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Truebies and Newbies Unite: The Southern Vampire Saga Returns: “True Blood” Season Four Preview

By Sarah Carlson | TV | June 21, 2011 |

By Sarah Carlson | TV | June 21, 2011 |

When “True Blood” premiered in summer 2008, I admit my excitement with the pilot wasn’t entirely warranted. The pilot is good, but perhaps not great, as the show itself can be described. But when I had heard Alan Ball was adapting Charlaine Harris’ Southern Vampire book series for TV, I rushed to devour the books — there were eight then; now there’s 11 with a promise of two more. I was immediately sucked in and came into the TV series already a fan. Whether I would have liked the show as much from the start not having read the books is hard to say, but here I am, still excited and anticipating the Season Four premiere Sunday. With time I’ve seen that the books are really just a springboard; “True Blood” can stand on its own. The show has its haters, to be sure — I’m looking at you, commenter Todd: “Because it can never be said enough: True Blood is awful.” I’ll go with crazy. And you all should give it a chance.

The fourth season is in vein with the first three in generally following the plots of the first four books about barmaid Sookie Stackhouse in Bon Temps, La., and her increasing relations with the sometimes out-in-the-open supernatural world, from vampires to werewolves to fairies. Ball and writers have expanded Harris’ characters, created some more and amped up the sci-fi elements, although to an almost genre-specific level I’m worried will turn away some viewers. “True Blood” is Southern gothic camp in its purest, though, and even bordered on baroque this past season, as the New York Times’ Dave Itzkoff pointed out to Ball last week. In a separate but similar Q&A, star Anna Paquin herself admitted the sometimes ridiculousness of the show.

It’s all still here this season, the blood and the gore, the sex and the more sex. And now, witches! Fiona Shaw joins the cast as a witch, Marnie, in a line of excellent character actors taking on supporting roles — Dennis O’Hare as vampire Russell Edgington, James Frain as vampire Franklin Mott and Stephen Root as vampire Eddie Gauthier. Michelle Forbes’ glorious turn as the maenad Maryann Forrester in Season Two can almost make up for her complicity in “The Killing.” Almost.

My biggest anticipation for this season will be the increased role of vampire Eric, played by Alexander Skarsgård, and the trouble he encounters after he crosses Marnie and her witches. Sookie breaks things off with boyfriend Bill (Stephen Moyer), and as she is drawn into Eric’s troubles, they have some interesting moments in store. My biggest worry is the pushed-up and fleshed-out plot of Sookie having fairy blood. The writers have given her “powers” (in addition to her telepathy) and have her visiting the mysterious fairy land with her fairy godmother, Claudine (Lara Pulver), where she runs into … her grandfather, Earl Stackhouse (Gary Cole). You can catch that sequence already in the eight-minute sneak peek of the premiere at

I attempted to recap the first three seasons for you, dear readers, but then I realized HBO has done the work for me. A 5-minute tutorial:

True Blood in Under 5 Minutes

Good, bloody fun, and a perfect show for summer. Feel free to join me Mondays starting next week as I discuss the previous night’s episode. And if you want a recap of all of the (mostly) bloody deaths on the show, HBO has provided that, too. The video no doubt shows that when it comes to “True Blood,” a sense of humor — and a strong stomach — is required.

In Memoriam

Sarah Carlson lives in Alabama and can vouch for the accents on “True Blood.” And if you think she’ll ever back down on “True Blood,” consider this example: She hasn’t tired of Lady Gaga, thinks she is divine and will get in fights defending her. Your battle is futile, Sookie haters.

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