on September 23, 2010
Following the hedonistic reign of terror of the redoubtable Maryann, the residents of Bon Temps are once again trying to pull their lives back together. For Sookie Stackhouse, events are complicated by the disappearance of her vampire lover Bill Compton, the emergence of a bunch of werewolves on the scene and the machinations of the vampire King of Mississippi. Meanwhile, Sookie's brother Jason pursues a new career in law-enforcement, Sam Merlott tracks down his real parents and Jessica, now broken up with Hoyt, embraces her vampire side more freely. Meanwhile (again), Lafayette gets a boyfriend called Jesus (True Blood? Controversial? Never!) and there are some meth-dealing hicks around causing mischief. And there's this werewolf called Alcide who fancies Sookie and spends a fair bit of time with his shirt off. And Tara gets emotionally abused (yet again) by Thomas Cromwell from The Tudors. And a whole ton of other stuff happened which I'm forgetting right now.
True Blood has always been a nutty, camp, somewhat trashy but always resolutely entertaining show, but its third season is nothing less than a sustained, full-scale assault on the viewer's senses and sanity. Learning from the pacing problems in Season 2 (where the latter part of the season degenerated into a tiresome parade of filler orgy scenes for no discernible plot reason), Alan Ball has massively overcompensated, packing every single instant of this season with surprising plot revelations, new characters, surprise reappearances of old characters (including dead ones), new ideas, new races, new concepts and, indeed, the kitchen sink. It's certainly not a dull season, but it is one that is overloaded to the point of near-incoherence.
If it's possible to pick out a central thread from this anarchic and demented tapestry of pure chaos, it's the attempt by the vampire King of Mississippi, Russell Edgington, to reverse the policy of appeasement by vampires towards humans and have vampires seize control of the world. Edgington is as barmy as a box of frogs on ecstasy (but still a long way from being the craziest character on the show this season) but is extraordinarily entertaining, played with scene-chewing relish by Denis O'Hare. His lover Talbot, played by Theo Alexander, is almost as amusing. This storyline, where Eric and Bill pretend (or do they?) to defect from the Queen of Lousiana's side to Edgington's and political machinations unfold at his stately home, is the definite highlight of the year, despite the presence of a number of extremely cheesy actors playing 'evil' werewolves who are allied to Edgington.
The werewolf storyline otherwise doesn't really go anywhere, despite the pre-season hype touting this as 'the werewolf season'. We do get a promising new regular character in the form of 'good' werewolf Alcide (Joe Manganiello) who manages to remain likable despite inexplicably being attracted to Sookie, who is at her most annoying this year. Hopefully he gets more to do next year.
Other storylines range from the mind-bogglingly inane (the meth-dealing hillbilly plot is almost breathtaking in its utter lack of enjoyability) to the compelling (Jessica and Hoyt continue to have the most believable relationship and best chemistry of any pairing on the show). Tara gets emotionally and physically abused and manipulated again to the point where the viewer is in severe danger of losing the last vestiges of sympathy and respect for the character. This story is somewhat saved by James Frain's completely bonkers performance as mentally unstable vampire Franklin Mott (who makes the King of Mississippi look like a stable and reliable fellow), but the writers need to stop using Tara as their emotional punch-bag, especially since they relent with her cousin Lafayette and give him a reasonably happy storyline, complete with a new love interest (which was great up until the hippy-trippy voodoo vision stuff kicked in).
There's also a series of plot revelations that hark back to the beginning of Season 1 and earlier, particularly retconning the backstories and motivations for Sam and Bill. In the former case this is laughably unbelievable, whilst the latter works better. Whilst Sookie is rather unlikable this year, Stephen Moyer's performance seems to improve once Bill is given more layers and made into a more duplicitous character than we first thought he was.
Overall, this season of True Blood is watchable, but also often headache-inducingly overwrought. The 'Arlene's baby' storyline is unnecessary and tedious, as is the story about Jason's latest romance. The less said about the introduction of the Fae (supernatural beings who apparently dwell within the mystical realm of a Timotei advert) the better. However, we also get a lot more screen-time for Eric and Pam, which is great, and we also get one of the most gloriously demented TV cliffhangers of all time (you'll know it when you see it).
