389 of 436 people found the following review helpful
on November 18, 2008
Rabbit ears on pawn shop televisions are about my speed; needless to say, I don't watch television. However, kind friends mainline this series two or three shows at a time, and they got me hooked: were I to be completely honest, I might have to admit to giving serious thought to obtaining this by less-than-legal-means. It actually might be worth jail time.
Speaking as someone who was born in America's deep South, this series captures everything about Louisiana that is appealing. (Spanish Moss, vampires, latent racism and homophobia, the dichotomy between Christian Southern values and patriarchal, brutality-enforced poverty, sassy Southern women who know how to fight with chains, etc.)
What it makes it really stand out, though, is the casting: there isn't a bad actor in the bunch--and they are all believable as Southern archetypes. Nelsan Ellis as the short order cook/drug dealer Lafayette and Stephen Moyer and Anna Paquin as the romantic leads give mesmerizing performances.
True Blood, or possibly the original series of books from which it arose, is an arresting set of stories: Faulkner says that the only thing really worth writing about (or thinking about, by extension) is the human heart in conflict with itself. The Southern United States depicted in True Blood is conflict embodied--you are a supposed to be a good Christian, and follow the rules of an established society, but you live in the middle of a swamp so dense and wild that it believably could be home to minions of Satan, like vampires.
It's a lot to think about. If you are one of those artistic/professional types with too much to do, don't start watching this; it becomes an obsession.
And Now: A Short Review of the Actual DVD--this is the regular, not Blu-Ray version, as my $100.00, cigarette-burned, pawn shop t.v. doesn't do Blu-Ray.
Price: $10.00 less than my local electronics store.
Extras: There is some very funny stuff here that was not on the original websites for the series: ads for lawyers for vampires; vampire hotels; vampire dating, all done with the appropriate levels of fake bad acting and camp.
Don't be afraid to look at the French language ad as well. It uses all of six French words which you probably already know.
There is also a short video parody of someone like Hugh Downs doing an in-depth report on vampires. Complete with bad video backgrounds for foreign locales and hokey vampire internet conspiracies, this is a well-done, satirical background take on some of the 'vampire movement's more glossed-over history.
One negative: the commentary tracks play over the original episodes; it's neat to watch for about five minutes, and then it's a little bit like dissecting a romantic relationship--the mystery dies once the magic involved gets out into the bright light of day.
However, overall, True Blood Season One is well worth watching again--particularly in the pilot episode, the acting, and the effort the cast and crew put into characterization and detail, is even more obvious the second time around.
177 of 209 people found the following review helpful
I'm not sure that any good series on the supernatural has ever tried as hard to be simply good fun. It isn't the masterpiece that BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER was, but I don't think Alan Ball set his sights that high. While Joss Whedon strove in BUFFY to create an icon and redefine television narrative, Ball just seems to want to tell a compelling story filled with memorable moments.
TRUE BLOOD is, of course, based on the series of novels written by Arkansas writer Charlaine Harris. The series was originally known as the Southern Vampire Mysteries, but has since come to be better known as The Sookie Stackhouse novels. The premise is that a Japanese corporation has successfully created artificial blood, a product so like the real thing that vampires, previously relegated to feeding off humans in the dark, come "out of the coffin" and into society, intent on living off the new fake blood. The series' title comes from the name of the artificial blood marketed and sold in stores. The television series wisely does not try to hew too closely to the novels, though for the most part Sookie's story does. And the way things turn at the end of the season, it is clear that Season Two (the show was renewed very early in the season) is going to pick up with the second novel in the series, though the action most likely will be in Bon Temps and not in Dallas (the second novel is entitled LIVING DEAD IN DALLAS).
The major difference between the novels and the TV series is that while the novels focus almost entirely on Sookie, the series has elevated a number of secondary characters and padded out their story. The focus on Sookie in the books is inevitable given that she is the narrator. But since few shows attempt to tell a story primarily from one character's point of view (an exception is Season One of VERONICA MARS, in which the title character features in very nearly every scene), elevating several characters was a necessity. Tara is a very minor character in the books (and white to boot), but on the show she is black and one of the most important characters. Sookie's brother Jason is a moderately important character in the books, but definitely not as central as Bill, Eric, or Sam. Tara was promoted on the show partly to balance out the show in terms of race and gender. I'm not quite sure why Jason was made more important. The story arcs that are given to these characters are not always successful, but they do give the show some diversity. Lafayette, Tara's flamboyantly gay cousin and short order cook at Merlotte's, the tavern where Sookie is a barmaid, likewise is a major character on the TV series, but barely makes an appearance in the novels.
