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TV Review: ‘True Blood’ Returns For a Bloody Good Summer

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CHICAGO – Forget the buzz about “The Twilight Saga: New Moon.” There are 12 hours of vampire love before that even hits theaters. HBO’s spectacular “True Blood” returns this weekend with a great second season premiere filled with the gore, sex, humor, and thrills that fans of the show have come to expect. It’s going to be a hot summer in Bon Temps.

HollywoodChicago.com Television Rating: 5.0/5.0
Television Rating: 5.0/5.0

Part of the charm of “True Blood” is in the unexpected twists and turns of the show. Just when you think you know where a character’s arc is going, it takes a left turn and said character might even end up dead. It’s the most refreshingly unpredictable show on television.

Anna Paquin, Stephen Moyer.
Anna Paquin, Stephen Moyer.
Photo credit: Jaime Trueblood/HBO

The first season of “True Blood” ended on a peak and it continues to rise with the second season premiere. Consequently, reviewing it is very difficult. I will tread very lightly with spoilers.

The first thing you should do is catch up with the first season on DVD and Blu-Ray. Not only is it a great season of television, but the first shot of the new season picks up immediately after the last shot of the first. And so much of this first episode plays off plot points and themes from the first. I usually would suggest jumping into a great show as soon as possible, but I can’t imagine keeping up as well with this season premiere if I hadn’t just watched the last 12 episodes on Blu-Ray.

Deborah Ann Woll.
Deborah Ann Woll.
Photo credit: Jaime Trueblood/HBO

When we left off, Sookie (Anna Paquin), Tara (Rutina Wesley), and Andy (Chris Bauer) has just found a dead body in the back of a drunken Andy’s car. Even just the identity of that body would be considered a spoiler but it is someone with a past related to one of the lead characters and who left it there and why will clearly be a major plotline of season two.

Meanwhile, Sam (Sam Trammell) was running around with a bag of money and Bill (Stephen Moyer) was stuck at home waiting for Sookie to return. Jason (Ryan Kwanten) was free and had been courted by the “Fellowship of the Sun,” a group of hardcore anti-vampire crusaders.

Where does “True Blood” go from here? Without much spoiling, I can reveal that it’s clear that many of the characters introduced at the end of season one will play a major role in season two.

Maryann (Michelle Forbes, who is now listed in the fantastic opening credits) is still playing protector/captor for Tara and her motivations and past history with one important resident of Bon Temps is a major focus of episode one. And Eggs (Mehcad Brooks), the cute fellow boarder at Maryann’s, grows closer to Tara.

On the vamp side, Jessica (Deborah Ann Woll), the girl that Bill turned into a vampire last season, has returned to mess with her maker’s life. And Eric (Alexander Skarsgard) will also clearly become a more prominent character this season.

I know what you want to know. What about Lafayette (Nelsan Ellis)? The first season ended with the strong implication that one of the most beloved characters on the show had been killed, possibly even by Bill. I would never ruin what happened to Lafayette and just say that you won’t have to wait long to find out and you’ll be stunned and fascinated when you do.

Rutina Wesley, Michelle Forbes.
Rutina Wesley, Michelle Forbes.
Photo credit: Jaime Trueblood/HBO

“True Blood” is one of the best shows on television because it’s not just unlike anything else on TV, it’s several shows in one. You could watch Alan Ball’s series as a social commentary, as a romantic soap opera, or as a gothic murder mystery. The writing is some of the most clever on television. Ball and his writers throw religion, sex, violence, and mythology into a Cajun gumbo that keeps getting better by the episode.

Going seamlessly from season to season - I watched the finale of one back-to-back with the premiere of two - I have to say that the time off seems to have done the show a world of good. I thoroughly enjoyed season one but the premiere of two is one of the best episodes to date.

What’s different? All of the actors, Paquin and Wesley in particular, seem more confident in their roles. They seem more comfortable in these character’s skins with a whole season under their belts and the performances are more assured.

And the same confidence about character extends to the writing. The dialogue, pacing, and plotting feels more perfectly paced in the second season premiere. This is one of the most crisply written and edited hours of the year to date. It feels only about half its running time.

Finally, the season premiere of “True Blood” doesn’t skimp on anything that fans have come to love about the show with one of the bloodiest death scenes and one of the most explicit sex scenes the show has produced to date. “True Blood” is back - even sexier, bloodier, and more entertaining than ever. It’s going to be a fun summer.

The second season of “True Blood” premieres on HBO on Sunday, June 14th, 2009 at 8pm CST. It stars Anna Paquin, Stephen Moyer, Sam Trammell, Ryan Kwanten, Rutina Wesley, Chris Bauer, Michelle Forbes, Nelsan Ellis, Deborah Ann Woll, Alexander Skarsgard, and Mehcad Brooks. It was created by Alan Ball.

HollywoodChicago.com content director Brian Tallerico

By BRIAN TALLERICO
Content Director
HollywoodChicago.com
brian@hollywoodchicago.com

Caiden E.'s picture

Nice post

Nice post. The review was a great sample of why I keep coming back to read posts from this site.

Anonymous's picture

In my country I must watch

In my country I must watch HBO by cable TV. I read the short story that you review then I would like to watch it so much. But I never see “True Blood” is on schedule. Where can I watch this movies? Someone please tell me. Thank you.

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