Saturday, May 30, 2009

True Blood: Season 1, the last three episodes

The last three episodes were filled with great stuff. Strong character developments, changes to dramatic situations on all fronts, the introduction of interesting and despicable new characters. Funny (and moving) in parts, too.

And yet I'm having trouble getting enthused about it. As a TV series, I like True Blood, but I'm not sure I'm that interested in it. It's actually kind of a weird feeling - I think I'm starting to realise I like to get a little obsessed with TV shows. And the qualities that get me obsessed fascinated are intriguing questions and a sense that a series has a bigger picture (a mythology) that each episode is a part of.

True Blood is a really entertaining horror melodrama, that's well-written and performed, with a story that occasionally takes funny and surprising turns.

And I'm not sure that's enough for me. Guess I'll find out for sure when the next season rolls around (preview, here).

On a slight tangent, I do think I've consistently made the mistake of viewing this as a TV series and judging it on an episode by episode basis. While watching the finale, I realised it works better for me to think it as an TV adapation of a novel. I'm not sure I can articulate the difference between than that, yet. I'll think on it.


Mashugenah said...

That sense of a wider mythology is what hooked me on Underworld and Constantine - I felt like I was being dropped in the middle of a wider and more exciting world than my own. Of course, Underworld:Evolution blew all that capital... but still.

The movie which should have also done this, but somehow failed miserably, was Nightwatch.

hix said...

I sort of share your pain about Nightwatch, except in my case it was that I couldn't sit through more than about 40 minutes of it, because I felt I'd seen it all before.

Anonymous said...

I definitely prefer good serialized TV to other TV (procedural, sitcom, bad serial) and movies. Sure a great movie can be awesome, but even with movies I often prefer something that is serialized. That has many parts making a greater whole.

But good serialized TV needs to deliver strong episodes as well. Bridge episodes are fine every now and then, but within the context of a single episode I want to be wowed. It doesn't need to be with a flashy twist or special effects. Some of the best BSG episodes were purely character driven.

The other I look for in serialized TV is having a season story within the context of the overall. Cliffhangers mostly piss me off. I can handle them episode to episode if you are a cliffhanger style show, but end of season cliff hangers for the most part suck. I'll give a pass to a series that ties up the many elements of the seasons story before throwing a curveball.

It's series like Veronica Mars or the Wire that most TV should aspire too. While BSG is probably my favourite show it isn't a perfect show because of so many of the above reasons.

True Blood certainly had a season long arc that they pushed toward and resolved in one season, but they also have an ongoing mythos that is quite interesting. I found the episodes interesting but they certainly didn't tell a story of their own.

And I could go on and on about this, but I think the point of this is that I always want to be able to look at a TV show from the point of a single season and how it fits together.

hix said...

@Jarratt: What do you see the as the ongoing mythos of True Blood?

Is it the vampire politics?
The increasingly supernatural nature of the world?

Anonymous said...

Well I haven't read the books (Evie read the first and said it was dreadful) so I don't know the ongoing story, nor do I want to, because the show developed quite well.

That said I know the world gets increasingly more supernatural. Basically this is a world of darkness with some twists. So I'm interested to see how it plays out and fits together. At times the WoD doesn't fit together with its different clashing/converging myths. At others it works fine. I'm hopeful that True Blood will fit together better as so far it has. The shapechanger fits into the world of vampires, and for a while there I truly thought that the demon possession was actually demon possession and not a hoax. I was disappointed it was a fraud actually. I'm pretty sure that storyline is not from the novels so I'm not surprised it was a fraud given the way writers tend to think about these thing. If you are going to have a supernatural show sometimes it is better to let rip than to enforce rules. Or to enforce rules like this is a low tech setting.

Anyway, I think the vampire politics could be interesting but I'm not sure we are looking through the eyes of the right characters to make it interesting. Essentially I think the story is a mystery. Each season will have a mystery that will be revealed exposed by the end but that might not be pursued by the characters. i.e. It isn't a mystery story. In addition the series as a whole is a supernatural mystery. Vampires are real but what else is and how does the world fit together. We've already seen it play out quite elegantly with Sam with some nice twists to throw you off the obvious like the dog he keeps around to protect his identity.

So I would say the overarching mythos is a supernatural world and the way it will hopefully play out is a slow unveiling that makes sense and fits together.

I'm interested to see how Admiral Kane's character fits in, and exactly how evil she is.

hix said...

If I'm correctly remembering what Jenni said, then Tara's character was created for the TV show, which makes the demonic possession thing (which I felt similarly to you about) and her relationship with Sam all new.

I, too, am interested in where Admiral Kane is going to go.

Anonymous said...

I don't want to read the books but Tara does appear in them. She is a secondary character and doesn't feature in the first book. Exactly what her relationship to Sookie is or how she is portrayed I am unsure.

hix said...

Cheers, J.