Who among us didn’t watch lonely, trusting J.F. Sebastian take renegade replicant Pris into his digs at the Bradbury building and think, Oh, this shall not end well? It was William Sanderson who gave BLADE RUNNER’s afflicted replicant designer an awkward vulnerability, but the actor also gave life to TRUE BLOOD’s conflicted Sheriff Bud Dearborne and, outside of the genre, DEADWOOD’s canny innkeeper E.B. Farnum and NEWHART’s deadpan townie Larry (of Larry, Darryl and Darryl).
I got talk with Sanderson about the span of his career, during which we get some inside tales of life on-set, and a certain, geeky podcast host and producer gets hoist on his own bio. Click the player to hear the show.
Early episodes offer engaging characters, memorable dialogue, and social commentary.
So far, the new season of TRUE BLOOD, loosely based on Charlaine Harris’ novel Club Dead, has continued two trends of the Alan Ball’s series: it maintains the high quality of the previous seasons, and it gets further away from Harris’ original Sookie Stackhouse storyline.
For those new to TRUE BLOOD, a little background is in order. Sookie Stackhouse (Anna Paquin) – a telepathic waitress in Bon Ton, Louisiana – has fallen in love with Bill Compton (Stephen Moyer), a vampire, who falls in love with her and saves her life. In the first season, we learned that vampires have revealed themselves and some have taken their place in society, subsisting on a blood substitute called Tru Blood rather than taking human lives as they have done for centuries. Not surprisingly, this exposes vampires to prejudice, including signs that declare, “God hates Fangs.” Additionally, vampires are exploited because their blood is used as the drug “V,” which gives humans extraordinary strength and healing power, creating a pricey, black market demand.
TRUE BLOOD’s second season extended the metaphor further in a subplot wherein Sookie’s brother Jason Stackhouse (Ryan Kwanten) was recruited to become a “soldier of the son,” part of a religious group that intends to conduct a war on all vampirekind. The church kidnapped Godric, the maker of the local vampire sheriff Eric Northman (Alexander Skarsgard), causing Eric to take quite an interest in Sookie and her telepathic powers. At the climax of Season Two, Bill proposes to Sookie at a French restaurant; as she returns to their table to accept his proposal, Bill is kidnapped by some strangers.
The first episode of Season Three picks up where previous season left off: Sookie reports Bill missing to the local deputy, who seems neither terribly interested nor concerned. Meanwhile, Jason is consumed with guilt for having shot a serial killer. Jason’s new friend Deputy Andy Bellefleur (Chris Bauer), who has taken credit for the killing, advises him to act normal, telling the archetypical dumb jock, “Conscience off; dick on!”
Skarsgard’s female fans are treated to an early nude sex scene when Sookie goes to report Bill missing and finds Eric has been having sex with a tied up, foreign-speaking wench for hours. When Sookie reacts skeptically, he asks her, “Bill’s stamina not up to snuff?” Fans of the novels know that Sookie winds up marrying Eric, but as yet it is hard to say whether series creator Alan Ball will take the storyline in the same direction. Previously, Ball spared Tara’s cousin LaFayette Reynolds (Nelsan Ellis), who died at the end of the first novel; the flambouyant LaFayette has remained one of the series most lively characters, though he is still under Eric’s thumb, forced to sell “V” for the Louisiana vampire queen.
Meanwhile, Sookie’s boss Sam Merlotte (Sam Trammell) tracks down his actual family, the white trash Mickens. (In the books, Sam’s father shot his mother when he discovered she was a shape-shifter; in the TV series Sam’s real mother gave him up for adoption, but his adopted family rejected him once he started shapeshifting). Werewolves are a major element this season as the group that kidnapped Bill are revealed to be werewolves working under the command of the Vampire King of Mississippi (series newcomer Denis O’Hare). The king wants Bill to pledge fealty to him and reveal the Louisiana queen’s secrets; otherwise. he will take Sookie and turn her over to Lorena (Mariana Kloveno), Bill’s maker, who is still besotted with him (even though he greets her by throwing an oil lamp at her and setting her on fire). Unlike the recent THE TWILIGHT SAGA: ECLIPSE, TRUE BLOOD features true wolves rather than oversized CGI replicas.
