Skip to main content

I saved the therapist for you.

True Blood 
Season 6

(SPOILERS) The longer True Blood continues, the more it seems as if it was only ever a deeply average show wrapped in very sexy gore. Which is sufficient. It’s rarely less than entertaining. The performances are dependable and, if it’s never reached the heights, neither has it succumbed to the lows of its family-friendly progenitor Buffy. But by this point it’s quite clear the show is coasting. For every inspired idea decently executed (Vamp Camp) there’s one that is muddled and tepid (Warlow). This is a season that has a good thing (Rutger Hauer), then forgets to use him, and makes a stunningly misshapen misstep by showing solidarity with a character no one cares about enough to get on board with a whole episode mourning and eulogising him. True Blood Season 6 is an HBO series on its last legs, one that should have probably ended two seasons before it will.


As ever, the show tirelessly sledgehammers commentary on religious hypocrisy and prejudice. Complaining about the lack of subtlety at this stage is pointless; it’s part of the series’ DNA. Governor Burrell’s plan to destroy vampire kind is nothing terribly original, and Vamp Camp is an expectedly variable mix of good ideas and lesser ones. For example, Pruitt Taylor Vince (who seems to be in every other show at the moment) as a vamp psychologist never strays from the predictable. But the voyeuristic aspects and twisted experimentation are effective in so much as they sport a sadistic sense of covert government programmes and conspiracies. The best element is Arliss Howard’s performance as Burrell, which makes it a shame he gets written out as early as Don’t You Feel Me. Still, his demise is effectively OTT and surprisingly the never-very-interesting-previously Howard Deutch handles the episode with something approaching panache. Anna Camp’s Sarah Newlin just can’t hold the stage in the same way; it’s clear the writers love her, but as a character she’s middling. Howard’s scene opposite Skarsgard in The Sun, where Eric poses as a campaigner for the preservation of the whooping crane, is enormous fun, and one wishes there was more dialogue of this quality elsewhere.


True Blood pick ups and drop ideas carelessly, whenever it suits; it gives the impression of a team who hope glossy production values will paper over the cracks. The contact lenses that prevent glamouring don’t appear to be worn by guards in the facility all the time, which is handy. Bill’s Lilith-enhanced superpowers in the first episode fluctuate throughout the season. It’s difficult to see why he vacillates so much with regard to rescuing his friends in the camp when he could probably break in and slay all the guards with barely a pause for (lack of) breath. In the end, it’s Eric who pretty much does that, and he’s your common or garden vampire, not an uber-deity. The “quest for fairy blood” plotline is patchy in the extreme, a means to create a love triangle with Sookie as much as anything. Why is it Bill can’t give Nora any of Warlow’s blood he has stored away; doesn’t Eric find it a bit suspect that Bill swans off in the day to try to procure Warlow (and his blood) which entails consuming the very blood that might save his sister?


That episode, In the Evening, is one of the best of the season, and the loss of Nora is much more affecting than Terry. There’s also includes a strong flashback, telling us how she came to be a vampire. Less weighty are the flashbacks involving Warlow’s fairy origins. Robert Kazinsky, the main Big Bad-or-is-he of this run, certainly the main Sookie love interest (Bill and Eric have other things on their minds), is only so-so. You can see the joins where the writers decided to turn the menacing Warlow of the previous seasons into the ruggedly handsome Warlow who turns Sookie’s head. The writers play with the “Is he really bad or isn’t he?” theme and when they decide he is, it’s too late for him to be an effective menace. Sookie’s dilemmas have little impact, as we don’t really swallow that she’d even consider his offer to make her a vampire-fairy thing. It probably wasn’t such a smart move to have him hiding out in the fairy realm for two or three episodes either. In series’ this short it makes it look as if the writers are in a holding pattern.


Most damaging in the Sookie stakes is the turn of events in Fuck the Pain Away, when Lafayette (Nelson Ellis has zero to do this season, but attempting to throw him a bone this unappetising is hardly a favour) contacts Sookie’s dead parents only for her dad to possess him. It’s a series nadir when he bundles her in the back of his car and takes her off to drown her. The revelation that dead dad would rather Sookie than allow Warlow to be with her is difficult enough to swallow, but the forced drama with Lafayette is risible.


