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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

True Blood goes bump in the night

     Two weeks ago, HBO's True Blood returned for it's third season.  I didn't get around to posting a season premiere review right away, but since the show is taking next Sunday off (I guess even vampires celebrate Independence Day), it seemed like the perfect time.  This week's episode was called "It Hurts Me Too", and it only served to deepen this season's already forming plots.

     The vampires are the meat of the series thus far, and season three is no exception.  Bill (Stephen Moyer) was kidnapped at the end of season two by the King of Mississippi's (Denis O'Hare, Brothers & Sisters) V-fed werewolf minions.  The point, apparently, was to get Bill to turn against his own ruler, the Queen of Louisiana, Sophie-Anne (Evan Rachel Wood, Thirteen, One and Again), as the King would like to marry her.  But the King already seems to have a companion, and a male one at that.  Who is really playing who here?  I have not read them yet, but in the book series Bill apparently has been working for Sophie-Anne the entire time, leading to the dissolution of his romance with Sookie (Anna Paquin).  Given the television show's made-for-each-other treatment of Bill and Sookie, it seems likely that the story has been rewritten, but the producers are mum.  Adding to the secrets, Sophie-Anne has had Eric Northman (Alexander Skarsgard) illegally selling vampire blood on the black market.  And Bill's maker, Lorena (Mariana Klaveno) has also taken up residence with the King.

     Plenty of new comers have joined the cast this year, and their motivations are only slowly unfolding.  Of particular note, Franklin (James Frain, The Tudors) is looking for something on Bill, and I don't like the way he's using his glam manipulation on Tara (Rutina Wesley).  Many fans are most excited about Alcide (Joe Manganiello, One Tree Hill), as her apparently plays some big part in the books, though we were only introduced to him this week, and learned almost nothing about him.  Also, it is so good to have Pam (Kristen Bauer van Straten) as a full-time member of the cast.  This week's scene with her answering the phone while performing oral sex on some girl in the bar was alone worth her salary.

     Of course, True Blood works so well because it captures such a specific time and place.  Like Gilmore Girls, it has a town of neurotic people, each with an interesting personality.  Yes, I realize it's a strange comparison to make, but it's apt.  Blood even boasts a Gilmore alum in Todd Lowe, who plays Terry, a PTSD-suffering cook.  Others that have really grown on me include former alcoholic detective Andy Bellefleur (Chris Bauer), wide-eyed romantic Hoyt (Jim Parrack), and many-times-married waitress Arlene (Carrie Preston), who is now pregnant with a baby that doesn't appear to be Terry's, her current beau.  These well-developed characters, living mostly outside the world of the supernatural, are what sets True Blood apart from the many other vampire stories that have popped up during this most recent fad.

     Unfortunately the current season of True Blood is available only to HBO subscribers, though I definitely recommend it for anyone that can watch it.  Seasons 1 and 2 are also already on sale on DVD. 

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