The Vampire Diaries: Sixth Season Blu-ray Review

Nina Dobrev says goodbye to the Vampire Diaries in her final season

Once the best show on television, many hardcore fans started believing The Vampire Diaries was getting long in the tooth the past two years. Having successfully spun off many characters into The Originals, what once had been the CW’s anchor show had lost some of its swagger and smart plotting. The unavoidable news in season six for the heralded vampire show was the announcement that Nina Dobrev, the undisputed star of the series, would be leaving the show at the end of the season. It was a stunning announcement in mid-season that rocked the show’s many fans.

While the show will continue into a seventh season, it will be without Elena Gilbert. Thank goodness then that season six is a wonderful farewell to Elena, as the second half of the season kicked things up into high gear with her impending departure. It’s a fitting farewell for the beloved character and gives a nice send-off to Delena, the romance between Damon and Elena. A couple of other original cast members also make their exits in season six. Without spoiling anything, expect a couple of sad tearjerkers counted among the 22 episodes.

The Vampire Diaries is so heavily serialized that I can’t imagine anyone picking it up at its current point without some background on the series. Season six picks up a few months from the events seen in the finale of season five. Damon and Bonnie are believed dead, so Elena and Caroline have moved on with their lives by going back to college. No one expected Bonnie and Damon to stay dead for long, which they do not. Bonnie and Damon are cut off from everyone in an empty 1994 purgatory version of Mystic Falls, unable to communicate with everyone else. Thinking Damon dead, Stefan has left everything behind and become a mechanic down South. It’s a weird place for the familiar characters and a number of obvious resets are attempted. Tyler loses his hybrid vampire powers and Elena is still trying to cope with being a bloodthirsty vamp.

The back half is loaded with quality writing and a number of shocking developments for longstanding characters.

The writers stumbled in the early stages of season six, keeping Damon and Bonnie away from the main cast in their own self-contained arc. A couple of new characters were introduced that quickly become annoying including Elena’s supposed human crush, Liam. Get used to Kai, the psychopathic villain character. He’s the crazy bad boy now since Damon has been tamed by Elena’s love. Sheriff Forbes gets her own lengthy arc when she develops health problems, a first for the last remaining adult character from the original cast. Everyone will welcome back the presence of Alaric, Damon’s friend that left the show to star on a failed CW show and is now back.

One of the big story-lines is the slow flirtation/romance which develops between Stefan and Caroline. Now that Damon is Elena’s true love, pairing Stefan and Caroline up isn’t a bad idea. Season six is also heavily into the vamps confronting magic and the coven’s Gemini twins. Luke and Liv as the Gemini twins guest-star much of the season as they become central players in the narrative.

Season six is a return to form for the soapy vampire series. The back half is loaded with quality writing and a number of shocking developments for longstanding characters. It is bittersweet for the fans that watched since the beginning, knowing this is the final go-around for Elena. The Vampire Diaries has lost some of it cache as a hot series but remains quality television despite its glossy trappings.

Movie ★★★★★

Vampire Diaries Season Six Blu-ray screen shot 5

The complete sixth season of The Vampire Diaries runs 22 episodes, included here on four BD-50s. Vampire Diaries has always had relatively dense, heavy cinematography for a glossy, serialized soap. The satisfactory AVC video encode, usually averaging around 16 Mbps per episode, handles the brighter exteriors and well-lit interiors with no artifacts. One has never been able to quibble with the show’s warm, inviting exterior scenery. The video truly shines with outstanding definition and clarity when the action remains in daylight.

Warner Bros. has made the decision to include as many as six episodes on one BD, which does lead to minor problems in the darkest scenes. Black levels get slightly crushed in the muted color palette, which looks worse when compared against the pristine exterior shots. Shadow delineation is weakened by the adequate AVC video encode, occasionally struggling to cope with shadowy interiors and limited light. Some small hints of aliasing creep into the video, as a result of its FX and green screen work. The picture quality is fairly comparable to the original CW broadcast, if a touch better in detail and with less artifacts.

