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Sunday, June 10, 2012

True Blood

 True Blood is an American television series created and produced by Alan Ball. It is based on The Southern Vampire Mysteries series of novels by Charlaine Harris, detailing the co-existence of vampires and humans in Bon Temps, a fictional, small town in the state of Louisiana. The series centers on the adventures of Sookie Stackhouse (Anna Paquin), a telepathic waitress with an other-worldly quality.
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.[1] It premiered on September 7, 2008. The series has received critical acclaim and won several awards, including a Golden Globe and an Emmy. Season 2 premiered on June 14, 2009; and Season 3 on June 13, 2010. On June 21, 2010, HBO renewed True Blood for a fourth season, which aired June 26, 2011. On August 11, 2011, HBO announced that True Blood had been renewed for a fifth season of 12 episodes, premiered on June 10, 2012.

The title sequence also features images and themes of death and re-birth; the circle of life. A Venus fly-trap can be seen engulfing a frog while a rotting fox’s head is sped up to reveal maggots feeding off of the corpse. Re-birth is also recognized through an image of a woman being “washed clean” from her sins in a lake as well as a Reverend blessing and possibly performing an exorcism on a member of his congregation.

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.

In a 2010 issue of TV Guide, the show's opening title sequence ranked #5 on a list of TV's top 10 credits sequences, as selected by readers.


Gary Calamar, who supervises the series' music, said that his goal for the show's soundtrack is to create something "swampy, bluesy and spooky" and to feature local Louisiana musicians. True Blood soundtrack albums have twice earned Grammy Award nominations.

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. The second True Blood soundtrack was released on May 25, 2010, to coincide with the third season's premiere in June. The third volume was released on September 6, 2011, a few days before the season four finale.

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 show's individual episode titles are named after songs featured in the episodes, usually heard during the closing credits. The title usually indicates something about the events that will unfold throughout the given episode. For example, episode ten of season four is titled "Burning Down the House" and the end credits feature a cover version of the classic Talking Heads song performed by The Used.
Marketing

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 "TrueBlood", 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.
Promotional poster for second season

HBO produced and broadcast two documentaries to promote True Blood, entitled "True Bloodlines". The first, Vampire Legends, explored the earliest portrayals of vampires in legend, literature and cinema. The second, A New Type, discusses vampire culture from Nosferatu to today's sensual, sexual creatures. To that end, the show also covered the modern vampire subculture and real-life vampire clubs.[32] Actors and writers from True Blood appeared in the documentaries. The shows first aired on September 6, 2008, on HBO.

Thousands of DVDs of the first episode were handed out to attendees of Midnight Madness, a special 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 19, 2009, HBO.com began selling Tru:Blood, a beverage branded to resemble the fictional synthetic blood that appears in the show. The beverage is a carbonated blood orange-flavored drink, developed and manufactured by Omni Consumer Products, a company that specializes in defictionalizing brands from television and movies, and FMCG Manufacturing Company, a specialist manufacturer of licensed entertainment products.

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, available in the UK, 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 has a Gothic look and features sterling silver, polished steel, and rubies.

On June 1, 2010, HBO held a special event at a number of movie theaters around the U.S.,[40] complete with red carpet, searchlights and swag bags. Contest winners were invited to watch a special live, the Season 2 finale, a preview of Season 3, and a live interview on the set of True Blood with the cast and Alan Ball.

HBO began selling True Blood figural busts featuring Bill, Sookie, and Eric in summer 2010. Busts of other characters will also be available later.

