'True Blood': A little talk among fans to tide us over
Hey there, "True Blood" fans. I know it's a holiday weekend, so you're probably out enjoying yourselves, but I also know there's no new "True Blood" on Sunday night, so you're not enjoying yourselves that heartily. You're maybe at a cookout, having a burger or a hot dog, maybe a few potato chips, and you're laughing and joking with family and friends, but underneath all of that, you're thinking, "Man, I wish 'True Blood' were on tonight. I need some fireworks after the fireworks, if you know what I mean." Well, that's why I'm here. And although this may not keep the sting of no new episode away, it will give you happy memories of a time when Bill was twisting Lorena's neck around in the midst of coitus. That oughtta spice up the patriotic parades!
Frequent commenter KarenJ dropped me an e-mail this week, talking about how many blog posts she'd read from fans of the book series the show is based on. Karen disagrees with their approach:
"Fans of the book series all seem to mention how 'easy' it is for them to follow the convoluted and multiple plots of the show - based on the books. And how they 'get-it' based on the books.
"I'd just like to say (as a 'non follower' of the books) that any movie or TV series based on a story/novel, really should stand on its own. I'm far from being a fool, and can easily follow the plots of this show. I'm not having an issue with that. But... you made a great point regarding the multiple plots and sub-sub plots (my words not yours). There seems to be so MANY this season. I suppose my point is that the show shouldn't be considered a 'companion' to the book. And, I really do understand why the 'readers' feel the way they do - based on their loyalty to the original books. But, it should stand on its own with the multiple plots. This show really DOES need to be more cohesive in its multiple story lines.
"The show's a whole lotta fun... (weird, bloody, violent sex scenes and all) but I don't think it's a 'great' show. Although - I think it really could be!"
I rather agree with Karen, but I also think sometimes it's hard to separate yourself from the original material when you've read or seen that original material. I know I was a big fan of both the "Lord of the Rings" books and films and felt the films changed enough of the books to make the story work as a film without losing the essence of the books. But many people who hadn't read the books that I talked to simply couldn't follow what was going on. (To be fair, many who hadn't read the books could follow the film as well. Maybe I just have stupid friends?) When you've read the source material, it's very, very hard to put yourself in the shoes of someone who hasn't, and that makes it a little too easy, sometimes, to say, when they look befuddled, "Well, don't you GET IT?"
On the other hand, I'd say this season of "True Blood" is leaning heavily on people who've read the books and know this is all going somewhere (particularly the seemingly go-nowhere plots, like the one with Sam or the one with Tara), as well as asking all of us -- even the readers -- to trust that the producers know where they're going. If you love the show and everything it's ever done, it's easier to just sit back and enjoy the ride, a lot of times. But if you're a little more skeptical of some of the things the show has done, as Karen and I are, it's not hard to start to wonder if the series is attempting too much. That said, there's so much I'm enjoying about this season that complaining about a handful of fairly minor plotlines on a show with 17 million of them feels like quibbling.
Last week in comments, the huge number of plotlines was the big topic of discussion as well. Renton tried to watch the show with his wife, and when he explained what was going on to her, she said it was all too much to follow. PR wished the show would go back to the tightly focused plot of Season 1, when the series was far more interested in the Bill and Sookie romance than just about any other plotline. And Laur actually stopped reading the books because their plotting eventually became so all over the place. But a fair number of you felt that the show would come together, based on what you knew of the books. For now, I'll trust you.
CC, however, thought this was all so much crying over spilled milk:
"I am an adult and I think I can handle more than sub-plot at a time. The show isn't your usual spoon-fed drama. I appreciate that. Where you see little cohesion I see a lot of cohesion. The writers are taking the audience deeper into the world 'supernatural beings.' Until recently, this supernatural world and the existence of supernatural beings had remained hidden from humans. I feel as if the True Blood world as in real life is dealing with Pandora's box.
"Vampires have gone undetected until the recent great revelation. Their powers such as 'glamouring' make complete sense in a world where they killed people for food and somehow remained undetected for thousands of years. This power explains how they've gotten away with feeding off of humans without detection."
For starters, I've never complained about the vampires being able to glamour people as being something unrealistic or inexplicable within the show's universe. I think it makes sense as the way they've remained undetected for so long. But at the same time, it deliberately limits the drama involved in the vampires ever being somewhere they're not supposed to be. They can usually just glamour their way out of the situation, and they get away scot-free. In some ways, it's similar to how the writers on "Heroes" could never figure out a way to believably limit some of the characters' powers, leading to some really stupid story decisions. "True Blood" hasn't gotten there with the glamouring just yet, since glamouring isn't nearly as all-powerful, but I do worry that it closes off some more creative storytelling when the writers can say, "Aw, just have Bill glamour that guy."
On the other hand, CC's point is taken about the series being about a continuing journey into a world of supernatural beings. The question, then, becomes whether viewers think the world is so interesting as to be one we want to keep exploring with millions of plots scattering in every direction or if we're going to lose patience. I'm not even close to losing patience yet, but the world of the Mississippi vampire king plotline is a lot more interesting to me than the world of Sam and his shape-shifting biological family at this point. Can the show pull this together? Almost certainly. And I hope it will.
--Todd VanDerWerff (follow me on Twitter at twitter.com/tvoti)
Photo: Sam (Sam Trammell) is stuck in a plotline that some "True Blood" viewers -- including your humble blogger -- fear is going nowhere. Credit: HBO
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