The 1.78:1 widescreen video looks relatively perfect at times. It contains excellent high-frequency detail in close-ups and retains a razor-sharp clarity most of the time. The show is darkly lit for mood in specific settings, though it rarely goes overboard unless called for by the script. The 1080P resolution transfer contains no flaws and doesn’t add any serious video processing. This is an untouched digital transfer taken directly from the 1080P HD master.

Video ★★★★☆

The Vampire Diaries is one of the more atmospheric shows on television in terms of audio. This 5.1 DTS-HD MA soundtrack is almost on par with theatrical productions in terms of bass and surround usage. Cleanly recorded dialogue and crisp audio fidelity make for a comprehensive audio experience. You will get to hear a number of localized surround cues and a great deal of subtle ambient music, producing an effective and spacious soundstage. My only criticism would be a couple of poorly mixed songs placed into the show, throwing off its musical balance.

French, Spanish, Portuguese, and a hidden Japanese dub are included as secondary audio offerings. The first three are presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 at 192 kbps. The following optional subs display in a white font: English SDH, Japanese, French, Spanish, Dutch, Spanish (Latin American), Portuguese, Danish, Finnish, Norwegian, Swedish.

Audio ★★★★☆

WB is one of the last studios still committing significant resources to television seasons on Blu-ray. This set includes a nice array of deleted material, a smart audio commentary, and a very funny featurette. The four-disc Blu-ray set also comes with a UltraViolet digital copy that redeems in HDX. Once a staple of WB’s television releases, DVDs have been eliminated from the Blu-ray release.

The relatively slim Blu-ray case holds the four BDs inside a cardboard slipcase. An episode guide with brief descriptions of each episode is included for reference.

The Vampire Diaries: Good Bite and Good Luck (13:31 in HD) – A featurette going over the four regular characters that said goodbye to the show in season six. Since Nina Dobrev’s exit from the show has been so widely publicized, I’ll say that she actually tears up as she says goodbye to her fans and friends on the show. I won’t spoil the three other departures, since one of them plays a major role in season six’s plot. This is a sentimental piece that probably should have been separated into two featurettes, one for Elena and one for everyone else. Julie Plec discusses how much their characters have evolved since the pilot.

The Vampire Diaries: Best. Reactions. Ever. (06:09 in HD) – An insanely entertaining piece of fluff and really brilliant comedy. They got most of the cast to read fan reactions from Twitter about their characters. The person that suggested making this featurette is a genius. More shows should copy it.

2014 Comic-Con Panel (28:21 in HD) – A fun, if light, group discussion from most of the primary cast and Julie Plec that was recorded before the season began airing. The raucous San Diego fans make it a lively discussion and some cast members have fun with their banter. Lots of talk about Delena, the name given to the relationship between Damon and Elena. This can be viewed before the season, since there aren’t really any major spoilers in it.

Audio Commentary – Co-creator and primary showrunner Julie Plec does a commentary for the episode Let Her Go, a pivotal episode in the second half of the season. She happened to write and direct this episode as well, her directorial debut. She mostly discusses behind-the-scenes info as the episode plays from a director’s standpoint. It’s a lucid, fairly informative commentary.

Come Visit Georgia PSA (02:33 in HD) – The production crew talk about shooting the show in Georgia in this breezy piece.

Second Bite: Gag Reel (04:17 in HD) – A bunch of flubs and mistaken lines by the actors.

Unaired Scenes (All in HD) – As you can see below, many episodes were obviously cut for time by the CW. Most of these are character beats that don’t add a whole lot but are nice seeing for the first time. Episode 15 Let Her Go has the most deleted material.

Episode 4 (01:34), Episode 5 (0:52), Episode 7 (02:36), Episode 8 (01:13), Episode 11 (01:39), Episode 12 (02:33), Episode 14 (00:32), Episode 15 (06:48), Episode 17 (01:00), Episode 22 (02:08)

Extras ★★★★★

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For more information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.

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Click on the images below for full resolution screen captures taken directly from the Blu-ray. Images have not been altered in any way during the process.