Thursday, May 28, 2009

TV REVIEW: True Blood Ep. 1 & 2 ("Strange Love"/"First Taste")


One of the television shows that I will still watch to this day, is Six Feet Under. One of the best modern dramas, Under was the brain child of writer Alan Ball, best known for writing American Beauty.

Well, Ball is back with his sexed up adaptation of the True Blood series of Vampire novels. Season One has hit DVD, and with Season Two about to kick off in a few weeks, I have decided to go through and briefly review each of the episodes, in hope that those interested may pick up when the new season begins.

With the discussion of True Blood, comes obvious comparisons to the monster hit film, Twilight. However, those comparisons are definitely unjust, at least through the first two episodes of this rather interesting television series.

True Blood as a whole is a new television series based around the Sookie Stackhouse series of books, and details the co-existence of vampires and humans in a fictional Louisiana town called Bon Temps.

In "Strange Love", we first meet the aforementioned Sookie Stackhouse, who is a telepathic waitress at a small bar in Bon Temps. The series takes places roughly two years after the coming out of vampires into mainstream public culture. Sookie's life is going as normal as a telepathic waitress' life could be, until things got even more out there when the 175-year-old vamp Bill Compton walked into Merlotte's Bar. We also meet Sookie's friend, Tara, who after quitting her job, comes to also work at Merlotte's, and we discover that she may have a slight little crush on Sookie's brother, Jason, a sexed up troublemaker who may be on the wrong side of the law after a sex act gone awry. The episode ends with a group of vampire drainers, the Rattray's, who were stopped by Sookie earlier in the episode, from draining Compton of his blood, which happens to be a highly addictive and sought after drug for mortals.

That is where "First Taste" picks up. Compton comes to Sookie's aid and kills the Rattray's, but Sookie is badly beaten. To save her, Bill forces her to drink a large amount of his blood, which is not only a drug, but aids ten fold in the healing process. It also allows Compton to know if Sookie is in trouble, as he is now able to "feel" her. If she is in trouble, he can come and aid her, no matter the distance. In return, Sookie invites him over to meet her Grandmother and her brother, who has been released from custody. He is discovered to only be a person of interest, which leaves us begging the question, who is causing this rash of murders, with all of the victims being females who have had relationships with vampires. This episode ends with Sookie running into a few interesting looking vampires while out looking for Bill.

I had heard of the series before the DVD release, mainly with the fact that the series has received insane critical acclaim and star Anna Paquin won a Golden Globe for her efforts.

However, while waiting to go to a bonfire, I watched a 30 minute documentary on the series, that was a recap of season one, narrated by creator Alan Ball. That documentary, which I have posted, was so interesting, and showed me the major plot points, which all seemed very intriguing, that I just had to pick the DVD up. Well, I was not disappointed.

The main reason for watching this show is the acting. Where I thought films like Twilight brought out very wooden acting, particularly in Twilight, that this came off as the polar opposite. Anna Paquin is really fun to watch, as she not only is stunning to look at, but her character is very intriguing. She is able to read everyone's mind, and there are many things that that could cause. She has never been able to have a real or lengthy relationship, and her friends, while close, can't completely open up to her. While she doesn't hit every note, the character is interesting enough that it drives the show forward.

As does the rest of the cast. Stephen Moyer is great as Compton, and while it's a cliche role with a few cliche moments in the performance (particularly his first appearance) as he plays it dark and brooding, that when he opens up to Sookie, their interchanges are really well done, and very sweet. He's a good guy who happens to be a vampire, and not a robot (like say, Robert Pattinson in Twilight).

The look of the film is also great. It's got a very realistic feel, a much more intimate style than most vampire stories, and reminds me a lot of Six Feet Under, at least in style and scope. The story is allowed to be more intimate as it's not an over the top tale of love and loss, but is much more of a Heroes-esque style show. Vampires, Shape-shifters, and Mind readers live in the open, and this is the story of what that may cause. It doesn't have many special effects, if any, just good character developments, as small as they may be at this point. It's intimate, funny, and did I mention that it is the sexiest show I've seen in a while? Yeah, good stuff.

Also, this may be a little more smart than people may admit.

"You can't blame an entire group for what a few members have done."

Not only is this film sexed up, highly entertaining, and interesting to dig into, but with the first two episodes, come a few quotes like this one that make me think that this show is attempting to be a bit more than entertaining vampire smut. You can look at it many ways, from an allegory for homosexuality, as many of these "superheroes live out in the open" stories have been, but maybe more so it can be read as an allegory for the modern state of American civil rights and racism, particularly with that of people of Islamic faith in post 9/11 America. While the show is primarily entertainment, some of the scenes within these first two episodes are apparently striving for something deeper, allowing for more to chew on.

Oh, and did I mention the music to this show, particularly the opening theme, is badass? No? Well it is.

All in all, there is still a lot left, 10 episodes to be exact. Sure, I do know what happens, but the first two episodes have been such a good time, that I hope you all check out at lest the documentary before season two kicks off in June.

Go see something good!

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