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02 July 2008 @ 12:05 pm
Review: True Blood (HBO)  
I should preface this review by saying that I haven’t read any of the The Southern Vampire books by Charlaine Harris. So I am going into this review, watching this show, with no previous knowledge of the characters.

I have to admit that I wasn’t really ready to start watching another vampire show. But when I saw that Alan Ball was producing, I really couldn’t resist. Alan Ball was the brilliant man behind Six Feet Under, one of my favorite shows. Unfortunately, all the things that worked so well for Six Feet Under, that made it such a compelling program, are lacking in True Blood.

This show wants to be great. And while there were scenes and music missing from the screener that I watched, it is even more than that. It isn’t so much the basic premise that is the issue but rather the execution of that premise.

Sookie Stackhouse (Anna Paquin) is just a small town girl from Louisiana who is trying to make it as a waitress at the local bar and grill. Only Sookie isn’t your average girl. She can hear people’s thoughts and apparently, it really isn’t a secret to her friends and family. Sometimes these thoughts are amusing, sometimes boring, and sometimes sinister, but always an annoyance when they start to build up. She seems to have the ability to shut them out at times but it appears that she really needs to concentrate. That isn’t quite so easy where she works.

Her boss, Sam (Sam Trammel), is in love with her and doesn’t do a very good job of hiding it. Her brother, Jason (Randy Kwanten), is a manwhore who will pretty much sleep with anything with girlparts aside from Sookie’s best friend, Tara (Brooke Kerr, who is being recast). Tara is one of the biggest problems that I have with this show. Unfortunately, being one of the few black characters in the show, she seems to have taken on the angry black woman stereotype. Not as bad as the angry black ghetto gang member stereotype but still just as hurtful. The only other black character who has lines is Lafeyette (Nelsan Ellis), the short order cook, who is basically a prop who goes on and on about sex in such a crass manner in order to show the audience that Sookie is the last of the great Southern Ladies. She is offended by his crude manner as well berates Tara for using the lord’s name in vain.

Unfortunately, the only character that brings any sort of humor to the show is Sookie’s grandmother (Lois Smith). The drama is so thick in the show that even the few lines that Grandma is given aren’t enough to help break up the pacing of the episode. Where is Ball’s great sense of timing like we got to see on Six Feet Under and Cybill or even hell, Grace Under Fire?

Of course, everyone wants to know about the vampires. The first vampire is shown within minutes of the episode opening. The vampires are a character in and of themselves, trying to fight for equal rights after “coming out of the coffin”. The bits of dialogue, a television playing in the back ground of the scene, set the tone for how society is now. The “vampire of interest”, as it were, is Bill (Stephen Moyer).

Bill arrives in the bar where Sookie works and she instantly knows he is a vampire. I am not sure if the audience is suppose to believe that she knows because of her special abilities or if it is something else, some effect in how they walk or move that will be added in post. It doesn’t seem like love at first site on either of their parts but more like Sookie is interested in Bill because he is different, new, and exciting. He doesn’t get a lot of character development aside from the fact that we learn vampires don’t particularly do well with silver.

In addition to the pacing and some characterization problems, my biggest problem is the accents. All the characters seem to have this southern fried accent and some of them; the accent goes in and out. It might be better if they either cast Southern actors or get a better dialect coach. At times, the accents were so bad, it was like a high school production of Gone With the Wind.

Another large problem is the vampire special effects as they were. The only thing that seems to change between vampire and human, thus far, are the teeth (aside from their bodies feeling cooler). Instead of having the teeth grow longer at the incisors, as we are accustom to, they seem to go to the front teeth, which just looks odd. And it also doesn’t make sense when a vampire bite is shown. The teeth aren’t far enough apart to cause the bite. Something minor, yes, but it is noticeable. The vampire sex shown is also downright laughable. I am not sure if they blew their entire FX budget on that one scene but the vampire moves strangely, his eyes literally rolling in his skull as he has sex with a woman. To see it, it is really hard not to crack up.

The show is interesting and it could be really great if Alan Ball puts the effort into it that he did with Six Feet Under. The pacing needs adjustment, along with tightening up the writing, as well as adjusting the vampire effects. The story itself, that of Sookie and her abilities, is intriguing and hopefully with some work, this can become a great new vampire show to fill the void.

I've uploaded the screener to YouTube as well as Megaupload.

YouTube Playlist
Megaupload

Tomorrow, Pretty Handsome from Ryan Murphy

Review of The Middleman : Review of Book of Daniel
 
 
Current Mood: productiveproductive
 
 
 
vicki_bmore: attempting2givevicki_bmore on July 3rd, 2008 01:43 am (UTC)
Oh...Ummmm...ok?
I'm watching the show because your review made me curious. The show is just a lil bit wack. I'll probably give another episode a try just cause they have nowhere to go but up. But if this doesn't improve and develop some plot by next episode I'll have to give this one a pass.

Also the fake southern accent on the black chic is horrible. She sounds like she's never actually heard a real southern accent.
Kelly: Review Timexlivvielockex on July 3rd, 2008 02:26 am (UTC)
Re: Oh...Ummmm...ok?
Unfortunatly, the first episode always seems a bit clunky. They have to intro all the characters and set up the plot. But you are right, there is a serious lack of plot. They have all these elements that don't really go anyplace.

