on February 24, 2012
After the kitchen-sink approach of season three, season four of True Blood went back to basics in many ways. Maybe the writers saw the need to have more cohesive stories this year (In fact, a couple of the commentators on the season three DVDs mentioned their desire to have things be more contained writing-wise). That I feel was the major flaw of the still deliciously entertaining third season. But, season four reminded me of the first season in some ways. Things stayed in Bon Temps and everyone was much more involved with each other. I really enjoyed how everyone became intertwined again.
So, the Big Bad for this season is technically two women: a timid medium named Marnie (Fiona Show) who becomes possessed with the vengeful spirit of an Inquisition-era witch Antonia (Paula Turbay). Marnie was an interesting villain; much more vulnerable and humanized than Maryann or Russell Edgington or even Rene. She was so shy and meek that she had to become possessed by a witch to find her inner Bad. For this reason, she can be considered somewhat of a weak villain. But, once Antonia enters the picture, Marnie becomes quite the bad ass. The commanding confidence she exudes from this point on demonstrates Shaw's talent as an actress, since she's basically going from one extreme to the other. Still, I found it hard to enjoy Marnie's evilness as much as I did Maryann or Russell, who were endlessly fun to watch.
Now, on to the big deal of season four: Sookie and Eric finally hook up, after about a season and a half of sexual tension. I had been waiting for this day since season three and, even though Eric had to lose his bite for it to happen, I still relished every moment. Anna Paquin and Alexander Skarsgard have always had fantastic chemistry. Not as searing as her with Stephen Moyer, but still undeniably believable. I'd have to disagree wholeheartedly with the reviewer who said their sex scenes "lacked heat". The episode where they first make love was some of the hottest sex I've seen on the show. The build-up of tension and release was comparable to the first time Sookie and Bill had sex in season one. There's such a sweet satisfaction in just seeing it finally happen.
I haven't read the books but I heard Bill gradually disappears after he and Sookie break up. The fact that the show still has Bill around made for some great tension. As much as I was annoyed with Bill in season three, he grew back on me this season. All the mixed emotions he experienced in regards to Sookie and Eric - petty jealousy, regret, wanting her to be happy, trying to focus on his duties as king instead - really humanized him. He wasn't dealing with it as a cold-blooded vampire but as a flesh-and-blood man would deal with a breakup and seeing his ex with his former nemesis. Stephen Moyer really took command of this season and his new title as King brought out an interesting new dimension of Bill.
The Jason/Jessica/Hoyt love triangle was completely unexpected but I enjoyed it every minute of it, as well as the consequences it brought. As far as the other storylines, there were pros and cons. Kristin Bauer van Straten was at the top of her game as Pam, more sarcastic and biting than ever, but she didn't have much to do but stand around and complain (and rot). Tara has always been one of my favorites and I appreciated her getting her strength back this year and not crying every single episode. Her joining forces with Marnie/Antonia was a smart twist, due to her history with vampires, but it didn't seem to have a payoff. In the end, Tara obviously regretted it but we didn't learn how much it developed her character. I did really love Sam and Tommy's relationship, though. It was so troubled and turbulent but, in the end, we saw how deeply both men loved each other.
The season finale was epic. So many twists and turns and surprises. In my opinion, it's the best season finale in the show's history. We've been left with so many unanswered questions and so many juicy cliffhangers. I absolutely cannot wait until season five!
on September 15, 2011
For many reasons, season 4 far exceeded my expectations. I have loved the series from day one, but season 4 took us to a much darker place filled with surprises and shock.
One truly standout character was Marnie (played with finesse by Fiona Shaw). She has been the best villain (for lack of a better word)of the series thus far. It gave our beloved characters some great story lines to explore, and all were acted brilliantly.
I loved the dark fairy world Sookie was taken to in the season premiere. Anna Paquin has really found the character of Sookie and embraced it. She is a wonderful actress who never fails to deliver.
The plot with Lafayette & Jesus was benign and sweet all at the same time and their relationship really came full circle (a rare thing on this series).
Some of the story lines seemed out of place, in particular the Jason/Were-Panther/rape plot, but it ended and was only briefly mentioned thereafter.
I have loved the character of Tara, but this season sort of squandered her character, changing her in ways I never wanted to see. Perhaps in reality, the same may have happened to Tara I suppose (after all she has been through).
