The following YouTube clip of the "Originals" S1 trailer provides a wonderful sense of the lore and the tone of the series and showcases the great use of the New Orleans locations.
As the title indicates, "Originals" centers around the former humans who became the first vampires roughly 1,000 years ago; this makes them the great, great, etc grandparents of the bloodsuckers of "Diaries."
The S1 quest of the three ancient Mikaelson siblings around whom "Originals" revolves is to regain their dominance of modern-day New Orleans, which any reader of horror novelist Anne Rice knows is heavily populated by vampires, werewolves, and witches all of whom are expected to maintain low profiles. One cool element of this is that it seems that every exterior shot is filmed on location; one spoiler is that none of the dreamy stars engage in the flashing that being granted Mardi Gras beads requires.
The relationships among these members of the Mikaelson clan show that family never changes. Following the theory that evil always is more interesting than good, outcast Klaus expresses his related (pun intended) resentment and frustration through a centuries-old pattern of ripping out the heart and or throat or simply shiving those who either annoy him or stand between him and his current objective. Rebecca is less evil but has a very healthy libido for one so old and typically does not hesitate to scheme or otherwise plot against her siblings or anyone else. Elijah is the Bobby of this version of the Ewings. He generally is the nice guy who values peace but goes to the dark side when he believes that the circumstances warrant doing so.
The primary "Diaries" tie in S1 of the "Originals" is that minor character of the former Hayley Marshall is the baby momma of the werewolf/vampire hybrid of Klaus. The symbolic and literal importance of "Eddie Munster" prompts the Mikaelsons to kiss and make up to the extent possible to protect both Hayley and her pregnancy.
The alternating foe/ally in this primetime drama is former slave/equally former Klaus protege Marcel. He and his vampire army are maintaining the peace among those creatures of the night, the witches, the werewolves, and even the muggles until the campaign of Klaus creates massive bloodshed and even more mayhem. The overall theme regarding this is that even the players who have been around for just a few centuries do not heed the lesson that those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it.
A brief synopsis of the 22 S1 episodes is that it seems that every prominent vampire gets shivved at least once, control of the central city changes hands more frequently than the Italian government, "Diaries" fans get massive payoff in the form of revealed Mikaelson and general vampire lore, hexes, and the importance of playing nicely with others is emphasized.
A nice contrast between "Diaries" and "Originals" is that the cast acts their apparent age; we do not get high school students who minimally have not attended that institution for a decade.
Further, there seems to be a tighter focus on a smaller ensemble. It is equally cool that New Orleans plays more of a role than the generic small-town around which "Diaries" centers. The Big Easy is one of the more unique cities in America and deserves a series that reflects its actual history and its legends.
The award for best S1 DVD special feature goes to a 13-minute making-of documentary that creator/"Dawson's Creek" veteran Julie Plee hosts. She and the other talking heads discuss the origins (no pun intended) of the series on "Diaries," share fun casting stories, and tell how the CW network throws them for a loop early in the production process.
Other extras include the 2013 Comic-Con Panel and a 2014 PaleyFest Panel.
Anyone withe questions or comments regarding "Originals" is encouraged either to email me or to connect on Twitter via @tvdvguy.