Episode 1 – | Review Score – 3/5
Episode 2 – | Review Score – 2.5/5
Episode 3 – | Review Score – 3/5
Episode 4 – | Review Score – 2.5/5
Episode 5 – | Review Score – 3/5
Episode 6 – | Review Score – 2.5/5
Episode 7 – | Review Score – 3/5
Episode 8 – | Review Score – 2.5/5
Episode 9 – | Review Score – 2.5/5
Episode 10 – | Review Score – 3/5
Vampire mythology is something that’s been a constant fascination for mankind. From Dracula and Salem’s Lot through to the genre-defining Buffy The Vampire Slayer, these blood-sucking fiends have been a mainstay on the big and small screen for as long as I can remember. With such an illustrious pool of talent to contend with, it’s always hard for newcomers to stake their own claim on this genre and stand out. Despite a promising start, V-Wars descends into all the usual tropes you’d expect from a network TV show released in the early 2000’s, complete with expository-heavy dialogue, cliches and plenty of plot twists designed for dramatic tension rather that plot cohesion.
The story itself revolves around Dr Luther, a scientist who accidentally brings an ancient virus back with his best friend Michael after a trip to a polar research station. Unfortunately, this results in Michael being turned into a blood-sucking vampire. As the infection spreads, Luther is forced to team up with National Security to bring his friend back from his murderous rampage and stop the infection from spreading. As the story progresses, several different subplots crop up, involving a vampire hunter called Bobby and sisters Dani and Mila who find their world turned upside down thanks to the infection. There are other characters here as well, all of which intertwining into the messy and slightly convoluted main conflict revolving around the Bloods and humankind.
While the actual ideas are pretty good, the execution leaves a lot to be desired. I said it earlier in the review but V-Wars feels very network-TV-like in it’s approach and continues this way throughout the 10 episodes. The opening hour-long slice of drama is surprisingly good though, introducing vampires through a credible and believably written origin story.
Unfortunately, from here the world never expands or feels that big, confining its main conflict and uprisings to news snippets about the infection on TV and keeping things rooted to several different main areas throughout the opening ten episodes. I say opening because the series sets things up with an almighty cliffhanger at the end which lays the foundations for a second season to follow. In doing so, subsequently pushing the story forward four months without a satisfying conclusion to any of the plot threads opened during this timeline.
The dialogue continues to spout exposition throughout the series too and some of the subplots, involving a romance for Mila, feel contrived and oddly half-baked. At worst, some of the character decisions feel oddly out of sync with what we’ve learnt up until that point too, including Luther’s ex-wife Rachel. Even worse still, there’s several different subplots that are introduced throughout the ten episodes and dumped unceremoniously and in an unsatisfying manner. The vampire hunter angle is all but wrapped up midway through, replaced by a different character instead, while the conflict between the Bloods and humans never reaches a dramatic climax thanks to another conflict cropping up and muddying the waters late on.
Of course, fans of The Vampire Diaries and other shows of its kind will immediately be drawn to The V-Wars (thanks in part to lead man Ian Somerhalder sinking his vampiric teeth into this one after staring in the aforementioned heavy hitter). There is a moreish feel to a lot of the episodes too and the different cliffhangers will almost certainly see you binge through this one in a few nights. Unfortunately V-Wars also suffers from a heavy dose of deus ex machina too because of this. Numerous times Luther is held up at gunpoint or seemingly about to die when a conveniently placed character or plot mechanic crops up and saves the day. Once or twice is fine but this feels like a constant recurring theme for a lot of the other characters too.
Despite all this, V-Wars will find its audience. I do like a good vampire flick but this is a difficult one to recommend given the wealth of other options in this field. I could list dozens of vampire shows worth indulging and sinking time into and unfortunately V-Wars is not one of them. The series has far too many issues with its storytelling and structure, devolving into cliches and nestling in all the usual network TV tropes you’d expect, but instead showcased on Netflix instead. With a second season already in the works, this may be enough for seasoned fans of the genre to jump into but for those looking for a big budget thrill-ride, V-Wars is unlikely to scratch that itch.