Sookie Stackhouse - Anna Paquin
Bill Compton- Stephen Moyer
Jason Stackhouse- Ryan Kwanten
Tara Thornton - Rutina Wesley
Sam Merlotte - Sam Trammell
OTHER TRUE BLOOD SEASONS
OTHER VAMPIRE SHOWS
Buffy The Vampire
Sookie is a waitress in a bar/diner in Louisiana who also happens to be telepathic, something that makes most people nervous and which also makes most people impossible for her to stand being around. Then Bill walks in and she can't read his thoughts at all. That's because he's a vampire, the first one to show up in the bar since the invention of synthetic blood gave them an alternative to the real thing and they decided to try and integrate into normal society. Of course, every social minority has those suspicious of it and those willing to exploit it and the local drug dealers just decided they've found a new source of the latest drug sensation - vampire blood.
Vampires have been popular on TV since a girl called BUFFY started slaying them, but they haven't done too well recently with both MOONLIGHT and BLOOD TIES getting extended runs. Of course, they weren't coming in the wake of vamp sensation TWILIGHT and didn't do anything with the premise that hadn't already been done with ANGEL. That accusation can't be levelled at TRUE BLOOD.
The idea of humans and vampires trying to co-exist with each other is a nice twist on the idea, even if it is a direct lift from ALIEN NATION. The idea is run with and the fear and mistrust are all evident, but so are the other inevitable vices of lust and greed as we hear of 'fangbangers' and vamps being drained of their blood for its use as a new drug.
Unfortunately, the background is more interesting (and believable)than the characters or their stories. Sookie is a girl who gets upset that boys think she's attractive enough to lust after yet doesn't recognise the feelings her boss has for her and proves to be adept with a knife and handy length of chain, but stupid enough not to expect wronged drug dealers to come looking for revenge. Her brother is a brazen slut who's up for any sort of sex game. Her best friends is all swearing, bad attitude and nothing else. The vampire is a vampire and by his very nature mysterious, hopefully to take on a personality as he goes. The lack of any truly likeable character is a problem, making it harder to identify with the show.
The hot and sultry setting spills over into the pace of the show, all overcooked and in a hurry. There's extreme bad language and sex scenes as hardcore as mainstream channels can get, not to mention violence that is sharp, brutal and real. When it's not simmering, it's boiling over. It's hard to see how this intensity can be maintained.
Intriguing, but not completely succesful, this opening episode might not convince, but you certainly won't be bored.Top
The First Taste
Bill saves Sookie from the drug dealers and uses his own blood to heal her injuries. The drug dealers are later found dead. Sookie's brother Jason finds himself not being charged for the murder of his girlfriend and immediately uses the experience to start up an old dalliance. Bill agrees to speak to the old-timers' club run by Sookie's grandmother, but the rest of the family aren't so keen.
This second episode picks up exactly where the first left off, but there is no comparison in terms of intensity. The setting has been laid down and so it's time to get to know the characters. Unfortunately, first impressions don't lie and they don't get any more likeable (with the exceptions of Sookie's Gran and boss).
Bill the vampire is the focus a bit more, but in Stephen Moyer's hands he's a bit wet and flat. Even when he takes out the drug dealers at the start he does so anonymously.
And what is it about vampires anyway? Nobody (except the bad guys anyway) know about their weakness in the face of silver, but everyone knows about their strength. It is known that their blood is like a drug, but nobody knows about its restorative qualities? That seems unlikely somehow.
There's no plot to speak of, other than the fact that there's still a dead girl and Jason wasn't responsible for it. The episode even has to come up with an unexpected shock to provide a cliffhanger.Top
Sookie finds that Bill hangs out with some seriously undesirable fellow vampires and is only saved when he claims that she is 'his'; that is only he can drink from her. Freaked out by this encounter, she refuses to see him again, but is then plagued by erotic fantasies. Jason takes on his girlfriend in the erotic mindgames stakes and ends up running from the house being threatened by a gun. Tara and Sam sleep together before she leaves her home for good.