HBO and IDW Publishing announced at the 2010 WonderCon that they would be publishing a comic book based on the series. Alan Ball developed and wrote the comic. The first booklet, with a print run of 53,000, was released in July 2010 [42] and soon sold out. The second issue went on sale August 18, 2010, with a second printing of the first issue going on sale August 25.
There were a total of 6 comics issued in the series, which were published collectively as the Graphic Novel All Together Now on February 15 2011. This was the first in a series of three graphic novels released by HBO under the True Blood franchise and sold in major bookstores. The following titles include Tainted Love and The French Quarter.
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 and storylines 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

Within the fictional universe depicted in True Blood, the show acknowledges as reality that supernatural creatures (such as vampires, telepaths, and shapeshifters among others) exist. Two years prior to the events taking place during the series, vampires "come out of the coffin" (a term coined as a play on "coming out of the closet"), when scientists in Japan invent a synthetic form of blood called "Tru Blood".E-1 No longer having to rely on human blood to survive, vampires are able to integrate themselves (or "mainstream") into human society.E-1

The major characters of the first season of True Blood are introduced among various intertwining plot lines that surround the Bon Temps bar "Merlotte's". The show's main protagonist, Sookie Stackhouse (Anna Paquin), is a telepath and waitress at Merlotte's.E-1 In the opening episode she saves Merlotte's first vampire customer, Bill Compton (Stephen Moyer), when a local couple attempts to drain him of his blood (vampire blood is known on the show as a human narcotic: "V" or "V Juice").E-1 Through the relationship that develops between Sookie and Bill, the viewer progressively learns more about vampire culture and the limitations of vampire physiology.

The major plot of the first season revolves around the murder of several women connected to Sookie's older brother, Jason (Ryan Kwanten).E-1 The women murdered include sexual partner Maudette Pickens (Danielle Sapia),E-1 on-and-off romantic interest and Merlotte's waitress Dawn Green (Lynn Collins),E-3 grandmother Adele (Lois Smith) or simply "Gran",E-5 and girlfriend Amy Burley (Lizzy Caplan).E-11 Though the viewer is always aware of his innocence in their deaths, Detective Andy Bellefleur (Chris Bauer) targets him as the prime suspect in the investigation he conducts with Sheriff Bud Dearborne (William Sanderson) to identify their killer.E-1 Jason's best friends and co-workers, Hoyt Fortenberry (Jim Parrack) and Rene Lenier (Michael Raymond-James) provide him with support despite the turmoil he encounters.E-1 Rene, who becomes engaged to Merlotte's waitress Arlene Fowler (Carrie Preston),E-8 is eventually exposed as the Bon Temps murderer and is killed in a final confrontation with Sookie.E-12

A secondary plot in the first season (that later develops as the primary storyline in the second) revolves around Sookie's best friend Tara Thornton (Rutina Wesley).E-1 In the first episode, Tara is hired as a bartender at Merlotte's by bar owner, shapeshifter,E-11 and admirer of Sookie, Sam Merlotte (Sam Trammell),E-1 with whom Tara later has a brief relationship.E-3 Tara's cousin Lafayette Reynolds (Nelsan Ellis) already works as a cook at Merlotte'sE-1 (in addition to several other jobs that include road crew, prostitute, and drug dealer)E-3 with Andy's cousin and Iraq War veteran, Terry (Todd Lowe).E-2 Tara's story is characterized by her relationship with her alcoholic and abusive mother Lettie Mae (Adina Porter)E-2 and her own inner "demons".E-10 During the season, Lettie Mae achieves sobrietyE-8 but Tara's life begins to spin out of control. Kicked out of her home and totaling her car in a drunk driving accident,E-10 she's taken in by "social worker" Maryann Forrester (Michelle Forbes).E-11 While staying with Maryann, Tara is introduced to "Eggs" Benedict Talley (Mehcad Brooks), to whom she is attracted.E-11

The final plotline of the first season revolves around the elements of vampire society that Sookie and Bill's relationship introduce. While trying to prove her brother's innocence in Maudette and Dawn's murders, Bill takes her to the vampire bar "Fangtasia" to investigate. There, Sookie is introduced to Fangtasia's owner and the vampire sheriff of "Area 5" in Louisiana: Eric Northman (Alexander Skarsgård).E-4 Eric is immediately interested in Sookie and her strange abilities, but his progeny and assistant Pam (Kristin Bauer) is less impressed.E-4 Eric employs Sookie to find a thief in his bar, but the perpetrator (a vampire) attempts to kill Sookie when she reveals his identity. Bill stakes and kills the thief to save her, but has committed a serious crime in killing another vampire.E-8 When Bill is tried for his crime, his punishment is to transform seventeen-year-old Jessica Hamby (Deborah Ann Woll) into a vampire to replace the one he destroyed.E-10