Tara is very much in the background too, but those with screen time are often ill served too. The Sam Merlotte arc, as he vies with Alcide and his werewolf pack for protection of Emma, is banal as is his relationship with Nicole. Alcide’s problems with his pack are barely more compelling. Then there’s Andy and his faerie brood, Terry and Arlene. There are more misses than hits in the plot threads this season, so it should be little surprise that it finishes so tentatively.


It isn’t just the underwhelming “cliffhanger” as vampires with infected with Hep-V advance on Bellefleur’s; there’s also the unlikely “What happened next” summary. Sookie is suddenly back with Alcide, Sam has become Mayor and introduced the pairing programme (Tara’s mother offering her services; I mean, good grief!) and Andy gotten over losing three of his kids very easily. There are those who have been dealt with reasonably; Jason is as idiotic as ever (and Karolina Wydra as Violet is a promising addition, although her interest in Jason isn’t convincing), Holly as sarcastic and bitchy, Jessica is ever-sympathetic, and Bill has his moments (although after the end of Season Five, pretty much everything we see of him this season has been a damp squib). I don’t expect True Blood to end with a whimper, but little about the set up for Seven has been especially promising. One good thing; it seems Rutger’s back.



Popular posts from this blog

You were this amazing occidental samurai.

Ricochet (1991) (SPOILERS) You have to wonder at Denzel Washington’s agent at this point in the actor’s career. He’d recently won his first Oscar for Glory , yet followed it with less-than-glorious heart-transplant ghost comedy Heart Condition (Bob Hoskins’ racist cop receives Washington’s dead lawyer’s ticker; a recipe for hijinks!) Not long after, he dipped his tentative toe in the action arena with this Joel Silver production; Denzel has made his share of action fare since, of course, most of it serviceable if unremarkable, but none of it comes near to delivering the schlocky excesses of Ricochet , a movie at once ingenious and risible in its plot permutations, performances and production profligacy.

Well, something’s broke on your daddy’s spaceship.

Apollo 13 (1995) (SPOILERS) The NASA propaganda movie to end all NASA propaganda movies. Their original conception of the perilous Apollo 13 mission deserves due credit in itself; what better way to bolster waning interest in slightly naff perambulations around a TV studio than to manufacture a crisis event, one emphasising the absurd fragility of the alleged non-terrestrial excursions and the indomitable force that is “science” in achieving them? Apollo 13 the lunar mission was tailor made for Apollo 13 the movie version – make believe the make-believe – and who could have been better to lead this fantasy ride than Guantanamo Hanks at his all-American popularity peak?

No one can be told what the Matrix is. You have to see it for yourself.

The Matrix  (1999) (SPOILERS) Twenty years on, and the articles are on the defining nature of The Matrix are piling up, most of them touching on how its world has become a reality, or maybe always was one. At the time, its premise was engaging enough, but it was the sum total of the package that cast a spell – the bullet time, the fashions, the soundtrack, the comic book-as-live-action framing and styling – not to mention it being probably the first movie to embrace and reflect the burgeoning Internet ( Hackers doesn’t really count), and subsequently to really ride the crest of the DVD boom wave. And now? Now it’s still really, really good.

He’ll regret it to his dying day, if ever he lives that long.

The Quiet Man (1952) (SPOILERS) The John Wayne & John Ford film for those who don’t like John Wayne & John Ford films? The Quiet Man takes its cues from Ford’s earlier How Green Was My Valley in terms of, well less Anglophile and Hibernophile and Cambrophile nostalgia respectively for past times, climes and heritage, as Wayne’s pugilist returns to his family seat and stirs up a hot bed of emotions, not least with Maureen O’Hara’s red-headed hothead. The result is a very likeable movie, for all its inculcated Oirishness and studied eccentricity.

The Krishna died of a broken finger? I mean, is that a homicide?

Miami Blues (1990) (SPOILERS) If the ‘90s crime movie formally set out its stall in 1992 with Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs , another movie very quietly got in there first at the beginning of the decade. Miami Blues picked up admiring reviews but went otherwise unnoticed on release, and even now remains under-recognised. The tale of “blithe psychopath” Federick J. Frenger, Jr., the girl whose heart he breaks and the detetive sergeant on his trail, director George Armitage’s adaptation of Charles Willeford’s novel wears a pitch black sense of humour and manages the difficult juggling act of being genuinely touching with it. It’s a little gem of a movie, perfectly formed and concisely told, one that more than deserves to rub shoulders with the better-known entries in its genre. One of the defining characteristics of Willeford’s work, it has been suggested , is that it doesn’t really fit into the crime genre; he comes from an angle of character rather than plot or h

Haven’t you ever heard of the healing power of laughter?