As for the Vamps, Eric and Pam were a joy to watch, while I am growing a bit tired of Bill and his new high & mighty endeavor as "King of Louisiana" (he seems so selfish and self-impressed now, not the Bill we knew before).
Sam's story line was watchable (especially the relationship with his brother, Tommy), while I found the Andy Bellfleour plot completely unnecessary and quite frankly boring.
They gave Alcide little to do, but set him up for many more great things to come which is engaging.
As for the plot with Arlene & her "devil" baby, it could have been removed all together. Quite silly at times, but okay nonetheless.
That being said, Jessica (played by Deborah Ann Woll with innocence) is quite possibly one of the best reasons to watch "TB". She is a fascinating character and a brilliant actress.
The season 4 ender leaves us with many less characters, and many more reasons to tune in to season 5. I dread the wait. It was a superb, very gratifying finale.
If you look past the minor flaws of the series, it truly is the most inventive, addictive, mind-frenzy on television today. Don't miss it, and definitely don't miss this season!
on July 25, 2012
Having just watched the first episode of season 4, I, after lying in the fetal position for a good thirty minutes, decided to communicate my feelings of embarassment and utter sadness at what this show has become in a healthy and cathartic way. Let me just say, I struggled through the latter half of season 2 and the whole of season 3, because while I knew what I was watching was looming closer and closer to soap opera mediocrity with every episode, I still had hope, however slim, that maybe I would finally be reunited with the show I knew and loved if I just kept with it. So, I mustered strength I didn't know I had in me and continued to watch. Now, it DID get exceptionally difficult to keep going after watching a scene with Anna Paquin, in one of the poorest acting jobs I have seen to date, scream like a moron while surrounded by a circle of laughably-artificial fire, especially since I like Anna Paquin, having loved her in season one and the beginning of season 2, and as a film actress, I think she is one of the more competent-but my GOD! I was not expecting that at all, regardless of how rediculous the writing had become at that point. This show has taken a 90 degree plunge following the latter half of season 2, for a number of reasons:
1. The dialogue has become so bad, it's actually becoming hilarious
2. Characters who they make a big fuss setting up a plot for are killed off for no reason, other than it's obvious the writers are realizing they shouldn't have introduced them in the first place and just can't think of anything else to do with them.
3. The personal connections between characters (e.g Sookie and Tara) are almost nonexistent now, and none of the characters feel real or even likeable in comparison to how they originally started out.
4. Characters are being treated more like Sims, for the writers to just manipulate and see to what rediculous extent they can push them- Tara being a vamp (cheap); Sookie going to play in Fairie world; Jason hooking up with a werepanther( really?) who becomes crazy and then never referenced AGAIN?!
5. Too many stories that have no connection with each other and have no interesting substance, whatsoever.
6. The use of slow-motion and cheesy one-liners that just go to show how low the creators are willing to stoop to get viewers,
And the list goes on and on...
This is becoming one of those shows that I watch if I'm in a bad mood and need a cheap laugh (and believe me, this is laughable), which actually makes me sad because of how much I loved season 1. The story was straightforward and all of the little subplots tied together, the characters felt realistic and likeable, the dialogue was smart, funny but never corny, and above all else, every episode was memorable and not just there to set up a bunch of cliff hangers for the next episode to answer. Having gone back and watched the season for the first time since it premiered on TV, I look at the characters and how completely unrecognizable they seem. Remember when Sookie acted a little bit the intelligent and balsy woman instead of the useless nuisance who just screams like a baby when she gets in trouble? Remember how Sam and Tara had a fling or that he was completely in love with Sookie? Or when Lafayette was the funny, slightly flamboyant clown? Remember when Bill was sexy and mysterious and when Eric had that bangin' Kurt Cobain hairdo and that evil streak we couldn't help but dig? I admit, with the slow but steady descent these characters have been on since, it took me awhile to remember, and now that I do, I want to see THEIR show, instead of this fairytale vomit that has taken its place.
on December 14, 2011
I'm a fan of both the TV series and the books, and as the show progresses it goes farther and farther from the books, but that isn't really a bad thing. In the fourth season there is the usual amount of vampire and werewolf drama, but now adds witches to the mix as well. I loved the casting of Fiona Shaw this season. I don't want to give away too many spoilers, but I really liked the storylines for Jessica this season, as well as Sookie spending her time with someone other then Bill. The one really weak point of the season, in my opinion, was Tara, as it didn't really seem like she fit anywhere inparticular.
on January 13, 2012
I'd rate this more like 2.75 stars, but that's not an option so I'm rounding :)
1) There are exciting cliffhangers for almost every show.
