“True Blood”: First taste of HBO’s vampire drama from Alan Ball

“How would you characterize the sex?” Trueblood1

This line in Alan Ball’s new HBO vampire drama True Blood is posed not by a shrink or a sex therapist or a nosy friend but a sheriff’s deputy with a thick Louisiana drawl. Let’s just say it stems from a situation involving a roadside work crew and a loose woman named Maudette who turns up dead in her apartment.

“True Blood,” based on the series of fantasy/mystery novels by Charlaine Harris, is true to its fictional small Louisiana town setting (Bon Temps). It’s swampy, languid, humid, lusty and full of … steam. I’ve still got another seg to go on the screener HBO sent out on Monday, so I’ll reserve judgment until I’ve spent two hours with this weird collection of characters.

Ball is definitely not Pasadena anymore. I am pretty much convinced that Anna Paquin (pictured) is the best thing about the show — by far. She’s adorable, and does a lot with material that could otherwise sound ridiculous, in the wrong hands. (I’ll leave it others to decide if she nails the accent.)

In a nutshell, “True Blood” takes place in the not so distant future when the undead have “come out of the coffin,” complete with their own advocates making the talk show rounds and an equal-rights-amendment type bill that they’re pushing in Congress. Paquin plays a plucky virtuous waitress Sookie Stackhouse, who has her own unusual trait in that she can read minds — which can make her rounds at the tables at the backwoods bar and grill where she works awfully noisy.

Trueblood2_2Sookie is open-minded enough to be friendly to vampires, who are now able to “mix” with mortals after the invention of mass-produced synthetic blood, which is supposed to keep them from gnawing on unsuspecting sweet young things like Sookie. Bill, played by Stephen Moyer (pictured left and below with Paquin), is a handsome, mysterious vamp who falls for Sookie after she shows him some kindness one night (it involves her whacking a bad guy with a heavy chain, and protecting Bill from the greedy whims of some trailer-trash types).

Lois Smith is good as Sookie’s slightly-daffy grandmother. Rutina Wesley is fun to watch as Sookie’s smart-mouthed best friend, Tara (“Can you believe someone would name a black girl after a plantation. My mother was either stupid or mean.”) So far some of the supporting characters seem a little 2-D, but Sookie is compelling enough to make up for a few Southern-fried cliches in the pilot seg, written and helmed by Ball.

“True Blood” bows Sept. 7. HBO is cranking up the viral marketing campaign with the launch of this elaborate website for Tru Blood, a “synthetic blood nourishment beverage” that figures into the show’s storyline. Just in case you miss it on the Web, HBO also took out a full page faux ad for Tru Blood in today’s edition of Daily Variety. “Friends Don’t Let Friends Drink Friends.”

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  1. Paracelsus believed that dreams are the shadows of a wisdom that exists in all people.

  2. mysticalsister says:

    debut was awesome — great to see the characters come alive right off the page of the book. can’t wait to see more!

  3. laura says:

    I can’t wait it about time. all though I miss blood ties and moonlighting. I so look forward to this Vampire show

  4. Roxana says:

    I love the “Undead” series by Charlaine Harris. I can hardly wait to see True Blood. Now all I have to do is learn how to set my vcr to tape them. They will be just too great to see one time. I can hardly wait. Hurry up September! Hurray for a good vampire series.

  5. rory says:

    oh i can’t wait to see anna in this !!!!
    i love good vampire series!!
    i miss moonlight so much!!!

  6. Jenn says:

    I’ve been eagerly awaiting the debut of this show! I’ve been a Sookie fan for a few years now, and I’m beyond elated that the debut is now in sight.
    With the demise of Moonlight, and the limbo status of Blood Ties, this show couldn’t have happened at a better time.
    I’m still holding out hope that Blood Ties finds a new home, and in the mean time, I’ll enjoy True Blood and can’t wait for Eric the vampire to hit my screen!

  7. Vinicius says:

    Anna Paquin!!!
    My blonde goddess!!!
    BEAUTIFUL!!!!

  8. Donna says:

    I can’t tell you how excited I am to have this show coming up in September. Im a BIG fan of the book series and have enjoyed seeing bits and pieces from the show on You Tube.
    I will be getting HBO for the first time in August just so I can watch the show. Also I have loved other HBO offerings and waited until they came out on DVD. Now I wont have to do that.
    More vampires on TV – Loved Moonlight and Blood Ties and unforunately both are gone.

  9. ProgGrrl says:

    I know “sassy black friend” is not original…but she is pretty goldarned hilarious in the leaked pilot I got online. Just sayin’.
    I read the first four of the novels this show is based on. It’s a pretty cool vamp-‘verse to create a show around. It’s not Buffy/Angel, it’s not Twilight. Somewhere in between Anne Rice and the film Near Dark. The pilot I saw was a pretty good start, sexy, creepy, and a lot going on. I hope they really open it up and add all the other creatures from the novels (shapeshifters, witches, faeries), and get into the details of vampire culture.

  10. Rachel says:

    Oh wow. A sassy black friend. THAT’S original.

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