Batman (1989) (SPOILERS) There’s Jaws , there’s Star Wars , and then there’s Batman in terms of defining the modern blockbuster. Jaws ’ success was so profound, it changed the way movies were made and marketed. Batman’s marketing was so profound, it changed the way tentpoles would be perceived: as cash cows. Disney tried to reproduce the effect the following year with Dick Tracy , to markedly less enthusiastic response. None of this places Batman in the company of Jaws as a classic movie sold well, far from it. It just so happened to hit the spot. As Tim Burton put it, it was “ more of a cultural phenomenon than a great movie ”. It’s difficult to disagree with his verdict that the finished product (for that is what it is) is “ mainly boring ”. Now, of course, the Burton bat has been usurped by the Nolan incarnation (and soon the Snyder). They have some things in common. Both take the character seriously and favour a sombre tone, which was much more of shock to the

You think a monkey knows he’s sitting on top of a rocket that might explode?

The Right Stuff (1983) (SPOILERS) While it certainly more than fulfils the function of a NASA-propaganda picture – as in, it affirms the legitimacy of their activities – The Right Stuff escapes the designation of rote testament reserved for Ron Howard’s later Apollo 13 . Partly because it has such a distinctive personality and attitude. Partly too because of the way it has found its through line, which isn’t so much the “wow” of the Space Race and those picked to be a part of it as it is the personification of that titular quality in someone who wasn’t even in the Mercury programme: Chuck Yaeger (Sam Shephard). I was captivated by The Right Stuff when I first saw it, and even now, with the benefit of knowing-NASA-better – not that the movie is exactly extolling its virtues from the rooftops anyway – I consider it something of a masterpiece, an interrogation of legends that both builds them and tears them down. The latter aspect doubtless not NASA approved.

You tampered with the universe, my friend.

The Music of Chance (1993) (SPOILERS) You won’t find many adaptations of Paul Auster’s novels. Original screenplays, yes, a couple of which he has directed himself. Terry Gilliam has occasionally mentioned Mr. Vertigo as in development. It was in development in 1995 too, when Philip Haas and Auster intended to bring it to the screen. Which means Auster presumably approved of Haas’ work on The Music of Chance (he also cameos). That would be understandable, as it makes for a fine, ambiguous movie, pregnant with meaning yet offering no unequivocal answers, and one that makes several key departures from the book yet crucially maintains a mesmerising, slow-burn lure.

Drank the red. Good for you.

Morbius (2022) (SPOILERS) Generic isn’t necessarily a slur. Not if, by implication, it’s suggestive of the kind of movie made twenty years ago, when the alternative is the kind of super-woke content Disney currently prioritises. Unfortunately, after a reasonable first hour, Morbius descends so resignedly into such unmoderated formula that you’re left with a too-clear image of Sony’s Spider-Verse when it lacks a larger-than-life performer (Tom Hardy, for example) at the centre of any given vehicle.

People still talk about Pandapocalypse 2002.

Turning Red (2022) (SPOILERS) Those wags at Pixar, eh? Yes, the most – actually, the only – impressive thing about Turning Red is the four-tiered wordplay of its title. Thirteen-year-old Mei (Rosalie Chiang) finds herself turning into a large red panda at emotive moments. She is also, simultaneously, riding the crimson wave for the first time. Further, as a teenager, she characteristically suffers from acute embarrassment (mostly due to the actions of her domineering mother Ming Lee, voiced by Sandra Oh). And finally, of course, Turning Red can be seen diligently spreading communist doctrine left, right and centre. To any political sensibility tuning in to Disney+, basically (so ones with either considerable or zero resistance to woke). Take a guess which of these isn’t getting press in reference to the movie? And by a process of elimination is probably what it it’s really about (you know in the same way most Pixars, as far back as Toy Story and Monsters, Inc . can be given an insi