From left, Daniel Gillies as Elijah, Phoebe Tonkin as Hayley,...

From left, Daniel Gillies as Elijah, Phoebe Tonkin as Hayley, Charles Michael Davis as Marcel, Joseph Morgan as Klaus, and Claire Holt as Rebekah in "The Originals," a spin off of The CW's popular "Vampire Diaries." Credit: The CW

THE SHOW "The Originals"

WHEN | WHERE Premieres tonight at 9 on CW/11 (regular time period, Tuesday at 8 p.m., starting next week)

WHAT IT'S ABOUT This is the much-anticipated spinoff of "The Vampire Diaries." Sicko vampire hybrid Niklaus Mikaelson (Joseph Morgan) -- one of the world's first vamps -- has come to New Orleans for a reason to be explained tonight. Possibly to be with Hayley (Phoebe Tonkin), who is pregnant with his child?

Klaus has an equally wicked protege, Marcel (Charles Michael Davis), who is persecuting the Big Easy's witches. That is why they have enlisted the help of Klaus' powerful brother, Elijah (Daniel Gillies). Will he help? Can he?

MY SAY "Diaries" creator Julie Plec -- who's also behind this show -- has plowed an enormous amount of backstory and new mythology into "The Originals'" pilot simply as a function of explaining why the brothers are in New Orleans and why they plan to stay. But wouldn't it have been easier to say they like the food, or that the nightlife is better here than in Mystic Falls?

At least that would have lightened the story load -- for viewers and Plec -- and moved this spinoff briskly into a new place with a new (read: fun) vibe. Instead, this all feels a bit like a shaggy dog has wandered onto the show to tell a story with as many loops, turns, twists, ironies and details as fans can possibly absorb or tolerate. That shouldn't be too much of a problem in the long run -- they will come and they will tolerate, even if these boys are no longer boys, but men (Morgan's 32 and Gillies, 37) anchoring a soap that so far has almost none of "Diaries'" post-adolescent heat.

BOTTOM LINE A not-bad spinoff that feels older than "The Vampire Diaries" and even more convoluted.


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