Though humans attracted to vampires (referred to as "fang bangers") flock to Fangtasia, not all people are accepting of the idea that vampires be given rights equal to those afforded the mortals of the True Blood universe. During the first season, one of the ways in which anti-vampire sentiment is expressed is through regular televised appearances by the "Fellowship of the Sun",E-2 a Dallas-based church that is eventually run by the Reverend Steve Newlin (Michael McMillian)E-3 after his father and family are killed in a strange "accident".E-2

During the second season of True Blood, 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 main characters are introduced. The same style of interconnected story telling used in the first season is repeated, with the foremost plot focusing on Maryann Forrester being revealed as a maenadE-19 with the power to influence humans.E-15 She begins by manipulating Tara and Eggs to achieve her strange goals,E-20 but eventually she is able to control almost the entire population of Bon Temps.E-22

While Maryann begins establishing her hold on Bon Temps, Sookie is recruited by EricE-15 to investigate the disappearance of his 2000-year-old maker and the sheriff of Area 9 in Texas: Godric (Allan Hyde).E-17 While Sookie is absent from Bon Temps, Sam hires Daphne Landry (Ashley Jones) to join Merlotte's staff.E-13 Daphne begins a romance with Sam,E-16 is revealed to be a shapeshifter,E-17 and then later exposed as working for Maryann.E-18 Jason also leaves Bon Temps for Dallas to join the Fellowship of the Sun,E-14 which Reverend Newlin has steered in a new militant direction despite the protestations of his wife Sarah (Anna Camp).E-13 Godric is discovered in the custody of the Fellowship,E-17 and one of Godric's lieutenants, Isabel Beaumont (Valerie Cruz),E-17 sends her human boyfriend Hugo (Christopher Gartin)E-18 to assist Sookie in infiltrating the church. Though Eric's primary interest in Dallas is finding Godric, he also attempts to place himself between Sookie and Bill. To accomplish this, he enlists the aid of Bill's maker Lorena (Mariana Klaveno);E-17 making a more prominent contribution to the cast after a brief introduction in the first season.E-5 In the penultimate episode of the second season, once the conflict in Texas is concluded, the vampire queen of Louisiana Sophie-Anne Leclerq (Evan Rachel Wood) is introduced.E-23 Both Bill and Eric visit her in an attempt to find out how to defeat Maryann.E-23

With season three came the addition of Sam's younger brother Tommy Mickens (Marshall Allman), werewolf Alcide Herveaux (Joe Manganiello), Wiccan waitress Holly Cleary (Lauren Bowles), nurse and brujo Jesús Velasquez (Kevin Alejandro), and 3000-year-old vampire Russell Edgington (Denis O'Hare). All of these characters returned for the fourth season, with the exception of Edgington, who will return in season five.

Deadline reported that in season 4, Jessica Tuck (Nan Flanagan) and Janina Gavankar (Luna) will become season regulars. Alex Breckenridge (Kate) and Vedette Lim (Naomi) will be recurring actresses.

Joining the cast for season five will be Christopher Meloni, who previously starred on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit for 12 seasons. Details on his character have yet to be released. Also joining the cast is Scott Foley as Patrick, Terry's old war buddy, Louis Herthum as JD, Alcide's father, Kelly Overton as Rikki, a new werewolf curious how Marcus died, and Carolyn Hennesy is expected to be Rosalyn Harris, a Texas vampire with twang.

Series overview


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.
Season One: 2008


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. 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 has created a false identity, complete with Cajun accent. 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 killing a vampire to defend her, is forced to "turn" a young girl named Jessica into a vampire as punishment. In the last episode of the season, Jessica is left under Bill's 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 Marshall. The season ends with the discovery of a body in Detective Andy Bellefleur's car in Merlotte's parking lot.
Season Two: 2009


Season two focuses on two main plots – in the first, the disappearance of the 2,000-year old vampire Sheriff of Area 9, Godric, causes Eric to enlist Sookie and Bill's aid in finding the ancient vampire in Dallas. Their paths cross Jason's as he seeks to discover meaning in his life with the Fellowship of the Sun, a church dedicated to anti-vampire activities.

