The Vampire Diaries First Season Report Card: A+

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The television season may be over, but that doesn't mean the time to offer up critiques on various shows, characters and actors is finished.

As we head into the summer, TV Fanatic will be grading and reviewing a number of the small screen's biggest hits. First up: The Vampire Diaries.

What did we think of its first season? Who was its best character? Where do we hope it goes next year? Read on. Find out. Chime in.

Best Character: Damon Salvatore. This will likely be the easiest choice we make on any show's evaluation. Ian Somerhalder simply owned this role, having a blast with Damon's snarky, sarcastic side - but deftly transitioning to serious and vulnerable when called for. Emmy voters will never even look at a CW show, but they should make an exception in this case.

Worst character: Caroline. This is more by default by anything. We had to choose someone. Caroline is nice and pretty, but she isn't a vampire. She isn't a werewolf. She's sort of just eye candy for male viewers, which does make me wonder: why am I complaining again?

Literally Hot Damon

Best episode: Blood Brothers. This hour took us back to 1864, revealing exactly how Damon and Stefan were turned. It also threw a major, believable twist into the relationship between these brothers. Amazing stuff.

Best storyline: The death of Vicki. This was a turning point for the show in more ways than one: it proved that almost any character could die at any time and it started Jeremy down a path that may lead to him becoming a vampire. Forgive the pun, but Vicki's murder raised the stakes on The Vampire Diaries more than any event from its first season.

Hopes for next season: More background on Tyler and his werewolf connections; more Alaric; the return of Melinda Clarke as Kelly Donovan; Damon finally moving on from Katherine... by killing her!

Overall grade: A+. When The CW premiered this series, I was prepared for a rip-off of The Twilight Saga: a cheesy love story between a vampire and a human, few deaths, no real violence or ongoing mysteries. It's safe to admit: I was wrong! Elena and Stefan are in a stable, mature relationship; the acting is top-notch; answers are provided on an almost-weekly basis; and the show delivers more twists and turns than the Autobahn.

The CW will air reruns of The Vampire Diaries all summer long on Thursday nights. If you aren't yet a believer, tune in. You soon will be.

Report Card

Matt Richenthal is the Editor in Chief of TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter and on Google+.

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Vampire Diaries Quotes

You want a love that consumes you. You want passion and adventure, and even a little danger... I want you to get everything you're looking for. But for right now, I want you to forget that this happened. Can't have people knowing I'm in town yet. Goodnight, Elena.

Damon

Dear Elena, yes you heard that correctly. Hell has frozen over. I'm writing it all down. Granted, I'm half a bottle in thanks to my 1950 Chateau Cheval Blanc, a bottle I waited 65 years to open. I used to spend nights sitting in my wine cellar convincing myself I could hear it age, tannins growing, fermenting, but appreciating its beauty didn't make time go by any faster. The bottle just laid there on its shelf, torturing me while I waited for Katherine and time stood still. Eventually I convinced myself that no sip of that wine could ever taste as good as I dreamt it would. And that is the story of why I drink bourbon. I don't know who I am without you, but I know that as long as I'm with you, time will stand still. So who is Damon Salvatore without Elena Gilbert? A selfish friend, a jealous brother, a horrible son? Or maybe with a little luck, I'll do right by you. Because you may be a thousand miles away or a hundred years away, but you're still here with me and my heart is right there in that coffin with you. Until you come back to me.

Damon