The Vampire DiariesVampires, they’re so hot right now.

As fall TV season approaches and the networks start the media buying blitzkrieg to promote their new wares, a few networks have turned to web series to stoke the fanbase fires. The CW opted for a prequel to its teenage vampire drama, The Vampire Diaries, with a 4-episode web series A Darker Truth, which leads into the series premiere of the hour-long drama on September 10.

For the production of the A Darker Truth, they tapped Retrofit Films, the same shop that created four of the Heroes spinoff web series for NBC last year. Retrofit’s Tanner Kling and Chris Hanada directed the series. Cast members for the TV series, like stars Ian Somerhalder and  Nina Dobrev, are only used via clips and stills, with new web-only actors used for most of the show. Showrunner for the TV series Kevin Williamson (Scream, Dawson’s Creek) did not write the web version, instead staff co-producer Sean Raycraft did the honors.

Vampire Diaries - A Darker TruthIncidentally, the creative studio behind The Vampire Diaries, Alloy Entertainment, didn’t plug the project into its booming young adult online network, headed up by its Teen.com property. Clearly, unlike its latest novels turned online-only series, Private, Alloy wasn’t handling the distribution of this one, with Warner Bros. Television Group taking the reigns. Thus, it meant the CW placing it both on its own site and YouTube instead. They did however use Teen.com to push the official trailer out.

Overall, from the brief first episode (above) it feels oddly reminiscent of CBS’ Harper’s Island web supplement series Harper Globe. It too featured a young newcomer to a small town investigating through generous use of amateur web cams, the central mysteries of its TV counterpart. Both seem to act as web series on the periphery of the actual narrative, without being essential to the primary storyline.

While there is no direct sponsor for the series, there is a look integration of the anti-tobacco “Truth” campaign with the characters sporting “Truth” t-shirts as part of a larger deal with the CW. New episodes are slated to come out on Tuesdays.