So I watched the show. Finally. I've given up on actually catching shows at the time they come on. When you have an 18-month old, television takes a distant sixth or seventh, if that. But I've found Hulu and Amazon Video On Demand, and you can watch just about everything that comes on tv for free using these two amazing mediums. (I mean, with Hulu, you don't really need a television. Seriously.)
And the thing that impressed the most was how the cast was "perfected" from the book. If you haven't checked out Katie Ganshert's post here on Donald Maass' recommendations for the Perfect Cast, you should. I think this is exactly what the producers of The Vampire Diaries did.
Here's a rundown of the characters from the book and the cast from the show. Notice the differences.
Bonnie (best friend)
Meredith (best friend)
Caroline (former BF, enemy)
Matt (former boyfriend)
Stefan (MC - vamp)
Damon (MC - vamp)
Margaret (Elena's lil sis)
Bonnie/Meredith (combined into one person)
Vickie (Matt's sister)
Tyler (dating Vickie)
Jeremy (Elena's brother, likes Vickie)
So you can see that the producers upped the stakes by adding more associations between the characters. Bonnie incorporates the two friends, and she's still sorta friends with Caroline (who hasn't become all mean yet). Margaret was gotten rid of in favor of a brother who would be in high school with Elena. The fact Jeremy had some sort of summer tryst with Vickie also ups the conflict, because Vickie's set her sights on Tyler now (who actually has a thing for Elena in the books...not sure if that'll play out in the show). Making Vickie and Matt related definitely brings Matt a bit more into the fray, as well.
So kudos to the producers for the casting. This same sort of thing was done in True Blood, as well. Characters were given associations that weren't in the books, like Tara and Lafayette being cousins; Arlene and Terry being friends with benefits, Jason's entire involvement in the stories being manufactured to some degree to give him (a) a reason for being in the cast and (b) conflict in his storyline. These type things are necessary to increase reader apprehension.
Vampire Diaries promises to be a weekly entertaining diversion that I'm looking forward to. Plenty of surprises (i.e., scenes that make you jump) and lots of teenage angst. :)
What characters in your book could you combine? Get rid of? Give a different association to?