True Blood PosterIf you live in Los Angeles, you'll no doubt remember the initial ad campaign, which plastered posters that looked like PSA's exclaiming that “Vampires are people too” and advertising bottles of True Blood on Bus stop benches.  I damn near ran a red light several times.  I was pleased to finally be informed that this was HBO's doing (and not the crazies at play) and my obsession for all things Vampire would once again have it's fix.   It was described to me by a friend in the industry as soft core porn.  Soft Core Vampire Porn?  Surely you jest?...Now I'm no prude, but I think soft core, might not be doing it justice.  If you like your TV raw and dramatic, check out True Blood.

Being a fan of the Buffy franchise I couldn't help but notice some glaring similarities to the story line. Hot, young Blonde falls instantly, madly in love with a Vampire who is not like the other vampires.  He has a conscience/soul what-have-you.  I was a bit surprised and annoyed with Alan Ball for that...until I realized that the story comes from a series of books by Charlaine Harris which my mom reads (way to be ahead of the curve mom!).  So then I wondered what attracted the acclaimed Producer and Writer of American Beauty and Six Feet Under to such a, frankly, cheesy story? So, I kept watching.  My advice: do the same.  The meat of the story unfolds itself.

BASIC PREMISE:
Vampires are real and they've “come out” into mainstream society (we're here, we drink blood, get used to it).  Thanks to a Japanese company that makes synthetic blood, marketed as True Blood, there is no need to savagely feed on humans but rather live in peace...or so we would like to think. The small Louisiana town of Bon Temp is home to Sookie Stackhouse and Merlotte's Bar (pronounced Mur-lots).  Characters GALORE, a girl who can read your thoughts, and some other people with secrets of their own.  A string of unexplained murders ensues and the story unravels.

THE CAST:

Anna Paquin as Sookie Stackhouse: Blonde?...ok.  She's come a long way from the little girl in The Piano and she's picked up some chops along the way.  I'm really enjoying her character.  Feisty, yet vulnerable and unpredictable.

Stephen Moyer as Bill Compton: Vampire with a heart of gold, which is no uncomplicated matter.  A civil war veteran and native to Bon Temp, he lives in the home that his wife and children once did, haunted by his past but madly in love with the fire in Sookie Stackhouse...and did I mention hot!

Ryan Kwanten as Jason Stackhouse: Sookie's brother who is literally all dick and no brains and manages to always get himself involved with women who end up dying mysteriously.  Let's just say he also develops a unique addiction.

Rutina Wesley as Tara Thornton: Sookie's childhood best friend and a force to be reckoned with.  She has come almost out of nowhere but the talent is there!  Who is this girl?!  I LOVE this character.

Carrie Preston as Arlene Fowler: Sookie's co-worker at the bar.  Just a sweet southern honeypot married many times over.  You don't know wether to hug her or slap her in the face.  We all know that person.  Carrie is precious.

Sam Trammell as Sam Merlotte: Sookie's boss at the bar who carries a torch for her.  Hug him or slap him?!...However a character that develops more dimension as the series progresses.

Nelsan Ellis as Lafayette Reynolds: Tara's gay cousin and the cook at Merlotte's...who also peddles advice and elicit substances and his body in his off time.  What a wonderful character! I literally hang on his every ridiculous word.  Smarter than most with a heart of gold.  Love him.

Chris Bauer as Andy Bellefleur: Bon Temp police and always scoping out Jason Stackhouse as his #1 suspect.  At least they didn't dip too far into the dumb southern law enforcement well.

William Sanderson as Sheriff Bud Dearborne: Fortunately not Gommer Pile as Deadwood fans might expect.  A bit wiser but still with the same charm.  Such chops!

Lois Smith as Adele Stackhouse: Big fat kiss!  MUAH!

Thanks to HBO's casting I could go on forever, but really, that's enough.

WHAT I DIG:
The basic story line of Vampires as second class citizens fighting for they're rights is a very unique device for studying the prejudices that lie in the human psyche that go beyond race, sexuality and religion.  It's evocative.  Once you succumb to the cheese  factor and realize that this seemingly low brow story is being fostered by some industry heavyweights, the story gets really intriguing, and once again the agony of waiting for the next episode has returned.

WHAT I DON'T:
EVERY EPISODE ends with a cliff hanger.  I HATE that...though some might argue that it's marketing genius.  None the less, it's crazy-making.  This part is hard, because I still can't figure out if the things that drive me nutz, are really the genius in the design.  Trusting HBO, I don't want to be too quick to judge this one.

WILL IT LAST:
Well, it's from a series of books so there's enough story line to conceivably get us through 10 seasons...but we don't want that.  It's already been renewed for a second season, so we'll see.