Monday, 19 October 2009

TRUEly BLOODy Brilliant!!

Over the years I've been a sucker for many of those American big budget, slick multi-part continuing series... 24, The Wire, Heroes, Dexter, The Mentalist and Prison Break are just some of the titles that have come and gone at Piley Towers over the years. However these days I'm reluctant to get drawn in, with the addition of Piley Jr, there just doesn't seem to be the time anymore, and I struggle to commit myself to 24 or 26 hour long episodes season after season. I'm still saddled with LOST which is absolute pants now. The trouble is, having invested so much time into it (to date, 103 hours that I'll not be getting back), that I've got to see it through now to the conclusion... just to find out if there really is an ending or it was just 6 series of absolute bollocks. LOST has become a real millstone, and with that in mind I kinda promised myself that I wouldn't get involved anymore. But back in the summer I picked up on all the buzz going around about the HBO vampire series True Blood, and rather reluctantly gave it a go. After a slow start (which to be fair was just some great scene setting and character building) this series exploded into without doubt the most enjoyable debut series I've ever seen.... and as an extra bonus it was only 12 episodes long!

I have to say I was a bit sceptical about the whole vampire thing at first, visions of Buffy and countless other 'camp vamps' sprang to mind. But True Blood has adopted a really cool angle... It's set in the fictional town of Bon Temps in Louisiana, where two years ago, thanks to the invention of synthetic blood (called 'Tru Blood' which is sold in all the local bars and convenience stores and comes in delicious 'A', 'B', 'AB' and 'O' flavours!), vampires 'came out of the coffin' and are now trying to integrate in the community alongside the living residents! Some locals have welcomed the vampires, whilst others are very hostile, and want to rid the town of their newly acquired neighbours.

The central vamp is Bill Compton... about as un-vampire a name as you could get!! But I think that's the idea, as apart from the fact he's dead, Bill is a pretty regular guy! As the series goes on you get an insight into his life when he was alive. Born in the early 1800's, he was a citizen of Bon Temps, and fought in the Civil War. You also get to find out how he became a vampire. Bill seems to have an affinity with the humans, and much of the series focuses on his 'on-off' relationship with the leading lady of the show - the telepathic waitress Sookie Stackhouse. However there are a number of story lines all going on, the most sinister of which is a mysterious trail of murders, which one by one are getting nearer and nearer to Sookie.

There is some lovely attention to detail in the series - one that particularly impressed me was that despite hailing from the same town, vampire Bill's accent is slightly different to the Southern drawl of the humans (as is his vocabulary). Bill is more 'Gone with the Wind' Rhett Butler than anything else... it's never mentioned during the series, but it's a nice touch, and as he hails from the 1800's it's probably spot on too.

It's a really quirky show (and I've intentionally not given away any of the main plots, twists and turns), and is complimented by a great supporting cast. It's got everything to keep you hooked and can switch from dark humour to horror to kinky sex in the flash of a fang!

The oddest thing for me though is the fact that the lead character is an Essex boy! Yup, vampire Bill, or rather Stephen Moyer, hails from Brentwood in Essex, just 20 odd miles from Piley Towers! "gor blimey it's bleedin' taters in them fackin graveyards today init".... well maybe.

I intended getting this post up a couple of week back before Channel 4 started to show the series (Wednesdays at 10pm, repeated on Fridays around 11pm). But as it turned out I've been feeling rather under the weather the last couple of weeks (hence the lack of posts), and didn't quite make it. Still, if you're not already hooked and you have access to all that 'on demand' malarkey, I'm sure you can catch up if you want to!



marmiteboy said...

I didn't realise you were a fan Mr P. I love True Blood (season 2 is even better than season 1) it's just great fun with decent acting and great characters.

Like you I can't be bothered with all these 26 week marathons. I gave up on Dexter 3 quarters of teh way through seasomn 2 and Heroes after about 3 episodes of season 2. True Blood is different though because it all happens quickly and there is hardly any filler.

The highlight of my televisual week was downloading Sunday nights episode when i got home from work on a Monday. Roll on season 3.

Piley said...

Thanks Marmite... yes, and you were one of the ones I got the buzz from in the summer!! Think you are right... there have been so many episodes of LOST which are so obviously 'fillers'. Nothing happens, and the story doesn't moe forward at all. Just using up time. Bringing the series down to 12 episodes means you can cut all the waste and just hit the ground running. 'a friend' has provided me with season 2, and agree it seems even better.


E F RICE said...

I must admit Piley I made a conscious decision to stay clear of this one. Firstly the constant hype put me off and when you add that to the fact that the whole Vampire thing (or should that be fang ?) don’t do much for me either , other than the exceptional work of Bela Lugosi !, then it was a priority call with all the other things I try to keep up with.

I am a real bugger like you for the American series stuff and would be willing to argue and fight with anyone, who tries to persuade me that 24 and The Wire are not two of the greatest programmes ever made (in addition to The Goodies of course).

So for now I will stick to my US Police and Government terrorist/conspiracy theory type stuff. Speaking of which my latest fave is ‘Flash Forward’ which is by the makers of LOST. It has started off really well but I am with you on the drivel that LOST became, and I am concerned that 20 + episodes developing the story could be too much. I am also hoping it is a one series subject as well which Life on Mars (UK Version) should have stayed as in my opinion ……. sorry I am rambling onto another subject now !

E F RICE said...

PS – Sorry I really must take issue with Marmiteboy’s premature ending to viewing Dexter ! Another American series I would be willing to argue/fight over.

Nazz Nomad said...

