"Only dull people are brilliant at breakfast"
-Oscar Wilde
Brilliant at Breakfast title banner "The liberal soul shall be made fat, and he that watereth, shall be watered also himself."
-- Proverbs 11:25
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"I came here to chew bubblegum and kick ass. And I'm all out of bubblegum." -- "Rowdy" Roddy Piper (1954-2015), They Live
Thursday, June 24, 2010

Brilliant at Television: True Blood
Posted by Jill | 5:30 AM
It's been a tough month for us Losties. Some of us are so bereft that we start funny blogs that feature vignettes from the lives of the obsessed; while others just still think that a cop show featuring Sawyer and Miles as cops is so awesome that not even the people who appear from early previews to have ruined Shit My Dad Says have ruined that particular conceit.

I'm actually doing OK, having had episodes of Nurse Jackie to watch, and then the unexpectedly excellent finale of The Tudors to watch. But I'd forgotten just how much I adore the awesomeness that is True Blood.

I have a friend at work who's taking her daughter to the midnight opening of the next Twilight movie. I've seen about a half hour of the first one on cable. Now, I like skinny, brooding English actors with cheekbones you can grate cheese on as much as the next girl, but Robert Pattinson as Edward Cullen makes me want to smack him across the face like Cher in Moonstruck and say, "Snap out of it!" On True Blood, the vampire hero is the brooding Bill Compton, played by skinny English actor with cheekbones you can grate cheese on Stephen Moyer. He's supposed to be the hero, but with creator/director Alan Ball at the helm, you know the beautiful male quotient of this show is going to be off the charts, and while the character's trying-to-mainstream nature played in the first season as courtliness left over from his human life as a Civil War-era soldier, he all too often seems to be just whiny.

What saves True Blood from being just a Twilight clone is the often meta snark that sneaks through in every episode. Alan Ball has never forgotten that for all the brooding that comes with being an undead creature who never dies, the worst crime a vampire story can commit is to take itself too seriously. Would Bram Stoker's Dracula be as great as it is if Gary Oldman hadn't played it as camp?

In True Blood, most of the comic relief belongs to the stupendously spectacular-looking Ryan Kwanten, an actor of seemingly perfectly normal intelligence who does an amazing job of playing the aptly-named Jason Stackhouse, a character who often seems a few sandwiches short of a picnic:

Kwanten is so ridiculously good-looking that when he extrapolates, as he does in last Sunday's episode, that if werewolves are real, perhaps Bigfoot and Santa are too, the hilarity becomes fall-off-the-chair funny.

...and much of the snark is delivered by Alexander Skarsgard as Vampire Sheriff Eric Northman:

It's hardly surprising, given the barely-veiled gay/AIDS subtext of the vampire vs. human worlds, that the male characters both have more to do and are more multidimensional than the female. Anna Paquin's Sookie Stackhouse is supposed to be the main character, but as the series goes on and other, more interesting, mostly male, characters are introduced, it's hard to be interested in her, even if she can read minds. But the lack of dimensional females notwithstanding, this show has everything -- crazy-ass maenads, dumb southern cops, shape-shifters, a psychobabble-spouting war veteran with PTSD, Christofascists, flashbacks to Nazi vampires, and this season we not only have werewolves played by actual wolves, but Vampire Thomas Cromwell (not really, but James Frain, last seen on The Tudors being subjected to a particularly gruesome execution, joins the cast this season.

If you can handle the gore (and if you sat through The Tudors, you can), then this is why God invented Netflix.

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Blogger Barry said...
Have you delved into Treme yet? I need someone to talk about it with

Blogger Bartender Cabbie said...
Finally something that we agree on. TB is great and I agree with you that Bill's brooding, non socipathic personality detracts some. I wrote a vampire piece on my blog a few days back on this lack of viciousness on his part and of course Cullen's on Twilight. I agree that Sookie is now taking a bit of a back seat to some of the other characters. Probably a good thing. I would love to see Zeljko Ivanek, aka The Magistar, have a bit more of a role. He is truly frightening. True Blood is one of the best