DAVID BIANCULLI

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ERIC GOULD

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NOEL HOLSTON

 
 
 
 
 
Coagulations! HBO Bounces Back with "True Blood"
September 5, 2008  | By David Bianculli
 

trueblood3.jpgOne thing HBO needs is another Sopranos, a show that can drive the national conversation and define the network as first among quality-TV equals. True Blood, which premieres Sunday, isn't that show. Not quite, or at least not yet.

But it's a good one, no question about it. Alan Ball, who also created Six Feet Under, returns to HBO with a series that gets more interesting, and original, as it goes on. By episode five (the last one provided for preview), you can really sink your teeth into it.

TRUE-BLOOD-killer-shot-Anna.jpg

Based on the Southern Vampire Mysteries by Charlaine Harris, True Blood stars Anna Paquin as Sookie, a small-town waitress tending bar in a moody Louisiana area dotted with foggy bayous and gothic plantation mansions. It's a spooky setting already, made more spooky by the central premise of the books and this series: vampires, formerly hidden from society, have, as Sookie says excitedly, "come out of the coffin."

A Japanese invention, synthetic blood, has allowed the vamps to reveal themselves and try to mainstream, but it's not an easy transition for either side. Some vampires, like biker gangs with fangs, still like to roam free and plunder. And some humans, having discovered that small drops of vampire blood act as a mind-bending drug and sexual stimulant, have begun hunting the hunters.

Ball does some genre-bending, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer fans will be right at home with the mix of terror, comedy and character. Paquin, as Sookie, is one of this show's secret weapons. As a character, Sookie has a secret weapon of her own -- she's telepathic -- but Paquin's secret weapon is her appealing, naturalistic acting.

There are other secret weapons in True Blood, too. Stephen Moyer, as the brooding vampire who enters the restaurant and instantly captures Sookie's curiosity, is another. And among the supporting cast, Ryan Kwanten as Sookie's brother, and Rutina Wesley as her best friend, are just as enjoyable and interesting to watch.

It takes a few episodes for True Blood to really kick in. But by the time Moyer's vampiric Bill is embraced by the community and invited to a town meeting to share his war stories -- Civil War stories -- the series has found its own voice and direction. And by making room, in that same episode, for music by the Tuvan throat singer Ondar, True Blood sold me completely.

1 Comment

 

movie buff said:

i noticed they were trying to insert a recurring "lesson" in True Blood's first episode (rented from Blockbuster), which is "Don't be prejudiced" ...

Comment posted on September 15, 2008 2:38 AM


 
 
 
 
 
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