Between the current Twilight craze, Tim Burton’s planned Dark Shadows remake, that Vampires app on Facebook, and the catchy pop sound of Vampire Weekend, now seems to be a pretty good time to be a vampire. Okay, so it didn’t work out so well for CBS’ Moonlight, but at least the show had a loyal (albeit small) fanbase. And now HBO is hoping it can do better with its latest scripted series, True Blood, premiering tonight at 9 p.m. Eastern.
Right out of the gate, True Blood has a better pedigree than Moonlight, since it’s based on Charlaine Harris’ Southern Vampire Mysteries book series, adapted by Alan Ball (Six Feet Under), and starring Anna Paquin (X-Men). And because it’s on HBO, you know there’s going to be lots of gratuitous vampire sex and not a little gratuitous blood and violence, which is bound to be appealing to someone.
Despite its premise–vampires have recently come out of the closet, so to speak, thanks to synthetic blood–True Blood treads no new territory in the vampire mythos. Ball says he’s never seen Buffy or read any of the Anne Rice books, which is clearly a mistake–it’s always best to know when you’re retreading old ground rather than blithely assuming you’re some kind of vampire genre pathfinder. The vampires-as-allegory-for-gays theme is about as subtle as a freight train and the series is packed with cliches. And not just vampire cliches–the rural Louisiana town that serves as True Blood‘s setting is more than a little reminiscent of Deliverance.
Still, the series has a lot going for it. It’s populated by a fairly interesting cast of characters played by an appealing ensemble of actors who get some better-than-average lines thanks to Ball. It’s sometimes scary and sometimes silly (though whether that silliness is always intentional I couldn’t necessarily tell), and there’s enough mystery in the air that it left me wanting to know more.
So while it’s certainly no Buffy, True Blood is still more fun than that stupid Facebook app. And hey, at least it’s somwthing to help pass the time until the Twilight movie comes out.