TRUE BLOOD – SEASON ONE REVIEW
Finally a deliciously devilish series we can all sink our teeth into!
Sexy, witty and unabashedly peculiar ‘True Blood’ is a blood drenched southern gothic vampire parable set in a world where vampires have quite literally ‘come out of the coffin’ and walk among amongst us mortals.
Adapted by Six Feet Under’s Alan Ball from Charlaine Harris’ ‘Southern Vampire Mysteries’ series ‘True Blood’ is set in a town well off the beaten track called Bon Temps, surely a delightful French pun on ‘good time’ in Louisiana where the liberal minded folk are hardly abundant and stifling suspicion hangs in the air like a thick fog.
In the opening episode we meet Sookie Stackhouse a sweet and sassy waitress working at Merlottes Bar & Grill. Sookie has a gift, or curse depending on the situation. She is telepathic and has immense difficulty suppressing everyone’s thoughts around her. Her job as a waitress only seems to exasperate her senses. As a result she has developed a very thick skin and an outwardly sunny disposition.
On a crowded night a brooding handsome, yet pale customer walks into the watering hole. ‘Looks like Merlottes just got its first vampire!’ exclaims Sookie with all the excitement of a giddy school girl. From their electric initial meeting and the consequences of vampire ‘Bill Compton’s’ impromptu visit to Merlottes our story unfolds over the course of the series as we follow not only Sookie and Bill’s relationship, but the relationships between other prominent characters including Sam Merlotte, the owner of Merlotte’s Bar and Grill, who has a secret (and it isn’t his unyielding passion for Sookie!) Tara, Sookie’s prickly and capricious best friend who literally has her own ‘demons’ to contend with, Jason Sookie’s egotistical, selfish and dumb brother who simply has a one track mind and a plethora of other characters each as kooky as the next.
With the sheer abundance of vampire related screen entertainment today and with the weight of expectations stemming from the hugely popular ‘Southern Vampire Mysteries’ series of novels ‘True Blood’ could have simply fallen flat, however this is not the case. Credit in part should be due to the excellent casting of key characters whose performances hold the show together in ever more bizarre plots and scenes that are inclined to leave the audience in an incredulous stupor. Stephen Moyer whom portrays vampire ‘Bill Compton’ a 178 year old former civil war soldier, now vampire will surely set hearts racing as the suitably dark and moody protagonist, whereas Anna Pacquin gives a feisty performance as the somewhat innocent yet resourceful Sookie Stackhouse. Throw in the perfectly cast Ryan Kwanten who despite the nature of his character gives consistent depth and quality in his performances allowing the audience is able to emphasise with him irrespective of gender and Nelsen Ellis giving one of the more risqué performances as the gay, cross dressing short order cook who has the ability to be hilariously funny, almost a parody of himself in one scene and dangerously explosive in another and viewing becomes compulsory.
In season one the plot centres around a number of murders in Bon Temps. With the law baffled, the consistently incompetent Deputy Sheriff Andy Bellefluer, played by Chris Bauer is insistent that Jason Stackhouse is the perpetrator for no other reasoning than he appears jealous of Jason’s sexual conquests and cockiness, oh and the fact that Jason seems to have had a prior relationship with the victims (and every other woman in Bon Temps). His continuous ineptitude to find the real killer frustrates Sookie who fears she is next for dinner. Add in a demonic possession or two, numerous confrontations with thirsty vampires who still practice ‘draining’ and everything from sex, drugs to rock n roll ‘True Blood’ delivers a bite into the macabre which tastes good.
True Blood has provided more than adequate sustenance at a time when intelligent and original programming is very thin on the ground. It’s tremendous fun, full of baroque swearing and weird sex. It lays lots of exposition on you without making you feel trapped under it. Vampires still do, from time to time feed on human’s as the synthetic substitute ‘True Blood’ does not always provide adequate nourishment come mealtime. With even the humans indulging their hedonistic urges by gulping down ‘V juice’ or vampire blood good, old-fashioned morality seems concealed in darkness.
A much needed infusion of new…..well, blood!