Sunday, 21 June 2009

Of True Blood Season 1

Better. Than. Twilight.

Honestly at this point in time where Twilight dominates the news and media this is all that has to be said. Twilight is vampires for people who don't want blood and sex (it's written by a Mormon for Christ's sake), however that isn't what vampires are. As I've previously said Vampires are literally sex. There's something about them just exudes that sexual magnetism. They're general mysteriousness. The whole biting young women as they sleep. How is that not sexy? And to be fair Twilight does it as well but in a way too censored way. Edward Cullen is the sexual fantasy to most teen girls at the moments. Me and a friend get into arguments over the Twilight and honestly it just seems that Edward Cullen is hot. So even Twilight is taking advantage. But in completely the wrong way.

This is where True Blood steps in. This show is on HBO. Which means blood, swearing and sex. They don't have censors telling them what they can and can't do and thank fuck for that. This is a show that has at least one sex scene an episode, a guy drinking too much vampire blood causing him to need the blood drained from his penis, a vampire being staked and spewing blood all over a woman and a man turning into a dog. There's blood sucking, death, fucking and plenty of swearing. It's also a hell of a lot of fun and packs in more into one episode than almost any other show on television, apart from The Wire. But The Wire could never do cliffhangers like this show.

This is where the show excels. The general plotting of the show is absolutely superb. There is no telling where the show is going to go. Whilst if you've read the books you'll have some idea (in fact the show does a little under a chapter of each book in an episode a few pages early for a cliff hanger) the show does well to incorporate characters and events not seen in the book. For starters Tara is a character not seen in the first book plus events like Jason having sex with someone are only mentioned, in the show we actually see them. This is mostly because the show made the very wise decision to not only focus on Sookie but instead let us meet the other residents of Bon Temps and get to know them on their own.

Needless to say this being a cable show means we get a great many characters and some really good actors. Everyone is amazingly adept at their role with particular stand outs of the first season being the ever so funny Lafayette (Nelsan Ellis), Bon Temps gay black drug dealer/prostitute. An insanely adult character but has more than enough charisma to be almost anyone's favourite character on the show. Another favourite of mine was Amy (Lizzy Caplan) who has made into a pantheon of actors I thoroughly enjoy seeing after her stint on True Blood as well as her regular role on Party Down (although it does help she spends most of her time on True Blood completely naked). However everyone on this show is just fun to watch. There's the obvious main couple of Sookie and Bill. The mysterious Sam (another favourite of mine), the ever cool and mysterious Vampire, Eric, Eddy the vampire played by Stephen Root (aka Milton from Office Space) and a Jessica the girl raised christian now a rebellious vampire. As well as nice boy Hoyt, play boy Jason (again a favourite). It would take far too long to give their characters their due but honestly there's a lot to love.

The show it self plays out like a mystery. In the first season we're trying to find out who is killing the women around town. Ending in a shocking reveal and whilst perhaps not as shocking as another favourite mystery show of mine (*cough*Veronica Mars Season 2*cough*) it's still a great moment when we find out who it is. Even if it does mean the death of one of my favourite characters. But still all around this we get all the trappings of a great vampire story with lots of sex and side stories to literal pack the full season to the seems and Season 2 is currently doing it even more so meaning the amount of entertainment in one episode of True Blood is comparable to no other show.

The writing cannot be ignored. Whilst it isn't as award baity as Alan Ball's other work (the Oscar winning film American Beauty and Six Feet Under) it is just plain fun. It seems there's something about fun and gay men that just goes together so well. Russel T. Davies (even if he can't write sci-fi), Bryan Fuller and Alan Ball have created three of the most fun shows on television to just sit down and watch and be taken away. Whilst True Blood is definitely far more adult than Doctor Who and Pushing Daisies it has a definite tongue in cheek feel to it. Stuff like genuinely horrendous accents may turn off some people (it's a definite love it or hate its show) but you can tell it's very knowing of itself with stuff like in the third episode when a vampire is feasting of someone and looks up mouth covered in blood "You want a piece of Jerry?" It's a genuinely funny moment that just tells us the show knows it's stupid but it's fun and a heck of a lot of it and that's what matters.

True Blood exudes sex and violence from every pore. It's campy and self knowing but it's fun and packed to the seams with cool characters and plot twists. The show has the best cliffhangers of any show ever (sorry Alias) and keeps you constantly guessing. In fact the first season ends on a note that makes you feel one way but within two minutes of the second season has you asking a million more question when it makes a complete left turn from what you thought would happen.

If you can get through bad accents and what some would call bad acting (honestly I don't think it is) then you will have found an amazing show. A true vampire classic that should be receiving all the buzz Twilight gets and, in some corners, is. The first season is only 12 episodes long and makes for addictive viewing. If you're looking for an adult show that is just fun with almost no quiet moments and one of the fastest moving plots of any show on television. Even if you have just a passing interest in vampires this is a show for you. It may even begin to rival Buffy in terms of definitive television vampires (although I know a lot of people who would disagree). The first season is heartily recommended and the second season is currently just as good. Just watch it.


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