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And the Best New Fall Show Is....

Posted by Matthew Gilbert  November 17, 2008 06:20 AM

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... "True Blood."

The networks tried, and they came up with a few decent fall shows, including "The Mentalist" and "Life on Mars." But my fall favorite is from HBO, which picked up some post-"Sopranos" mojo with this supernatural fantasia from Alan Ball. I can’t believe “True Blood” is about to reach its season finale on Sunday -- the episodes flew by.

OK, so it isn’t as psychologically sophisticated as “Six Feet Under,” Alan Ball’s previous TV effort. But "True Blood" is still a really good time -- playful, metaphorical, at times hysterical. It’s a bit like the late, great “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” but with better production values, tighter plotting, and wonderfully over-the-top Southern atmosphere and accents.

Speaking of which, Ryan Kwanten, who plays Jason Stackhouse, Sookie’s man-slut of a brother, deserves a big shout out. Unbelievably, Kwanten is Australian, and his seamless Southern accent is completely fake. Kwanten has been like a live electric wire on the show. He’s awesome, and he makes Jason’s dull thinking process crystal clear.

And then there's Anna Paquin. Oddly enough, the 1993 movie “The Piano” is the source of four of TV’s current stars -- Holly Hunter on “Saving Grace,” Harvey Keitel on “Life on Mars,” Sam Neill on “Crusoe,” and Paquin on “True Blood.” I remember thinking, when Paquin came to the stage to accept the Oscar for best supporting actress, that the frightened little girl was doomed to a career in the shadows of that movie. Now, she has stolen the hearts of “True Blood” fans as the lucky, and very plucky, Sookie Stackhouse. Her chemistry with Stephen Moyer as Bill is really strong.

Are you watching? What do you think?

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19 comments so far...
  1. Yes, I watch it! I love the show. Finally, someone had the courage to develop a show about a subject that has always had a huge following.......NBC pulled the plug on Moonlight, which was the first interesting vampire show. While I really enjoyed Moonlight, True Blood is just so much more realistic and gory and romantic and crazy all at the same time.....and yes, I love the characters they chose and the actors they chose to play works!

    Posted by Carol November 17, 08 08:20 AM
  1. 'Sons of Anarchy' is the best show, hands down.

    Posted by Fifi November 17, 08 08:41 AM
  1. I'm watching, but like the books a lot more. I think most of the characters were miscast, the white makeup on the vampires is a bit overdone, and don't like the direction they are sending Jason in. He was dumb in the books, but in the show he's become kind of mean. On the other hand, I LOVE Lafayette and hope they keep him around a lot longer than in the books.

    Posted by tracey November 17, 08 09:11 AM
  1. Love it , love it, love it!! I've read and enjoyed all the books by Charlaine Harris and I was wondering if they would really screw it up, but they haven't! They don't follow the plot lines verbatim, but close enough to keep us "Sookie Stackhouse" fans happy and wondering what is going to happen next. There are a lot more sex scenes than the books had, but it is HBO. I just hope that after the season finale, we don't have to wait forever (like the Sopranos hiatus) for the next season to start.

    Posted by maureen1961 November 17, 08 09:25 AM
  1. OH YEAH!! This show has me obsessed. I'm going into withdrawal after Sunday...

    Posted by Sam November 17, 08 09:40 AM
  1. I wish you had told us, who don't watch it, what the show is about.

    Posted by reindeergirl November 17, 08 10:40 AM
  1. I become very attached to HBO shows and when SFU went off I was positively bereft. I kept hoping for something to take the place of SFU but was not only dissapointed by positively vitriolic at the tripe HBO was producing. Tell Me You Love Me was so bad it made me angry. Then comes True Blood. I'd been following the news on this show for several months and had such high hopes. Then I watched those goofy pre-view shows and became utterly confused about what it was going to be about. But now, now, at last, my show has come along. I think I like True Blood better than SFU. The hour goes by so fast that I feel a let down when it's over. I look forward to it all day. The show manages to create a world where vampires really do exist - and I beleive it! No wonder Ball gets the big bucks. He should.

