“Keep This Party Going”
June 21st, 2009
Don’t say I never listen to blog comments, folks.
It’s the summer months, which means that things are pretty slow on the television front, and thus things to blog about are generally in quite short supply. Since I’m not amongst those critics lucky enough to be sifting through the new fall offerings, generally my attention is spent playing a little T.V. catchup (I’ll have thoughts on Sports Night Season 2 later in the week) and finding the summer programming worth spending time reviewing on a regular basis. For now, as you’ve no doubt noticed, that’s been USA Network’s Thursday lineup, Showtime’s Monday lineup, as well as some mid-week musings on So You Think You Can Dance.
However, I’ve also stopped by with some thoughts on the arrival of two Sunday shows, NBC’s import Merlin as well as HBO’s True Blood, which just started its second season. And, while I was admittedly quite turned off by certain elements of both shows, ready to call it a “Not quite for me, thanks” situation all around, there were quite a few comments (and reactions to the episodes I read elsewhere) that seemed to indicate there was something worth sticking around for. So, despite my initial misgivings, I decided to sit down tonight and give Merlin’s “Valiant” (the second episode which aired Sunday night) as well as the second episode of True Blood’s second season, “Keep This Party Going.”
Both ultimately have me curious, if not quite excited, to see where they go next.
“Nothing But the Blood”
June 14th, 2009
I may not be a “real” critic, but there are times when I feel pressure to cover a particular show based on my position as a reviewer of television. There are shows that I don’t watch that don’t bother me in the least if I don’t discuss them, but there are others that present a particular challenge. When the entire internet, and many of my twitter followers/followees, became entranced by HBO’s True Blood, which was unexpected considering that I had watched the show’s pilot and had seen little reason to continue watching, I felt like I should at least be willing to give the show another shot. The first time around, I just wasn’t on board: the show was not living up to its admittedly intriguing concept, and that was enough during a busy fall for me to give up on the show.
But then some things changed: the show added a number of guest stars of interest (Alexander Skarsgaard (Generation Kill), Michelle Forbes (Battlestar Galactica), Lizzy Caplan (Party Down), amongst others), the ratings grew, and the hype for Season Two seemed to be legitimately beyond “It’s about vampires, so it’s awesome!” As a result, I spent part of this evening reading some recaps (although considering they were from Television Without Pity they weren’t so much about plot), and then watching the repeat of last season’s finale – yes, just earlier today I said I wasn’t going to blog about the show, but I grew bored and had some time to kill this evening.
The result is that I went into “Nothing But the Blood” still somewhat confused about what people are seeing, a lot confused at just how whacked out this universe is, but intrigued enough to be willing to see how this premiere would turn out. And, perhaps unsurprisingly, I leave just as confused about everything, and just as disappointed that this isn’t the show I wanted it to be when it first premiered.
Fall 2008 Pilot Preview
[As per pilot screener regulations, this is a preview and not a review. The content of the series may change between now and the show’s official airing, so all thoughts are of a preliminary nature pending said changes. For a full review, tune in for the show’s September premiere.]
Having recently made my way into Six Feet Under’s fifth season, I’ve started to better understand the work of Alan Ball. That HBO series was known for its dramatic performances, its death-riddled plot points (Seriously, a lot of people die), and also its inability (for better or worse) to keep a consistent tone. One moment you’re laughing at two characters, and the next you’re getting punched in the face by a cold reality. It’s a visceral television experience, and one that I’m still kind of torn on. I’m capable of appreciating the work I’m seeing, but there’s something that keeps me from really engaging with it, likely out of fear of “getting hurt” in the process.
That left me at least mildly tentative heading into Ball’s latest project, an adaptation of the Southern Vampire novels by Charlaine Harris. HBO’s True Blood is the story of Sookie Stackhouse, a young waitress with a special power who is making a living in an exciting time for America. Vampires have “come out” as it were, emerging as real citizens with their own lobbyists after the Japanese were able to manufacture synthetic blood that “suits their dietary needs.” It’s a strong setup that seems like it’s got a lot of broad potential, but it’s intriguing to see that its trajectory is far more fantastical than I had imagined.
And that, I think, is a good thing considering Ball’s history in television.