Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Box Set Blues: True Blood, Series 1

Ah, Vampires. Savage, blood sucking monsters who descend in the hours of darkness to defile innocence and cause the ruin of all that touch. Somewhere along the line this became a romantic ideal, and whilst I'm not sure why, the pointy toothed fiends seem to be everywhere at the moment, running around and waving their subtext in everyone's faces. On the whole the Vampire hasn't done much for me since Near Dark, but the one show I have been recommended from a couple of places is True Blood, the HBO adaptation of the Sookie Stackhouse novels by Charlene Harris. So onto my Lovefilm queue they went, and now we've seen the whole first series, I can answer the big question of was it worth it?

Broadly, yes.

There seems to be two sorts of "mature quality" shows created by US cable at the moment. The first is the intricate, moody shows that by their nature attract a smaller audience and the other are shows where the protagonists take their clothes off a lot and run around saying "fuck". You can probably guess which sort of one True Blood is. Yet somehow, it works, like a big daft 18-rated pantomime.

So there is this waitress, right, who is psychic, which means that in a town where no-one can keep their pants on for more than a couple of hours she's never "been with a man in that way" (say it in a southern drawl, it works) but meets up with brooding Vampire Bill (Vampires are now "out" and fighting for equal civil rights in one of TBs many outbreaks of heavy handed metaphor) whose mind she can't read so that mystery of not knowing what he things plus his brooding ways makes her all weak in the knees.

She's got a boss, who, in the least subtle foreshadowing in the world, can turn into a dog, and a best friend whose only special gift appears to be being an enormous fuck up with plot lines that have escaped from the Oprah Winfrey show (I Had an Exorcism to Be Free Of A Demon After a Voodoo Mama Cured my Mamas Alcoholism). Her brother is the most pants-downiest man-whore of Pants-down Town until he meets his true love and ends up kidnapping a Vampire whose special Vampire Ability appears to be being a better actor than them. Doesn't end well, as you might expect.

My Dear, I was admiring your fine subtexts.

Oh, and there's a serial killer running around murdering "Fang Bangers", or women who has sex with vampires (because drinking your blood is too sub-textey, so Vampires suck your blood and have great sex with you. But given that all their other bodily fluids (tears, for instance) are replaced with blood...well, Ew, frankly) but as a plot line it does seem to ebb and flow a little through the middle before surging back at the end of the series.

And even more, but i can't really go on.

Its ridiculous. It really is. And its all done in a straight-faced, Southern Gothic Melodramatic style that means that it floats along on a great cloud of Ridiculous in a way that makes it both great fun, and very moreish. All the emotions on display are big and colourful, most of the acting is either loudly overblown or deliberately stilled, which actually works pretty well, and despite myself I really enjoyed it all. I think this may be new Guilty Pleasure show, which I guess fits right in with it's ethos...