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Wednesday, July 12, 2017

'The Originals' S2 DVD: The Mikaelson Six Somehow Form A Family

This evergreen post on the Warner Prime S2 CS DVD set of the current CW fantasy-horror series "Vampire Diaries" spinoff "The Originals" follows a similar article on the Prime S1 CS DVD set and precedes a post on the Warner Archive S3 Blu-ray set. All of these are in preparation for the Archive S4 CS Blu-ray release on August 29, 2107.

A brief overview of the "Originals" lore in the S1 review is that the series revolves around the titular New Orleans dwelling Mkaelson clan, which is the family that is to blame/thank for every vampire. S1 focuses on the prime trio of siblings that consists of the J.R.Ewing of the tribe Klaus, the Bobby Ewingesque Elijah, and their sister Rebecca. This girl with the two guys has the sexual appetite and wild side of Ewing niece Lucy.

Much of S1 revolves around revealing the bad blood (of course, pun intended) that has developed among the siblings and those in their inner-circle during the 1,000 year existence of these creatures of the night (and the day). This largely is in the context of Klaus leading efforts to recover the clan's centuries-old dominance of the city and the related (pun intended) campaign to protect the unborn child of Klaus' baby momma/minor "Diaries" character Hayley.

Our trio of ancient ones provide great entertainment in figuratively regularly stabbing each other in the back and literally stabbing each other in the heart. This provides vicarious pleasure to those of us with our domineering siblings.

S2 picks soon after the mayhem and copious bloodshed of the inaugural season. This includes the new power hierarchy regarding the vampires, the witches, and the werewolves who call the Big Easy and the surrounding area their home (and feeding grounds). One awesome aspect of this is that the second season clearly establishes that vampire minions are even more disposable than "red shirts" on "Star Trek."

The season-long storyline is a variation on "Rumplestiltskin" in that baby Hope remains the center of the universe in the form of tribute related to a pledge to hand over the first-born as part of what effectively is a deal with the devil. Keeping up with the numerous sincere and deceptive shifting alliances regarding this is more than half the fun. One spoiler is that the well-worth-waiting-for sequence of events in the final episodes lead to a spectacular conclusion that meets the modern standard of serving equally well as either a season-ender or a series finale.

Also like every good soap opera style primetime drama, S2 greatly expands on the "Originals" lore by fully bringing back Mamma Mikaelson and the three minor (no pun intended) Mikaelson siblings. Although this group has very little in common with Carol Brady and her bunch of kids, it is as clear that dreamy and cool brother Kol is the Greg of the family (with enough goofy ineptitude and cruelty to make him a little bit of a Peter in both senses of that name) as it is that Rebecca is the Marsha. Elijah is adequately mopey and resentful regarding his place in the family that he is a bit of a Jan.

Plotwise, introducing new siblings opens the door for the aforementioned fresh shifting alliances and betrayals; it also awesomely enhances the "Mom always liked you best" aspect of the show more than anyone who is unfamiliar with these episodes can know. Keeping track of who is aligned with whom and the degree of sincerity regarding that partnership requires the aforementioned moderate attention.

The behind-the-scenes aspect of the new kids on the block enhances the "everybody is expendable" aspect of a series that WB (which is the father of CW) fellow vampire spinoff series "Angel" creates early in its first season. Having six evil siblings provides a surplus; additionally, a "Doctor Who" style tactic that easily allows recasting further helps keep egos (and related salary demands) in check. This is not to mention that the vampire and witchcraft aspects of "Originals" facilitates the "death is not always permanent" aspect of scifi series and films.

One S2 "Originals" episode is especially notable more for what it represents than for the actual plot line. A Mikaelson sibling uses black magic (no pun or offense intended) to trap warring vampires and werewolves together for the stated reason of keeping them locked in until they learn to hug it out; stating that a desire to have both sides wipe each other out is not much of a spoiler. Although this chestnut of a sitcom plotline is almost as old  as the Mikaelsons, it is a surviving cliche because it remains entertaining. The carnage and other chaos simply are bonuses.

Another sitcom devise relates to the "its so awful, its unwatchable" premise of the "Brady Bunch" spinoff "The Brady Brides." That sitcom has newly wedded Marsha and Jan and their odd couple husbands (one of whom is a genuine Wally) share a house. In the case of the "Originals," Klaus invites a newly wed werewolf couple to live in his abode. Discovering if anyone inadvertently ends up in bed with another, accidentally sees a housemate naked, or if a resident vampire impulsively feeds on a werewolf only to make a heartfelt apology at the end of the episode requires watching the DVD.

The big picture is that the ever-expanding lore and highly relatable family dynamics reflect the CW acknowledgement of the "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" principle as does the ever-expanding roster of CW super-hero shows. "Originals" effectively borrows a cup of sugar from its "neighbor" "Supernatural." As fans of that show entering its (hopefully not unlucky) 13th season know, you can never have too much "Supernatural."

The good folks at Prime make a good thing even better with the awesome DVD bonuses that seem standard on every set of a CW show. This goes beyond an always entertaining Comic-Con Panel to a Kol-oriented web series ""The Originals: The Awakening" and a hilarious behind-the-location-scenes tour PSA titled "Come Visit Georhia." One spoiler regarding the PSA is that it will make you want to visit Conyers, Georgia.

A brief preview of the (very soon-to-be-reviewed) "Originals S3 BD set is that Klaus becomes an exhibitionist and the gang creates a rule that you do not discuss Church Club.

Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Originals" is strongly encouraged either to email me or to connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.