Tuesday, May 05, 2009

True Blood - The first half of Season One

I'm really enjoying this. The word on the street is true: it does take a little while to warm up. I'd say it doesn't really become a TV series until about 40 minutes into the pilot, when Sookie and Bill the vampire spend a long, long scene together, firmly establishing them as the relationship that's going to be our hook into the show.

Prior to that, all we have is a setting. A small town in the American South, in a world very much like our own except that vampires exist and have recently outed themselves to the world. The show plays that part fairly matter-of-factly; the existence of vampires is pretty much as novel and filled with unknown dangers as the internet was about 10 years ago. What show-runner Alan Ball (and presumably novelist Charlaine Harris) is interested in at a setting level is using vampires to explore ideas of bigotry and integration. Setting the show in the south allows them to create parallels between vampires and African-Americans; the fact that vampires have recently revealed themselves but looking just like everyone else gives the show an opportunity to play around with ideas of being gay.

The show feels very different to Ball's previous series: Six Feet Under. I imagine it's a relief to be able to write episodes that explore a different emotional pallette (which I'd describe as sultry pulp, with a bit of comedy of human weakness thrown in there).

Over the last four episodes, True Blood has gradually deepened the supporting cast - several of them now seem like interesting characters embedded in pretty fascinating situations - and that's helped it go from a fairly functional show to an entertaining one. Very much looking forward to the next episode.
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