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Ranking the Shows That I Watch – 29: True Blood

23 Aug

I currently have this tired out feeling about True Blood – I’ll probably watch it when it comes back on (note:  this was written before the season started but I’ve added an addendum at the end with my short fourth season thoughts), but I can’t say I’m all that excited about it.  It’s hard to think of a show for me that’s gone just as quickly from something that had me glued to the television to something I really don’t care about.  It’s not as if it had made one or two big decisions which violated everything I believed in about the show, which would be the only reason I could think of for normally turning on a show so quickly.  It just got, well, bad, and not because of one thing, but because of a lot of things.

I caught up to True Blood while the second season was airing so I could talk to my friends about it.  The first season took me a couple of weeks, but the second season I really got caught up in.  I watched the last six or so episodes late Saturday night so I would be caught up for the season finale the next day, staying up til 4 AM, even though I was extremely tired.

The difference in seasons is easy enough to explain, though there are other factors I’ll cut out to get to the point quickly.  The second season had two main storylines which swept up just about all the main characters – the Church of the Sun (a church that was forming an army to take out vampires) plot and the Marianne (evil god-like beast who could sort of hypnotize everyone in the town) plot.  These were full season arcs, which built up compellingly and seemed to have a direction – the Church of the Sun arc wrapped up a couple of episodes before the end of the season and the remaining characters from that arc were swept into the Marianne plot, which worked itself out in the season finale.  This isn’t rocket science – it’s your basic plot graph – which is not for all shows, by any means, but there’s a reason that so many people use it.

The third season on the other hand contained a bunch of plots that seemed like they might end up coming together, and make the beginnings seem like mere build up, but instead these plots went nowhere.  For example, the plot about Sam and his family ended up having absolutely nothing to do with anything else in the show.  The plot with Jason and his lady friend and her family ended up having absolutely nothing to do with anything else in the show.  The one major plot, which appeared as if it could be compelling, involved the vampire king of Mississippi, ably and creepily played by Dennis O’Hare.  This plot built up well and seemed to be going somewhere until it reached its climax – (SPOILER) O’Hare appeared on a news show, biting and killing the news anchor and letting America know that vampires were out to take over and rule them.  It was a great scene – probably the best single scene of the series, and in hindsight I wonder if that scene was put in because it was good, without any context surrounding it.  The season pretty much went nowhere after that – the main characters eventually figured out a way to kill O’Hare, but it was thoroughly anticlimactic, and made it seem relatively easy to kill him after all the build up about what a great, old and powerful vampire he was.

Fourth season addendum  Actually, this is easy.  Just about everything I said still stands.  The season has been occasionally intriguing, and extremely trashy, but unable to recapture the rapt anticipation I had in the second season.  After each episode airs, I debate watching the next one, but then generally come around and watch it anyway.

Why It’s This High:  At its height, in the second season, it had everything I could hope for in a trashy soap with vampires

Why it’s not higher:  Everything good about the second season got away from the writers in the third – the plots were weak, seemed pointless, were anticlimactic, and generally less interesting

Best episode of the most recent season:  Episode 9, “Everything is Broken”, in which the climax for the entire season seemed to come, when, at the end, evil Russell, Vampire King of Mississippi shows up on national TV and kills a newscaster and announces war on humans…the season pretty much went down from there