True Blood is an American television drama series created and produced by Alan Ball. It is loosely based on the The Southern Vampire Mysteries series of novels by Charlaine Harris. The show is broadcast on the premium cable network HBO in the United States. It is produced by HBO in association with Ball’s production company, Your Face Goes Here Entertainment. It premiered on September 7, 2008.
The show’s second 12-episode season premiered on June 14, 2009. On July 30, 2009, HBO confirmed that True Blood will be renewed for a third season.Alan Ball has said that he plans to start shooting the third season before Christmas 2009.
True Blood details the co-existence of vampires and humans in Bon Temps, a fictional small Louisiana town. The series centers on Sookie Stackhouse (Anna Paquin), a telepathic waitress at a bar, who falls in love with vampire Bill Compton (Stephen Moyer).
The first season received critical acclaim and won several awards, including one Golden Globe and an Emmy.
Series creator Alan Ball had previously worked with premium cable channel HBO on Six Feet Under, which ran five seasons. In October 2005, after Six Feet Under’s finale, Ball signed a two-year agreement with HBO to develop and produce original programming for the network. True Blood became the first project under the deal, after Ball became acquainted with Charlaine Harris’s Southern Vampire Mystery books. One day, while early for a dental appointment, Ball was browsing through Barnes and Noble and came across Dead Until Dark, the first installment in Harris’s series. Enjoying it, he read the following entries and became interested in “bringing [Harris’s] vision to television”. However, Harris already had two other adaptation options for the books. He said she chose to work with him, though, because ” really ‘got’ me. That’s how he convinced me to go with him. I just felt that he understood what I was doing with the books.”
The project’s hour-long pilot was ordered concurrently with the finalization of the aforementioned development deal and was written, directed and produced by Ball. Cast members Paquin, Kwanten and Trammell were announced in February 2007 and Moyer later on in April. The pilot was shot in the early summer of 2007 and was officially ordered to series in August, at which point Ball had already written several more episodes. Production on the series began later that fall, with Brook Kerr, who portrayed Tara Thornton in the original pilot, being replaced by Rutina Wesley. Two more episodes of the series had been filmed before the 2007-08 Writers Guild of America strike shut down production of the 12-episode first season until 2008. That September, after only the first two episodes of the series had aired, HBO placed an order for a second season of twelve episodes of the show, with production scheduled to commence in January 2009 for a summer premiere.
Opening title sequence
True Blood’s Emmy-nominated title sequence was created by Digital Kitchen, a production studio that was also responsible for creating the title sequence of Six Feet Under. The sequence, which is primarily composed of portrayals of the show’s deep South setting, is played to “Bad Things” by Jace Everett.
Digital Kitchen wished to explore themes of redemption and forgiveness in the opening title sequence.
Conceptually, Digital Kitchen elected to construct the sequence around the idea of “the whore in the house of prayer” by intermingling contradictory images of sex, violence and religion and displaying them from the point of view of “a supernatural, predatory creature observing human beings from the shadows …” Digital Kitchen also wished to explore ideas of redemption and forgiveness, and thus arranged for the sequence to progress from morning to night and to culminate in a baptism.
Most of the footage used in the sequence was filmed on location by Digital Kitchen. Crew members took a four-day trip to Louisiana to film and also shot at a Chicago church and on a stage and in a bar in Seattle. Additionally, several Digital Kitchen crew members made cameo appearances in the sequence.
In editing the opening, Digital Kitchen wanted to express how “religious fanaticism” and “sexual energy” could corrupt humans and make them animalistic. Accordingly, several frames of some shots were cut to give movements a jittery feel, while other shots were simply played back very slowly. Individual frames were also splattered with drops of blood. The sequence’s transitions were constructed differently, though; they were made with a Polaroid transfer technique. The last frame of one shot and the first frame of another were taken as a single Polaroid photo, which was then divided between emulsion and backing. The emulsion was then filmed being further separated by chemicals and those shots of this separation were placed back into the final edit.
Eight different typefaces, inspired by Southern road signage, were also created manually by Camm Rowland for cast and crew credits, as well as the show’s title card.