I'm not always comfortable with the additions the show makes to the story and they usually are the weakest part of the show. For instance, the long story of Tara's mother and her demon possession is an addition that I feel clutters the show, even as it raises the question of why Tara herself struggles with relationships. The character of Amy, who is weirdly involved with Jason in the latter half of the season, sits on the rest of the story like a weird, disconnected appendage. In fact, the entire obsession with V (or vampire blood, which is taken like a drug) is unique to the show and not the books, I think to the show's detriment. Terry Bellefleur is a slightly more important character in the series, and about 20-30 years younger (and played by Todd Lowe, who played Zack, Lane's band mate/boyfriend/husband in THE GILMORE GIRLS), and a veteran of the Gulf War instead of the Vietnam War. I don't expect for a show to be especially true to its source material. I don't look for a scene-by-scene recreation. But I do think that the additions show actually add something of value to the story. All in all, I do not think the completely original aspects improved the overall story.
There is a lot of controversy on boards where fans of the books linger about Anna Paquin. Physically she isn't quite like how Sookie is described in the books, where she is far curvier and extremely busty. I personally love Anna Paquin's performance. She has a haunted, hunted look that someone who has had to struggle for years of hearing the thoughts of others might have. She does very much seem to embody "Crazy Sookie," as she is known to everyone in Bon Temps. I also like all the actors who played the three other major characters from the books, Stephen Moyer as Bill, Alexander Skarsgaard as Eric (who will, given his stature as an actor and the precedent of the books, become a more important character in Season Two -- and let me just add, could anyone have been found more perfect to play Eric?), and Sam Trammell as Sam Merlotte. My favorite performer to play a major role on the show but a minor one in the books is Nelsan Ellis, who also had a recurring role on the sadly short-lived THE INSIDE and was on an excellent episode of VERONICA MARS, and who on TRUE BLOOD plays Lafayette. Though I have to add that he is s completely unbelievable character. I've lived three years in a town not terribly distinct from Bon Temps and I can assert that you simply will not find many if any openly gay people and definitely not one a flamboyant one.
All in all I really enjoyed the series TRUE BLOOD, though on the one hand I prefer the books (and I strongly recommend anyone who loves TRUE BLOOD to give the books a try, though I also warn them that the show does seem to be following to a greater or lesser degree the books -- Season Two is already set up to follow many of the second novel's storylines) and on the other I prefer Alan Ball's earlier show SIX FEET UNDER. Still, it is a good, fun show.
And can I just add that this show has my all time favorite opening credits. It is filled with one astonishing image after another, from a coiled water moccasin to a Holy Ghost inspired preacher doing a 180 jump in church to lasciviously dancing strippers, all to a wonderfully appropriate song by country performer Jace Everett entitled "Bad Things."
152 of 184 people found the following review helpful
on November 17, 2008
It was fascinating---at first---to watch the Sookie Stackhouse books brought to life. Her developing relationship with the vampire Bill was wonderfully compelling, and Eric's strength of character is flawless.
Unfortunately, an excessive amount of time is spent on unappealing secondary characters, and the main characters consistently get lost in a lot of tedious filler.
As well, the show's writers need to collaborate. The inconsistencies that keep showing up have turned Sookie into a wishy-washy, unlikeable person who changes the facts to suit her mood.
*SPOILERS* She's in love and makes love with Bill, then flirts and makes out with Sam in the next episode. Wasn't she supposed to be uncomfortable kissing one man and then moving on to another? As well, to work that scene into the show, Sookie states that Bill is more concerned with politics than with her---yet she knows his absence has nothing to do with politics. Geez! He's on trial for staking another vampire to save her life, and she's supposedly aware of that fact.
The writers need to read the blogs. The show's audience has been objecting---even those who haven't read the books.
Charlaine Harris created a world sufficiently rich, well-paced, and filled with drama. There's no need for lame side stories and inconsistencies that demean the main characters. When you try to fix something that isn't broken, inevitably, it deteriorates until it does, in fact, get broken.
53 of 66 people found the following review helpful
True Blood is the HBO adaptation of the popular Sookie Stackhouse vampire novels. While I have not read the books, my wife has and she says that at least the first episode (Strange Love) is somewhat more graphic sexually and is more violent than she thought it would be. On that note, this show has a lot of nudity (both male and female, but mostly topless women), graphic sex scenes (human and vampire), bondage, occult references, graphic violence (somewhat bloody), homosexual characters, insensitivity to overweight people, and even a murder... so if any of those things are not to your liking you might want to pass on this series.
If you are still reading this, you will want to know that this is also a very clever and well produced series that does seem to work combining the harsher elements with a good bit of humor and surprisingly well developed characters.
