Monday, August 13, 2012

The true death should come for 'True Blood'

Dennis O'Hare as Russell Edgington  in a scene from the fifth season of HBO's "True Blood." (AP photo)

     HBO's original series "True Blood," based on Charlaine Harris' Southern Vampire Mysteries/the "Sookie" Stackhouse novels, is now in its fifth season, but it's been an unmitigated snooze.
     Any series picks up baggage as it goes along, and "True Blood" has picked up more than most. When the season ends, there will be a total of 60 episodes, though for all its baggage it seems like a thousand.
     Maybe it's time for "True Blood"  to meet the true death: staked, silvered or sunned to oblivion.
    There are going to be a lot of SPOILERS in the next paragraphs. 
     Anna Paquin's Sookie, ostensibly the main character, hasn't had much to do for the past two seasons. This year Paquin's apparently pregnant, so maybe that's why she's doing her impression of a tree stump.
     Stephen Moyer's Bill Compton and Alexander Skarsgaard's Eric Northman, her erstwhile lovers, have also been mostly sidelined, too, waiting for this Vampire Authority "Mainstreamers" v. "Sanguinista" movement plot to become interesting (it mostly involves standing in the same room and talking). Dennis O'Hare's insane, powerful, 3,000-year-old vampire Russell Edgington, so memorably interesting and crazy two seasons ago, seemed neutered until the end of the most recent episode. Too little, too late.
     Other time-wasting subplots have included an Ifrit (kind of an evil genie) stalking some Iraq war vets, werewolves fighting over who's the pack leader, vigilantes killing "shifters," Sookie's friend, Tara (Rutina Wesley), becoming a vampire (how do you make that boring? I don't know, but they have), and the denizens of a (dull, kitschy) fairy nightclub revealing that Sookie's parents were killed by a vampire.
     Meanwhile, Lafayette has turned into Whoopi Goldberg in "Ghost." A subplot threatened to have him killed by his dead lover's father to "take back" the magic powers he manifested last year. No, someone kills the father and saves him at the last minute with no reason given. His lips were sewn shut first, but now show no visible scars.
     Jason Stackhouse, Sookie's brother who used to be a shiftless horndog, has completed his transformation into Alan Alda after realizing that his behavior was due to being "taken advantage of"' by a schoolteacher years ago. Now he's ... responsible.
     Shifter Sam Merlotte has likewise gotten boring. Now he's become "Manimal," the shape shifting detective, with his boring, bitchy "Manimalia" sidekick and her cute "puppy" daughter..
     And Andy Bellefleur, who became sheriff when the previous sheriff retired, had sex with a fairy and is now in a serious relationship with a witch.
     The show's always had subplots, and the worse seasons have been when one storyline takes over to the extent there's no room for subplots, but this is ridiculous. We need one strong storyline, not a dozen tiny, boring, inconsequential ones.
     Even the sex and nudity are now boring, being mainly confined to Alcide taking his shirt off before he tries to but doesn't have sex, Sam Merlotte and his girlfriend shifting back to human form after chasing a bad guy in the form of gerbils or something, and Lilith, the mother of all vampires, materializing naked and covered in blood before disappearing without touching anyone.
    There's more sex and heat on "The Big Bang Theory."
     The last interesting thing to happen on "True Blood" was at the beginning of season four when Sookie spent an hour in  Faerie, came back and more than a year had passed. It was a clever way to fast forward through some dull exposition and get the story moving again, as well as being one of the consequences of a visit to faerie in folklore. It didn't last, but it was a good try.
    I haven't read any of Harris' novels, and the plot descriptions on Wikipedia don't make me want to start, but they don't seem as cluttered.
     Maybe the next two episodes will magically make the preceding 10 seem more interesting, but I doubt it.
     I'm getting my stakes sharp.


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