TV Review: True Blood Seasons 1 and 2

I am notorious for showing up late to the party on all those 'in' TV shows - partly because I don't have Sky, and partly because I just never seem to get round to it. However, one of my goals for this year was to watch more TV box sets, and the first one I've managed to finish is the first two series of True Blood. For those of you who haven't heard of it, it follows Sookie Stackhouse, a mind-reading waitress in a small Louisiana town who meets vampire Bill Compton one night in the bar where she works and gets increasingly drawn into his world.

I have to admit I came to the series after having read all of Charlaine Harris's Southern Vampire Mysteries books on which it's based (if you haven't read them, I strongly advise you do - although they will put certain things from the show in a very different light, they're very well written and a good quick read) so I was very keen to see what they'd do with the series and how true they'd stay to the books. Thankfully I wasn't disappointed - each season pretty much sticks to one of the novels, with season 1 covering Dead Until Dark and season 2 focussing on Living Dead in Dallas, although a couple of characters introduced in the second series don't turn up until the later novels and there have been a few changes to the plot.

One of the great things about the series is how much it immerses in its setting of the American Deep South. Having never been to that part of the world (well unless Florida counts) but having lived in small towns, I felt that it portrayed brilliantly the environment in terms of the closeness of the heat and the community - more so in the second series for the latter, with the attitude that everyone knows each other and that gossip gets round fast, as well as a secondary narrative that encapsulates that small town mentality. The use of music is also brilliant; as well as the bluesy edgy theme tune, the soundtrack perfectly encapsulates the dark, slightly sinister atmosphere of the series.

I also think that the casting is utterly perfect. They have gone for a 'name' of sorts by picking Anna Paquin - she of The Piano back when she was a kid - to play Sookie, but when you watch her  you can see that she's been cast wholly for her performance due to hitting that ideal balance between sweet and vulnerable yet tough as nails and willing to kick ass when necessary. The supporting characters are also very well cast, particularly Rutina Wesley as Sookie's sassy best friend Tara Thornton, Ryan Kwanten (formerly of Home and Away) as Jason, Sookie's womanising brother, Nelsan Ellis as Tara's flamboyant cousin Lafayette and Alexander Skarsgard as mean and moody vampire Eric Northman, the thousand-year-old Sherriff of Area 5.

All in all, it's a brilliant series - darkly funny, sexy, gory and an excellent way to spend a few hours. There is a slightly trashy edge to it, but it's so well done that I guarantee you'll get hooked within a couple of episodes. Highly recommended and I can't wait for series 3.

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