DAVID BIANCULLI

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"True Blood": Once Again, a Bloody Good TV Treat
June 13, 2009  | By David Bianculli
 
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Last year's introductory season of HBO's True Blood established the characters, and the swampy Louisiana setting, of the Sookie Stackhouse novels written by Charlaine Harris. Six Feet Under creator Alan Ball, adapting the vampire novels for television, amped up the sex and the wit, making it a fun summer TV ride.

This season, the now-familiar characters divide and conquer, getting their own tantalizing story lines in a sophomore season that's even better than last year...

Season two of True Blood begins Sunday night at 9 ET, and picks up right where last season left off. The serial killer who had terrorized Bon Temps is caught, but there are plenty of new subplots to go around. Sink your fangs into these, for starters:

Sookie (Anna Paquin), the telepathic waitress, and Bill (Stephen Moyer), her brooding vampire lover, are living together happily -- well, one's living, one's undead -- but with one catch. Bill has been saddled with a new charge, Jessica (Deborah Ann Woll, with Moyer in the picture above), a brand-new teen bloodsucker who's equal parts vampire and vamp.

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Sookie's brother, Jason (Ryan Kwanten), has fallen under the influence of a cult -- a cult of vampire haters -- and finds himself distractedly attracted to the cult leader's wife, Sarah (Anna Camp).

Sookie's best friend, Tara (Rutina Wesley), has fallen under the influence of someone, too: Maryann (Michelle Forbes), a mysterious and powerful woman who has the ability to, among other things, project emotions outward like a virus, so that everyone in her vicinity becomes aroused, angry or animalistic.

A cook at Sookie's diner, Layafette (Nelsan Ellis), was dragged away and presumed dead in the season finale. But as we very quickly learn in this new batch of shows, Lafayette isn't dead, or undead, yet.

Eventually (HBO provided the first four season-two episodes for preview), many of these plot threads intertwine. Immediately, though, they grab you with the force of their individual momentum.

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Michelle Forbes is doing her best work since Homicide: Life on the Street, and she's absolutely unleashed here, portraying a woman who may prove to be the most powerful and destructive force on the entire series.

And young Deborah Ann Woll, as the vampire's apprentice (a phrase that's an in-joke only a dozen people on the planet may get), could have had the series built around her. Learning to recognize and use her abilities as a vampire gives her something in common with the emerging mutants of Heroes -- but with more bite.

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And Anna Paquin and Stephen Moyer, as the lead couple, are just right for each other (in real life, too, apparently, having announced themselves as an off-screen item as well). He's exasperated and parental when either his human girlfriend or vampire "ward" act up, which would be the proper reaction of a 173-year-old man. And she, thanks to her telepathic powers, is a lot more independent and strong than she might otherwise be.

Each episode this season, of the ones screened, ends with such an addictive cliffhanger, you can't wait to see what happens next. It's the TV equivalent of a juicy summer read -- except that the juice, in this case, is AB-positive.

If you tune in, I'm DB-positive you'll enjoy it.

 

 

 

2 Comments

 

Danny said:

can you let us in on the joke?

as the vampire's apprentice (a phrase that's an in-joke only a dozen people on the planet may get

(Since you asked, sure: "The Vampire's Apprentice" is the title of a student film I wrote and co-directed in the early 1970s. Its subtitle: "You're So Vein." And of those "dozen people on the planet," who co-starred in the film, one went on to star in a REAL movie, while others became architects, economics professors, primary-school education specialists, mail carriers and so on... including one TV critic.

I hope that satisfies your curiosity, because I'm still in touch with almost all of these people, and the statute of limitations has long since lapsed on their involvement in the cinematic adventures of that inept vampire of the day, Count Turtopp. -- David B.)

Comment posted on June 14, 2009 10:23 PM


Rich said:

Well - I won't go into 'specifics' (for Spoiler people) but it was awesome. It'll be interesting to see how they unfold the season but I am always impressed by how a show on HBO (or Showtime) is able to really 'pick-up' the pace and shove so much into a single episode, where as on TV it has to be broken-up for commericals and time restraints. As "TB" runs about 56 min, that extra 10-12 as opposed to Networks really leaves room to explore set-ups and this ep was not 'rushed' but the pace was incredible.

I was immeadiately smitten by Anna Camp's character (having seen her in some B-films) and Jessica is not what I expected but no less intriguing. I loved Bill's 'maternal' "The More You Know" moment with her- "2/3 of all Vamps don't survive their first year- You need to keep up your strength". There's an unusual reference to "The AIDS Burger" incident and an endless supply of tropical fruit. There were other 'High Lights' (in more ways than one!) But I wouldn't want to 'foil' the suprise.

Hopefully HBO realizes the 'cash-cow' "TB" is and won't let Alan Ball & Co. lolly-gag with plots, character development, and storylines the way "The Sopranos" did. Yeah, I said it. Sadly "Mad Men" started to 'drift-off' in Season 2 the same way as well. Thankfully the season 2 premiere looks like it's got a lot happening, and much for us to sink our teeth into.

 

Comment posted on June 15, 2009 1:29 PM
 
 
 
 
 
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