Gary Calamar, the music supervisor for the series, said that his goal for the soundtrack to the show is to create something “swampy, bluesy and spooky” and to feature local Louisiana musicians. Composer Nathan Barr writes the original score for the series which features cello, guitar, prepared piano and glass harmonica among other instruments, all of which he performs himself. The main theme song is “Bad Things” by country music artist Jace Everett, from his 2005 self-titled debut.
Elektra/Atlantic Records released a True Blood soundtrack on May 19, 2009, the same day as the release of the DVD and Blu-Ray of the first season. Nathan Barr’s original score for True Blood was released on CD on the Varèse Sarabande label on September 8, 2009.
Both Nathan Barr and Jace Everett won 2009 awards from Broadcast Music Incorporated in the BMI Cable Awards category for, respectively, True Blood’s original score and theme song.
The premiere of True Blood was prefaced with a viral marketing/alternate reality game (ARG) campaign, based at BloodCopy.com. This included setting up multiple websites,encoding web address into unmarked envelopes mailed to high profile blog writers and others, and even performances by a “vampire” who attempted to reach out to others of their kind, to discuss the recent creation of “TruBlood”, a fictional beverage which is featured in the show. A MySpace account with the username “Blood” had, as of June 19, uploaded two videos; one entitled “Vampire Taste Test – True Blood vs Human”, and one called “BloodCopy Exclusive INTERVIEW WITH SAMSON THE VAMPIRE”. A prequel comic was handed out to attendees of the 2008 Comic-Con. The comic centers around an old vampire named Lamar, who tells the reader about how TruBlood surfaced and was discussed between many vampires before going public. At one point, Lamar wonders if TruBlood is making the world safe for vampires or from them.
Several commercials featured on HBO and Facebook aired prior to the series premiere, placing vampires in ads similar to those of beer and wine. Some beverage vending machines across the US were also fitted with cards indicating that they were “sold out” of TruBlood.
housands of DVDs of the first episode were handed out to attendees of Midnight Madness, a special screenings event of the 2008 Toronto International Film Festival. Blockbuster Video provided free rental of the first episode of True Blood several days before it was broadcast on HBO. The video had a faint promotional watermark throughout the episode.
On April 16, 2009, HBO released the first teaser poster for Season 2. The image uses a perspective technique that shows observers one of two images. A minute-long promotional video advertising season two, which featured Bob Dylan’s “Beyond Here Lies Nothin'”, was released via Entertainment Tonight in early May.
On September 10, 2009, HBO.com began selling Tru:Blood, the fictional drink that appears in the show. In real life, it is a blood orange carbonated drink, developed and manufactured by Omni Consumer Products, a company that specializes in defictionalizing brands from television and movies.
There is also a website for The Fellowship of the Sun, antagonists from the book series, featuring videos about hot-button issues such as becoming a vampire.
FX (UK), the UK and Ireland broadcaster of the series, launched an extensive promotional website for the series.
On September 15, 2009, HBO filed a trademark registration with the United States Patent and Trademark Office for a possible future electronic game based on True Blood.
On September 18, 2009, HBO launched a True Blood jewelry line in collaboration with New York-based designer Udi Behr. Inspired by the series, the jewelry will have a Gothic look and will feature sterling silver, polished steel, and rubies.
Cast and characters
True Blood employs a broad ensemble cast composed of regular, central characters and a rotating group of impermanent supporting characters. Though the series is based in the fictional town of Bon Temps, Louisiana, a noticeable number of the actors comprising the cast are originally from outside the United States. In an interview, Ball explained that he didn’t intentionally seek out “non-American” actors, but was willing to go anywhere he needed to in order “to find the actor who makes the character breathe.” Ball went on to explain that, in casting, there was more of a focus on who would portray the character in a compelling way rather than who would physically resemble the characters from the book. Noting that there’s a definite difference between the characters portrayed in True Blood and the ones depicted in The Southern Vampire Mysteries, he described Harris as being very understanding in terms of how her work was being reinterpreted.
 Principal cast
The series is set within the fictional town of Bon Temps, Louisiana. The show acknowledges as reality that supernatural creatures such as vampires, telepaths, shapeshifters and other mythical creatures exist.
