True Blood, HBO
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Okay, this series is based on Charlaine Harris' Sookie Stackhouse book series, none of which I've ever read. But I wanted to check the show out, partly because it's about vampires, and partly because it stars Anna Paquin as Sookie Stackhouse. Of course, it's on HBO, which I don't get, but I found I could order the episodes On Demand, for free. So I watched a few eps, and I liked the show well enough. Unfortunately, the episodes stopped being available for free, so I had to stop watching. I definitely hope to watch the whole series someday, though.
Anyway, the background is that a couple years ago, a Japanese company introduced a synthetic blood beverage called Tru Blood [sic], which vampires can drink instead of human blood. Since then, vampires have made themselves known to the general public, and have been given certain rights, including voting. But there are also people who are against this, including some prominent religious figures. There are also vampires who don't want to drink Tru Blood, preferring the real thing, and who have no interest in "toeing the party line." There's also lots of humans who will have sex with vampires, and/or sell their blood, and so forth. But the flip side is that vampire blood (or "V juice") can prove useful to humans, particularly as an aphrodisiac. In fact, there are other things it can be used for, which are less commonly known...
Anyway, so things are complicated, and the very existence of vampires is a major issue around the world, obviously. But the series focuses on the small Southern town of Bon Temps, where Sookie Stackhouse works as a waitress in a bar called Merlotte's. She can hear other people's thoughts, and has to work to avoid listening in, which is a major pain. Her family and those closest to her are aware of this, but others around town think she's a psychic, or some kind of freak. Anyway, she lost her parents when she was a kid, and was taken in by her grandmother, Adele. She also has a brother named Jason, who's a bit of an idiot, and doesn't like vampires. In the first ep, one of the women he's been sleeping with, Maudette, gets killed, and he's the only suspect, but in the second ep it's revealed that he wasn't guilty, and the true culprit was probably a vampire, with whom she also had sex. Meanwhile, another woman Jason is sleeping with, Dawn (who also worked at Merlotte's), turned out to have been with a vampire (though a different one than the first woman), and she eventually winds up dead, herself.
I should also mention that Sookie's best friend, Tara Thornton, has a thing for Jason, but he seems pretty clueless. Anyway, she gets a job working at Merlotte's, as well, in spite of her generally bad attitude and tendency to say whatever's on her mind, without worrying about offending anyone. Also, she has an alcoholic mother, who causes her grief. And Tara has a cousin named Lafayette Reynolds, who also works at Merlotte's, though he has much more illicit ways of making money, as well, such as prostituting himself, and selling drugs. Um, there's also another waitress at Merlotte's, Arlene Fowler, but I don't really know anything about her yet. But it's important to mention the owner of the bar, Sam Merlotte, who has a thing for Sookie, though it doesn't seem like he's likely to do anything about it.
So, a lot of characters, with some interesting relationships or whatever, but the two main characters are of course Sookie, and Bill Compton. Bill is a 173-year-old vampire, who was turned around the time of the Civil War (which makes him interesting to Adele, who is thrilled to have a chance to talk to someone who actually lived in that era). Anyway, he came into Merlotte's one night, which is where he met Sookie. She's fascinated by him not only because he's the first vampire she ever met, but more importantly because she can't hear his thoughts, which is a great relief. She ends up rescuing him from a couple of people named Rattray, who were draining his blood to sell. Later, they attack her for payback, and Bill ends up saving her. But that meant giving her some of his blood, which has healing properties for humans (though this isn't common knowledge). It did more than save her, however... while it didn't turn her into a vampire, it did enhance her senses and so forth, and created some kind of link between her and Bill, so that if she was ever in danger, he would know.
Anyway, so they're sort of seeing each other, but it's complicated. Jason certainly isn't happy about it, though Adele doesn't have a problem with Bill. Sam and Tara are a bit concerned (and of course Sam is also jealous). And then, there are other vampires with whom Bill has associated, who aren't interested in mainstreaming. The three we've met so far are Malcolm, Diane, and Liam (the one Maudette was with). Bill tells them to leave him and Sookie alone. But they've mentioned other vampires, with greater authority than any of them, so I'm interested to learn more about that. I should also say Sookie is a bit conflicted about her feelings for Bill, at this point, and even told him they should stop seeing each other. But it's clear that things are far from over between them.
Meanwhile... even if the slowly developing romance is the centerpoint of the show, there's obviously lots of stuff going on with all the other characters in Bon Temps, as well as controversy around the world. A prime example of this is the organization Fellowship of the Sun, which is anti-vampire. One of their leaders, Rev. Theodore Newlin, recently died, and his son, Steve, claims he was assassinated by vampires. This is basically background stuff at this point, something you might hear a snippet of while a main character is watching the news on TV, but it seems like it could end up playing a much larger role in the main story, sometime soon....
And, I guess I can't think what else to say, after just three episodes. Oh yeah, I should also mention the opening theme (Bad Things, by Jace Everett) is pretty cool, and definitely fits the mood of the show quite well. And if I ever get around to watching more of the series, I'll have lots more to say.