Set in Louisiana after vampires have "come out" because they can now get a synthetic blood to curb their thirst of humans, this starts off with most people's impression of what a "hick" town is like in the more remote parishes. The main character, Sookie, is a fairly straight laced "good girl" who works as waitress in the local bar. She also happens to be able to read minds (not a spoiler, this is stated in the show "synopsis" and is obvious very quickly). Things get interesting quickly when the bar gets it's first vampire customer ("Bill") and around the same time, Sookie's handsome brother finds himself in some legal trouble.
The casting was fairly good and the actors are mostly believable, which is a relative term in reference to a vampire themed HBO series. The special effects have been kept to a minimum, so far, so the plot is mostly story driven.
This is not for everyone and there is a big difference between reading about the subjects I covered in the first paragraph and seeing it expanded and shown in full HD in your living room. Definitely also not for the younger crowed either!
17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on June 17, 2009
I started reading the True Blood series by Charlaine Harris recently and was happy to find HBO made a series based on the books. Like many reviewers, I am somewhat disappointed in the changes made to the overall story. I know sex sells, but the show is completely over the top and I found many of the additions more offensive than anything. I found it hard to like many of the characters in the show because they made the characters into perverse, sexual deviants. Jason's character changes were the most extreme and I found myself fast forwarding many of his scenes because I couldn't stand watching his mental incompetence and the fact they turned him into some sort of perverted drug addict, rather then the charming ladies man he was in the book. I found NOTHING appealing about Jason's character in the show whatsoever.
In addition to that, the relationship between Sam and Tara was completely ridiculous. They had ZERO chemistry and the sex scenes seemed very forced and unnatural. For the life of me, I could not understand why Tara would sleep with Sam knowing how much he loves her best friend Sookie. I hate the way Tara has been portrayed in the show. She is a survivor of childhood abuse and neglect because of her alcoholic parents. I think the show has done her character an injustice by making her an aggressive, angry and uncaring person. In the book, she owns her own clothing store and is portrayed as a strong woman that overcame the odds. I will admit that I feel like the story of Tara's relationship with her mother was significant in the show and I found myself sympathizing with Tara on that level. I found the exorcism scene to be interesting and although it was not relevant to the overall story, I was glad to see her mother rid of her "demon" and the relief it was for Tara.
I also felt like changes to Terry Bellefleur character were not the best. The book portrays a man that is scarred physically and mentally from the war but not to the point that he sits and cowers in a corner having flashbacks.
Now onto my favorite character in the show, Lafayette. He is HILARIOUS and I love his character. However-- Lafayette was not so extreme in the book; He was not a drug dealer, pimp or vampire drainer. I think we overlook that because his character is so likable in show, regardless of the fact that he is basically portrayed as such a lowlife. I really have to commend Nelsan Ellis, the actor who played Lafayette, for being able to pull this off.
Overall, I liked the show but I doubt I will buy season two and I don't see myself watching season one again. There is much more I could say regarding the changes made during the transfer from book to film, but its been said my other reviewers already so it would be redundant. I would suggest renting the series rather than buying and I highly recommend reading the books.
25 of 31 people found the following review helpful
I was determined to resist HBO's True Blood, a Southern Gothicky romp through Bon Temps, Louisiana, where, thanks to the invention of synthetic blood, vampires have "come out of the coffin" to mainstream with humans. One such creature of the night is Bill Compton (Stephen Moyer), a 173 year-old reluctant vampire who has all the candor of a good heart but the physical attributes of the netherworld. Bill is enchanted by Sookie Stackhouse (Anna Pacquin), a waitress at Merlotte's, the town watering hole. Tormented all her life by the ability to read other people's thoughts, Sookie and Bill stare at one another across the crowded bar like Maria and Tony in their memorable scene from West Side Story, the world falling away before the two of them. Hopelessly attracted, yet fearful of Bill's bad boy side (after all, he is a blood-slurping vampire), Sookie vacillates, her heart telling her this is the one, her mind screaming, "Are you crazy? He's dead!" But- unexpected joy- she can't read his thoughts! Certainly, these two will never be able to gaze lovingly at one another across the breakfast table.
As the opening credits suggest in Alan Ball's clever and ambitious series, the south harbors the gamut of human- and inhuman- behavior, superstition, faith, love, hate, folksiness and generosity, charm and the KKK, all God's children frolicking in a world both dark and light. While vampires lurk in the night, seductive in their dangerous otherness, humans range from good ol' boys to southern belles, a mélange of the dramatic and the demure, the cast a surprising mix of eccentric and fascinating personalities: Sookie's brother, Jason (Ryan Kwanten), a relentless sex addict who loves a mirror almost as much as the willing ladies her pursues; the foul-mouthed, yet endlessly appealing Tara (Rutina Wesltey), as unable to govern her emotions as she is to cast out the "devil" who inhabits her soul; and Lafayette (Nelsan Ellis), a real scene-stealer, gay short-order-cum-"V"-dealer (the potent and coveted vampire blood) who owns his scenes, his talented barely contained by the small screen.
