True Blood: Strange Love (series premiere)
(S01E01) True Blood is definitely a show after my own heart. I love any high concept drama that lays out the entire idea in the first five minutes.
In case you didn't get it, here's the short version. Synthetic blood is now available for vampires to buy, therefore they no longer need to kill to survive. So, as a society, they decide to live out in the open and are met with the kind of fear and skepticism that you'd expect.
The great part of the show is that unlike ethnic groups that are defined by their race, vampires exist in every society all around the globe. In a way, the whole thing can be viewed as a comment on the difficulty of being a homosexual in today's world.
On first look, I can't help but think that this may be the perfect TV show. It combines the brilliance of Alan Ball, the hotness of Anna Paquin, the mystique of vampires and the innate humor of the deep south to make a very intriguing program.
Like Ball's other show, Six Feet Under, one of the best parts of the show is the supporting characters. The people who wander in and out of the lives of Sookie Stackhouse and her friends are always interesting to watch.
One twist of the show is that vampire blood is a much sought after commodity. So not only are vamps persecuted and discriminated against, they are often hunted and drained by addicts and dealers.
What I particularly liked about the show is the setting. By placing the action in Louisiana, Ball is able to parallel the plight of the vampire with a host of other minorities all at the same time. The little town of Bon Temps is a melting pot of black, white, gay, fat and every other kind of group that has ever felt persecuted.
As one would expect, the show is much more than just a vampire circus. In this first episode, Sookie's brother Jason gets carried away and strangles a girl during sex. He, of course, blames it on vampires since he has seen video of her copulating with the undead. Unfortunately, he's not smart enough to realize that there is also videotape of him losing control and taking the woman's life. When the law comes after him, it's not only a great twist, but it's also great to see William Sanderson and Chris Bauer back on series TV.
One more twist is that Sookie happens to be able to read minds. Not only does this make her special compared to the rest of her friends but it gives her a real reason to be attracted to Bill, her first vampire, since he's the one person who's mind she can't read.
Giving the lead character special powers causes True Blood to resemble Buffy a little too much, but considering how fans of that show are still moaning it's demise, they will probably welcome Ball's vampire tale with open arms. The writing makes it clear that the world is not inhabited by a host of other monsters like Sunnydale. It's only vampires. The other striking difference is, of course, the location.
Overall, the show has plenty of what it takes to build an audience and I know that I am definitely a fan.