2) The witches are the best nemeses they've had on TB yet.
3) We almost get to see all of Alcide... almost.
4) It looks like someone exciting will be back for Season 5.
1) Sookie is getting on my last nerve.
2) Eric has become a wuss.
3) Ditto #2 for Pam.
4) The sex has become vanilla & lacks heat.
5) The fairy storyline is as annoying as the Hot Shot one.
6) Characters we have actively come to care about get killed off left and right.
7) The Eric-Sookie-Bill love triangle is starting to feel like a drawn out storyline from All My Children. Erica Kane does it better.
on June 25, 2012
I've been captivated by Bon Temps and it's characters since the get go. Since I no longer have cable, to say I was eagerly waiting the release of this season would be an understatement. I enjoy the character development, the writing, the pure fantasy of the show. This is escapism at its best and I enjoy every bloody moment.
Okay. While this series has a few too many "WTF?!?!" moments (this season in particular), I do love TRUE BLOOD. I love just about everyone in it, although Anna Paquin (aka The Perpetually-On-The-Verge-Of-Tears Actress) does bother me at times. I love their guest stars. In this season, Fiona Shaw is marvelous. I love the characters, although the main characters of Sookie and Bill seem to change motivations and emotions on a dime and it doesn't really make a whole lot of sense when that happens. However, characters like Jason, Hoyt, Andy, Terry, Arlene, Lafayette, Jesus, Pam, Nan, and Eric really work well, even if they get stuck in sub-plots that seem to involve several characters but only affect one.
I also am really bugged by TRUE BLOOD. The character of Alcide seems to exist merely to have some additional beefcake on the show. He's a Maguffin and not a real fleshed-out character. Sam, who I loved in the first season, is becoming increasingly insufferable. His whole relationship with Tommy and Luna was an unwelcome distraction during this season. I like Sam Trammell a lot as an actor, but his whole arc this season was frustrating and it felt cheap. I'm also not terribly thrilled with Tara either. I was much more interested to follow her adventures in New Orleans with Naomi cage-fighting and maybe confronting something there that forced her to come back other than staying in a place she so obviously shouldn't be in for any reason other than seeing Sookie again. Also, her whole character arc is too interesting to be wasted as something of a hostage, both literally and figuratively. Tommy is another character that I was consistently upset with, mostly because I hate any character that exists merely as a plot device but has been built up as something more important, and his was to screw up the lives around him and gain a power that will allow a "major" plot point to happen.
The only character that I think has a truly unique and powerful arc is Jessica. She's really the only character that doesn't have a prescribed set of baggage and rules that automatically come with her, and Deborah Ann Woll is enough of an actress to keep me tuning in. This season sees another big set of changes to her and it's really stunning watching her character grow.
But this season is really about Marnie and Antonia and how a quest for power and a quest for vengeance collide and create a union powerful enough to threaten all of Louisiana's, and possibly the world's vampires. As Nan Flanagan and the newly-anointed King of Louisiana Bill Compton confront Westboro Baptist Church types (holding up signs reading "God Hates Fangs", which I thought was rather clever) along with persistent national media also look to continue, with support from Eric, to help vamps come "out of the coffin". Meanwhile, Sookie, whisked off to the outlands of The Fae at the end of the previous season, escapes (from a threat that doesn't seem, at first, to have any bearing on the season at all) with her grandaddy, played VERY briefly by the wonderful Gary Cole, after only being in the Fae dimension for only a few minutes to discover that she's been gone for over a year with everyone thinking her dead, her house sold to a new owner, and she's still neck-deep in trouble. Well, almost everyone thought she was dead. The only one that didn't give up hope was Eric, who is actually her new landlord. Things are kind of the normal state of generally F'd up in Bon Temps with "V" addict Sheriff Andy, Arlene thinking her son is possessed by Rene, and The MoonGoddess Emporium is causing a whole lot of chatter in the undead community as it's discovered that the proprietor and professional door-mat Marnie (Fiona Shaw) has very limited necromancer abilities. This forces a visit by Eric, by order of King Bill, to scare the pants off of Marnie... and that is naturally when everything starts to really go off-the-charts crazy.
