Vampire Academy’s long-awaited TV show adaptation is the kind of success the movie that we can now put behind us for good never came close to being, and though the reasons why the TV show works are varied, perhaps the most important one is both a willingness to tread new ground on the part of the writing team, coupled with a healthy respect for the source material.
That’s not the only thing that works, of course. The casting is top-notch – Sisi Stringer and Daniela Nieves are now Rose and Lissa, forever. The two inhabit the characters in a way that works great as they explore the individual journeys of these two young women, but that lights up the screen when the show rightfully focuses on the main relationship in Vampire Academy, that between Rose and Lissa.
Around them, everyone sort of slots together where they need to go too. Andre Dae Kim’s Christian Ozera is infinitely more relatable from the get-go than he was in the books, which makes it easier to root for both him and his relationships. Andrew Liner’s Mason Ashford also meanwhile, exudes so much charisma, that it’s hard not to momentarily root for him, even as Kieron Moore’s Dimitri becomes a bigger presence.
Moore is particularly interesting in that he plays the brooding Dimitri, who appealed to me in the same way Angel once appealed to me on Buffy, but manages to make the character so much more than the stereotype. Yes, Dimitri will brood, because that is Dimitri. He will also watch, understand, help, communicate, and yes, even smile from time to time – not so often that the smiles come to mean nothing, but often enough that his character is infused with warmth every second he’s on screen.
Outside of Rose and Lissa’s main relationships, the show – and the cast – also prove strong enough to sustain our interest, with characters fans of the books know and love turned into, perhaps, their best versions – and some twists that even I, who’ve read the book a few times, was pleasantly surprised to see. J. August Richards’s Victor Dashkov is a pillar in this regard, with his presence elevating every storyline he’s involved in and every character he shares a screen with, but others are worthy of a mention too.
Did I expect to be interested in Mia Karp and Meredith Beckham? No, but I truly was, just as I was interested in Sonya Karp and in more than a few other characters. A lot of that was because there are plenty of hints about what will hopefully be upcoming seasons hidden in the show, subtle ones only book readers will detect, but a healthy amount was also that they were kinda fun to see in a new setting, a new element.
Adaptations are a tricky business, in general. Vampire Academy has already been adapted before, and though the movie wasn’t the total disaster other adaptations have been, it did lack some of what made the books special. The show, however, has that in spades, even as it attempts to find its way in a world of vampires that looks very different from what the general public is used to seeing. For another show, the “new” rules might have been a drawback, but Vampire Academy makes it a strength. This is a new story to discover, a new setting and as a result of those two things, new characters who don’t exactly have to follow the expected roles.
They can be whatever they want to be, strong, kind, mean, lost …and they can even be all of those things at once, and we can discover what exactly they end up being, just as they are doing so. And that, well, that’s the kind of journey we definitely want more than one season of.
Vampire Academy will premiere with four episodes on September 15th, with new episodes released weekly after that.