'True Blood' Review, on HBO June 14
By April MacIntyre Jun 14, 2009, 23:14 GMT
US Actress Evan Rachel Wood. Evan Rachel Wood is booked for two episodes of Alan Ball\'s HBO series, "True Blood,", both of which will air towards the end of the show\'s upcoming second season. EPA/PETER FOLEY
HBO’s series “True Blood” was ahead of the current vampire curve, before the success of “Twilight” and the sequels for the teen crowd.
Personally, I like my vampire tales bloodier, along the lines of “30 Days of Night,” but filmmaker and writer Alan Ball has an art department sensibility about him that makes the erubescent written script of his southern gothic tale of Louisiana small towners a visceral thrill ride, despite the languid humidity of the setting.
Ball's erotic drama is tinged with humor, and set in the fictional town of Bon Temps, Louisiana. His series is based on the Sookie Stackhouse novels by Charlaine Harris.
The second season sees some interesting developments, to which Ball has asked critics not to reveal plot points and spoilers, which will be honored.
The feeling and tone of the second season, (four episodes viewed) is similar to the juxtaposed, jarring imagery of the opening of the series. Grotesqueries and glamour, seediness and fervor; the season will not disappoint die-hard fans.
Ball’s own southern roots are transparent in his story editing and words, and his sense of humor by incorporating today’s cultural icons like Joel Osteen and his wife in his characters Rev. Steve Newlin and his blonde wife, is appreciated.
Merlot’s surly bartender Tara (Rutina Wesley) emerges as a more engrossing character to me than star Sookie (Anna Paquin) so far. Tara's role is heightened in this run, and she is scene stealer whenever in frame.
Another delightful addition is the wicked Maryann, played to the hilt by Michelle Forbes. This character poses to be the most interesting wildcard of the second season, and again, Ball is masterful at painting strong female villains and heroines, fleshed out and genuinely compelling. Her scenes are riveting.
The new 12-episode second season features telepathic Sookie and her genteel 173 year-old ice-cold vampire beau Bill (Stephen Moyer) in deep, lustful love, but the knife's edge that Sookie rests makes for a percolating story of mismatched affection. The vampires and the humans are Ball’s Sharks and Jets, and there will be blood.
The Bon Temps cast of characters includes Sookie’s somewhat dim but very fit brother Jason (Ryan Kwanten), who is sucked in to a vampire-hating Christian sect, Fellowship of the Sun.
Another wonderful character to savor this season is Eric, (Alexander Skarsgård) the uber vampire who is concocting many evil schemes and is a continuing nemesis to Bill.
Ball has artfully blended gore, romance, humor and horror into a modern day “Dark Shadows,” with cliffhangers and a dash of camp. Ball’s crew that films the series have delivered exceptional work.
Ball’s art department is headed by three amazing women - production designer Suzuki Ingerslev, art director Catherine Smith and set decorator Rusty Lipscomb - Ingerslev and Lipscomb also working with him on the masterful HBO series, “Six Feet Under.” Makeup department head Brigitte A. Myre does top notch work along with effects Makeup producer Dan Rebert and the Mastersfx shop crew. Gary Calamar and his team shine in music supervision; the show has a rocking soundtrack and always closes with a great song.
Another thing to look forward to is the casting of Evan Rachel Wood as the vampire queen of Louisiana.
The second season of HBO's vampire drama "True Blood" begins tonight, Sunday, June 14.
Laissez les bon temps roulette.