|Index||7 reviews in total|
HBO tries to pull it's next big hit with True Blood - they've been
trying to get a ratings winner since The Sopranos ended last year.
There has been a multimillion dollar marketing campaign for the series
- but did it all pay off? I have no problem with HBO picking up True
Blood, but trying to make it their new signature show is definitely
pushing it - were none of them at Alan Ball's pitch meeting to them -
or do they assume that because Alan Ball is producing it, then it must
be fairly similar Six Feet Under. It was stated by Alan Ball himself
that this series was a more than slight departure from his previous
work - that's not to say that it is stupid television - he labelled it
popcorn TV for smart people. But it doesn't have the immediate
large-scale appeal that shows such as The Sopranos, Six Feet Under, and
Sex In The City had. It seems much more suited or limited to have a
small cult following, and HBO have never been big on them - with the
exception of The Wire.
This series was adapted by Alan Ball from the vampire novels authored by Charlaine Harris. Ball wrote and directed the pilot episode - along with taking the helm of the show for the foreseeable future. True Blood is centered around Sookie Stackhouse who is played by Academy Award winner Anna Paquin, a barmaid living in Louisiana who can read people's minds. When Vampire Bill (Stephen Moyer) shows up at the bar she is entranced by him; due to not being able to read his thoughts. Vampires have been 'out of the coffin' for a couple of years due to a synthetic blood drink that was developed to fulfill all of their nutritional needs - so they can live normally in society - I'm sure a lot of them don't take to assimilation too well. Vampires that are prominent in society and the media claim that they just want to be understood, and have the same rights that any human has. This show will probably use Vampires as a metaphor for other minority groups: homosexuals, African-American's, even Aboriginals; if they decide to delve into the complexities of assimilation. Sookie is joined by her over-sexed brother Jason, played by Ryan Kwanten (Vinnie from Home and Away), and her 'Gran' that they live with. At the bar there is Sam Merlotte, the owner of Merlotte Bar, where Sookie works. He is 'secretly' in love with Sookie, but how could you keep anything a secret from somebody who hears others thoughts. There is also Sookie's loud-mouthed best friend Tara (Rutina Wesley - who replaced Brook Kerr from the pre-air pilot) who has a thing for Jason.
It is very hard to judge how this series will turn out, but, so far I like it; the acting has been good, and the direction solid. I can't say too much on the writing because everything is still very vague - is that a comment in itself? With Alan Ball in charge I will definitely stick around for the season. Those expecting Six Feet Under will be disappointed, but that isn't to say that it will have any less depth - as Buffy did in it's time: there was so much depth hidden under and around all that genre-busting and camp. HBO must have seen something in this... there was a full season order, that has already been shot.
After the discovery of a synthetic blood called "Tru Blood" by the
Japanese, the vampires debate their rights with humans in a society
where they coexist. In Bon Temps, Louisiana, the waitress Sookie
Stackhouse works in the dining Merlotte's owned by Sam Merlotte. Sookie
is telepath and has problems to date since she can read the mind of her
boyfriend. When the vampire Bill Compton arrives in the place, Sookie
is unable to hear what he is thinking and she feels attracted by the
handsome stranger. However she hears the minds of the scum drug dealer
costumers Mack and Denise Rattray that have the intention of draining
the valuable Bill's blood. When the trio lives Merlotte's, Sookie saves
the vampire from the small time criminals. Meanwhile her brother Jason,
who is a wolf, has a wild night of sex with Maudette Pickens; on the
next morning she is found dead and Jason becomes the prime suspect.
"True Blood" is another creation of Alan Ball, the author of the outstanding series "Six Feet Under". "Strange Love" is apparently the beginning of a weird romance between a human telepath and a vampire and in this regard it recalls "Twilight". There are witty lines and the erotic scenes with Jason Stackhouse, who is a woman chaser, are quite strong for a TV show. The cinematography in the exterior scenes in Louisiana is stylish and very beautiful. I confess that I expected much more from this overrated pilot of "True Blood". My vote is six.
