Monday, August 1, 2011
Pleasure? Not so much.
A few weeks ago at a family dinner, I asked the question "Does anybody watch True Blood?"
My adorable niece Holly answered, "You mean, vampire porn?"
Hmmm... yeah, that about sums it up.
Someone said I should watch it and I tried the first season. They had some really good actors in what turned out to be minor roles, minor in that the characters didn't make it to the end of first season. Most notably, the veteran actress Lois Smith played the grandmother of the main character Sookie Stackhouse and Stephen Root was cast as a newbie vampire. Both of them are killed before season one ends. Every season has at least one top notch actor in a supporting role and a lot of good actors seen in other HBO shows have continuing roles, like William Sanderson from Deadwood and Chris Bauer from The Wire.
There is a small difference. I watched Deadwood and The Wire from beginning to end and recommend them to anyone who isn't squeamish about dark stories or profanity.
I cannot recommend True Blood. Folks with a lick of sense will hate it.
I swore off the show after two seasons, but I heard Denis O'Hare, a great New York actor, would have a major role in Season 3, so I rented it on Netflix. I watched the show intently, devouring the discs as they came.
But even though I watched, I knew why it sucked as I watched it.
Like many HBO shows, there's nudity. Many attractive people of both genders get butt nekkid on a regular basis. Also booby nekkid. Lower naughty bits are scrupulously avoided. That's a positive point in my book.
It also has a great theme song and opening title.
These two major positive points are overwhelmed by the two main negative points.
The writing sucks on all levels. This is a dangerous world. There are many creatures we would call supernatural - vampires, werewolves, shape shifters and other beings - many of whom consider humans food. You would think humans would be wary and able to protect themselves, but there are multiple characters in the show just too stupid to live. For a mind reader, Sookie is pretty stunningly stupid, and her brother Jason, pretty close to the opposite of a mind reader, is at least twice as stupid as she is. Her best friend Tara, also stupid. Tara's cousin Lafayette, definitely on the stupid side as well, but his survival makes some sense, since he is a valuable pawn in a dangerous game being played by the vampires.
All of them are regulars, having lived through three seasons plus. They live being stupid because the writers are stupider than they are.
An alternate theory is the writers and producers think the audience is stupider than they are, and the second point backs up this view very well.
The editing sucks as much as the writing. And even though they have hired a lot of acting talent, the editors use some many cliches and musical cues, you can only assume they think the audience has lost too many brain cells huffing paint. You'd think they would trust the actors to play horror or disgust or betrayal, but no. The music has to tell you what they are feeling. It's stunningly cheesy on a depressingly regular basis.
So again, the high points of True Blood: butt nekkidness and a great theme song.
The low points: the writing and the editing.
I do not mention any of the major actors, because I don't consider the show's weakness to be their fault. I almost always blame the people behind the camera when something is this depressingly bad.