It is becoming more apparent that TRUE BLOOD wants to be TWIN PEAKS with its close knit community full of dark secrets and a murder at the centre of things. Unfortunately, whilst the plots twist and turn and don't get very far, the characters aren't as delightfully batty as the show it wants to emulate. Barking in your sleep doesn't add a whole lot depth to a character.
Sex remains the show's central obsession. Sookie is a virgin, but a sexually frustrated one who's not averse to letting her fingers do the talking, Tara and Sam have sex for no readily apparent reason whilst Jason gets to play S&M games, suffer erectile dysfunction and do a bit of internet stripping. That's a busy day in anyone's book.
The vampire background continues to be filled in with Bill claiming vampires sharing nests are cruel, hinting at 'higher powers' and revealing Hep D to be a debilitating blood disorder that can weaken vampires. The character, though, remains blank, from his inaction at the beginning to his later visit to the nest. There's a hidden agenda there, but we're not seeing it yet.
There's more incident than actual plot and characters do things without actually developing. There's only so long that can happen before disinterest sets in.Top
Escape From Dragon House
Sookie's brother is arrested for the murder of the second woman to die hours after sex with him. He swllows the whole vial of vampire blood he has on him and soon finds himself with a permanent and painful erection. Sookie gets Bill to take her to a vampire club where she might be able to clear her brother's name, a place that she might not escape alive.
There's a point in this episode when Bill tells Sookie that the club is called Fangtasia because most of the vampires were created in a time when punning was the height of humour. They would surely find the story of Jason's erection funny, though it's doubtful who else might. It's slapstick adult humour that sits ill with everything else that is going on.
When the story gets back to Sookie and Bill it gets more interesting and we have a glimpse of precisely how scary Bill can be.Top
Sparks Fly Out
Sookie has been seriously wigged out by the darker side of Bill's nature, so she accepts Sam's offer of attending the vampire's speech to the local Descendents of the Glorious Dead meeting. The questions raise memories in Bill of how he became a vampire and the police have more questions for him. Jason has another shot of vampire's blood and experiences exactly what it can do for him.
So, Bill gives a speech...and that's about it. This show might consider itself a slow burn, but it's more of a no burn. Sure, it ends with another, and surprising, victim, but the characters aren't proving strong enough, or deep enough, to compensate for the lack of actual incident.
Once again it's left to a sudden shock in the last scene, coming out of nowhere, to try and rekindle interest in returning.Top
Sookie has to deal with the aftermath of her grandmother's death at the hands of whoever is targetting women involved with vampires. Through her telepathy, she can tell that everyone believes she was responsible through her involvement with Bill. Jason, coming down off the vampire blood ecstasy doesn't make her life any easier. With emotions running high Tara and Sookie take decisions that will affect the rest of their lives.
TRUE BLOOD continues its leisurely progress, if progress is the right word. There is lots of character detail here, nicely acted by the cast, but there is no sense of the story going anywhere and the lives of these characters are in dire need of some sense of narrative drive.Top
Burning House of Love
Sookie finally indulges her love for Bill in both the physical and blood-sucking manner. This doesn't go down well with many of those around her, especially when a bunch of arrogant vamps show up to terrorise the bar. Jason goes to the vampire bar in search of vampire blood and Tara takes a leap of faith in taking her mother to an exorcist.
Tempers are rising in the show, but that isn't giving any narrative thrust to the meanderings of the show. There's plenty happening (the murder of Sookie's uncle, the vampire attack on the bar, Tara's mother's exorcism, Jason's continued flirting with vamire drugs, the arson attack), but if this is going to all tie together somehow then there's no sign of it yet.Top
The Fourth Man in the Fire
Sookie learns that the fourth person in the firebombed vampire nest wasn't Bill and is relieved, but she is less relieved when Bill agrees for her to help root out a thief for his vampire friends. Jason's new girlfriend and tutor in the arts of the drug known as vampire blood, is introduced all around, but is she all that she pretends to be.