True Blood's third season (***) is a cataclysmic explosion of sleaze, storylines and characters, some of which are compelling and some of which are barely watchable tedium. Sorting the good from the bad is hard work this year, but the show is never less than watchable, if also frequently achieving far less than its potential.
on December 12, 2010
This season started off with a fantastic bang, but as it progressed the episodes became increasingly stupid and disappointing. The third season's main plot point is the exciting kidnapping of Bill by the King of Mississippi who has a pack of V-addicted werewolf henchman. Naturally, Sookie does everything she can to save her man with Eric both preventing and/or helping her in her endeavors. However, this season bombards the viewers with too many new characters and subplots. There are literally more than a dozen new characters, and most of the already established characters (Layfayette, Sam, Tara, Jessica, Jason, Arlene, etc) seem to have their own subplots going on. Some of the characters rarely have any interaction with each other, but only with the new characters in their own personal story. In fact the subplots take up so much of the show that I often feel like I am watching 4 or more shows at once. Along with new characters there are several new "supes" (supernaturals) that are introduced in this season including werewolves, werepanthers, fairies/"fae", and witches. I also find it strange that a good amount of the "supes" are backwater, dirty hicks who don't even look classy enough for a trailer park. Some cheesy and downright stupid scenes make viewers feel that perhaps True Blood is going in the direction of every other vampire show, book or movie, which is mind-numbing stupidity. Possibly the worst part about this season was the finale, which was a horrible episode, nonetheless horrible season finale. In fact I think it was probably the worst episode of True Blood I have ever seen.
However, this is not to say this season did not have some great twists and turns to keep viewers on the edge of their seat. So in light of lots of criticism I will highlight some of the best parts of Season 3.
1. Background about Eric's life as both a human and vampire
2. We learn "what" Sookie is and why she can read minds and shoot light from her fingertips
3. Eric and Pam's maker-progeny relationship is presented in a deeper and more meaningful manner
4. We learn more about vampire hierarchies and politics
5. Jessica's adjustment to her vampire identity and struggling with her relationship with Hoyt
6. We see a darker side of the gallant and gentlemanly Bill
7. We see a lighter side of the cold and cruel Eric
8. Some amusing one liners (ex: "His cheese done slid off his cracker!") But they best be careful with this lest they put too much effort into "funny" lines and not meaningful dialogue
9. Some awesome fight scenes
10. Russel Edgington
on December 21, 2010
I will admit this season had flaws. It did have too many story lines that most people didn't care about (Jason and Arlene's whole story lines for example). However, the plots that were good were really good and entertaining. The Sookie, Bill, Russell, and especially Eric and Pam stuff did not disappoint. Eric's and Russell's arcs were the best of the season. They were not only gripping but left you in agony waiting to find out what happened next. The only other downfall was the Sookie and Bill relationship got tedious being dragged out so long. Sookie began to look like a doormat, and you just wondered how far down the hole she would go. But otherwise, a very good season. If the writers would focus more on the supernatural plot lines and tie in Jason, Sam, and Tara's story lines directly with the more interesting supernatural plot they would achieve the perfect season. But I still say this is the best season because they gave more screen time to the most interesting characters and really focused on character development, which is very important and is something HBO does well and other regular cable shows often lack. Eric is the most captivating character on the show, and it was good to see his character's screen time adjusted upwards. I have read the books, but I was a show fan first and still prefer the show. The main story line is still there with changes to add drama. Hopefully Season 4 brings it and I am really looking forward to it!
