Monday, June 29, 2009

Addicted to Blood

I'm a little miffed at HBO. When you create shows that are the viewing equivalent of crack cocaine, it is my opinion that you must then deal responsibly with this commodity. I understand that next weekend is the prime party/holiday of summer, but the fireworks are going to have slightly less sparkle this year because I'll know it's because of the festivities that my dealer has blocked my access to my addiction. Which is to say, only three incredibly engrossing episodes into the season, HBO is going to make us sanguephiles wait for two weeks for another new episode. Fuckers. Fuckers!

Last night, they debuted the new comedy they're going to pair with Entourage, Hung. And, yes, it's about exactly what it sounds like. The titular character is played by Thomas Jane, who's always been about an 11 out of 10 on the cuteness meter, and I think he'll be able to hold this series down and keep me interested.

That expectation comes with a big caveat, though. From the overly-long pilot, I already got the feeling that this new "comedy" was going to jump into the new "dramedy" genre, much like the once-great Weeds. But the proliferation of this genre has lately started to strike me much like a lot of "literary fiction" that I read. After a short while, it starts to ramble along without much forward thrust, or the ability to keep each episode contained, and it ends up becoming a bit of a mess -- a drama that's not very dramatic, or comedy that just isn't all that funny. I'm sick of shit like that. I'm so sick to death of Weeds and Nancy fucking Botwin, and already the potential of Nurse Jackie seems to be flaming out after just a few episodes, mostly because they're walking that line and without the comedy, it just doesn't work for me. (In neither case, by the way, do I blame the lead actresses -- Edie Falco and Mary Louise Parker -- because they both have shown fine comic chops, but the writers just seem to not be up to the task of bringing the goods.

So, I hope that Hung mines its man-whore premise for all it's worth and that it can, uh, measure up to the comic bent of Entourage. Easily one of the best shows on TV for the first couple seasons, Entourage gets both praised and dissed -- and justly so on both counts -- because they've got both Piven and the startling funny and awesome Kevin Dillon keeping it rolling.

But it does, admittedly, suffer from a rather high douchey quotient at times. Last season, Entourage was ahead of the curve with the economic downturn as Vince struggled to stay saleable in Hollywood, failed, went broke, and then went home. And, for the second time, he revealed himself to be a real asshole when things don't roll his way, and E paid the price and absorbed his wrath. It pissed me off, because it finally made me root for E. But, all in all, maybe it was a good thing. E finally has me on his side, and I can forgive Vinny, and from all previews, it appears as though the boys are once again riding high in Hollywood when they return in just two weeks. Now, if only this would be an indicator of a global turnaround, things would be perfect.

But it is, even more than the return of the boys of summer, the return of True Blood after the holiday that I'll be most interested in. Salivating for, actually. Much like how E finally made the transformation last season, True Blood's writers did a quick arc with one of their newer characters to make her riveting. The young Deborah Ann Woll made her first appearance as Jessica near the end of last season when Bill was forced to "make" her. She was nearly heartbreaking in her terror, and then unexpectedly hilarious once she realized her new power. But that quickly devolved into annoying brattiness that was just too much to take, for both super-Vampire Eric, and for me, as the audience. But they've very quickly given her a powerful arc and Deborah's pulled it off beautifully, culminating last night in one of the sweetest and awkwardly sexy scenes Blood has given us yet. Another part of the thanks for those scenes and this new story playing so well goes to the affable likability factor of Jim Parrack's Hoyt Fortenberry, which is off the charts.

By the very nature of the show, where seemingly main characters get murdered, dismembered, or simply exsanguinated regularly, they're going to have to fall into the bad routine of bringing in "red shirts," or, like any team going for a championship, they're going to have depend quite a bit on their bench. And, luckily for them, they casted strongly and must've had a multiple season arc in mind, because Hoyt is a great example of a seemingly background guy coming off the bench and scoring right away. All last year, he was a sweet-natured pal of Jason's who simply lamented his loneliness. He had a few cute throwaway scenes that all fell into place when young Jessica strolled into Merlotte's with a striking combination of innocence and predatory beauty. Hoyt was, naturally, enchanted. Watching these two awkwardly flirt was both charming and charged -- the perfect mix of dreamy and danger that this show thrives on. Not to mention that Hoyt, along with Eric, does tons to raise the "good looking" quotient on the show.

And Eric continues to delight with his terrible beauty, and his loyal Pam is just simply a scream every week. But another "bench" player, Ginger at Fangtasia, has been the quintessential scream queen for a couple weeks running now. She shoots Lafayette, and SHE erupts into hysterical screeches.

This week it was Sookie who got her to unleash her shriek, but it was just as funny. I can't wait to see what makes her scream next. That's the shit that just makes this show rock.

I do have to say that I'm not fully engaged with Jason or Tara so far this season. I've had about enough of Tara being happy and nice with Eggs. He, too, has been thrown into the "shirtless" brigade, and with good reason, because old Eggs has a bod so hot you could fry bacon it. But he needs to do something about now other than just walk around shirtless. Given that he's living with crazy-ass Bachanalian Maryann, I suspect he'll be doing something soon. And poor clueless Jason falling into that cult -- I swear I can see where this is leading, and I don't like that much, because all this show ever does is surprise me, so hopefully I'm wrong.

Much like these half-hour shows that have an identity crisis regarding their genre, I still don't know how to pigeonhole True Blood. It's horror -- and often gorily so; it's comedy and it's a bit of melodrama; sometimes it's romance, and a whole bunch of sexy, too. Much like the beverage it's named after, it's a weird, synthetic mix that's probably not everyone's taste, but for those who do crave it, it's nearly essential. And now it's two weeks until we get more of it. There. Right there. That's something to make Ginger scream bloody murder.


Sticky Elbow (now in lemon) said...

This is not right a post about "True Blood" and no comments? Late, but better than never.

The gore factor this season is up a notch and titillates. That entire basement scene with the leg had me squeaming and laughing at the same time, especially the part where Lafayette dug into the bones.

I hated that it wasn't on this weekend because we had the 4th the day prior? What's a sensible reason for that move? Only 2 more days until it's back.

SusanD said...

YAY Sticky! So glad you're a fan!

Jones said...

Well even after all these years the guys know how to build up their audience! I mean when you say HBO you say True Blood and Game of Thrones! And many other smash TV series! I can totally understand you!