    Posted by Kim November 17, 08 11:38 AM
  1. Yeah, sorry not about to pay exorbitant cable bills so I can watch a show on HBO. In terms of regular cable, I really like Life on Mars as the best new show. Harvey Keitel is simply great as a 70's cop. The soundtrack is good, the acting is stellar and the storyline is just weird enough to not be a repeat of an older show...

    Posted by krystyn November 17, 08 12:09 PM
  1. I absolutely agree that Trueblood is the best new show on TV. I don't know how the creators are able intertwine the gore, comedy and drama all into one fantastic show. All of the characters were well casted and very relateable inspite of the somewhat ridiculous premise, especially the irrisistable Sookie Stakehouse. The best part of the show is they end every episode with a huge cliff hanger and generally address it in the first 5 minutes of the next show. It leaves the audience wanting more. I can't wait for the season finale on Sunday.

    Posted by Billthevampire November 17, 08 01:15 PM
  1. Tracey...thanks for letting those of us who LOVE the show but haven't read the books that Lafeyette isn't around long in the books and may not be in the show. HAVE YOU EVER HEARD OF SPOILERS?????

    Posted by annoyed November 17, 08 02:06 PM
  1. I've never been much of a vampire fan, but True Blood is a truly fresh (and often humorous) take on an old subject. I like it so much, I sought out Charlaine Harris's books which are the basis of the show, and it is honestly amazing how they were able to mine a whole season out of just the first book. I'm really looking forward to subsequent seasons.

    Posted by RebeccaH November 17, 08 04:01 PM
  1. I watch the show but cringe at how clumsy it is compared to the books. Sookie comes across as charmless and Eric is totally wooden. Jason Stackhouse screws up in a lot of the books and it seems a bit risky to have created such a ridiculous storyline for him when he still has so much more screwing up to do. Tara and her mom being exercised for demons was so cliched. Comparing this to Buffy is a bit of an insult to Buffy but it's first season wasn't up to much either. Maybe next year it will be better.

    Posted by carrie November 17, 08 05:47 PM
  1. Well I have to admit that I'm obsessed with all things True Blood. After 2 episodes, I bought and read all 8 books plus the 3 short stories and am anxiously awaiting #9 and season #2. You do have approach the show as it's own "story" as Alan Ball takes it in its own direction and I'm okay with that. I'd be bored if he strictly translated the books to the screen every single week. I do hope he stays faithful to the basic characters' personalities though. I'm engaged and plan to stay that way!

    Posted by LK Wildman November 18, 08 11:00 AM
  1. Have been so hooked from the very start. The TrueBlood S1 was just to short! Need more! Alan Ball is a very creative director and Cannot wait to see what direction he takes TrueBlood for S2!

    Posted by TexasBelle November 18, 08 11:20 AM
  1. I just got into True Blood. I love the show and I now find out that possibly Bill will not continue with this show. Is this a possiblity? My sister has read all the books and Bill fades out. I mean, I love this guy, please, tell me this isn' so. Has anyone gotten any info on this?

    Posted by Kathy November 18, 08 11:48 AM
  1. Definitely agree. Best new show hands down - although with the current crop it wouldn't take much!

    "I wish you had told us, who don't watch it, what the show is about." - google is your friend.

    Posted by rbk November 18, 08 05:11 PM
  1. watched True Blood while visiting relatives my sister and myself have just watched the whole 10 episodes in the last two days it was brilliant we go back to england and ireland 2morow will spread the word! funny, scary it has the lot.

    Posted by Eileen November 18, 08 10:08 PM
  1. I am SO addicted to True Blood. Best new show I've seen in years. It's a real thrill ride.

    Posted by Dasha November 19, 08 11:41 AM
  1. Best. Show. Ever.

    I wish away my weekdays waiting for Sunday. I can't wait till it comes out on DVD. I love everything about it, and im totally ok with the fact that it's not following the book exactly. However, I am suspicious of Michelle Forbes recently introduced character. I wont give away who she is, but I'm really hoping that her introduction plays out EXACTLY as it did in the book because it's key!

    Posted by t November 19, 08 08:19 PM

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