Friday, November 27, 2009


Michael brought this tongue-in-cheek buzzword to my attention, and it's pretty apt. New Moon felt like two hours of, yes, mooning (as in teens mooning over each other, not the baring of asses) -- interrupted only once, by a decent two-minute action sequence. For that reason, I'm finding Alan Ball's HBO series True Blood to be a refreshing change of pace. (I'm only just now getting to it; season five of Lost isn't out on DVD yet, so I have some time to kill.)

Ball once quipped in a New Yorker article that Six Feet Under, his previous HBO series, was like "Knots Landing in a funeral home" -- a soap opera at heart. Using the same logic, True Blood might be described as Knots Landing with vampires, though in this case Ball -- presumably more confident in HBO's willingness to take risks, since SFU was itself a risk that paid off handsomely -- seems especially interested in embracing that soapy spirit.

True Blood is set in Bon Temps, Louisiana, a fictitious town unlike any real one you're likely to visit. With little hesitation, Ball and his casting director chose spectacularly beautiful people to populate the show's core cast. Anna Paquin, who plays the main character, Sookie Stackhouse, has always been beautiful in an unconventional, even slightly off-kilter way (think Maggie Gyllenhaal), but her feisty best friend, Tara (played by Rutina Wesley), is outright gorgeous, as is the waitress, Dawn, whom Sookie's rascally brother, Jason (Ryan Kwanten), occasionally beds. Jason is very handsome in a generic way, and Tara's cousin Lafayatte (Nelsan Ellis), a line cook who deals drugs on the side, is a looker, too. It goes without saying, I suppose, that Stephen Moyer, who plays Sookie's bloodsucking love interest, Bill, is ruggedly attractive. Even Sookie's boss, Sam (Sam Trammell), is nothing to sneeze at. I thought the cast of Lost was unrealistically hot, but True Blood is giving the plane-crash epic a run for its money.

Ball's scripts riff on the horror genre in fun ways, but the show's general mood and tone are more ensemble drama than Dracula. Whereas Twilight and the CW's baldly derivative The Vampire Diaries have countless teenage girls in their thrall, True Blood is the best fangst we adults can hope to find these days.

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