The True Blood Re-Watch / TV

The True Blood Re-watch: Season 1 – ‘You’ve got vampire in your cleavage’

So, I have decided to watch True Blood from the beginning, for the second time. The first time was back in 2010 so it’s been long overdue, and my recent obtainment of the 1-3 DVD set has enabled me to carry this out. The idea occurred to me, mid-way through season one, that I could write about it as I watched it and so here we are; Four seasons, four posts and a whole load of opinions.

The first thing that’s most evident about the first season, maybe more so the second time around, is the overall focus on the relationship between Bill and Sookie. It’s what defines the first episode and continues on from there. Sure, there are a whirlwind of other plot-lines floating in the air that come to the forefront every so often but we always seem to come back to this one. That doesn’t really change an awful lot as the show goes on in the later seasons, but it becomes far less dominating whilst allowing other stories to become the focus. For the most part, the bond between Bill and Sookie is handled fairly well with only a few moments when I could slap them both silly and they’re arguably the two main characters in the show so it would be logical that the relationship between them would be a primary focus this early on in the show’s life. It’s why I chose that rather brilliant line from Pam for the title of this post as, despite how comically delivered it is and ostensibly irrelevant, it actually sums up most of the first season, in a way.

I suppose it is fairly interesting to see Bill and Sookie’s relationship now compared to later seasons because here, it’s so fresh and exciting whereas later on, it becomes extremely stale and rather quickly, too. We’ve seen Sookie with both Bill and Eric and there’s not a doubt in my mind that I prefer her with Eric’s tall, dark and very handsome behind. It also helps that Eric is more of an interesting (and better looking) character than Bill, with more depth and less tendency to annoy me with his wailings of ‘Sookeh’ every ten minutes. It’s most disappointing that season one should feature very little of him compared to others but those moments are sickly sweet, nonetheless.

Bill and Sookie may be the most zoomed-in on characters of the first season but they’re certainly not alone. One thing True Blood has always done, perhaps to its detriment in later seasons, is have multiple different storylines all running concurrently, with its roster of characters all involved in. For example, this season, we have Jason and his many escapades with women, who turn up dead, and his addiction to vampire blood and all the hilarity/trouble that brings. We have Tara and her volatile attitude, with a mother who has had an alcohol problem for years. Sam and his frankly frustrating obsession with Sookie and then his revealed shapeshifter identity. As I said, in later seasons, there are simply far too many characters having far too many adventures but here, it doesn’t work too badly; there aren’t too few but not too many, either.

There are basically four main plots of the first season: Bill & Sookie, Jason & women/drugs, Tara & her mother and the serial killer storyline. For anyone who is unaware, each season of True Blood has a ‘big bad’ villain and a central plot for that season. For this season, it’s the presence of a serial killer in Bon Temps, who’s murdering women affiliated with vampires. Whilst in later seasons, we’re made clear of who the main villain is from the start, in this season, that’s not the case. The first time watching this season, it’s rather exciting to not know who to suspect and the show does a good job of tricking you into thinking it’s somebody else, but the final unveiling was still a surprise. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have the same effect the second time around. I know who to suspect. I know who’s brutalizing these women and no matter how well done it is, it’s not going to surprise me again. It’s times like these when I wish memory-wiping pills were available to be able to experience something as though it was the first time I’d seen it.

Compared to later seasons, with grand villains and monstrous plots to put our characters through, season one feels lightweight in comparison. There is no obvious villain to control our hate/love towards as we have no idea who they are and the whole season seems to focus more on introducing the characters and the ‘world’ of True Blood. Later seasons don’t carry the task of having to introduce these things which allows them time to concentrate on matters exclusive to that season. Personally, I heavily enjoy season one and appreciate the slower pace of things, but I do prefer the rapid-moving stories of seasons two and four. Not three, because that’s just something else entirely. Nevertheless, it’s this reason why season one feels quite different to it’s later years. Not different in a bad way, but just different. 

I also have to say how great I think it is that, in this show, vampires aren’t running around in secret but that they’re public knowledge. ‘Out of the closet’, as other characters say. It allows for less time focusing on skulking around in the dead of night, avoiding detection (which is a concept done to death and beyond), and more time for exploring the cultural, political and religious issues that would surround the concept of vampires living amongst man. Those things are a focal point of season one particularly, as we see numerous TV debates of politicians, hear news of laws being passed allowing human-vampire marriage and even the characters get in on the ‘debate’, with many being totally opposed to vampires yet becoming less so over the course of time. It makes for a very interesting story that not only makes you think at the same time as watching, but also provides a whole heap of atmosphere and background to what is already there.

Season one also, as it’s coming to an end, ties into season two with the appearances of both Jessica and Maryann, amongst other things. I will say right now that I absolutely adore season two and one of those reasons is because of Maryann, and Michelle Forbe’s portrayal of her. She’s on screen for less than twenty minutes in this season but it’s already enough to get a hint at just how wonderfully evil and nasty she is, although it’s subtle at first. Tara and co are in for one hell of a party in the next season and it will not be one they’ll be remembering on future drunken nights. We’ll be remembering it, though, and rather fondly too, despite the brutal nature of it all.

So, that’s season one watched and finished with. I’m starting season two tonight and I should have that up in a few days time. After that, I have to get through the tedium of season three before getting back on stride with four. If there’s one thing I can inform you of ahead of my season two post, it’s to expect a lot of Michelle Forbes praise. I find her a wonderful actress as it is but as Maryann, she’s simply delightful. Anyway, I’ll leave you with this scene which is both hilarious and of a serious nature at the same time, yet still brilliant.

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