Unfortunately for the incipient romance between virgin and vampire, a series of recent murders has focused the town on the vampires' tendency toward blood lust, although, as Bill informs local law enforcement, "Surely a vampire would have drained a body of every ounce of her blood." Still, the residents of Bon Temps are reluctant to cast suspicion on one of their own. Bill's seduction of Sookie drives the series, but the town is filled with such a delightful mix of characters that, like "V", there is never enough. Highly addictive, like the one-step-behind law enforcement team who bicker from crime scene to crime scene, there is always another volatile contretemps to charm, amuse and shock the willing viewer. Pacquin is stellar in her portrayal of Sookie, Moyer barely one beat behind her performance and closing (fangs extended). I have been bitten. I willingly drank the vampire's patented Tru-Blood and freely admit: one taste of "V' isn't enough. I crave more. Luan Gaines/2008.
42 of 54 people found the following review helpful
I usually watch everything HBO, but I have fallen behind of late. I had customers asking about this since last year so I was interested in what Ball's latest foray was about. I had to spend a fair amount of money to risk having Blu depth on these TV on Blu sets - but this one did not disappoint me in any way. The story has been reviewed plenty here, so I dissected the features and quality.
The picture looks very professional, and there was plenty to go wrong with the majority of it being filmed at night. The colors of the outdoors in each night landscape look vivid, and the special effects still appear adequate considering the difficulties of getting it right (darkly lit interiors). There is some sparse grain depending on the location, but it was a pleasure to see everything - plenty of flesh tones (yes there is lots of sex) that all look clear and porous.
The sound is what sells this though. The DTS gets used extensively in each episode. Sookie's thought reading can be overwhelming at times, you almost want to isolate one of the channels and listen to that one thought as all five channels are sometimes filled with conflicting voices. Even the low-key scenes had some nice outer channel usage - loved every minute of it.
The special features are catered to both the lay True Blood person like myself and the avid followers. Your player has to be enabled appropriately to handle all of the PIP and text boxes that appear in the enhanced viewing. The hints were somewhat corny at times, but I still learned some interesting things about the characters. The PIP is a solid 1080 and appears just little enough to not be that distracting on a first watch. The commentaries from Ball are the best, and provide some decent insight on his creative process while still getting a few slams in there on the critics and story changes.
I think it is a great investment for the followers, and might be a worthy rental for those that are sitting on the fence about trying this. Odds are though, after watching everything there is to offer on just disc 1 - you will be buying it.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on January 11, 2009
I've read all the books and now I've seen the show. I have to say, though I may be one of the few, I prefer the show. For me, Paquin's Sookie is MUCH more likable than the Sookie in Harris' books. Paquin plays "Crazy Sookie" very well, and shows a lot of emotional vulnerability that makes her character believable, which I've never noticed in my several readings of the books. In the books, though, she's just crazy and ignores a lot of good advice, and is very self-involved, never thinking about other people having reasons for doing the things they do.
Maybe my favorite change from the books to the series is that it's not all about Sookie. Other characters also get attention, and their own storylines, which makes the show that much more interesting to watch. On top of that, Stephen Moyer is an INCREDIBLE Bill with very real issues that show up in his personality. I look forward to dealing with the issues Bill has that were set up in the last episode of season 1 when the show comes back for season 2.
I can't wait to continue watching this show next season. I'm sure it will be great! And as for the books, I do agree that reading them is a good thing, but I completely prefer Harris' other book series over the Stackhouse series. For me, that series is bland, and underwritten, especially compared to her Aurora Teagarden series.
12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on August 12, 2014
There are so many things wrong with this show. It is incredibly disapointing, because a strong foundation was already established by the author of the books and the creators of the show completely butchered it. The casting was terrible with Pam, Eric, and Lafyette being the exception. They chose the weirdest things from the books to focus on and basically turned a book series with a well thought storyline and characters into a canned porno. Being cheesy, with special effects and music reminiscent of the early 90's, isn't even the worst part. What I find unforgivable is the underdeveloped characters who never evolve or learn anything as the show "progresses" (making them unlikable) and the slow moving plots/subplots that make me feel like the writers are grasping at straws.
38 of 50 people found the following review helpful
on September 29, 2008
No, the show does not follow the books that inspired it line for line. And yes, there is a lot of nudity---but it is on HBO and at night for goodness sakes! So far, 4 episodes in, I can say that the casting and music really do justice to Charlaine Harris's series of books about Sookie Stackhouse, a barmaid in small town LA, but Alan Ball has made the story his own as well. Check it out on demand or get the DVD when it comes out....Moyer is sexy as hell!