All of the activity of last week slows down this week as the show meanders on its leisurely way. Without a central focus (TWIN PEAKS had the investigation into the death of Laura Palmer to hang all the wierdness on) this is simply drifting. Furthermore, characters with no real sense of purpose are starting to become annoying. Tara especially, who is nothing but a consistent ball of rage at the world for no readily apparent reason, and Jason, who is led everywhere by his genitalia, are simply frustrating. Detailed supporting characters are all very well, but if they're not doing anything then they are just padding.
And that's what this show is starting to feel like, a lot of padding with nothing at its centre.Top
Having unmasked the evildoer in the vampire bar, Sookie is attacked, forcing Bill to step in and stake the attacker. It is a mortal sin for a vampire to kill another vampire for the sake of a 'pet' and so Bill is summoned to face judgement. Jason, meanwhile, has another trip on vampire blood and bonds with the vampire that he and his girl has kidnapped as an undead supply of the drug and Sam's secret is finally revealed.
At last the pace shows signs of revving up after weeks of meandering around all over the place. There is more background to the vampire culture as Bill faces the consequences of staking one of his own kind (and no BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER neat dustings here - staking a vamp is a very messy business), Jason is clearly on a heading for disaster and Sookie ends the episode on the brink of learning what has been obvious for a while about Sam.
The vampire blood 'trip' is there to illustrate Jason's attitude change, but just looks badly matted and unnecessary. Some of the characters are starting to come more to life and be less repellent, but most are still a long way from being likeable. Still, all the signs are on the up for the show.Top
I Don't Wanna Know
Sookie learns the secret that Sam has been trying to keep from the world. Jason is trying to keep the secret of the vampire in the basement. Bill is told exactly what his punishment will be for killing a vampire in the name of his 'pet'. Tara learns the secret of the exorcist who saved her and her mother.
For a show in which so much is happening it is amazing just how slow TRUE BLOOD feels. That's probably because what's happening is taking such a long time to actually mean anything. The whole Jason storyline goes absolutely nowhere and is much of what happened last time out. Bill isn't seen for the entire first half of the episode and it takes the full length of the second half for his sentence to be passed.
Tara manages to be less than insanely angry for a whole ten minutes, but soon reverts to boring form whilst Sam's revelation just gives Sookie a reason to be mad at him for a short time. Wherever this show is going it's not going there fast and the incidentals aren't fascinating enough to take up the slack.Top
To Love is to Bury
Bill's punishment for killing a vampire is to make another one and that's a process that takes a while, keeping him from Sookie. She spends a day trying to track down the person who tried to kill her with Sam and finds herself growing closer to him. Jason, meanwhile, takes V one last time and ends up with a dead girlfriend on the bed. Tara's drunken exploits leave her in prison, but help comes from an unexpected direction.
It's the penultimate episode and the meandering plot finally shows signs of life, if not of coming to some sort of conclusion. For a show with their romance at its centre, Sookie and Bill have spent a good part of the show apart and that continues here whilst Jason never seems to learn from his mistakes. Exactly what is going on with Tara's sudden benefactor and her brother's attack on the gay-bashing senator remains to be seen, but these are plot strands that have only just surfaced and don't have that much time to play themselves out.
Most interesting would have been the process of mentoring the new vampire, Jessica, that Bill has 'made' except that she is the most annoying of people and you can't help but wish he would stake her just to shut her up.
The pace accelerates towards the end and it is to be hoped that it sets up one hell of a finale to explain why this show has been such an enormous hit.Top
You'll Be the Death of Me
With Jason in prison on charges of murder, Sookie intensifies her search for the real killer, not knowing how close he actually is. When he strikes, both Sam and Bill attempt to aid her.
Itís the final episode of the first season and the killer storyline that has been the only real through arc comes to a close, though in a vaguely unsatisfactory fashion. For a series that is built around the idea of vampires operating in the community and a central romance, the vampire in question does pretty much nothing throughout. He is saddled with his newly created vampire, as well, setting up his issues for the next time around.
Other characters are left high and dry in anticipation of a second season with Jason finding God in the shape of a vampire-hating church and Tara coming under the wing of a woman who clearly has history with Sam. The intrigue, therefore, is set to continue, though the discovery of a new body as the hook into the next season is not particularly strong.Top
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