I watched most of season 2 of True Blood due to the missus having it on. She says season 1 was bloodier and nastier. I don't have a problem with the show, and I realize it is supposed to be campy ala Dark Shadows. But the acting is soooooo horrible. Evan Wood as the Queen of the Vampires was like watching a really bad high school performance of The Glass Menagerie.
But I do like the boobs!

Piley said...

EF - you are getting very violent!! 2 comments bother offering fights! I gave Flash Forward a swerve just because it was by the same people as LOST!!! That was my whole reason. They've caused me enough misery!

Are you still sticking with LOST EF? I gave up half way through season 3. Then got tempted with the buzz for season 4 where they said everything would be answered - so went BACK to complete season 3 (still crap!) and did 4, which was a bit better, but did not answer many questions. 5 was awful. Waitng for the 6th and final one now. Ugh! Wish i'd stuck to my guns midway through 3 now!

Nazz - Not got far enough to see Evan Wood yet Nazz, but will be dreading it now!!! (episodes 11 and 12 of season 2 I understand... at least it's only two eps!)


Valentine Suicide said...

I been watching on FX, and have the last three episodes Sky+'d and ready to go. It's surprised me by having a lot more depth than I thought it would. My Mrs doesn't watch it, and whenever I'm getting into an episode, she sometimes pops her head around the door to check on me. She always seems to do this during one of the 'adult scenes', and the programme has been re-christened 'Vampire Porn' in our house.

Breaking Bad is another excellent series if you get chance to see it.

Piley said...

Loved the last 3 eps, it really built n built... have you worked out the murderer yet??!

Vamp Porn?! It certainly is quite 'cheeky' isn't it??! I think HBO get away with pretty much anything these days, I think it's subscrition only, which means they can put much more in their shows.

Not seen or even heard of Breaking Bad. Thanks for the tip!


Mondo said...

Haven't seen it yet - I'm hopeless with American series I've only just started on Seinfeld and am up to series (can't bring myself to say 'seaon' it's too American)6

Mrs M may like it though - she's reading the Twighlight books at the mo'

E F RICE said...

Sorry my posts were very violent weren't they ! I of course meant I would love a civillised discussion with anyone disagreeing with my views....

I had to end my pursuit of LOST when Virgin Media withdrew Sky One, so i had a great excuse. I do keep looking at the box set and think is it worth a punt ? I am thinking no at the moment especially witnessing the agony you are going through !

Dan said...

Curse you, Piley, now I'm intrigued.

I'd previously discounted True Blood as being another flavour-of-the-month, vampire-bandwagon bit of nonsense in the vein of (see what I did there?) Twilight. Now I think I'll give it a crack.

I'm becoming a bit of a sucker for American TV shows. Like you, I've persevered with Lost despite losing interest midway through Season 3. The pay-off had better be pretty bloody spectacular, that's all I can say.

Just finished watching both series of Breaking Bad which I recommend as tremendous fun.

Also can't recommend Season 2 of Dexter highly enough. For me, the test of a good TV series is when it's midnight and you're thinking "I could just watch one more episode before bed - I can go into work a little later..." The second series of Dexter had me completely hooked.

I also recommend the following:

Lie To Me (1st series - great, 2nd series - bit weak so far)
Leverage (Derivative of Hustle, but very enjoyable)
Fringe (more JJ Abrams flummery, but worth a shot)
and, finally, there's a little gem called 'The Lost Room'. Check it out on IMDB. It was cancelled in its prime, but it's a fantastic idea and hugely watchable.

Right, I'm off to track down some True Blood...

Piley said...

Mondo - Get on that net and get Mrs M up to date with this series now!! (you may also like some of the, ahem, 'cheekier' moments!)

EF - NO! it really isn't worth a punt. The only thing that would make me angrier than I already am about LOST would be having paid for the box sets to watch them!

Dan - It really is a damn good show, really well thought out, clever, funny, gripping... naked women... whoops, wheres the backspace on this thing??

Funny enough the 'just one more episode' trick was a bugger on True Blood... an no doubt why we ended up doing the lot in about 3 or 4 days! The cliffhangers at the end of each Ep were just too good!

Not heard of any of those you mentioned, so thanks for the tip Sir.


Coop said...

I watched the first episode and found the Sookie character so annoying that I have avoided episodes 2 and 3. Vampires seem to be the new black at the moment, they're everywhere and their horror is being diluted I reckon.

Martin said...

Just watched my first episode that I recorded off Channel 4 on Wednesday night and got quite drawn into it. Only drawback was the fact that I've missed the earlier episodes and managed to lose the end of the recording on this one. Never was too good with technology. Can't help feeling that a read of the manual and an attempt at recording the next episode will be in order. Good call.

Piley said...

Coop - Funny enough I was not that fussed with her at the start... but it's all to do with those 1st 3 episodes I thinnk (I wasn't sure I was going to like it at fisrt). I ended up loving her character!

Stick with it Martin - although by the looks of things you'll have this 12 episode season down to about 5 and a half!!!


Piley said...

Coop - Funny enough I was not that fussed with her at the start... but it's all to do with those 1st 3 episodes I thinnk (I wasn't sure I was going to like it at fisrt). I ended up loving her character!

Stick with it Martin - although by the looks of things you'll have this 12 episode season down to about 5 and a half!!!


Anonymous said...

Cant even be arsed with this US stuff . Every one i know say's it's pants !!!!. I hardly watch any TV and this is not going to change that i dont think.


Piley said...

sounds like you're on the fence with this one Carl ;-)