In the first season vampires have recently come “out of the casket” and many are trying to integrate, or “mainstream”, into society, a process made easier by the sale of artificial blood called “Tru Blood”. The main characters for the series are Sookie Stackhouse (Anna Paquin), a telepath and waitress at the local bar, called “Merlotte’s”, owned by shapeshifter Sam Merlotte (Sam Trammell). Sookie’s best friend Tara Thornton (Rutina Wesley) begins working at Merlotte’s in the pilot episode, and enters into a brief relationship with Sam during the first season.
In the first episode the viewers are introduced to the vampire culture via Bill Compton (Stephen Moyer), who is rescued by Sookie when a local couple attempt to drain his blood. After drinking Bill’s blood Sookie becomes psychically connected to Bill, and soon after they begin a relationship.
Sookie lives with her grandmother Adele (Lois Smith). Her older brother, Jason (Ryan Kwanten), is a road crew supervisor and womanizer. The main mystery of the first season concerns Jason Stackhouse and the murder of several women he has relations with, beginning with Maudette Pickens (Danielle Sapia), Merlotte’s waitress Dawn Green (Lynn Collins) and his girlfriend Amy (Lizzy Caplan).
Jason works with Hoyt Fortenberry (Jim Parrack), and Rene Lenier (Michael Raymond-James). Lenier becomes engaged to Merlotte’s waitress Arlene Fowler (Carrie Preston), and is later revealed to be the Bon Temps serial killer.
Detective Andy Bellefleur (Chris Bauer) investigates the murders in Bon Temps and favours Jason Stackhouse as the chief suspect; when he is proven wrong at the end of the season, he falls off the wagon. Bellefleur’s boss is the town sheriff, Bud Dearborne (William Sanderson). Andy’s cousin, Terry (Todd Lowe) is a former Army veteran who works in the kitchen at Merlotte’s. Working with him is Tara’s cousin Lafayette Reynolds (Nelsan Ellis), who also works as a drug dealer, dealing in vampire’s blood, know within the series as “V”.
Tara’s mother, and Lafayette’s aunt, is Lettie Mae Thornton (Adina Porter), an alcoholic who undergoes an “exorcism” in the middle of the first season to exorcise her “demons”. She sobers up and kicks Tara out towards the end of the first season.
Humans who indulge in sex with vampires are referred to as “fang-bangers” and in the first season the main destination for “fang-bangers” is the local vampire bar called “Fangtasia”, which is owned and operated by Eric Northman (Alexander Skarsg?rd), a vampire who is sheriff of Louisiana, known as Area 5 by vampires. Eric employs Sookie to find a thief in his bar, but once the perpetrator (a vampire) is revealed and attempts to kill Sookie, Bill stakes and kills the thief to save her. Bill is thus punished for killing another vampire by being forced to create a new vampire. She is Jessica Hamby (Deborah Ann Woll), a seventeen year old girl. Once turned she proves to be a handful for Eric and at the end of the first season she is taken in by Bill.
Towards the end of the first season, Tara is involved in a DUI, following being made homeless by her mother, and meets “social worker” Maryann Forrester (Michelle Forbes), who agrees to take Tara in. While staying with Maryann Tara is introduced to “Eggs” Benedict Talley, to whom she feels an attraction.
During the first season the anti-vampire movement is represented by the “Fellowship of the Sun”, a Dallas-based church run by Reverend Steve Newlin (Michael McMillian) and his wife Sarah (Anna Camp). After turning himself in for his girlfriend’s murder in the penultimate episode of season one, Jason Stackhouse is recruited by the church.
During the second season, the influence of Maryann Forrester and the conflict between vampires and humans is expanded. Most of the cast from the first season returns and several new characters are introduced. Maryann Forrester is revealed to be a supernatural being with the power to influence humans, beginning with Tara and Eggs, but soon spreading to the whole town of Bon Temps.
Sookie is recruited by Eric to investigate the disappearance of a vampire in Dallas. Godric (Allan Hyde) is a vampire over two thousand years old who is kidnapped by the Fellowship of the Sun, although it is later revealed he gave himself willingly in an attempt to calm relations between the two species.
