Wednesday, September 10, 2008

True Blood

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.


Anonymous said...

My wife and I both enjoyed it quite a bit... for many of the same reasons you give.

We look forward to future episodes.

Of course, Dexter still remains one of our favorite shows.

Anonymous said...

I could not take the bad southern accents.
Hire a dialect coach!

I predict Twilight will not be great because Catherine Hardwicke is not a good director.

BUT, I don't think it will matter one bit...and be a huge hit....thus dooming us to more Hardwicke, and Vampire, movies.


sammy jo --there are worse fates than being subjected to more vampire movies ;)

Missy said...

I liked it alot especially Paquin, she really surprised me. My one quibble is her best friend Tara.
For once I would like to see a black female character that's not loud,witty, and sassy.

Adam said...

I saw an advanced cut of the pilot and was completely unimpressed, but after they went back and spiced up a few scenes and the soundtrack, I was a bit more on board. They also recast Tina since that early pilot, and did away with some of the short order cook's weaker material. I'm still not absolutely dying to see next week's episode, but I'm much more curious.

I was hoping this one would knock me out right away, like 'Six Feet Under' did, but then I have to be realistic. I feel the same that it could easily hit its stride late in the season. 'Buffy' really started to glimmer by its season finale, so I hope this has such a marvelous turning point.

Scott said...

I was watching it with a mix of people. Those who had read the books were predictably annoyed about some of the differences between those and the adaptation. Pretty much everyone was laughing at some of the over the top choices (like how they played her not being able to read his mind). And yeah, what was with a tiny town featuring something like 5 different accents?

All that said, I'll probably tune in at least once more.

Though I wonder if there would have been much to it if they'd have set it in North Louisiana (as it is in the book) and not relied on a lot of the traditional Southern Louisianaisms (the swamps and Spanish moss) to add moody touches.

Glenn Dunks said...

Ryan Kwantan? REALLY? He's come a long way since Liquid Bridge, I suppose.

Fox said...

I didn't see True Blood, but thank you for posting a pick of Paquin in pigtails!

Oh, I want to kiss her so!

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed it a lot and will definitely watch (at the very least) the next few episodes.

Thanks for that EW link. I don't agree with that review, but the video was interesting (Stephen Moyer's real accent is lovely). :)

Anonymous said...

I thought that "True Blood" was great. Can't wait to see next week's episode. Check it out everyone!

SusanP said...

Hey Nat! I haven't seen this yet (no HBO), but given my vampire kick (Dark Shadows, Buffy, Angel) lately, it does peak my interest....

Re: Twilight, the book was pretty bad, but perhaps it can be one of those "meh" books that make decent movies.

Unknown said...

you peaked my curiosity about this show (which I didn't even know existed) when you first mentioned it a couple of weeks ago... so I caught it last week (what a wonderful invention... internet ;o)

After getting used to seeing Paquin as a blond (still not sure of that choice) I enjoyed it quite a bit! I won't emit a solid opinion until I've seen more, but for the moment they've got me wanting to see more which is a good sign! Choosing such yummy actors is a sure way to at least get some early viewings, let's hope the story develops well. :p

Oh, and so far can't stand the brother.

par3182 said...

it sucked

(somebody had to say it)

and your interest was piqued, people - not peaked


par... i watched it again last night and enjoyed it even more. so tell me. 6 things that sucked about it.


Dantaniel said...

I'm just a high schooler, but I'll give it a shot:

1. Anna Paquin's acting. Plus the fact that there's nothing interesting/original about her character.
2. The character of Tara (could there be a more stereotypical approach???)
3. Awkward dialogue.
4. Opening handjob scene, clearly done to give the show a certain type of lead.
5. The graphic vampire rape/sex scene that they show. Talk about uncomfortable...
6. The storyline. Plots are weaved together clumsily. I have no interest in the story after the first episode, yet I will give it a shot. It could've just been a bad pilot.

Anonymous said...

While I liked it more than Clay Atlas did, I think he (?) nails the flaws. I'll give it a few more episodes, simply because it's interesting enough to do so. I actually don't mind Tara, mainly because she adds a great jolt to the proceedings, the sex scenes didn't bug me, but the handling of the plotting is definitely mediocre. And Alan Ball is too smug by half.

Anonymous said...

True Blood is a fantastic show and I can't wait for season 2 to begin!