Thursday, June 7, 2012

Five problems True Blood needs to address this season

Now heading into its fifth season when it premiers on Sunday night, HBO’s over-sexed ‘True Blood’ is starting to experience some growing pains.

It’s not that the fourth season was bad – it just wasn’t very good.

To be fair, though, I just recently re-watched it from start to finish and I can say that it is better than I remember but still not great.

The first season of ‘True Blood’ was clearly the best. The show had something of a sophomore slump, where the vampire business in Texas was entertaining but the constant orgy going on back home was tedious and ridiculous in the second season.

Then the show bounced back in season three thanks to Denis O’Hare’s campy but lovable Russell Edgington. I don’t care what anyone says, Russell carrying around and talking to his urn of goo towards the end of season three was one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen. When you add that to his take on the daily news – an instant classic villain was born.

Season four, though, was another slip back. Maybe ‘True Blood’ is like ‘Star Trek’ – only instead of the even numbers being lucky it’s the odd ones? No? Just a thought.

So, here are five things I want to see “fixed” before the end of season five:

5. Stop dropping stories: I’ve noticed that ‘True Blood’ will start stories and then completely drop them on a whim. Two prime examples would be Terry and Arlene’s haunted baby and Jason being a were-panther. In the baby storyline, we were led to believe by the end of the season that it was that ghost that was drawn to Jessica’s creepy doll doing everything weird around the baby. The problem is that the baby was doing weird stuff before he ever got his hands on that doll – including ripping off doll heads and writing stuff on walls. The Jason story stems from the books (where Jason is a much meaner character) and it spanned almost half of season four before unceremoniously being dropped out of nowhere. Fans of HBO shows don’t want writing lapses like that.

4. Give Eric back his bite: I know that the Eric and Sookie romance was in book four – and that’s actually one of my favorite books – but the romance between Eric and Sookie on the show felt forced. I like Alexander Skarsgard, I really do. I mean, he’s never going to win an Oscar but he is solid and he’s charismatic. If I had one quibble with the Eric character before season four it would be the lack of his long blonde hair from the books, but that’s a minor complaint. In the fourth season, though, Eric turns into a total weakling. I enjoyed the scenes of him pinching Sookie’s butt and swimming with the alligators – but other than that he kind of fell flat. Then, when he got his memory back, the changes in the character were obvious and unwelcome. I understand that he had fallen in love with Sookie, but he could have done that without the personality transplant. 

3. Give Sam a solid story: Sam is one of the few characters in the books that I think has remained true to his roots throughout, so I don’t like seeing him trampled on when it comes to the small screen. He is constantly trampled on, though, especially when it comes to nonsensical stories. I didn’t mind Sam going to find his birth parents – and even enjoyed some of their white trash antics. However, Tommy’s death at the end of season four after skin-walking as Sam seemed to come out of left field. It didn’t make a lot of sense to me. There was a lot of potential in the Tommy and Sam relationship – and the culmination of it just seemed like another dropped story. I have a feeling Sam is going to go dark again this season – but show Sam seems like a mental patient half the time anyway. He does have a ridiculously cute butt, though.

2. Don’t do a Jessica and Jason pairing: I know Jason is a horndog with a heart of gold. No, really he is. He’s a lovable dimwit that gets himself in constant trouble because he lets one part of his body think for him – and it’s not the part that should be thinking for him. Jason’s one redeeming quality, though, was his loyalty to Sookie and Hoyt. By pairing him with Jessica, that loyalty is destroyed. I like Jessica a great deal – and I didn’t think I would the first few episodes with her. It was her sweet love story with Hoyt that brought me around to the character. The way the writers have destroyed Jessica and Hoyt, though, makes both characters lose a lot of rooting value. I don’t for a second believe that couples have to stay together on shows, but Hoyt and Jessica’s relationship deserved more respect than it got -- and saddling Jason and Jessica with a chemistry-free romance is going to hurt both characters.

1. Lay-off the fairy stuff: The great thing about Charlaine Harris’ books is that the fairy stuff wasn’t introduced until later – and then little by little. Granted, the fairy stuff is now ruining the book series, too, but I didn’t expect it to ruin the television series so soon. The thing that people like about Sookie is that she’s normal. Sure, she can read other people’s thoughts, but she’s introduced as a bar waitress that dresses in tacky clothes and worships the sun. She’s not some supernatural smackdown waiting to happen. I put up with the show runners making white magic glow from her hands when she was in a desperate situation – but now it’s happening on a regular basis and it’s ridiculous. I think season four started out on the wrong foot right from the get-go – spending the first 10 minutes of the season in a ridiculously campy fairy land. Basically, as a general rule, a little fairy in the tale goes a long way.

What do you think? Can ‘True Blood’ rebound from last season’s mediocre showing?


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