Sunday, August 09, 2009

I Wanna Do Bad Things To You...

I've been meaning to post on this all freakin' season, but now I finally have the chance.... I hope some of you are watching season 2 of True Blood. For those of you who aren't, you are missing out on some of the best vampire television I've ever seen. This coming from someone who thinks Buffy the Vampire Slayer is the greatest TV show of all time.

Perhaps you watched season 1 and thought, "Meh. Not as good as the books." or "It's OK, but the sex is a little over the top." I'll admit, I haven't actually read the Sookie Stackhouse novels, so I can't compare. For those who haven't seen the show at all, it's about a girl named Sookie who lives in the Louisiana bayou in a time where vampires have "come out of the coffin" and are walking amongst people, thanks to a new synthetic blood called "Tru Blood" that can be bought in the stores for a steep price. So now vamps can walk into the local Mac's milk and pick up a case of the stuff.

But that doesn't mean people have to like it.

Obviously a metaphor for homosexuality, the vampirism on the show is treated in a new and vibrant way. Sometimes the comparisons are a little obvious, but by season 2, it ramps up into a whole new hemisphere of hate.

But let's rewind to season 1. Sookie can't find love, simply because she's a telepath. She can read the thoughts of anyone she's with, which drives her -- and the one who loves her -- completely bonkers. But then she meets Bill, a vampire who was turned during the Civil War, and for the first time, she can't read his thoughts. He, on the other hand, can't glamour her into saying or doing what he wants. Both see the challenge in the other, and fall in love. (And how much do I love, in a world of Angels and Lestats, a vampire named "Bill"? It made me giggle every time someone said it in season 1.) In season 1 there was an overarching mystery, where people connected to vampires were being killed one by one, and it wasn't clear who was doing it, but the vampire haters assumed it was a vamp, and the vampire lovers assumed it was someone who was vampiraphobic.

The mystery was solved by the end of the season, and now we're on to season 2, where an evangelist church is waging a war against the vampires by setting up an army of vampire killers. That plot alone is a lot of fun, but there's one other reason to be watching season 2: Eric. Oh, Eric. Not since Spike has a blond vampire shown up on the scene to take the viewer's breath away. But he's not funny like Spike. He's dark and brooding like Angel... and he's got a thing for Sookie. He ropes Sookie and Bill into his personal quest to find his sire, Godric (and through a freakin' FANTASTIC flashback that outshone the one where Angel was turned, we see how Eric was turned from a viking -- yep, he's that old -- into the vamp he is today, by Godric, the most intriguing character on television this year). And OH MY GOD that journey is one where every week, as the hour is coming to a close, I've got one eye on the clock and the other on the show, praying they won't end it any time soon. And each week I'm practically standing as the giant cliffhanger comes... and it fades to black, with me punching my fists at the heavens and screaming, "NOOOO!" (And, sadly, I'm not actually exaggerating. My husband is starting to enjoy my frustration more than the episodes themselves...)

I LOVE this season. So go grab season 1 if you haven't seen it yet, and get through it. It's not nearly as good as season 2, but it's still a lot of fun. And then get ready for Eric, Sookie, Bill, and the awesome journey of season 2. And hey, I haven't even MENTIONED the craziness that is Michelle Forbes this season, and what happens with her, Tara, and Sam. (I swear Forbes is on every genre show there is.) And that's not the only link to Lost... Ben Linus's mom (i.e. Michael Emerson's wife) plays Arlene, the kooky and hilarious waitress that works with Sookie at the local bar. Check it out -- you won't be disappointed.

24 comments:

ashlie said...

I just finished Season 1 last night and was trying to decide if I should catch up on Season 2, or just wait for the DVD's so I can watch it all at once! I'm loving this show, and I've read the first two books and loved them too. Translating books to shows/movies is always difficult and there are always going to be differences, but you can enjoy these as separate entities. Plus, I'm in love with the theme song.

Loretta said...

I actually did watch all of season one, and thought "meh" the entire time, but continued watching season 2 because, really, what else am I going to do with my Sunday Nights? And I have to say, it should get an award for Most Improved Series or somesuch, because this season ROCKS.

I was one of those people who was completely pissed when Paquin won the Golden Globe - I still don't think she deserved that at all - but the thing that draws me to the series has always been the supporting cast. Tara, Lafayette, Maryann, Eric, even Jessica has completely grown on me. And it seems that Ball has finally recognized, this season, that he has this stellar cast of supporting actors, and he's using them a lot more this season, taking the heavy lifting away from Sookie and Bill (thank God - I find them boring).

So anyway, I totally agree - the series is great this season. I guess it just had some growing pains last season with setting the ground work and all that.

