HBO continues their run of amazingly high quality series (however slowly and painfully far apart they seem to debut). The buzz about True Blood hit me before it even aired, however I was a cynic from the start. I'm a pretty rabid cult follower of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and figured there was little chance anyone could capture that camp and wit again. Turns out, this series has ENTIRELY different aspirations than the Buffy franchise. This show is about a much higher art of capturing incredibly weighty issues of the human condition. Once I heard that it was done by Alan Ball, of Six Feet Under and American Beauty, I began to better understand what to expect.
Upshot - after one episode I was entirely hooked. It was the entertainment highlight of my weekends and I looked forward to it all day on Sunday ... until the ridiculously short season ended recently. I'm sure there are all sorts of TV business model reasons for HBO's short and spaced apart seasons, but as a fan it's brutal and irritating.
My favorite things about the show:
First -- very rich character development for a very large cast, with nuanced and really compelling journeys for each of the supporting characters, as well as the main players. Not only is there one character that nearly anyone can find to identitfy with -- better still, there are aspects of EACH character that nearly anyone can queue into. That takes a lot to acheive and is really impressive.
Second -- unique and remarkable cinematography. The use of light is always meaningful and thoughtful, and acts almost as a supporting role in the sereies.
Third -- and the real hook for me personally, is the exceptionaly smart use of vampire lore and culture as a device to explore civil rights issues. It's remarkably universal and can translate for discrimination based on race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, or nearly any other demographic or psychographic segmentation. It tackles both subtle and overt ignorance in a really intelligent and original way. THAT takes some genious. Knowing this series is based on a book, I'm sure the credit for that is due to both the author and the show creators and writers, but either way it's impressive and addicting. It's just smart. Really, really smart and well done -- which are major exceptions in most of today's TV shows, and far far from the rule.
Fourth & Final -- it's such a FUN ride! There's drama, humor (both light and dark), adventure, addiction of every variety, forbidden romance (of the sappy sweet variety, at times), sex appeal (both light and dark), mystery, and twist and turns of every variety. Its raw and shocking at times, but that's just what makes it so addicting and watchable.
One last note. This review comes from the perspective of someone who is a) a big fat chicken who's afraid of most scary movies and not at all a dark horror fan, b) doesn't have a big affinity for vampire or other fantastical characters / genres - Buffy being the one exception. Just putting that out there, as it seems there are a lot of people who may enjoy this series a LOT, but who imagine it to be in a genre that's "not for them." That's the beauty of it though, it's a convergence of genres into one very unique and original show. Enjoy!
Update 9/9/2010: After season one, this show went severely down-hill and became unbearable to even sit through. Season two was so awful that I stopped watching, and cannot attest for season three. Bummer that it tanked so badly!
I've had an odd experience with this show. I was intrigued by the pilot, and recall watching the first few episodes; but then, somewhere along the line, I stopped watching and had no incentive to catch up. The show wasn't bad, the storylines simply didn't interest me. Then, suddenly, I start seeing promotions for the second season and think, what the hell? It's summer, there isn't anything else on, I'll give it a try. Then, magically, I fell in love with the show. This season … more
Probably inspired by Anne Rice's novels, this new version of vampire lore is far more interesting than Blade, Underworld, Twilight, Buffy, etc. It takes place in a small town in Louisianna and has a real Cajun feel to it. The premise is that vampires have admitted their existance so a blood substitute (True Blood) has been developed and sold wherever beverages are sold. The first season centered on a vampire named Bill moving into a Louisianna town and he fascinates … more
Remember how Heroes, the perfect melding of X-Men with cable-quality soap, imploded on itself? Remember how "Save the cheerleader, save the world" became "Kill the cheerleader, save the show?" It was one of those shocking TV betrayals, like when The Simpsons became crap, that made you want to withdraw any support you ever gave the show. Let's just hope the circus doesn't show up in True Blood - that will be the final nail in coffin (no pun intended). … more
Ever since I was a kid, I always had a fascination with everything vampires. In High School, I couldn't get enough of them. I bought all the popular (and unpopular) vampire films like Blade, John Carpenters Vampires, Dracula, Underworld and many others. I always enjoyed reading vampire lore and doing research on the subject and even if vampires don't exist, their "history" and mythology always fascinated me. Of course there have been some not so great vampire renditions … more
Thanks to a Japanese scientist's invention of synthetic blood, vampires have progressed from legendary monsters to fellow citizens overnight. And while humans have been safely removed from the menu, many remain apprehensive about these creatures "coming out of the coffin." Religious leaders and government officials around the world have chosen their sides, but in the small Louisiana town of Bon Temps, the jury is still out. Local waitress Sookie Stackhouse (Anna Paquin), however, knows how it feels to be an outcast. "Cursed" with the ability to listen in on people's thoughts, she's also open-minded about the integration of vampires — particularly when it comes to Bill Compton (Stephen Moyer), a handsome 173-year-old living up the road. But as Sookie is drawn into a series of mysteries surrounding Bill's arrival in Bon Temps, that tolerance will be put to the test.
A new drama from 'Six Feet Under' creator Alan Ball, True Blood delves into the meticulously-crafted world of novelist Charlaine Harris. Described by the Emmy®-winning Ball as "popcorn for smart people" and featuring a colorful cast of local misfits, 'True Blood' promises an intense ride.