True Blood, Season 1 |
directed by Alan Ball
True Blood is the HBO series adapted from the Southern Vampire/Sookie Stackhouse books by Charlaine Harris. The premise is that vampires have recently stepped out of their coffins and are mainstreaming with humans and society due to the creation of a synthetic blood sold in stores called True Blood. True Blood makes it possible for vampires to survive without having to feed on humans.
Sookie Stackhouse is a quiet, unassuming southern girl that just happens to be able to hear people's thoughts. Because of her gift, the people in her small southern Louisiana town of Bon Temps keep her at arm's length. She is a sweet woman, yet looked upon as something of a freak. She works in the local bar, Merlottes, and befriends the town's first vampire, Bill.
When I first learned that there was a television series being made about one of my favorite book series, I was excited; that was my hair-trigger reaction. Then when I thought about all the characters I have come to love and know so well by reading the books, I became concerned. How were they going to find the people and the creativity to match Charlaine Harris's imagination and wit? How could they recreate life in Bon Temps, La? Could they even come close? The answer is, not really.
The first two episodes were awful, and I almost didn't continue with the series. The acting was a cartooned and bastardized version of the characters in the book and I was crushed. Sookie (Anna Paquin) came off as a bit of a dingbat and had the bad habit of tilting her head back in forth excessively for whatever reason and it grated on my nerves.
Bill (Steven Moyer) and the rest of the vampires seemed uncomfortable and awkward in their fangs. Talking with them ended up making them look silly rather than frightening. The only character that came close to matching the looks and mannerisms of the characters in the book was Eric, the vampire sheriff, and he isn't featured that much in this first series.
The creators went ahead and inserted gratuitous sex scenes wherever they could, and the results were laughable. Most of them featured Jason (Ryan Kwanten), Sookie's brother, pounding away like a jackhammer into his chick du jour. I am sure it was meant to be sexy and edgy, but it just came off as ridiculous and exaggerated.
The bright side is that with each episode following episodes 1 and 2, things looked a little better. The acting didn't seem so obvious and improved steadily, the vamps looked a little more natural with their fangs and the creators eased up on the sexcapades.
The show follows the books enough to be recognizable, but it more or less takes its own path, embellishes the story and makes changes where it sees fit. Why they felt the need to mess with perfection, I will never know. The more I watched without comparing it to the books in the back of my mind, the more I enjoyed it. Movies are rarely as good as the books and that stands true for this one, but True Blood does its job of reeling you in and making you want to see what happens next. I think people who have never read the books will probably enjoy it more than those of us who have our own vision of Bon Temps but, like a train wreck, I couldn't look away, and I will probably come back to watch season 2. Now that I know not to expect Charlaine Harris's vision, the lesser HBO version might end up satisfying me more the second time around.
20 June 2009
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