Also, I read that it's actually the most popular HBO series (I guess by ratings standards) since The Sopranos. That's saying a lot.

All that raving aside, Buffy still blows it completely out of the water. They're just not even in the same league, IMO.

Beej said...

I actually just finished Season 1 this week and wrote up my review here: http://www.professorbeej.com/2009/08/blood-sex-and-vampires-review-of-hbos.html

I loved it, and I hate vampire shows. I like Buffy a great deal, but it's despite the vampires, not because of them. True Blood takes a really stale concept for me and makes it new.

You're right that the metaphors the vampires represent can be obvious at times, the rest of the time it's so subtle that I can't help but forget it's a fantasy story.

I really wish that it were on network TV so I could watch season 2 right now on an online venue because I'm not up on subscribing to HBO just to watch it as it airs, especially since it's already halfway through the season.

I even used some of my Audible.com credits I've been storing to pick up the first two novels on audiobook because I am so enamored (or is that glamoured? hehe) with the world. I've heard the sex happens, but it's rarely as graphic as it is in the series, which is okay by me.

fb said...

must ... resist ... S2 spoilers ...

all my friends have been RAVING about this show, and i kept saying that i didn't want to watch another show because i just don't have the time. but curiosity finally got the better of me, and just this past week i caught the first season on the On Demand channel and was immediately hooked. so i've been staying up til the wee hours to catch up all this past week (this is just not a show i can seem to get into during daytime hours!) and i just finished the end of the first season last night, so now i'm counting the hours until it gets dark so i can start season 2 tonight!

i haven't read the books (but i will) so i have no frame of reference to compare the show to, which is not a bad thing. i'm really enjoying it (except for the fact that bill reminds me physically very much of a former manager of mine, which is kind of unnerving every time he has a naked scene) -- for me, the standouts are lafayette, rene, jason and, of course, eric. mmm, eric ...

and ashlie, i'm with you -- i absolutely love the theme song, too (i just bought on itunes!).

redeem147 said...

I seem to be the only one I know who doesn't have a thing for Eric. Same with Sawyer. I guess Spike-love came from secret intuitive knowledge that he was really a blue-eyed brunet.

The hair foils were funny, though.

joshua said...

My brother loaned s1 to me, and I remember thinking it was campy and kind of so-so, and then suddenly I looked at the clock to find that it was 5:30am and I'd blasted through who knows how many episodes, and now it's my LOST hiatus crack.

Only 4 episodes into s2 so far, and there's already so very much fresh awesomeness going on that I'm sincerely contemplating a renewed subscription to HBO for the first time since they unceremoniously dumped my beloved Deadwood.

Paticus said...

We have two episodes left in Season 1(Netflix hurry it up, will ya?),and since we do not have HBO ,we will have to wait patiently for Season 2.
I am loving it so far.

A.G.Wooding said...

Season 1 has just reached the UK and I desperately want to catch up, especially when I heard a rumour that Michael Emerson wants to do a cameo as a vampire.

Jazzygirl said...

OMG am I the only one who's watched it from the beginning? LOL! Let me start with this: NIKKI I'VE BEEN WAITING FOR YOU TO POST ABOUT TRUE BLOOD FOR MONTHS! :)
Okay I had to release that because I've had pretty much NO ONE to discuss this show with. I've have gotten at least 5 people hooked but have had to wait for them to get caught up. OMG I don't even know where to start. LOL
Easy stuff: I agree that S2 is better than S1.
I HEART ERIC NORTHMAN. Mmmm mmmmm.
Yes, the supporting cast is amazing.
I bought all the books for my summer reading. I just finished the 6th one last night actually. Ashlie said it best...it's always hard to translate books but in this case, they've done it in a way where the two are so alike yet so different that you can enjoy each separately. What I mean is that the core parts to the plot(s) has been kept but the side stuff has been modified. I won't spoil stuff but I'll say that there are characters in the show that don't exist in the book and some have died in the books but not the show.
As further kudos to the cast, they REALLY grasp the nuances of the characters. You know when you read books and you really get into the characters' heads or know how they think or move, etc. Well every person on this show has grasped their character to that extent. It blows me away.
What I've found most interesting is that in the books, Maryann's character is very minor. That's not even her name. Alan Ball has taken these small side stories and built them up to make tons of side plots for the show and it's brilliant. I was afraid though that they were REALLY going way out there with Maryann but as of last week's episode, it looks like the story arc is swinging back around since in the book, she IS the one who clawed Sookie.
The sex scenes in the book are good but not over the top. HBO has really ramped it up.
For all you Eric lovers, if they keep going with the show, wait until they use Book 4's plot. It's all about him! :) And...there's more supernaturals to come!!
Like Nikki, I am on the edge every Sunday night. Last night I was looking at the clock, feeling the build up of the cliff hanger. I knew what was coming (in general) and it didn't disappoint. But since the books are so different, sometimes I don't know what's coming so it's awesome!!
I am completey obsessed!!

