of scenes with Stefan that add some more insight to his character; a couple of interesting discussions with Jeremy and Katherine, and an extra treat as Stefan manages to turn the tables on Katherine in the tomb. Likewise, there’s a scene with Caroline and Tyler that gives a little more emotional depth to them both. While these obviously had to go due to time constraints, it’s nice to be able to see them, if only as an extra.

Damon and Katherine in MasqueradeMasquerade Commentary: Like with season 1, the commentary on this set is disappointing because of the lack of it. From the rest of the special features it’s clear that the cast and crew are passionate about this show, and it would have been fantastic to hear more from them from about specific episodes.

However, the commentary from Julie Plec and Kevin Williamson on the episode Masquerade is grade ‘A’ stuff. These people know how to give good commentary, and what Kevin and Julie have to say adds to the episode and the series as a whole. The commentary is sprinkled with tidbits about their thought processes when writing, intentions for characters that never came to light, and stories from behind the scenes. They’re also not afraid to poke fun at themselves and the characters, which really adds to the humour. You thought Alaric was the lamest babysitter ever? Kevin and Julie agree. Wondering where Bonnie’s dad is? Kevin and Julie put forward their own theories.

This really is a fine example of what DVD commentaries should be like, and I really hope we can see more of them in the season 3 boxset. You listening, WB? My hint there is about as subtle as a brick to the head.

In conclusion, lack of a decent amount of commentaries and annoying packaging fail aside, this is a very satisfying set of DVDs and definitely on a par with the season 1 set of the Vampire Diaries.

 
Want to own the Vampire Diares on DVD or Blu-ray?


UK (Out Now): US (Due August 30th):
Season 2 DVD
Season 2 Blu-ray
Season 1 DVD
Season 1 Blu-ray
Season 1 + 2 boxset DVD
Season 1 + 2 boxset Blu-ray
Season 2 DVD
Season 2 Blu-ray
Season 1 DVD
Season 2 Blu-ray

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  • Savyshoppergal

    Anyone else in the us wanting to buy the uk version for the cover alone? Will a uk version play in us  blu/- ray dvd players ?

  • http://www.vampire-diaries.net/ Red

    The issue is less the region, more that the display system is PAL in the UK and NTSC in the USA. In the UK our DVD players and TVs can play both PAL and NTSC. Unfortunately, in the USA that tends not to be the case, limiting most people to NTSC. If you know your DVD player can play region 2 discs and display PAL video, you’d be okay. Otherwise, not worth the risk.

  • Jenny

    Just wanted to comment that the season 2 in Sweden has the same DVD holders as season one and it does contain a simular booklet :) Just so you know ;)

  • http://www.facebook.com/darkerlust Amy Jackey via Facebook

    If it didnt cost so much to buy shows on dvd I would buy some

  • MrsHalfTrousers

    In Australia we had the episode listings and synopses printed on the back of the coverslip for the season 1 DVD. I did however get the 6-disc collector’s edition so that might have had something to do with it. As far as I’m aware there are to be no plans for a 6-disc edition for season 2 and now my perfectionist trait is chafing at the thought that the number of discs won’t match from season to season. But I suppose there are worse things to worry about.
    We are also getting the US cover in Australia as far as I’m aware. I’m a bit peeved about that. I completely agree that the UK cover is a better thematic fit with that of season 1.

  • McrLoVrfan

    Well, as I am not from the U.K or US, I may have to wait a little longer to buy it. But I loved this review. I’m glad they told Elena’s birthdate. It’s a little creepy she and Katherine also share the birthday, but it’s nice because now we can know how long has been since Season one started, and it’s not even a year! so much happened within that time. I’m really looking forward to own this DVD. And of course can’t wait ’till September 15th, it’s been a long wait, just 20 days left :D

  • Guineapig

    I agree about the packaging. The quality is very poor compared to the season 1 DVD set. One disc will not stay in place and falls out when I open the case every time. Also the DVD surface is in contact with the one below and so likely to get damaged more easily so I will use a separate cover for two of the discs. I don’t understand why a decent booklet has been left out either. It can’t cost very much.
    Love the show though!

  • Anonymous

    I dont think all the unaired scenes matched up to the episodes correctly, because the ep9 unaired scene was from ep12? Because the scene shows Caroline and Tyler talking and then Jules giving her number to Tyler but Jules didnt appear in the show til ep11 so that can’t be right?!

  • Mick

    I’d agree with you about everything but the gag reel. In my opinion the first one was way more fun. Whereas this one is pretty lame…

  • MonaMoon

    You’re totally right about the annoying package, I cursed on the bloody thing because every time I opened it a DVD fell out… I still have to see the bonus features (I’m viewing “Dinner Party” so it will be a while) Your review is absolutely awesome and I’m with you on all your commentary :)

  • LenaMay

    I find it a bit strange that they changed Elena’s birthday from the books, but I guess that they didn’t want to skip to September 15th so they made it an earlier date and instead made Sep 15th the air date… But at least now we know both Katherine’s birthday, and if they kept Damon’s birthday from the books, then K and E’s birthday is four days after his… :)

  • http://www.vampire-diaries.net/ Red

    Did LJS change it in the books? She always said Damon’s birthday was Halloween.

  • http://www.tuningintoscifitv.com Kevin Bachelder

    Are all the special features (not including episode commentaries) on the same disc or are they spreadout throughout all the discs?

  • http://www.vampire-diaries.net/ Red

    All on disc 5 for easy access. Unaired scenes are with their episodes across the discs.

  • http://www.tuningintoscifitv.com Kevin Bachelder

    Thanks very much for sharing those details.  This way I can rent disc 5 from Netflix right away and when I have the funds available I can buy the full set.  :)

  • http://twitter.com/JamieCxx Jamie Coudeville

    HOLD ON A SECOND … UK DVD’s have Dutch subtitles??
    *big smile* best news i heard all day

  • Savyshoppergal

    Thank you for clearing that up. Maybe someone will sell the cover on ebay lol.

  • Jesseladd55

    Wow. The US version is MUCH better. I prefer the US cover art.
    Also. The US version comes with the booklet giving information
    About each episode and the cover art for the booklet is the ballet
    Picture. Will send pics if wanted.

  • Jesseladd55

    I just finished watching that one! I’m glad I wasn’t the only one confused! =]

  • KatherineLover1864

    I like the US version a lot better than the described UK version. The US cover art is exceptional and I like it a lot. Also the US version has an inclosed booklet that gives information on each episode and disc. The cover art for the booklet is the ballet promo photo and the back cover art of the booklet is the picture where they are all lying in the water. Also inside the casing the DVD holders work much better than those of season one. The inside cover art is the trio lying in the water surrounded by flowers. If anyone would like photos please let me know and I will email them to Red or any of the other staff. =]





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