True Blood Doesn’t Bite, Doesn’t Suck
When Clare drove away from her funeral home, bawling her eyes out to Sia’s Breathe Me as a montage of every character’s death revealed “Everything. Everyone. Everywhere. Ends” in the final episode of Six Feet Under, you probably weren’t thinking “Wow, I wonder what Alan Ball (creator/writer) will make us feel depressed about next?”
Well this time he has taken a different tack. Taking the trashy but fun Sookie Stackhouse novels by Charlaine Harris, Ball has developed a slick and engaging series, True Blood. What makes it so good? Well there’s Ball’s signature feel all over it (compared with the novels there is more of a focus on minority groups; gays, blacks and drug dealers), it’s well written but not convoluted, and the plotlines develop patiently over time. There is more in this world than vampires, Ball hints when introducing the mind reading Sookie, but we won’t learn about this fully until later in the series. Rather than a saturation of monster-of-the-week, there is a focus on the relationships of the smalltown Southerners of Bon Temps.
And unlike Six Feet Under it’s not depressing! It’s exciting! Every episode finishes on a cliffhanger, as if reading a book chapter by chapter. You can’t come in halfway, and with only 12 episodes per season why would you?
I think what really makes the entire series so clever is the simple fact that vampires don’t just live off the blood of humans (and bottled synthetic “Tru Blood” designed to keep the vamps alive now that they’re in the political sphere). What is interesting is the fact that when humans drink vampire blood it heals and gives them superhuman strength and a feeling of euphoria. Essentially, it is a drug.
This paired with the fact that vamps have “come out of the coffin” over the last two years, is what makes the series truly unique. There is this nice back-and-forth bating/conflict. Vampires aren’t all bad guys, and humans certainly aren’t all good guys!
The opening credits have once again been put together by the guys who did the Six Feet Under credits, Digital Kitchen, which perfectly capture the ambience of the show.
Season 1 of True Blood is now available on dvd. Season 2 is currently airing in the US.