Title (Brazil): "Um Estranho Amor" ("A Love Strange")
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
True Blood (season 1-episode 1: strange love)
As I sit down to write my comment on this rather well executed episode all I want to do is talk about how amazing Anna Paquin is in it. Can a series rest on the shoulders of its star? Certainly not but having a star like Paquin certainly helps. She is extremely charming as the telepathic protagonist Sookie Stackhouse. Ms. Paquin has that rare ability to say so much w/out uttering a single word...suffice to say the camera or at the very least I...love her. Nelsan Ellis and Rutina Wesley are quite effective in supporting roles. Here we have an episode that introduces us to a narrative that clearly is using vampires as an allegory for all things deemed unacceptable by "mainstream" society. This is executed quite blatantly and could seem heavy handed if sustained at this level through out a season...but we will see.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"I don't know who you think you are; But before the night is through; I
wanna do bad things with you."
This first episode of True Blood did a really good job of not only setting up the show's premise, but also establishing most of the characters. The opening scene of a Frat Boy and Sorority Girl driving down a dark highway (with the girl - Kelly - relieving the boy's - Brad - "boredom"), then screeching to a stop and going into a roadside gas station after seeing a sign saying 'We Have True Blood' gave a nice sense of foreboding/eeriness. Watching them be almost reduced to wetting themselves (firstly by the guy *pretending* to be a vampire, then by the guy who actually turned out to *be* a vampire) went a long way towards making it clear that the vampires in this show really *are* something to be feared. Then we get the, admittedly, quite disturbing opening credits (but at least the theme song rocks!). You get used to them after a while (and I've already got the catchy song stuck in my head).
When we first meet Sookie Stackhouse, we quickly learn that she can hear people's thoughts...and immediately feel sympathy for her (having to hear the horrible thoughts of the people in the bar). The Rattrays are two prime examples of the awful people who populate Bon Temps. I'm not sure who's the worse out of the two, but Sookie sums up Denise nicely later on, when she says, "I'm not sure you even have another side you no-account backwoods trash!". There are, however, the odd 'friendly/nice' characters, though (but they're few and far between). One of them is Sam Merlotte - an instantly likable character (perfectly played by Sam Trammell, who bears more than a slight resemblance to Colin Farrell). Then comes the all-important introduction of Bill Compton. Stephen Moyer makes a memorable entrance as Bill, and his chemistry with Anna Paquin is almost immediately evident on screen (the collie also makes an impact as soon as we see him on screen: I immediately love that dog!).
The scene with Sookie rescuing Bill from being drained by the Rattrays is a great scene between the two. Everything learning his name and finding it amusing ("Bill? I thought it might be Antoine, or Basil, or like Langford, maybe. But Bill? The vampire Bill!") to her being smart and wrapping the silver chain around her neck and demanding he talk to her like the lady she is, to him asking rather menacingly, "What are you?" (which he then repeats in a very different way towards the end of the episode). The scene does an excellent job of setting up the reason WHY we should be invested in these two characters and their relationship. Anna Paquin is perfect in the role, and brings so much depth to her character.
Unfortunately, the same can't be said about the character of Tara. Her introduction scene was the one main problem I had with this episode. The way she reacts to a customer asking a simple question is WAY too over-the-top. Her bad attitude is BEYOND rudeness and completely uncalled for. I also didn't like how she played on Sam's affection for Sookie/wanting to protect Sookie and managed to convince him to give her a job at the bar. A little advice to the show's creators: when first establishing a character, if you want us to feel sympathy for them...make them sympathetic and not instantly unlikeable. Tara's attitude was a major turnoff and I'm not sure how anyone (including Sookie and Sam) can stand her.
Of course, Sookie's brother - Jason - isn't much better. His scenes in the episode quickly summarise what his whole storyline in the show is going to be about: having sex, being an idiot, treating his sister badly and being mistakenly accused of killing the women he's with. There's not a whole lot to Jason Stackhouse, and although Ryan Kwanten is convincing in the role, one might say he's SO convincing that it's very hard to feel any sympathy for his character.
