Save your subtlety for shows like Breaking Bad and Mad Men. Heck, the way True Blood has gone headfirst into over-the-topness this summer, even Desperate Housewives is ninja-subtle by comparison. But that's how the show is evolving, and creatively speaking, it might just be right choice.
"It Hurts Me Too" was a patchwork quilt of different-smelling fabrics. At times we were working with legitimately elegant material (Bill's flashback), and at other times we were stitching together things that were pulled from the gutter (Eric and Sookie's walk to her house, Sookie organizing Eggs' funeral). There's obviously value in the former, but don't write off the bad parts as unnecessary poundage on this fit body of work.
Let's look at that scene where Eric walks Sookie home. Between Eric's exaggerated chest-puffed gait and Anna Paquin's high-school-drama-class acting (seriously, is she doing that on purpose? If so, Kudos!), True Blood knows its bread-and-butter: utter silliness. Couple that scene with the one that immediately followed—Tara's orgasmic one-night stand with Franklin—and it seems like the creators of True Blood are just having a great time making the show. In fact, Season 3 is so wonderfully ridiculous, it's pretty much become a parody of itself. And your appreciation of the program will depend directly on whether you are in on the joke or not.
For some reason or other, I'm eating this stuff up like I'm the guest of honor at a Maenad feast. Turn off your brain and enjoy the show, I say!
But the thing I really want to talk about in this article is what should go down as one of the best cuts in television history. It begins with my favorite lezzed-out vampire Pam being a very cunning linguist with one of Fangtasia's dancers. That kind of woman-on-woman act isn't often presented or even alluded to on television, not even HBO. So imagine my perverse joy when Pam went back downtown at the end of the scene and WHAM! It cuts to a partially eaten pie being placed on a tabletop. No matter how you slice it, the show served that editing up warm and fresh. Beautifully sophomoric, and 100 percent True Blood. Like I said, turn off your brain and you can appreciate the genius of the show in all its trashy glory.
But what separates True Blood from being a guilty pleasure that's easy to make fun of and borderline-legit TV is its charming cast of characters. This third episode kicked the season into another gear by giving us more details on the two new good-ish/bad boys this season, Franklin and Alcide. Let's start with Franklin. Old Frankie, played by The Tudors' perfectly creepy James Frain, has leapfrogged into favorite-character territory. He's weird, he kicks all sorts of ass, and he's weird. Did I mention he's weird? I'm a fan. But the big draw to the episode was the formal introduction of a popular character from the books, Alcide (played by One Tree Hill's Joe Manganiello). We still have a lot to learn about this wolf in lumberjack's clothing, but trust me, it's coming.
And finally, how can we talk about last night's episode without the head-turning ending. OMFGZZZZZZZ! Awesome x 10. I know there's been chatter on message boards by horny 16-year-old boys about what they would do if Heroes' indestructible cheerleader Claire Bennett was their girlfriend, and I think Bill Compton just showed us. Let's recap: Missionary, breaking neck of lover, turning head 180 degrees, continue. Difficulty level: 9.7.
True Blood is created by some really sick people. And enjoyed by some REALLY sick people (guilty as charged!).
Other Bloody Good Notes:... Where was Alfre Woodard in this episode?
... Eric: "I got your rug all wet." Like I said, subtlety.
... Jason: "I've heard every breakup excuse from 'You're a son of a bitch, Stackhouse' to 'You're a f***ing a**hole, Jason." Stackhouse is TV's best moron, and actor Ryan Kwanten continues to make a bid for Emmy consideration.
... Has there ever been a bad scene with Hoyt? He's like the MSG of the show... he makes everything around him better. I'm really looking forward to see him and Jason as roommates throughout this season.
... Who is Arlene's baby daddy? I can't remember everyone Arlene boinked during the Season 2 orgies, but did Andy hit that? It would make sense for him to put a wedge between him and his cousin Terry.
... That moment where Alcide learned his old flame is getting married was very bad-teen-drama. Just plain bad, and not in a we-can-salvage-some-sort-of-joy-out-of-it way.
True Blood Power RankingsWhere I rank this season's episodes of True Blood.
"It Hurts Me Too": Things keep getting better and better. It's still too early to tell how things will go for the whole season, but the series seems to have hit a great stride in its third season.
1. "It Hurts Me Too" Ep. 3
Where we first meet Alcide and Bill writes a new painful page of the Kama Sutra.
2. "Beautifully Broken" Ep. 2
Where we are introduced to Nazi Werewolves and Bill is recruited by the King of Mississippi.
3. "Bad Blood" Ep. 1
The season premiere.
True Blood Boob Count!Where I tally the number of scenes in which sets of bare breasts are unnecessarily put on display. Because I can.
Season Total: Still 4. Just like last week. No boobs. I know, I can't believe it either! Perhaps this should be a man-butt count instead? I'll let one of you keep track of that in the comments section.
Question of the day:Who is Arlene's baby daddy? if you know the answer from the books, don't spoil it for the rest of us! We're theorizing here...
Follow TV.com writer Tim Surette on Twitter: @TimAtTVDotCom