The accents bugged me so bad. SO BAD. She got recast but I am not sure the rest of the cast is any better.
selene2: faithblankselene2 on July 3rd, 2008 03:55 am (UTC)
I tried to watch it, but it was too harsh. I like Anna Paquin most of the time... but, this? sorta scary, and not in a good way.

This show makes me glad that I cancelled HBO. And, heck, if it gets better there is always Netflix.

Thanks so much for sharing this bc it is something that I might have picked up on a whim.

*hugs*
Kelly: Review Timexlivvielockex on July 3rd, 2008 05:07 pm (UTC)
I am just doing my part to help people pick good stuff for the new Fall Season. LOL

But yeah, me and HBO have never been on good terms because they cancelled two of the best shows, in my opinion, that were on television, Rome and Deadwood. Everyone I have ever recommended Rome to, loved it. So that is one to Netflix. :)

This show just really needs to go back to square one and get retooled all together, I think. The premise is good, the execution, not so much.
selene2: faithblankselene2 on July 4th, 2008 01:37 am (UTC)
I missed those two shows. ::is sad::

I did watch most of Oz, Sopranos, and the first season of Carnivale (which I liked) but I missed Rome and Deadwood.

I don't know why. But, the good news, is that I have Rome in my queue. Yay! \0/

Thanks for your tip-off again. Usually, I am a sucker for HBO shows. (and, if you have seen it, what are your thoughts on Dexter (on Showtime)? *eyes it in my queue*)

*hugs tight*
Kelly: Buffy: Hungry and Hornyxlivvielockex on July 4th, 2008 01:45 am (UTC)
Oh man, I LOVE Dexter. Like I got so excited for S2, I can't even tell you. It is so dark, funny, and just all around a great show. The language is a bit much to take at times and the gore can get excessive but other than that, it is brilliant. S1's twist is a jaw dropper and S2 was just such a heart racing sort of chase. I don't want to give too much away but Dexter is amazing.

Let's see, on Showtime, I also love Weeds. It is in its fourth season but the shows are only 30 minutes so they go by really fast. It is one of the funniest shows that is on television today, in my opinion. It is a great way to spend 30 minutes for sure.
pharaoh1975 on September 10th, 2008 12:44 am (UTC)
show had promise, hate the typical black cast.
i hate stereotypical black cast(blk woman still got a long way to go in hollywood)
only 2 black actors is black man-gay over-sexed.

black chic, typical sassy attitude(if the sarcastic blow up she did was funny, it might be ok..but it was just stupid racist crap)

the show has promise but i am sick of seeing black woman portrayed as over the top..is it 2008?
Kelly: Review Timexlivvielockex on October 21st, 2008 06:01 pm (UTC)
Re: show had promise, hate the typical black cast.
Sorry it took me so long to reply to you. After watching a few more episodes, the show has been getting better in terms of the stereotypes, at least for the female black characters. I have a feeling that in terms of the black male characters, it is just a role that he is playing, from what I have seen.

I have hope because it is Alan Ball and he wrote some amazing characters of color in Six Feet Under.
pharaoh1975 on October 21st, 2008 06:39 pm (UTC)
Re: show had promise, hate the typical black cast.
you know what? after Sunday's "True blood" episode they are explaining the chics "attitude" problem..and her mom!!(i dont want to spoil it )

so i am really into the show now...and the gay guy, though stereotypical keeps the show 'light' hearted sometimes!..

*pass me some V will you!?
Kelly: Review Timexlivvielockex on November 11th, 2008 05:41 pm (UTC)
Re: show had promise, hate the typical black cast.
I just finally got caught up with True Blood and all the episodes I missed. I am glad to see that they are starting to show different sides of the characters. I really am enjoying Layfayette now that they have toned his mannerisms and saved them for when he is merely acting out, playing a part. He is quickly becoming one of my favorite characters. Tara's background being explained helped a lot towards the character but I would like to see a black character that comes from a stable and loving home. Alan Ball did that on Six Feet Under too.
liyirna on February 15th, 2009 09:56 am (UTC)
And what's your final opinion after season's end? I became overenthusiastic with show and read the first book. Well... Ball is a genius. To make usual romantic 'mystic' rubbish into real television drama... he really had balls (supid pun, I know) to use for new seies material with the only one advantage, which is location.
Kelly: Review Timexlivvielockex on March 12th, 2009 07:32 pm (UTC)
I got the entire book set for the holidays but I haven't had a chance to read them (other books on the list before them).

But by the end of the season, I can say that I was pretty much hooked. Like I said, I love Ball's previous work so I knew eventually he would hit his stride.

It was really intriguing and I found myself just wanting it to be next week when I finished an episode.
liyirna on March 14th, 2009 02:16 am (UTC)
Books really don't deserve your attention, usual mystic-romance stuff. No Stephen Moyer, Tara and interesting plot lines. But series... oh, yeah, Alan Ball is a genius.