Re the "trashy" criticism: The whole point of HBO is that they don't have to censor the way other shows do and it allows them to depict the sex scenes and language more realistically. Of course, this is a vampire show, so it's going to be more violent and over the top. But I don't get why anyone would watch this show expecting otherwise. If you don't like fantasy this obviously is not a show for you. T.V. shouldn't be all about reality, it's supposed to be fun and escapism, and True Blood does it in a smart way with underlying themes and messages throughout. HBO is known for pushing limits. Again, can't wait for Season 4!
on November 22, 2010
I love to curl up and watch as the scenes unfold.....Sookie and Bill....Sookie without Bill....Sookie and Bill...Hey Sookie,Take a good look at Alcide! Hot actors, engaging story lines...FUN FUN FUN! People relax...enjoy...stop making it SERIOUS....we have hard bodied guys for us ladies, and hot bodied women for the guys...add a touch of the obscure and you have this wonderful hour of nothing to worry about...Another HBO great! Thanks
on February 8, 2012
I was very anxious for True Blood Season 3 to open with Sookie's getting her house put back in order. I mean, really - how long is she going to carry on with those patches of moldy mud speckling the walls and dried vines woven through the staircase banister and trailing across the curtain rods? I know for a fact that her Gran would have a conniption fit.
Instead, True Blood opened with Sookie anxiously seeking help in finding Bill, so hell-ooooo, Alcide. The whole Bill-gone-missing thing is part of the original Sookie novels, but the way he's found differs a bit. I found I didn't mind the liberties Alan Ball took with those details nearly as much as I minded the whole Maenad Madness huge, enormous, season-stealing detail of *last* season, so all was well. It got a bit boresome from time to time with Lorena -- did we really need to travel through every single era since the Civil War, seeing Lorena and Bill in little vignettes (Gay Nineties, Roaring Twenties, Prohibition-era...the only thing we missed was Lorena and Bill draining acid-tainted hippies at Woodstock) to have proof that Lorena was a Bad Vampire? Anyway, the whole Russell Edgington thing played out well (Talbot was brilliantly funny) and I was breathless if wondering if the HBO Eric and Bill would break faith with Sookie in ways that the Book Eric and Bill never would have. Tantalizing!
But. But, but, but.
In between all the interesting scenes, one is forced to deal with Jason (whom I still love) getting all cozy with Crystal Norris from Hotshot, and here's where the series lost me. In the books, Hotshot is an inbred, overbred little crossroads clan, filled with inter-related people who were secretive, and poor but proud. In the series, the citizens of Hotshot have become hillbilly meth-cookers (Hoyt gets a great line when he says, "This girl is from Hotshot? If her first name is Crystal, her middle name is probably Meth"), and they're all so weird, you can practically hear the banjo music theme from "Deliverance" playing in the background. It's impossible to say what attracts Jason so wildly to Crystal -- animal magnetism? -- but she's the complete opposite of every girl who has ever attracted Jason before. He's always tended toward the trashy and flashy, but Crystal is pure-d backwoods hick. I don't get it. The storyline was so dragged out, so pointless and dumb, that by the time Jason decided he wanted to be a p'leeceman so's he could go 'n whup them dudes fr'm Hotshot f'r bein' s'mean to his Crystal, I wanted to pin a shiny brass star on his forehead.
And this is from a character I *like*
Which brings us to Tara. Rutina Wesley is such a fabulous actress and she does not deserve this hideous role. As in the books, Tara gets involved with Franklin Mott (who has morphed into Mickey in the series) and it's just one more looooong dullllll tale of Tara being worked over by a man. This story is so distasteful, I don't even feel like going into it for the sake of a review, but let's just say that she ends up in a rape crisis group. I want Tara to move to Chicago in the worst way. It was awful. I hated every second of it, and spent my time fast-forwarding through Tara's scenes and fuming at the ineptness of Alan Ball. You'd think he would have learned from the Maryann storyline from Season 2 not to provoke the (largely female) audience with nasty sex. Orgies didn't flip anyone's switch in Season 2, and rape scenes don't do it in Season 3. We can only be thankful that it didn't take up most of the season.
And as if that all weren't enough, we had to suffer through the story of Sam and his hideous birth family, which dragged on and on and on and on and on and...oops, sorry, and didn't end well, which you could see from the very beginning. Any time you meet your biological dad and he's wearing nothing but baggy, greyish underpants that barely contain his enormous sagging package, you just know you're not in for a happy reunion.
