In Five Reasons, TV.com takes an early look at upcoming episodes of shows and scoops what's good and bad about the program we just watched. We're not telling you to watch it or telling you to avoid it--we're just offering up our two cents as a helpful guide.
"Vampires often turn on those who trust them. We don't have values like you."--Bill Compton, True Blood
Looking to inject a little life into the network, HBO is reaching out to the undead for help. True Blood, from Six Feet Under creator Alan Ball, is a small-screen adaptation of Charlaine Harris' smart Southern Vampire Mysteries books, and poses the question, "What if vampires were not only real, but part of society?"
After a Japanese scientist makes synthetic blood, vamps "come out of the coffin" and are free to roam the world, presumably because they don't pose a threat to humans anymore (that won't last long). Anna Paquin stars as mind-reading waitress Sookie Stackhouse (best name ever), who becomes enamored with her town's first fanged visitor, Bill Compton (Stephen Moyer).
If that description sounds weird, it's because it is. We've seen the first two episodes of the new series, and True Blood is going to have its loyal fans and its megahaters. Here are five reasons to watch and not to watch True Blood.
Five reasons you should watch True Blood
1. It's playful fun
This show absolutely does not take itself seriously--and that's a good thing. It's overflowing with campiness and satire and requires an open mind to really see where it's going. Take it seriously, and you'll turn it off. Grab a tub of popcorn and give it a shot, and you may come away pleased.
2. The opening credit sequence
Talk about setting the mood! Cable shows always have great credit sequences, and True Blood has one of the best. Like something out of Natural Born Killers, True Blood starts with grainy footage of burlesque dancers, decaying foxes, civil rights scenes, swampland, and baptisms--all to the tune of Jace Everett's wicked "Bad Things."
Charlaine Harris has created a fantastic world where humans are simultaneously fascinated and scared of vampires. Hicks drink vampire blood as an aphrodisiac, and most vampires just want to go about their business without hassle. Some traditional vampire lore is also staked in the heart, giving the mythology its own unique feel.
4. Lafayette Reynolds
The ridiculously openly gay (possibly bi) black cook at Sookie's restaurant is both over the top and sagelike, at times pumping his hips and other times offering words of wisdom. Actor Nelsan Ellis pulls it off brilliantly without being annoying. Plus, two of my favorite actors--The Wire's Chris Bauer (Frank Sobotka from season two) and Generation Kill's Alexander Skarsgard--also have roles.
I'm a sucker for satire, and True Blood is rife with it--almost too much (almost!!). The new vampire movement has clear nods to the civil rights movement and homophobia, and spawns some so-bad-it's-good goofy liberal-versus-conservative back and forth.
Five reasons you shouldn't watch True Blood
1. It ain't no Six Feet Under
Fans of Ball's brilliant Six Feet Under will leave disappointed--there isn't a whole lot of subtlety in True Blood. It's a reinvention for Ball, so don't expect anything like Six Feet Under or American Beauty.
True Blood has a tendency to come to the occasional screeching halt after some great moments. The stop-start will no doubt turn off those viewers with attention deficit disorder.
3. Bad guys aren't the smartest
There are dumb bad guys and dumber bad guys, and True Blood unfortunately has more of the latter. Take the chain off your neck, dude!
4. Anna Paquin's accent
I'm not sold on Paquin's Southern accent. Thankfully she can sell most of her scenes with her eyes and gap-toothed smile.
5. Characters are too horny
This cast of characters is as randy as they come (accidental pun alert). Everyone is trying to get into everyone's pants, and most are succeeding. What is it that they put in the water down in Louisiana? And where can I get some?
True Blood premieres Sunday, September 7 on HBO. After you see it, come back here and tell us what you thought!