The CW is having a pretty good season and the network has a lot of Television Critics Association press tour time, with panels including midseason dramas “iZombie” and “The Messengers.”
The network is also doing a pair of mixed-world panels. A bit later we have the various heroes and villains of “Arrow” and “Flash,” but now it's time for a joint “The Vampire Diaries”/”The Originals” panel.
Julie Plec will be joined by “Vampire Diaries” showrunner Caroline Dries and “Originals” showrunner Michael Narducci. Representing both casts are Ian Somerhalder and Joseph Morgan.
For the record: I'm caught up on “Vampire Diaries” and have definitely felt like this season has been an improvement over last. I'm behind on “The Originals,” though that's mostly because of a Monday scheduling log-jam. I'll catch up eventually.
9:45 a.m. We should be starting any second. Don't get anxious!
9:50 a.m. We start with a Damon/Klaus Bad Boy montage, which features topless Damon dancing. We'll see if The CW makes this available, because it's lots of Devilish Damon/Klaus, if you like that sort of thing.
9:51 a.m. Somerhalder is wearing a hat. “Thank you all for coming and wasting your time with us,” he says. Morgan appears to be wearing a black suit?
9:52 a.m. “The last thing I shot was me walking in with a bag full of severed heads,” Morgan says of whether Klaus has become less evil. “We do really terrible things for good reasons now,” Morgan notes. “It's ill-intent, but for righteous reasons,” Somerhalder agrees, clarifying that such people are also the people we fear in the real world as well. “We're trying. Damon's trying,” he says.
9:53 a.m. Morgan says that being big and evil can be cathartic. He's got an overnight flight tonight and he and his wife are fostering a new dog and “Phoebe is going to get all of my tired and angriness.” Julie Plec says that it's the same for the writers.
9:54 a.m. Julie says that she and Kevin Williamson came up with a perfect ending. They stuck to that for many years, but now the show has gone on longer. She says that they're still on the same path, but it's evolved. “Well that could not have been more evasive,” Ian says. Somehalder recalls having a conversation with Damon Lindelof towards the end of “Lost” and now with the “Vampire Diaries” team. He's full of respect for the writers and what they do. “I just wanted to take a second to appreciate these three people up here who continue to give us these stories every week,” he says. “It blows my mind what you guys do,” Somerhalder says.
9:56 a.m. Morgan says that there's some week-by-week changes in the way people respond to Klaus and the show on social media. “Our audience is very involved, I think,” Morgan says. “VERY involved,” Somerhalder says. “They've actually used their fanbase for the power of good,” Plec says, noting Somerhalder's environmental causes and Morgan's book club. Somerhalder agrees that the world has shifted with social media spaces. “Then all of a sudden it becomes this crazy organic beast, if you will,” Somerhalder says. “It's really changed the whole face of the planet,” he says. “There's no middle man there. You can have direct access with the fans of the show,” Morgan agrees. He likes the passion of fans, both positive and negative, saying it's better than a lack of passion. “It's kinda double-edged sword,” Plec says. She says that at one hand you get a focus group, but on the other hand you can't be influenced any more than you'd be influenced by research numbers or focus groups. People are prone to yelling at her on social media and she was recently wondering if, going back, she'd do anything differently. She likes the arcs that they've done and would do the same. Dries notes that the fans of the show are polarized in what they want, so you can't please all of them. “It is very tempting and new for us to be able to watch an episode and, in real time, see people's responses,” Dries adds. Somerhalder says no writers/showrunners have ever been able to get this immediate response like this before. Narducci says that they're writing the stories they love, regardless of ratings and he notes that he got blasted by some fans on Twitter for not appeasing the fans. They say that their level of passion wouldn't be the same if they just did what fans wanted. Plec requires a time that Narducci almost missed a flight because he was in the middle of a Twitter fight with a super-fan. “Harvard brain, football body it's a little bit menacing,” Somerhalder says of Narducci.
10:04 a.m. Narducci says that sometimes they find out that the storyline they're wanting to do on “Originals” is already happening on “Vampire Diaries.” “First one who comes up with it wins,” is Plec's rule, but she'll break it if necessary. Plec says that they have thick documents and story bibles, but “the dumbest things will get by us.” She says she'll watch finished episodes and realize that they broke the rules of her mythology. “From the actors standpoint as well, there is a lot of mythology, but in the heart… this is a story about people. It was a story about relationships. It was about this town,” Somerhalder says, noting that this “Vampire Diaries” season has been about getting back to the people. Morgan agrees that when he started, he used to get notes to be “less vampiric” so that Klaus could be more human. “Yeah, sure they're a thousand years old, but you take these relationships and amplify them,” Morgan says of the family dynamics.
10:07 a.m. What's coming up in the spring on the shows? Dries says that the main through line will continue to be learning more about The Gemini Coven. Kai has now absorbed all of Mystic Falls' magic and he wants to Merge with Jo and become a leader of the Gemini Coven. Dries says there will be a lot of drama “and death” continuing through the season. “We've got Damon and Elena finally working their way back towards each other,” Plec says, noting that Damon and Elena may actually achieve a comfortable relationship without internal conflict. “We get to see part of the relationship that we didn't get to see the first time around,” Dries says of the four months of happiness we skipped before the start of the fifth season. And “The Originals”? In the midseason family we saw Esther getting neutralized. We see Finn and Mikael becoming bigger threats and then we'll hear more about the origins of Esther as a witch and the deals she had to make to become a mother to this family. The big question is what will Klaus do to protect his child and what would happen if somebody else in his family has a different strategy for protecting her? Klaus won't necessarily be ready to follow orders.
10:11 a.m. Julie Plec will be directing this spring. “Finally I realized that in a lifetime you're lucky if you get one series on the air that lasts six, seven, eight years,” she says and to have this opportunity may not come along. “It's the coolest directing experience ever,” Somerhalder says. Somerhalder is directing the episode after Plec's directing effort and they're now on-stage holding hands in solidarity. Somerhalder remember his last-minute rush back from Vegas to audition and how long they've been together. They were up together drinking wine and touching up the last edit of the pilot. “It's just her team. These are the people who will not let us fail. It's really special,” Somerhalder says. “I'm excited. I hope I don't screw it up,” he says of his own time behind the camera.
10:14 a.m. Morgan says he likes it when he gets to be in town with the writers so he can grill them. They're shooting episode 14 at the moment and he's looked at 15, but that's all he knows. Plec says that with Morgan, when you tell him information, he'll spill it to the other actors. “It's the audience and it's the media that keep this show alive, so thank you for allowing us these opportunities to continue this. Even when you don't like us,” Somerhalder says.
10:16 a.m. “You don't typically get to see Damon in a space and time when he's truly happy,” Somerhalder says, adding that you also don't get to see Elena happy often. “They're very deserving of it,” Somerhalder says of Damon and Elena's happiness. “Love trumps all, so when you see love, you want it to win,” Somerhalder says.
That's all, folks…