what i watched last week
the shield series finale

true blood season finale

There are two types of readers for my TV ramblings: those who watch the shows I talk about, and those who don't. There aren't very many of the former ... how many of you out there watched True Blood, which just ended its first season and has been called by some the best new show of the season? There are plenty of the latter, and I've written on occasion about how odd I find my relation to those folks. They don't like TV, but they like my writing on TV, or they wish they had time for TV, but they don't, so they read my writing on TV. I'm like the New York Review of Books ... why read entire tomes when you can just read the reviews?

I've also mentioned more than once recently how frustrating it is when people say they don't watch but they like what I write. As I have noted, the point isn't to convince you I am a good writer, the point is to get you to watch the shows I like. This is especially relevant right now ... as I write this, we're a little more than 24 hours away from the series finale for The Shield, one of the best television shows of our time, and I know most people reading this don't give two shits about that show, so why bother writing about it, especially when I've written so often that it's a show that makes the audience feel dirty? (Tim Goodman today uses the same "you'll need a shower after watching" routine I've trotted out many times ... I probably stole it from him to begin with.)

But that's for another day. The show under examination in this post is supposedly True Blood. But I'm stuck for something interesting to say. It's a pretty good show ... back when HBO was king and Showtime was a niche channel, True Blood would have fit right in on Showtime, but now it's Showtime that has the buzz and HBO who is playing catchup ... and True Blood is on HBO. I can't just use the shorthand "it's a good series for Showtime," because Showtime is the home for Dexter and Weeds and The Tudors, and it's the better of the two premium channels right now. (FX, which has arguably passed them both, is a basic cable channel.)

True Blood has some lovely actors who look great and utilize a potpourri of the most awful accents ever. To be honest, I can't actually tell that the accents are bad ... I'm one of those Yanks who thinks all Southerners sound the same, apparently ... I can vouch for one thing: despite the fact that everyone lives in the same small town in the Louisiana bayou, no two people have the same accent. This makes sense ... the star was born in Canada and raised in New Zealand, the guy who plays her brother is from Australia, the main vampire is played by an English actor, the star's best friend is from Vegas, one of the king vampires is played by a Swede ... you get the idea. Oddly, the character with the least-obtrusive accent, a bartender/weredog/something, is actually from New Orleans.

Oh well ... you'll notice I'm into my fifth paragraph without saying much about the show itself. Did I mention the actors look great? Anna Paquin is a grown-up now ... her first nude scenes were a big Internet hit, by the third time she got nekkid, she was already old news ... Alexander Skarsgård has a relatively minor role (much smaller than his part in Generation Kill), but he's much hotter than the guy who plays the show's most prominent vampire. The show is a mystery with a coded cultural setting that allows vampires to fill in for other oppressed groups, most obviously gay people (one church has a sign that reads "God Hates Fangs"). None of it matters much, if you ask me ... it's a fun show, some of the acting is as over-the-top as the accents (and I mean that in a good way), Rutina Wesley does a lot with a little as Paquin's best friend (the role is a stereotypical sassy black woman, but Wesley and the writers do a fine job of taking it beyond the stereotype), vampires suck blood, Anna Paquin takes off her clothes ... really, what more could you ask for? Is it the best new show of the season? Hard to say, since it's hard to define "season" anymore. Off the top of my head, the only other new shows I'm watching are Life on Mars and Sons of Anarchy ... I probably like Life on Mars the best of those three, but all have their moments. I don't think any of them are on the level of The Shield, but not many shows are. Grade for Season One of True Blood? B+.