Sunday, September 07, 2008

'True Blood' debuts on HBO

The series "True Blood" debuted on HBO tonight. It's done a lot of second unit work in northwest Louisiana.

(Sorry for my unplanned two-week absence, folks, but a Gustav-related assignment in New Orleans kept me from blogging. I wish I had had some time to do some vampire research!)

It should go without saying that having a TV series set in northwest Louisiana -- even if it's shot primarily in L.A., as I understand -- is a big deal for the local industry. It keeps the state on an ever-competitive film industry map.

That said, the Southern gothic vampire series started out slow for me. It's full of style and mystery but not much substance yet -- besides the wonderful Anna Paquin as the series' heroine, Sookie Stackhouse. Of course, it's just a series debut and good characters take a lot of time to develop. Hopefully this one will find its hooks in the coming weeks.

What do you think so far? Like or no like? See any of Shreveport or Louisiana in the episode one?

I counted two Shreveport references plus two more to Marthaville and Monroe. (The cast needs to learn how to pronounce the last though: MUN-roe.)

Critics are split so far.

From The New York Times’ Alessandra Stanley: "'True Blood' is based on the Southern Vampire Mysteries, a series of fantasy novels by Charlaine Harris that revolve around Sookie Stackhouse, a cocktail waitress who solves murders while playing hard to bite with a tall, handsome vampire. Mr. Ball has taken what is basically a quirky romance novel and turned it into an R-rated melodrama puffed up with erotic tension and campy gore. It’s creepy, steamy and funny at times, and it’s also a muddle, a comic murder mystery that is a little too enthralled with its own exoticism. 'True Blood' is outré, but it’s not nearly as eccentric and inventive as 'Six Feet Under' or even 'Big Love.'"

From the Orlando Sentinel’s Hal Boedecker: "After watching five episodes, I can say 'True Blood' stands out as one of the strongest new series in an uncertain fall. Alan Ball, creator of 'Six Feet Under,' has adapted Charlaine Harris' novels with wit, verve and passion."


Baily said...

First of all, I love the books, so I was probably one of the harder sells on this series. I thought it was amazing. I think Alan Ball made some terrific choices, was true to his source material, and I certainly think the series will pick up. The cast of characters is so large that it needed to take some time to introduce everyone. I wish the show all the best of luck.

Anonymous said...

Terrible accents. Nobody in this series talked right and how come there are only two black people in that little town? Is this supposed to be set in Northwest Louisiana, because it seemed like there were fewer pine trees than live oaks in most of the scenes. I was pretty disappointed with what I saw last night, not so much because of the story but because of the inaccuracies, stereotypes, and bad acting.

Anonymous said...

The vampire guy was very good though. The little blonde girl was just maddening.

Anonymous said...

The cool part about this series is that there is a regional connection. Not only was filming done in Northwest Louisiana, Charlain is from Magnolia, Arkansas which is just a little over an hour and a half away from Shreveport. It's one of many regional locals to make it BIG!!! I can't say that I'm a huge fan of the books, but I am a huge fan of people making their dreams come true!!! Way to go Charlaine!!!! :-)

Anonymous said...

Well good for her. If you see her, could you please tell her that there's probably not a waitress in the state of Louisiana that makes $10.00 an hour?

Anonymous said...

Can you say "fiction"! :-)

Anonymous said...

Problem with this is that it strengthens the stereotype of NWLA as a po-dunk kind of place filled with hicks and swamps. Californians already are reluctant to come here from the talks I've had with actors and crew out of L.A.

I just have to agree with Anonymous number one on this one.

The problem with "fiction" set in real locations is that it doesn't work. Maybe post sea-rise in a global warming-affected world Shreveport/NWLA would look like that, but that's not written in either the books nor explained in the series.

Noma said...

I thought it was kind of fun. The accents did bother me, but the entire approach was kind of comic book, so it seemed to fit. (benTAHN for Benton, and the aforementioned faux pas on Monroe aside.)

If you look back to the beginnings of Six Feet Under, you'll see that the beginning was a little slow, too, while we were meeting the characters, and we became addicted shortly thereafter.

As to the dumbing of our area, I wouldn't worry. Most shows even stereotype East and West Coast people. Georgians all wear seersucker and Panama hats. Everyone from NOLA is into voodoo. All the English are rich.

We should be happy that not only do they film here, but that it's set here; in ways, it means we've arrived.

Anonymous said...

Actually Noma, the series is set in a fictional town called Bon Temps. So they didn't butcher Benton.

Noma said...

Good to know. I thought they said Bontemps, too, but then a friend told me of the mispronunciation. Guess I am easily swayed. Now if they can just get MUNro...

esd said...

i tried to watch it...the accents made my ears hurt...i ended up leaving the couch to go do something else.

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