TRUE BLOOD’s new season also introduces us to a new vampire, Franklin Mott (James Frain), who beds Tara and uses his hypnotic powers to milk her for information on Sookie and Bill. All at sea is Jessica (Deborah Ann Woll), the young female vampire Bill made, who has discovered to her dismay that her vampire healing powers continually restore her hymen; with Bill missing, she is lacking the guidance she needs to function as a vampire. A life-changing event has also occurred for Terry (Todd Lowe) and Arlene (Carrie Preston): Arlene discovers she’s pregnant and tells a delighted Terry that he’s the father. Additionally, when the body of a man Jessica killed is discovered, Bud Dearborne (William Sanderson) decides that he’s had enough and quits his job as the town’s sheriff.
As in previous seasons, the episodes so far this summer have juggled several story lines while offering up engaging characters, memorable dialogue, social commentary, atmospheric photography, and other delights. In these days of vampire oversaturation, TRUEBLOOD remains a very welcome addition to the genre and an example of what a high-quality vampire series can be, putting its competitors to shame. It is easy to see why TRUE BLOOD has, after a shaky start in the ratings, become the most watched HBO series since THE SOPRANOS.
TRUE BLOOD (Season Three, 2010). Created by Alan Ball. Cast: Anna Paquin, Sam Trammell, Ryan Kwanten, Rutina Wesley, Chris Bauer, Nelsan Ellis, Carrie Preston, William Sanderson, Jim Parrack, Stephen Moyer, Alexander Skarsgard
Salon.com’s Heather Havrilesky is the lucky recipient of screener copies for the opening episodes of TRUE BLOOD’s third season, which begins Sunday, June 13 at 9:00pm on HBO. Havrilesky’s verdict is a positive one:
While the orgiastic madness of Season 2 might be hard to top, the first three episodes of Season 3 look promising indeed, serving up one juicy twist after another, plus a steady flow of great dialogue, intense conversations, brutality, blackmail, mystery, suspense and, best of all, some wickedly funny moments that are beyond compare. Despite all of the campy, overly obvious commentary on prejudice, bigotry and marginalized subcultures that were always gumming up the works in the first season, “True Blood” had an addictive second season and now the show is reaching a new high. The cast’s Southern accents finally sound reasonably natural, their performances are better than ever, and the storytelling has blown past X having a crush on Y and Z wanting to kill X, and landed in some slippery realm where everyone is trying to get over on everyone else — you know, like “The Shield” except with vampires instead of bad cops and werewolves where the drug cartels should go.
Sounds like fun.
Here’s the Season Three trailer for HBO’s TRUE BLOOD.
This season, the mundane ‘real-world’ vampire show will also feature big, well-groomed dogs, err… werewolves.
Premieres June 13th.
Tuesday, May 25 offers a variety of horror, fantasy, and science fiction titles on DVD and Blu-ray. For fans of the HBO’s vampire show, there’s TRUE BLOOD: THE COMPLETE SECOND SEASON, which is now available on DVD and Blu-ray. For fans of Josh Whedon, there’s a Blu-ray release of DR. HORRIBLE’S SING-ALONG BLOD, starring Neil Patrick Harris and Nathan Fillion; this is the thing Whedon whipped up as an Internet series to keep busy during the writer’s strike. For fans of Lucio Fulci (and god knows, they’re out there, lurking in the shadows like Lovecraftian worshippers of Cthulhu), there is a new Blue Underground Blu-ray release of CITY OF THE LIVING DEAD, also available in a special edition DVD. This is good news, because the previous DVD release was a bare-bone presentation, lacking bonus features.
THE ROAD, based on a novel by Cormac McCarthy (No Country for Old Men) didn’t lead to huge box office success when it was released in theatres last year, but Cinefantastique’s Peg Aloi considered its bleak depiction of a post-apocalyptic world worthy of attention. Viggo Mortensen stars as a father trying to survive, along with his son, in a world seemingly without hope.
As for the rest, there’s BEYOND SHERWOOD FOREST, a fantasy take on the Robin Hood story, starring Julian Sands (Argento’s PHANTOM OF THE OPERA); TELL TALE, an alleged adaptation of Poe, starring Josh Lucas, Lena Headey (THE BROKEN), and Brian Cox (MANHUNTER); and an unrated director’s cut Blu-ray release of Troma’s CLASS OF NUKE ‘EM HIGH (1986).