In Bon Temps, Daphne Landry (Ashley Jones) joins Merlotte’s as a new waitress, though she later reveals to Sam that she is a shapeshifter. At the Fellowship of the Sun camp Jason meets a rival called Luke McDonald (Wes Brown), who competes against Jason. At Fangtasia Eric Northman’s second in command Pam (Kristin Bauer) gets an expanded role, and in the middle of the second season she approaches Lafayette and tells him to begin selling “V” for Eric.
Bill’s maker Lorena (Mariana Klaveno) returns for a mid-season arc, where she tries to get Bill to admit his love for her; she later reveals that she never stopped loving him after the split. In Dallas we are also introduced to Godric’s lieutenant Isabel (Valerie Cruz) and her human lover Hugo (Christopher Gartin). Also in Dallas the public face of the American Vampire League, Nan Flanagan (Jessica Tuck) finally meets Sookie and Bill, having previously only being shown on television programs.
In the penultimate episode of the second season the vampire queen of Louisiana Sophie-Anne (Evan Rachel Wood) is introduced. Both Bill and Eric visit her in an attempt to find out how to defeat Maryann.
Following the creation of synthetic blood, vampires have progressed from legendary monsters to fellow citizens overnight. Sookie Stackhouse (Anna Paquin) is a telepath and waitress at Merlotte’s in the small Louisiana town of Bon Temps, owned by Sam Merlotte (Sam Trammell), a shapeshifter—though this secret is kept hidden. One night, Sookie meets Bill Compton (Stephen Moyer), a handsome 173-year-old vampire who has returned to Bon Temps following the death of his last remaining relative. As she cannot hear his thoughts, she finds it easy to be in his company and, over the first season, the two become romantically involved.
Main article: True Blood (season 1)
The main mystery of the first season concerns the murders of women connected to Sookie’s brother, Jason (Ryan Kwanten). Maudette Pickens and Dawn Green are both strangled shortly after having been alone with Jason. Though Detective Bellefleur has little doubt that Jason is the killer, the town sheriff does not suspect him. Jason and Sookie’s grandmother is murdered shortly afterward. At the end of the season it is revealed that Arlene Fowler’s fiancé, Rene Lenier, is actually a man named Drew Marshall who created a fake identity, Cajun accent and all. He has been killing women he considers “fang-bangers”.
The first season also focuses on Sookie’s relationship with Bill and Sam’s relationship with Sookie’s friend Tara. Bill explains the rules of being a vampire to Sookie and, after he finds himself killing a vampire to defend Sookie, he is forced to turn a young girl, Jessica, as punishment. In the last episode of the season, this new vampire is left with Bill under his care. After Maudette and Dawn’s murders, Jason becomes addicted to vampire blood and has a short relationship with another addict, Amy Burley, which ends when she is murdered by Drew. Season one ends with the discovery of a body in Detective Andy Bellefleur’s car in Merlotte’s parking lot. The first episode of season two reveals the body to be that of Miss Jeannette, the drugstore clerk who has given phony exorcisms to Tara and her mother.
Main article: True Blood (season 2)
Season two centers on the disappearance of the 2,000-year old vampire Sheriff of Area 9, Godric (Allan Hyde). Eric enlists Sookie’s and Bill’s aid in finding Godric. With Sookie and Bill in Dallas, a supernatural Maenad named Maryann causes mayhem in Bon Temps.
Critical reception of True Blood has generally been favorable, despite the fact that initial impressions were mixed. The New York Post critic wrote of the opening episodes: “If HBO’s new vampire show is any indication, there would still be countless deaths – especially among vampire hunters and the viewers who love them – because everyone would be dying of boredom. And so it is with HBO’s new series from death-obsessed Alan Ball, creator of the legendary Six Feet Under, whose new show True Blood, won’t so much make your blood run cold as it will leave you cold.”
Whereas USA Today concluded: “Sexy, witty and unabashedly peculiar, True Blood is a blood-drenched Southern Gothic romantic parable set in a world where vampires are out and about and campaigning for equal rights. Part mystery, part fantasy, part comedy, and all wildly imaginative exaggeration, [True] Blood proves that there’s still vibrant life — or death — left in the ‘star-crossed cute lovers’ paradigm. You just have to know where to stake your romantic claim.”
By the end of the first season, True Blood had a score of 64, indicating generally favorable reviews, on Metacritic, an aggregator of critical responses. The second season received a more favorable score of 74 on Metacritic.
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