How many of you tuned in to the debut of HBO's new Alan Ball series True Blood ?
First episodes aren't always predictive of entire series... so much of the rhythm, tone and even basic identity of television properties tends to emerge about halfway through the first season -- or even, in the case of many network series, the second season. So, one episode isn't much to go on but I liked True Blood's mix of interspecies fascination and fear (vampires have "come out of their coffins" before the series begins and they're already targets for sexual fantasies, violent exploitations, and all purpose scapegoating) as well as its heightened Southern white trash flare. It takes place in New Orleans and there's quite a bit of swampy heat in the production: and I'm not just talking about the sex scenes or the buff bodies of the flamboyant bawdy line cook "Lafayette" and local bad boy stud "Jason". I'm talking about the cinematography and the makeup and all the sweating. They're definitely trying to get their humid Big Easy vibe down. [trailer]
The cast, led by Anna Paquin as Sookie, seem to be having fun pushing the outer edges of their showy roles --particularly Rutina Wesley as her extremely short fuse best friend and Ryan Kwanten as Sookie's horny brother. So far the vampires, other than lead bloodsucker Stephen Moyer (dude, it's not polite to stare), don't have much of a presence but I'm sure that will change. Anna Paquin has as many uncomfortable facial tics as Claire Danes but for whatever reason I'm OK with that here... though it does lead me to wonder if there's something about very young 90s stars growing into adult actresses that makes them so extremely fussy/jittery in closeup. Does being stared at since you're a young teen cause one to be eternally uncomfortable in one's own skin or is this mere coincidence?
The only review I've read of True Blood at this point was in Entertainment Weekly. While their complaints seem valid, they also swerve towards the nitpicky... not that there's anything wrong with that (he adds quickly to avoid hypocrisy). But it gives me pause. EW has been sounding the trumpets for Twilight, the fall's other big screen vampire debut, for months and at ear shattering decible levels no less... all without any idea as to its quality. One hopes that when it does arrive they'll set aside their own drunk with power hype-machine tendencies and subject it to the same level of scrutiny.