I work at a bookstore (at least I did *sigh*). I read all the Charlaine Harris Sookie Stackhouse novels. And I enjoyed them. Thoroughly. Vampires didn't sparkle. They weren't angsty (at least, most of them, you're bound to have at least one angsty vampire here and there). The first vampire you meet is named Bill. And Sookie is telepathic. Good times all around.
Then came True Blood. Somehow everyone around me started watching it. I didn't know how they were all able to afford HBO, but they said it was good and that I needed to get in on the True Blood lovin'.
For those of you that don't know, True Blood is based on Charlaine Harris's novels. The basic premise is that vampires have come out of the coffin (so to speak) and now walk among us as equals. Or at least as equal as they can. The stage set up for us is in the small town of Bon Temps, Louisiana. Our main girl, Sookie, is telepathic and a waitress at a bar called Merlotte's. Things are pretty normal...until vampire Bill moves into town. From there Sookie finds herself in the path of a whole lot of craziness. More than one vampire that Bill knows would like nothing more than to take a sip or two or a pint from her. A crazed killer is on the loose and he has a thing for strangling women who have associated with vampires. Sookie's man-whore brother Jason is a major suspect. Sookie's attraction to Bill might eventually be detrimental to her health - in more ways than one.
I'd heard that the show was different from the books, and indeed they were right. However, unlike how some movies take a completely different course from their book counterparts and things go horrifically wrong, True Blood does it right. Alan Ball and his writers have taken some of the best elements and storylines straight from Harris and worked their own bits of magic to make book #1 last an entire season (and now book #2 has lasted an entire season). They've done so by expanding a number of characters and giving them their own major issues and trials to overcome. It can be nice because it opens the show up for a lot of different things, though sometimes it can be annoying, especially when you want to focus on just one storyline and it gets interrupted by another. And of course there are the few things that make you want to smack yourself in the forehead, wondering, "Oh geez, why did they add that?" But those are few and far between.
Casting call! Whoever was in charge of this did a pretty good job. While I admit I'm not all that attracted to any of the guys playing vampires (which I think is probably a good thing - the last thing I need is to be lusting over technically dead guys), they fit the job description perfectly. One of my favorite points here is that I know NONE of these actors. And 9 times out of 10, unknowns make me deliriously happy.
Anna Paquin of Rogue X-Men fame takes on the lead role as Sookie, and she's almost close to ideal. While sometimes I can't help but slip and not think of her as Sookie (I'm used to my own version from the books), there are times when she looks perfect, such as when she flops back on a lounge chair for a tan. Her hair is pretty and golden. She's convincing when she's freaked or angry or scared. And at times she really does have that one, special quality floating around her (though I don't doubt that's thanks to makeup and highlights) in order to make her more human than human...but that's another story.
Stephen Moyer actually stunned me when I heard him talk - as himself and not Bill Compton the vampire. He's freaking English! I practically flatlined when I heard that accent come out of his mouth. Though it did kind of explain to me why his Southern accent wasn't exactly the best. Sometimes he makes his voice deeper than necessary or just he sounds a bit awkward. I'm not sure - I think it's just him still working on getting into the role. I mean, it's a bit hard to fall right into the character of a near-150 year old vampire. Still, he often makes it click and I really do love his chemistry onscreen with Anna.
The rest of the characters are, as of yet, still relatively minor. Sam Merlotte (Sam Trammell) is Sookie's boss and also a bit of something special. I'm not sure I like what they've done with Sam so far (he seems to have anger issues at times and I wish they'd give him a nice girl, poor guy), but in terms of acting, Trammell's got it down. Is it messed up that I thought it was totally cute when he quietly barked and growled in his sleep?
Jason Stackhouse (Ryan Kwanten) looks great for the role. He's cute and delivers his lines in perfect Jason-eqsue form. Good choice. Tara (Rutina Wesley) is a lot of fun and even though she has issues and runs her mouth, she delivers it all in a believable manner and you really do feel sorry for her - at least most of the time.
I do have to give props to Lafayette (Nelsan Ellis) and Eric Northman (Alexander Skarsgård). Frankly, I enjoy the crap outta Lafayette. Nelsan Ellis is just perfect and I truly hope their decision to make Lafayette a major player means he'll stick around for a long time. I also applaud the inclusion of a man from at least the correct sort of area to play the role of the Viking vampire - Alexander looks like he could have been a friggin' Viking with that hair of his and I love it when he speaks the language.
**The Set, Music, and Goodies**
The best thing about this being all done through HBO means that the production isn't crap. I don't doubt that these guys get to start off with a huge-frickin' budget, as opposed to proving their worth on television before getting more money. With plenty of cash to burn through, we viewers actually get special effects that aren't laugh-worthy, good acting, impressive music, and huge realistic sets. When someone gets beat up, it looks like they're getting beaten up. When Sookie and Bill kiss, I'm drinking in the music behind the moment. Sam Merlotte's bar is set in a place that doesn't look like it could be any more deep-set Louisiana. Heck, you expect crocodiles to mosey through the parking lot, or at least a opossum or two.
Now kids, you'll have to be careful when you decide to watch this. Why? Aside from blood drinking and people getting smacked around or killed, you're going to hear plenty of language. Anyone remember the Sopranos? Ok, well, since we're on HBO, they don't pull any punches - they put what they want, when they want it on the show. That means if Tara's going to swear, she'll put about 20 words of varying badness into a sentence. Jason screws just about any female he can get his hands on, which means you'll basically be seeing a lot of soft core porn.
Every DVD has extras now, and you'll get some amusing stuff with this one, from fake vampire lawyer ads to episode commentaries. Just some random things they chucked on there.
Whoo hoo! I'm so glad I got into this. There's never anything good to watch on television, and though I suppose it's good that I don't watch much television, when I do, I'd really like it to entertain me. True Blood does that in spades. I can't wait for the arrival of werewolves and other fun, supernatural things. While it has yet to catch up to my other favorite shows over the years, I still make a point to schedule time for the next episode and when September 12th rolls around, I'm going to hoard up a bunch of chocolate and spend the day watching a Season 2 marathon. What can I say?
I'm hungry for more. (pun totally intended, haha)
Viewing Format: DVD
Suitability For Children: Not suitable for Children of any age
What did you think of this review?