True Blood (2008)
Starring: Anna Paquin, Ryan Kwanten, Rutina Wesley
Okay, so I got busy today and didn't really have time tonight to sit down and watch a full-length movie. Instead I decided to watch the first episode of a new horror TV series I've been meaning to view. It's called True Blood, and hasn't been shown here in NZ yet, but five episodes have shown in the US so far.
From the creator of Six Feet Under (a series I haven't seen, but have heard good things about), True Blood is based on the vampire novels of Charlaine Harris. I haven't read any of the books, so have no bias going in. Kiwi actress Anna Paquin plays Sookie Stackhouse, a waitress in a smalltown bar/diner in rural Louisiana. Oh yeah, she can read people's minds, and vampires walk among society, having "come out of the coffin" about two years prior.
The first episode naturally spends time setting up the characters - Sookie, her best friend Tara, brother Jason, her workmates at the bar... and Bill, a vampire she meets at work one night, and who she saves from a couple of redneck "vampire drainers". She falls madly in love with Bill, despite the objections of just about everyone in town.
You see, vampires are a normal part of the world now, but in rural Louisiana they're still a novelty. True Blood draws a nice little parallel between southerners' attitudes to minority races, and southerners' attitudes to these vampires. Sookie is about the only one not willing to judge Bill by what makes him different.
Because True Blood shows on HBO in the US, more blood and nudity is allowed than if it was a network TV show. This is no Buffy the Vampire Slayer. In the first episode there's a few instances of nudity, some kinky sex and a smattering of swearwords. I've got to say I was surprised with how little blood and guts there was (this is a vampire series after all), but then again no one died onscreen, so I'll hold judgement until the series really gets going.
Paquin does a nice job as Sookie, putting on her best southern accent. Stephen Moyer is suitably brooding and mysterious as Bill the vampire, and ironically Australian Ryan Kwanten (formerly of Home and Away, according to IMDB) plays Sookie's brother Jason. About the only acting that I didn't like was that of Rutina Wesley, who plays Sookie's best friend Tara. That might not be completely Wesley's fault though, as the character is a cookie-cutter stereotype. Shame on the writers.
Overall I quite enjoyed the first episode of True Blood and will be watching the rest of the season as it unfolds.