True Blood Season 1 mid-season review

I’m halfway through the first season of True Blood, and that seemed like a good place to write about it a bit. Although the show did intrigue me a bit on its own, I’ve been pretty tired of vampires the last decade so I’m blaming this entirely on Renée.

SPOILERS AHOY! If you haven’t seen this show or read any of the Sookie Stackhouse novels by Charlaine Harris, you should probably skip this post. You also may want to skip it if you don’t want to read a stream-of-consciousness brain dump of my thoughts & opinions on the show. Seriously, I go on for like 700 words.

I’m curious how much this show is like the books. So far it’s felt like a soap opera, not so much a single story as an ongoing look into the lives of the people of Bon Temps. The thought occurs to me that a full length novel might stretch out to fill 12 episodes of TV nicely, so I wonder if it’s sort of a “One book per season” deal.

My usual genre-savvy isn’t much help here, because this show doesn’t follow the usual rules. For example there seems to be a serial killer in the area, but that’s happening in the background. There’s an ongoing social revolution as vampires begin to live openly and the world adjusts, but that’s out of focus to us. Calling this show “character-driven” is like calling the ocean “a bit damp”. It doesn’t even have a plot in the traditional sense, just the tangled threads of people living near each other.

There’s a lot going on in this show, but here’s what sticks out in my mind so far:

Local law enforcement is seriously under-trained. It’s not uncommon for me to feel more competent than the cops on a TV show, but usually that feels like bad or lazy writing. Here it feels very natural, like a small town that’s simply not equipped to deal with a serial killer and is maybe lacking a little professionalism. Well done!

Speaking of serial killers, our latest victim marks a change in M.O. The first two were strangled, the third stabbed. I wonder if that’s because, as many speculated, Sookie was the target or if there’s something else going on.

Fully two-thirds of the episodes I’ve seen have ended with Sookie staring in horror at a fresh corpse. I must admit, it would be kind of awesome if that ratio sticks around.

What the hell was up with the “Rolling around smelling the sheets in the crime scene” bit at the end of episode 4? Seriously, what the fuck?

Also, what’s going on with that dog? Gotta be a Chekhov’s gun thing, (Chekhov’s dog?) but I can’t work it  out.

V-juice is apparently terrifyingly addictive, as Jason shows major withdrawal symptoms after his second use. Granted, his first use was something like 600 doses, but still it’s only been a few days since he’d never done it before. It’s interesting to me that it had a very different effect on Jason than on Sookie, as though the blood Sookie drank was used up healing her with only a little leftover side-effects.

On the subject of side-effects, didn’t Bill say that he’d always be able to find Sookie because she drank so much of his blood? It sounds like a lot of black market V is sold by vampires looking for quick & easy money, so can they sense heavy V users? Could be something nefarious there, or maybe it takes too much to be an issue for the recreational user.

What IS the vampire agenda? I really like the parallels with various forms of real world prejudice (god hates fangs!) but the contrasts are also interesting. Unlike teh gheyz, vampires are genuinely dangerous and seem to actually have some hidden agenda. It’d be a neat twist if the show was messing with our heads on that count, and the VRA was exactly what it purported to be, and only the perspective we’ve been given by the show makes it seem suspicious. Seems unlikely, though.

My spellchecker is ok with the phrase “teh gheyz”, but balks at “spellchecker”. Truly, we live in interesting times. And I’m wrapping this up, because I like interacting with people and I’ll already be lucky if anyone reads this far.

So what do you think of this show?

About Leo Tarvi

Mostly fictional.

Posted on June 4, 2011, in Nonfiction, Personal, Requests and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Season 1 of True Blood sticks pretty close to the books. There are a few marked differences. The major one being Tara Thornton. She’s a footnote in the novels, but the creators felt Sookie needed a female friend closer to her age. So Tara got a *serious* upgrade. (one I happen to enjoy)

    The other major difference is the fact that the plot is driven by an ensemble. The Sookie Stackhouse novels are first person POV, making them incredibly self-centered at times. We’ve gone entire books without seeing or hearing from major characters like Jason. A lot of the side stories have been created solely for the TV show, or given a serious steroid shot to make it interesting enough to film.

    Once you get past the first season, which does parallel the book to a T, it splits off into its own thing and only loosely follows the book’s path. So even as a fan of the books, there are new surprises for us. That’s also why I cannot wait to see what they do with season 4. The fourth book is my favorite and the show’s creators have promised some of the book’s main plot. *squee!* (sorry fangirl moment…)

    I’ll shush now. Your readers are probably tired of my rambling. Ha ha!

    • Tara’s one of my favorite parts of the show, I think she’s actually a more interesting character than Sookie. I’ve also come to like the ensemble style, though it was a little disorienting at first. Guess I’ll have changes to look forward to if I ever clear my reading list enough to check out the books.

      But I have a lot of watching to do if I’m going to catch up to you by the 25th, so my stacks of books probably aren’t getting any shorter anytime soon. Since I’m apparently actually sick, and not simply having allergy attacks, I guess I’ll find a silver lining and marathon the rest of the first season.

      Popcorn doesn’t seem right for this show, but I don’t know what the proper snack food is for a southern vampire marathon.

  2. I haven’t seen the show or read the books but having read your review, I may do, if I ever get the chance.

    • Can’t speak for the books, but I’d sum up the TV show as a weird sexy soap opera spliced together with mystery horror. I think that should give you an idea whether or not you want to take a closer look.

      I’m going to try to enter two chapters on your sagas this week. Lately every plan I’ve had that’s more involved than “make a sandwich” has run into serious complications though, so I’m not holding my breath .

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