One big, bright spot in the season though was the Jessica/Hoyt/Summer triangle. It was adorable and funny.
My feeling is that the series is veering way too far away from the novels, thereby losing its integrity. That loss of integrity is resulting in increasingly overwrought story arcs that are painful to watch. I miss the times in the books where all that was going on was Sookie sitting in her lawn chair, painting her toenails and drinking sweet tea. That was actually one of the things that made Sookie so personable. I realize that a series based on a character who was seen washing her hair, doing her nails, weeding the flowerbeds or cleaning out the closets in every episode would get very old after a while for different reasons, but maybe that would be better than the feverish and frenzied pace that's been set so far. It doesn't make me want to watch True Blood more; it makes me want to watch it less.
on July 5, 2011
I rented all three seasons of True Blood as they came out with the intention of buying them if I liked them. Season 3 was the only DVD set I bought.
First, I LOVED the Sookie/Eric stuff. They have two steamy kisses (one real and one in a dream). I love that he enjoys baiting her and I love that he'd like to care less about her but can't. Eric was inserted in slowly, but perfectly, as the third point of the love triangle and you really see that this is going to be a triangle this season.
Second, I liked how they handled Bill's fall from grace compared to the books. On TV it was treated as too much badness from him all at once and Sookie having enough. Although I still don't get what Sookie was so mad about - he didn't know her when he agreed to spy on her and stopped spying when he fell for her, it wasn't like his love was all a lie (which in the books is how it comes off). Yes, his attack on her in the van was bad, but he didn't do it on purpose (and in the books he raped her too, glad that was left out). In the books, Bill was going to dump her w/o a word to be with Lorena, it wasn't part of a cover to save Sookie (the way it was played on TV), they made Bill that big a jerk to virtually write him out unless they wanted him to make a feeble attempt at an apology (done once a book) so Sookie could yell at him.
Third, I was happy that Sookie was given an active power to use. Yes she's the damsel in distress, but she has a new trick up her sleeve. I actually have the feeling her fate isn't wrinkles and gray hair the way it seems to be going in the books. TV's Sookie might just have a Fairy's immortality too.
Fourth, I felt this season dealt more with vampires. Season two didn't use them much.
Fifth, Eric and Pam are a hoot to watch. More of them PLEASE.
One complaint, and this is my complaint about all three seasons, is that Sookie (lead character of the books) gets so little screen time compared to others. As much as I loved her stuff with Eric and Bill, I felt like they got 5 minutes each episode while I was stuck with other characters for huge chunks of time. From all the merchandising pushing the love triangle (and they are making it a triangle), more time should be devoted to it. I'm not saying it should become the Bill/Sookie/Eric show, but taking 2 minutes from each of the other characters each ep and using it for Sookie and her men wouldn't hurt.
Most improved character goes to Jason. Although still dumb, I like that he was trying to make a life for himself.
Much as I liked the season, there were dark spots:
Jessica, annoying in the first two seasons, was really enjoyable this year, but her story with Holt is BORING. Time for him to go and her to find someone new.
Tara...I'm tired of angry at the world routine because they started her whining long before she had a reason to be so belligerent. By the time she had a reason (Franklin) I was so sick of hearing her complain I had no sympathy for her. And no, it was not an abusive relationship, it was a ONS that turned into an abduction. Tara did what she had to to stay alive and got the better of him. Also sick of hearing her whine about Eggs (worst character name every).
Arlene hates vampires, I get it. Do I need to hear it every ep?
All in all, I'm glad the divided up the story into parts because I can fast forward the parts I find dull without taking from the stuff I enjoy.
on March 12, 2015
TrueBlood, as a series is sort of a Amazon Prime scam - you get the first few seasons free, but have to pay to see the rest. We just went to the public library and checked out the remaining seasons and watched them for free.
