Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Monster drama 'True Blood' gets messy

(Published Sept. 6, PDI-Entertainment)
By Oliver M. Pulumbarit
In a season that could be described as compressed and rushed, “True Blood” has become a fantasy-drama show that ineffectively jumps from one outrageous scene to the next.

Barely resembling its much sturdier early seasons, “True Blood’s” sixth year started with the continuation of a promising cliffhanger. Vampire Bill Compton (Stephen Moyer) has merged with the undead goddess Lilith, remaking the once-noble character into a deadly messiah figure.

This metamorphosis has turned his erstwhile friends against him, primarily his ex, telepathic protagonist Sookie Stackhouse (Anna Paquin).

In previous “True Blood” seasons, its semiheroic monsters are a diverse bunch, Louisiana residents who periodically faced a main, power-mad villain. This time, the attention shifts from Bill to the governor, Truman Burrell (Arliss Howard), whose antivampire campaign suddenly becomes the main concern of the show’s nocturnal creatures, even the law-abiding ones.

This is a direct consequence of last season’s Vampire Authority rampage, at least. Vampires are now incarcerated in a secret concentration camp, to be experimented on freely by their human oppressors.

Interesting concepts, but they—and most of the characters—don’t possess any “real” urgency this time. The silliness overpowers the serious and potentially compelling parts.

Sheriff Bellefleur (Chris Bauer) has suddenly become the father of four rapidly growing half-fairy daughters, whom he just named with numbers. And speaking of fairies, Sookie and brother Jason (Ryan Kwanten) comically meet their long-lost fairy grandfather Niall (Rutger Hauer).

New relationships come across as forced and inconsequential. Sookie quickly gets involved with a fairy vampire hybrid, the enigmatic immortal Warlow (Rob Kazinsky). The shape-shifter Sam (Sam Trammell), who hasn’t mourned the death of his recent girlfriend, is suddenly thrust into another relationship.

There’s an unprecedented personality makeover, too. The werewolf Alcide (Joe Manganiello) briefly became a villain, alienating friends (and presumably, devout fans) during his stint as a gruff “packmaster.”

With just 10 episodes this season, the show messily compresses arcs while oddly prolonging grating or laughable ones. A less-important character is killed off, and there’s an unnecessarily drawn-out funeral-centric episode.

To cap it off, the season-ender reinforces the idea that things are being rushed, more than usual. Still, like the season finales before it, it’s a cliffhanger that piques viewers’ curiosity, showing just enough for them to come back next year.

Looks like it’s taking a back-to-basics approach with the coming story line. But if it really is “True Blood’s” final season next year, it had better make people care for its characters again, and quit messing up its already weakened mythology.

As we go to press, the Associated Press reports that it’s a wrap for the “sexy supernaturals.”

The report says the series will end next year, “following a 10-episode season that will begin in the summer. That will be the show’s seventh season.”

(“True Blood” airs Saturdays, 10 p.m. on HBO.)

No comments: