Sookie Stackhouse (Anna Paquin) is a resident in Bon Temps, a small southern town. She lives with her grandmother and works as a waitress in Merlotte’s, who is owned by Sam Merlotte (Sam Trammel), a man with a secret, a murky past and a great crush on Sookie. Sookie’s life isn’t easy at all – she has telepathic abilities she struggles to control, and spends a large portion of her time having to try very hard and not to answer unspoken questions.
The world changed when vampires declared their existence after the successful manufacturing of True Blood, a synthetic yet effective form of blood. Provided with a food source that wasn’t alive, they could safely come out and live amongst their breathing counterparts. The world is still much divided – some people are obsessed with vampires and their super healing and hallucinogenic blood, others are wary and some like extremist church Fellowship of the Sun are extremely against their existence, citing them as an abomination sent from the devil.
Sookie isn’t quite a vampire fanatic, but she wants people to accept them because she understands too well the feeling of being secluded just because you are different. Merlotte’s gets its first vampire one night, and Sookie is immediately taken with Bill Compton (Stephen Moyer), who seems to respond to her as well. She saves Bill’s life after he is attacked for the purpose of being drained of blood, and after his initial displeasure of a woman saving him they start a tentative relationship.
Jason Stackhouse (Ryan Kwanten) is Sookie’s brother. He seduces the ladies left, right and centre and lands himself in a spot of trouble when everyone he bangs ends up dead. Jason knows he’s innocent, but detective Andy Bellefleur doesn’t think so. Jason becomes hooked on V, an acronym for Vampire Blood, and the town drugdealer Lafayette eventually refuses to sell it to him. Desperate for more blood, he heads to vampire bar Fangtasia where he meets Amy Burley. She provides him with V and they become involved, although it quickly becomes clear the Amy isn’t nearly as harmless as she appears.
Sookie feels the need to clear her brother’s name, and quickly establish that all of the deceased ladies had previously had some sort of dealing with vampires. Bill agrees to take her to Fangtasia, so that she can listen to the thoughts of the humans there to maybe find out what is going on. It is at Fangtasia where Sookie meets Eric Northman (Alexander Skarsgard) a prominent figure in the vampire community. He is Bill’s boss and very old and powerful, and everyone defers to him. Sookie saves Eric and his right hand Pam (Kristin Bauer) from a police raid and when Eric establishes Sookie’s powers, he uses her to find out who’s been stealing from him. Bill is forced to kill the offending vampire and as punishment he is ordered to turn a young girl into a vampire.
This however, does not prove Jason’s innocence, and when Amy is found murdered next to him in bed, he is finally charged with murder. Can Sookie prove Jason’s innocence? Who is actually behind the brutal murders? How will Jason cope knowing he was zoned out and couldn’t prevent Amy from being killed right next to him? What will Sookie do when she finds out that Bill turned an innocent girl into a vampire?
Look, I don’t think I will offend anyone by stating that this is one of the worst pilot seasons ever made. The acting is atrocious, there is no chemistry, and the characters are annoying as hell. Tara Thornton is probably the most annoying person ever written. There is a very fine line between honesty and rudeness, and she is quite often on the wrong side. The actress irritated me endlessly and the character was devoid of any associability for me. I am not overly fond of the casting of Sookie Stackhouse, but made peace eventually with Anna Paquin as she puts effort in and improve with time. The casting of Sam Merlotte worked out very well and he is what I thought Sam would represent. I also think the casting of Alexander Skarsgard as Eric was perfect because physically he IS Eric and his acting is some of the best in True Blood. Stephen Moyer is a thorn in my side – the way he pronounces “Sookie” makes me faintly mad with irritation. He joins the dubious acting side of the cast and pretty much irritated me the entire season, but since the character in the books are just as annoying, maybe he was just doing his job.
Bon Temp is also very much like I thought it would be. It is dinky and run down and the residents are dancing the narrow line if when crossed could be rated hillbilly. Some characters I enjoyed plenty: Lafayette, Arlene, Hoyt and Terry. They are all unique or sweet and make the show liveable. Lafayette especially intrigued me because while he is obviously gay and a bit of a transvestite, everyone knows not to ridicule him or mess with him. Andy Bellefleur is exactly what I hoped he would be: a bit of a bully in desperate need of affirmation.
True Blood isn’t exactly as the books written by Charlaine Harris, but there is enough in for you to know what is going to happen eventually. I liked most of the changes, although I didn’t really enjoy the extreme transformation Tara went through – her role in the story completely changed and her nature as well. I don’t think all the sub plots of True blood is really necessary – Tara’s whole drama with her mother (why are we interested and what influence does it have on the plot development?), Jason’s incessant banging and subsequent troubles were way too exploited, even though I eventually grew fond of his vacant expressions.
True Blood season one was absolutely dinky and painful in some places and tries desperately hard to be dark, broody and sexy, and fails most of the time. I persisted through the tortuously slow first episodes and the last are more palatable. I am watching Season two now, and it already improves on many of the first’s mistakes.
Recommendation: Vampire Diaries is by far the more enjoyable between these two series, but if you’ve had your run of VD and needs something new in a dying genre, give it a try, but don’t get your hopes up for instant addiction.