What I like about Sookie is her attitude. Despite having all those unpleasant thoughts from people getting stuck in her head, she maintains a positive, open-minded, pleasant attitude and is just a delight to watch on screen. Seeing her uneasiness at hearing her fellow employees (Lafayette, Dawn, Arlene) talking "nasty talk" makes it clear just how innocent-like Sookie is here in the beginning of the show. Although she's reduced to tears by Sam yelling at her later on, you can still tell he's only doing it because he's concerned for her safety. Sam's one of the good ones (but then, so is Bill...to a certain degree). Both of the guys have their own unique flaws, but at the same time, I like their characters for different reasons. Nelsan Ellis has to be given props for bringing the character of Lafayette to life so convincingly, and Lynn Collins is very memorable as Dawn. Also great is Lois Smith as Sookie's Gran, Adele. She's another really likable character in the show, who's perfectly portrayed.
The show has an interesting premise (that vampires are out in the open now, supposedly trying to co-exist with humans), and if you don't mind the explicit/excessive language, sex, nudity and violence...it's actually a very good show (that ensures you keep coming back for more).
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Here I come late into the series. Anyway, True Blood follows certain characters in Shreveport, Louisiana, as a vampire moves into town. Anna Paquin is Sookie Stackhouse, a waitress at Merlottes Bar & Grill, who finds herself drawn to a vampire, Bill(Stephen Moyer)for whom she saves from white trash blood dealers(they catch vampires, drain their blood supply, and sell it on the black market). Sookie's brother Jason(Ryan Kwanten)fears that he will be arrested for the death of a woman he had rough sex with the night before she was found strangled. Jason watched a tape featuring the victim having sex with a vampire. It's a sordid rumor that vampires pay to feed a little from hookers. Sam Merlotte(Sam Trammell)is the owner of the bar and grill for which Sookie works and is in love with her. Sam fears that Sookie will fall victim to Bill, there's an obvious fear that vampires will feast from humans and that the Japanese synthetic blood will not stave off the desire to taste the real thing. Tara(Rutina Wesley)is Sookie's opinionated, vocal friend who doesn't take sht from anybody and tells it like it is. She can not keep a steady job because her mouth always gets her in trouble..that and her fragile temper which gets the better of her. Tara's home life is lousy because her mom is a drunk. Lafayette Reynolds is a transvestite homosexual cook at Merlottes and a friend to Tara and Sookie. The opening episode of the show sets up some intriguing plot lines such as how vampire blood is like a drug humans would pay big bucks for due to how it "heightens the senses" and how Sookie, somehow, has the ability to read thoughts..a blessing and curse depending on how you view such a "gift" during work nights at the bar when customers' thoughts yield startling truths about their true feelings and personalities. Thoughts provide Sookie with specifics such as the Rattracks who take Bill out to drain him dry, or how locals disapprove of the notion of vampire and mortal relations. The whole idea of Jason being the suspect in the murder of a woman he had sex with certainly provides an interesting critique on his lifestyle and how his bedhopping ways could eventually land him in hot water. Setting the show in Louisiana gives creator Alan Ball a chance to develop Southern characters against a different kind of backdrop than one is accustomed to in regards to vampires. I'm anxious to see where the show takes Sookie's ability to read thought and how her relationship with vampire Bill effects those around her. This is as much a show about Louisiana people as it is about vampirism. Ball uses vampirism in a unique way as it relates to modern society(I like how Sookie mentions how the vampire race "came out of the coffin"), and their acceptance in it.
It is hard to judge an entire series by one episode, but there is
strong hope for this series.
Oscar winner Anna Paquin (The Piano, X-Men, X2) as Sookie is excellent. She had powers that are not explained in the first show, but that is not what her special. She just has sweetness and honey dripping from her mouth and makes you want to immediately take her home to momma.
Brook Kerr ("Passions") really caught my eye. She is just so darn funny and really keeps things rocking.
Lois Smith (Five Easy Pieces) as Gran also seems to be a character that is going to make this show interesting.
There is a great mixture of humor, sex, and passion that should make for a great series.
Sookie Stackhouse is repeatedly described as 'Clairvoyant' though her
only ability is to hear thought 'Telepathy'. Not sure if this ever
comes up in the series proper but both here and at official site for
the show the same mistake is made. Clairvoyance is linked to 'seeing'
specifically what is not visible by normal means (generally distance or
Taken from Encarta: Clairvoyance Definition:
seeing what is not normally seen: the supposed ability to perceive things that are usually beyond the range of human senses
Mid-19th century. < French< clairvoyant "clear-sighted"
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