Television Revision: True Blood – Season 1

Television Revision: True Blood – Season 1. Starring Anna Paquin, Stephen Moyer, and Ryan Kwanten. Rated R. By Andrew Williams.

Anna Paquin as Sookie Stackhouse and Stephen Moyer as Bill Compton.

Television Revision is a weekly feature in which our tuned in TV critic trawls through the best the box has to offer, giving you a primer on some of history’s finest shows (and warning you away from the specific episodes – or even seasons! – that might have ruined their reputation).

Now, this is a story all about how… Vampires are undead but no longer undercover in the fictional town of Bon Temps, Louisiana. Psychic southern belle Sookie Stackhouse (Anna Paquin) falls under the charm of former Confederate soldier Bill Compton (Stephen Moyer), who is keen to restore the reputation of his kind as peace-loving….but it’s not just vamps that are out for blood.

Kristin Bauer van Straten as Pamela Ravenscroft and Alexander Skarsgard as Eric Northman.

Happy days? Currently at the end of its fifth season, True Blood is like that gorgeous high school crush who became a toothless meth addict. Sure, you may have missed out while they were in their prime; just be thankful you aren’t saddled with them now.

Arriving on television just as the pop-cultural vampire wave began to crest, True Blood gathered enough word of mouth over the course of its first season to emerge at the start of Season Two HBO’s biggest hit since The Sopranos. It was the network’s new saviour after a lean period both commercially and critically.

For all its reputation as a show to never meet a plot twist it didn’t like, the first season of True Blood doesn’t actually move that fast. Creator Alan Ball (Six Feet Under) lets it meander through the Deep South setting at a pace alarming to anyone only familiar with the latter era. The sex scenes are spaced out, the violence is used for impact rather than shock value, the acting is mostly convincing even if the accents are not, and the mysteries start small and grow rather than open big and fizzle out. However, the seeds for its eventual decline are present as well; a reluctance to lose any key characters while introducing new ones at a record rate, a lack of stakes, Tara.

The final frontier: The first season of True Blood is undeniably patchy but often compelling. It’s a promising start to a series poised for a greatness that failed to eventuate.

Ryan Kwanten as Jason Stackhouse.

Top 3 Episodes: 1) Strange Love. The season opener has a few good moments and some great character introductions but the snail’s pace would have thrown a few people off. 5) Sparks Fly Out. Bill’s vampiric origins are revealed, buried underneath some surprisingly compelling flashbacks. 9) Plaisir D’Amour. Character actor par excellence Stephen Root effortlessly outshines the main cast in his run on True Blood, and never more so than here.

Worst Episode: 7) Burning House of Love. In which Tara’s mother gets her closest thing to a spotlight episode, featuring two of the season’s worst scenes.

Season MVP: Stephen Moyer. The Englishman failed to nail the accent (the way he says Sookie is endlessly mockable) but he’s brooding, dangerous, romantic, and occasionally funny. If only he hadn’t been punished with a procession of atrocious storylines ever since.

True Blood – Season 1 is now available on DVD and Blu-ray. It can also be streamed instantly on Quickflix PLAY until September 20.

One Response to “Television Revision: True Blood – Season 1”

  1. Thanks for that. I was considering watching, mainly due to the HBO connection but I think I`ll pass now.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: