So here’s the first thing I really have to say about True Blood. Alan Ball is a genius at keeping me around. Because every episode, at some point, I think I can give up the show (this would generally be a part featuring Tara) and yet every cliff hanger-y ending has me going “AH!” and then “crap. I guess I’ll be tuning in next week.”
*slow clap* Well played Mr. Ball, well played.
So since I’m watching the show (sometimes against my will) I decided it was high time to do an actual review, especially since True Blood searches (er, I mean Anna Paquin naked boob searches) have sent my blog hits into the stratosphere more than a few times this past spring. So here it is. A True Blood Review.
The Good: This show is surprisingly good at turning me around on some things. At first I was not a Bill fan, I wasn’t feeling all swoon-y and I didn’t really get the appeal. But by episode three or four I was in love and couldn’t blame Sookie a bit. There’s always something about the good guy that gets me, and Stephen Moyer’s Bill, despite his vampiric ways, is defiintely a bonefide good guy.
I like Anna Paquin. I would watch Anna Paquin watch paint dry and probably be mightily entertained. I think she’s lovely and a talented actress. I don’t love the accent, but it’s better than a few others on the show and so I’m just deciding to accpet those accents as they are and be okay with it. The Sookie character is a bit annoying and preachy, but I don’t think that’s Paquin’s fault. I hope they’ll ease up on Sookie’s holier than thou attitude as it seems a little bratty and unlike the way she was originally portrayed.
Jessica. Oh Jessica, how you turned me around. At the end of Season 1 there was no plot I was dreading more (except anything involving Tara) than seeing more of the whiny Jessica. But she’s the absolute best thing Season 2 has going for it. It’s wonderful to see a new vampire go through the trials and tribulations of being a vampire and also being a teenager. I don’t know if it’s the writing or Deborah Ann Woll’s acting or a combination, but whatever it is I hope they keep it up. What an amazing turnaround.
Lafayette. Nobody was happier to see Lafayette not be the dead body in the car at the end of Season 1 than me. Of course he was chained up in a basement and the other characters didn’t seem overly concerned about finding him, which seems odd in a place where people show up in cars with their hearts missing, but whatever. At least he’s alive. And now that he’s linked to Eric I suspect all sorts of great stuff is in store for us. Nelsan Ellis’ Lafayette is routinely the only actor/character that doesn’t let me down at some point or another. His performances are always dead on.
Sam Merlotte. Like Sookie I find Sam Tramwell’s Sam a bit whiny and brooding for my taste, but he’s a great character and I hope we’ll get to explore less of the brooding and more of the reality of Sam this year.
Michelle Forbes’ Maryann is a welcome addition this year and her arc is supremely interesting, except where it intersects with Tara, which unfortunately is constantly. Adam and I were sure she was going to be some Circe type character, but this last episode has her looking more like a Minotaur, which is even better if you ask me.
Alexander Skarsgard’s Eric was one of the most interesting characters on the show last year, but now that he’s cut his hair he’s still one of the most interesting and also one of the hottest. It’s also of note that his partner in crime – Pam (played excellently by Kristin Bauer) steals almost every scene she’s in.
Jason Stackhouse. I started out hating the Jason character – always so over the top, and of course so unbelievably stupid, but with time I’ve come to appreciate him and Ryan Kwanten’s performance has grown considerably I think. He’s always going to be a stupid and over the top character I suspect, but deep down I think the boy has a good heart and will make the right choices, so I have faith in hanging in there with the character.
It’s worth noting that Chris Bauer, Todd Lowe, and Jim Parrack are also doing stellar work in smaller roles, that will hopefully grow with time.
Alan Ball, Charlaine Harris (the original author of the books) and a handful of other talented writers and directors that are bringing us perfectly cut and sharply written episodes. There are high points and low points in each episode, but overall the show is unbelievably strong – especially for a show only a year and a half old. Nice work creators.
The Bad: Tara, Sookie’s best friend, played terribly by Rutina Wesley. She is absolutely unwatchable. And because the performance is so bad I can’t tell if the character is also bad…or if it’s just Wesley. Regardless, she is the most brutal part of True Blood and it drives me crazy. How hard is it to a do a great black female character on a show of this caliber? It seems like it should be easy…why is this one character (and the arcs she is given) so cliche and terrible? The worst part is that Tara/Wesley seem to infect every other character they touch.
I absolutely hated the arc with Tara’s mother last year, and was chalking that up to a bad character and bad acting by Adina Porter, but in the last episode Porter had a heart wrenching little scene with Trammell (Sam) that made me think the hatred I had for Porter last year had more to do with the storyline and proximity to Wesley than anything else.
It’s quite a problem though. The scenes with Tara and her new “boyfriend” are equally as trite and unwatchable as Tara’s scenes with her mother. If the plot didn’t link up so well (i.e. there is likely something critical in every scene) I would be fast forwarding through them. I just don’t understand it. With a show that is working on so many levels – and can obviously write black characters well (Lafayette is consistently one of the best) what is happening here with Tara? Honestly? I feel totally ripped off. Because without that stumbling block the show would be just…awesome. But this issue drags it well below the awesome line.
The Ugly: See above, not that Tara/Wesley is ugly, but the situation sure is.
3.5 Stars. And without the Tara issue, I’d be considering it as probably 4.5 stars.
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