Jenn said...

I just bought the first novel. I want to read some (or all of what's published—I can do it, I swear!) of the series before I get into the show. I am actually planning to start the Sookie Stackhouse book as soon as I am finished reading the book I am currently working on:)
By the way, if anyone wondered: I am actually just reading the 2nd book in the Kelley Armstrong YA series. It's pretty good, and it's her first attempt at YA. The YA part is sooooo YA—it made me roll the eyes a bit here and there, but other than that the story is pretty good.

redeem147 said...

Not only have I watched it from the beginning, I was at the panel at San Diego with the cast, Charlaine and Alan before it aired.

I wasn't really planning on being there. I thought True Blood was some sort of energy drink. But it was on before the Dexter panel.

ashlie said...

Oh, P.S. - how can you not love the way Bill pronounces "Sookie"? Sookeh! Love the drawl. It just kills me.

LVgirl said...

Surely you mean Lost is the greatest show of all time.

Beej said...

I just finished all current Season 2 episodes, and I'm hooked. I can't wait for each week to come now. I don't like the Maryann/Tara subplot, but that's all I don't like this season.

redeem147 said...

That's funny. The Tara/Maryanne subplot is my favourite part.

Jazzygirl said...

Too funny redeem! I'm jealous!
Yes, I love Bill's accent.
For what it's worth, the Maryann/Tara thing is not in the books. Speaking of which, Jenn, don't feel you have to do that. They are two separate entities on many levels. But

Anonymous said...

Besides time travel, vampirism is another of my favorite fantasy subjects. Lost is my winter/spring escape; TB is my summer. Most of my friends just go "eeewww" when I tell them about the blood and sex and my kids think I'm nuts. My personal fav guy is Sam, and boy would I like to have him sit up and beg for me!
Jaygee

A.G.Wooding said...

Now that we've had a post on Tru Blood, how about a post on the first season of Dollhouse as a whole. I've just watched Epitaph One and it is by far the best season finale for any show this year, surpassing Fringe and even Lost. I am so happy this show is being given a second chance.
Oh yeah and I love True Blood too.

TV Writer said...

Nikki,
Great post. This season is far and away better than the first. I love the way the characters have developed this time around, particularly Jason.
I've been doing a weekly recap on the show. Here's the latest: http://iscreenyouscreen.blogspot.com/2009/08/true-blood-recap-heart-habit-to-break.html

(Still not sure how to do the "link" tag, so you'll have to cut and paste)

Robbie said...

Tru Blood is on movie networks on demand, so I might check it out.

I saw the first episode and was a little disturbed lol.

Jennifer said...

I wasn't that thrilled with Season 1 of True Blood (had to watch it on DVD since I don't have HBO.) Anna Paquin is such a doofus as Sookie (I've read all the books and love them!) Maybe Anna Paquin ruins it for me but I don't like the actor who plays Bill either (he just doesn't seem sexy or sweet enough.) I've heard raves about this season though so I'll probably check it out on DVD...and I'm dying to see Epitaph One from Dollhouse (not enough to buy the DVD) but Blockbuster doesn't have Dollhouse.

Jazzygirl said...

I must respectfully disagree with Jennifer. I think the actors have nailed the characters. I think Anna Paquin is a great Sookie.

Forest City Fashionista said...

I was wondering if you were ever going to post about True Blood - it seemed like the kind of show you would enjoy, so I'm glad to see you finally spilled...
I just finished watching Season 1, and there were a lot of things I loved-- the opening credits, the music, the fascinating things they are doing with the vampire genre,Sam,Tara and Lafayette-- I found the Sookie and Bill storyline the least interesting. I don't have HBO, so I'll have to wait to see Season 2!
It is a completely different type of vamp show than Buffy, so I don't know that you can compare the two, but if I had to choose, Buffy definitely wins, hands down.

Ambivalentman said...

Thanks for posting something on "True Blood," Nikki. I've fallen in love with this wickedly entertaining show, and wait for each Sunday with (nearly) as much anticipation as I do for "LOST."

I am still interested in knowing why Maryann is still tormenting the town of Bon Temps. She is easily one of the most intriguing villains I've seen in recent television (except Ben Linus). Her infatuation or obsession with Sam Merlotte is compelling. What does she want with him? Why? I can't wait to learn more.

As always, thanks for your faithful discussions about "LOST." I look forward to more on "True Blood."