TrueBlood really started out with a bang! - sorry. It was sexy, smart, sexy, innovative, sexy, entertaining, sexy, you get the idea. We really got sucked into it - sorry. That being said as the series drags on, it doesn't get better, it just gets sloppier and lazier and yes, much, much cheesier. It's almost difficult to get to season 7 like the writers just got bored, or got other work and had to finish this one too..
TrueBlood season 3 itself may be the last of the intriguing and innovative story seasons - by now it's already starting to go down on itself - sorry. Throughout there is some redeeming acting by the players, and at least initially the writing seemed to be good. I like the characters, the location (Bon Temps, La.) and I appreciate the plot development in the storyline. By season 6 the acting is almost a Saturday Night Live horror-skit.
TrueBlood as a series does have some disappointing socio-political themes and messages that I personally find distasteful, but that's beside the point - I watched it. I watched all of it even when I was ready to switch to another anything-else. At least I didn't pay to buy or rent any of it.
on June 23, 2014
The show started off very promising, and I really enjoyed it. Each season, however, Sookie has become more of an annoyance. She is completely helpless throughout the series and always needs rescuing from someone. Her antics are unbearable in the third season. Even though Bill is constantly forced to save her, she just bitches about it and cries about whatever has gotten her emotional. I really can not understand how on earth a 200 year old vampire would fall in love with such a whiny, helpless, and dumb girl.
on July 23, 2011
Season Three of "True Blood": my wife still likes it, I was completely bored. Well, not completely. There were a few good scenes and some interesting new approaches to the vampire/superpower genre: this season's bad guy was a lot of fun. However, most of the characters (and most of the actors) have settled into deep, deep ruts and I found myself groaning (sometimes out loud) when they would come onscreen. The show is plagued by some inherent problems, the biggest of which is the original casting -- many of the actors are simply terrible, and no amount of settling into their roles seems to help. Perhaps by coincidence, the writing for these characters also tends to be the worst, so when Tara or Jason come onscreen, I cringe. Another problem is the pacing of the show -- if I had watched it in the original weekly broadcasts, the repetitive scripting probably wouldn't have registered, but plowing through a DVD box set, the story often lacks momentum and characters seem to be spinning their wheels or constantly regressing. They say the same things, enter the same situations, have the same reactions, time and time again. Also, I am hardly a prude, but the "raunchy" sex and gimmicky gore also got repetitive - it's like reading DC Comic's Vertigo line, with the same old tropes thrown at you in a desperate attempt to titillate or gross you out. It gets old.
"True Blood" is, I suppose, decent popcorn fare -- light entertainment, trashy, sometimes silly, sometimes fun. But it seems like it should be so much better. I think the biggest problem is with the acting - Eric (Alexander Skarsgård) I like, Deborah Ann Woll (Jessica) and Todd Lowe (Terry) too, and Denis O'Hare as ubervamp Russell Edgington was a slithery, malicious delight. But most of the actors are tolerable at best (including Anna Paquin) and some, like Rutina Wesley, are the kiss of death. And not in a cool, vampirific way. The redneck stereotypes (particularly with the white trash werewolves and were-panthers) are tiresome: I guess hillbillies are the last big permissible negative media stereotype, but it's kinda played out. Especially when a bluegrass music cue comes up every time they're about to mock the hicks. I'll probably dutifully watch Season Four, but I barely made it through this one. Oh, well. (Axton)
on April 4, 2011
The first season of this series was the best because the screen writers were following the novels more accurately. After the first season, the screen writers went off in another direction completely with the story and characters, and I really am not enjoying the series very much at all now. It seems like it's getting worse and worse. The novels were a success for a reason -- the readers loved the author's work! The screen writers need to be more true to the actual novels. Eric and Pam were much more loveable and humorous in the novels than they are portrayed in the series. There's no personality. The writers aren't doing their job!! Eric wasn't shown to be such an underhanded schemer in the novels. The reader actually wanted Sookie with Eric. Tara didn't have much of a role, and LaFayette was killed off right away. New characters emerged. I hope the screen writers wise up or risk losing what could be a very large audience for the show. I would really love to see the novels acted out on screen. That's why I have continued to watch the show, but I get more and more disappointed as each season passes by.