Now I realize that this is essentially an adult soap opera. It's natural for this show to go nuts. However, there are some sub-plots and elements of the main plot that are just BAD. The clunkiest sub-plot that comes to mind is the quasi-incestual relationship between Bill and his attorney when, with the help of another wonderful guest-star Katherine Helmond, he discovers she's his great-great-great-great-great granddaughter. Another resounding thud was the possession of Arlene's baby. It seemed totally unnecessary, other than to give another crisis that results in a newfound ability in one character. Another major source of confusion was Bill and his Romney-esque flip-flopping on his "no human killing" policy. I realize that all living things are inconsistent, but to be so extreme and waffling so often was annoying. Also Tommy. Just everything about him and everything he does. I understand he's unedjucated and that he's just a kid, but COME ON. No one is really that stupid.
The main source of entertainment for this season, though, came from the unlikely relationship between Sookie and Eric after Eric's initial confrontation with Marnie/Antonia. And this leads to tension, frustration, gentleness, beauty, humor and LOTS of hot sex.
As I watched this season, I was reminded of two other TV shows: BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER (the set for MoonGoddess Emporium looks like it was stolen from the magic shop set of BTVS; the love triangle between a dark, brooding vampire and a flamboyant blonde vampire; the bisexuality of the best friend... I could go on) and AMERICAN HORROR STORY. I know that last one sounds strange, but stay with me: AHS is a show that I know in my heart isn't that great, but it's addictive as heck. This season of TRUE BLOOD was very similar in that regard. I know it's been better and this season could have been a lot better, but there's just something about this show that keeps me coming back.
on February 3, 2013
The True Blood story continues. I will not spoil it for anybody who hasn't seen it, so here it goes: Characters in the series change their behavior and act very different from what is known, which complicates many of the ongoing relationships between them. There are new characters that come in to make a mess of things and you'll just have to get this set to find out. It is very enjoyable TV viewing, although the gratutious nudity has been reduced from previous seasons.
on April 13, 2012
I will start out by saying that I am a huge fan of both the books and the TV series, and no matter what I will watch this series to the very end. It is up there with my two or three all-time favorite series ever.
This season was an interesting one, however, because I both loved it and hated it. There are some excellent reviews written so far on the series, and I'm not sure there's much I could add.
I will just say that I know there are several writers for TB, who take turns writing/directing the episodes. It makes me nuts because it lends itself to a lot of sloppy story lines and inconsistencies in the quality of the actors' lines, and in the directing. I loved the whole first half of the season - right up until the point where Sookie convinces Eric to fight the witches with her and Bill. From that very moment, the whole season went downhill FAST. Except for the last 5 minutes, along with a few absolutely hysterical lines from Eric ("hello gay stormtroopers") and Bill ("we are not %@$#-ing puppy dogs!"), the season finale was beyond ridiculous. I found myself embarassed for all the actors - but most of all for Alexander Skarsgard (Eric). His final lines were... well, pathetic... so completely out of character for the viking "bad-arse" we've all come to love. I literally had to look away, it was so bad.
Without giving TOO much away, here are the series highlights:
High points - Sookie's new landlord gives her home a make-over, Bill as King, Amnesia Eric, Sookie and Eric as a couple (FINALLY!), Nan, the Fae show their true colors, Pam's "meltdowns", Jesus saves the day, Renee makes a surprise appearance, Steve Newlin with fangs, the promise of Russell Edgington's return, Alcide abjures, and Jason as a prisoner and accidental were-panther
Low points - Lafayette's new "ability", the ghost and the baby, Marnie keeping folks prisoner, Eric's mind control spell, the "force field" around the Magic Shop, everything about Tommy, Sookie actually taking part in a spell that could hurt the people she loves, Bill and Eric pledging to kill themselves for Sookie, Sookie apologizing to Bill (um, for WHAT?), indecisive Sookie, and Tara's girl-on-girl scenes
In spite of the many lowpoints and bad directing in Season 4, I still find myself PINING for Season 5 to premier on HBO. As the Truebies say, 'Waiting "Sucks"!'
on June 8, 2012
Season 4 showed up at my house today. The synopsis on the back says Bill is the new King of Mississippi. But I thought Bill was the King of Louisiana?
Did anyone else notice that?
I realize I'm probably making a mountain-out-of-a-molehill, but for some reason I find this very unsettling...