The second plot line concerns a maenad named Maryann who visits Bon Temps after Tara attracts her attention at the end of the first season. Maryann is a figure from Sam's past and knows his true identity as a shapeshifter. Her influence on the town and its residents results in mayhem that grows more destructive as the season progresses. At the end of the season, Bill proposes to Sookie, but is kidnapped by unknown assailants when Sookie retreats to the bathroom to consider his proposal.

The second season loosely follows the plot of the second novel of The Southern Vampire Mysteries, Living Dead in Dallas. In addition, the character of Sophie-Anne Leclerq, initially introduced in the sixth novel Definitely Dead, was introduced as a major supporting character.
Season Three: 2010


On July 30, 2009, HBO confirmed that True Blood would be renewed for a third season,which began shooting on December 3, 2009. It premiered on June 13, 2010, simultaneously on HBO and HBO Canada, and contained 12 episodes.

Season three loosely follows the plot of the third novel of The Southern Vampire Mysteries, Club Dead, and introduces werewolves to the show's mythology. It also introduces the characters of Russell Edgington, the Vampire King of Mississippi, and his private investigator, Franklin Mott. In addition, some characters from the fourth novel Dead to the World are introduced: Crystal Norris as Jason's love interest, her family of werepanthers from Hotshot, and Sookie's fairy godmother, Claudine. Sookie's heritage as part faerie is also revealed later in the season, a major plot element from the eighth and ninth novels From Dead to Worse and Dead and Gone.
Season Four: 2011


The fourth season of True Blood contains 12 episodes. The first, titled "She's Not There", aired Sunday, June 26, 2011 in the US on HBO; it ended on Sunday, September 11, 2011. It is loosely based on the fourth novel in The Southern Vampire Mysteries series, Dead to the World.

A coven of witches, led by Marnie, poses a threat to vampires when they discover the witches are working on necromancy. Sookie returns to Bon Temps after a year (even though she was away for only a few minutes in Fairie Land) to find Bill as the new King of Louisiana and that her brother and friends had given up on her. As the series progresses, a powerful necromancer from the 16th century, Antonia, possesses the body of Marnie in order to exact revenge on all vampires. Sookie starts a romance with Eric who has amnesia due to a spell cast by Antonia / Marnie. The witch Antonia eventually realizes the wrongdoing she's caused to innocent people and decides to stop. Yet Marnie, addicted to Antonia's power, binds her against her will to acquire her powers. Subplots include Lafayette's introduction to the world of magic and his abilities as a medium, Sam's family troubles, Alcide and Debbie's troubled relationship, and Jason, Hoyt and Jessica's love triangle. The finale is a series of cliffhangers, including a warning from the ghost of Rene that Terry will cause Arlene trouble, the escape of Russell Edgington, the reappearance of Steve Newlin as a vampire, and the shooting of Tara.

Season Five: 2012


On August 11, 2011, HBO announced that True Blood would be renewed for a fifth season of 12 episodes, to premiere in summer of 2012, with a confirmed date of June 10th at 9pm.  Alan Ball signed a multi-year contract with HBO in July 2011, but only agreed to produce the show for the fifth season. After the season five finale, he'll leave his position as showrunner.
Reception

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. The third season's rating on Metacritic has risen to 79, while the fourth season has a rating of 74. The fifth season rose back up to a rating of 79.

Cultural influence

True Blood was the subject of a 2010 Sesame Street sketch entitled "True Mud". The parody features puppet versions of Sookie, Bill, Lafayette, Sam, Tara and Sheriff Dearborn. In the skit, Muppet Sookie struggles to fulfill Muppet Bill's pleas for a pint of "True Mud", as the other characters speculate if he is a "grouch".

In August 2010, Anna Paquin (Sookie), Stephen Moyer (Bill), and Alexander Skarsgård (Eric) appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone covered in blood and completely naked. This cover drew criticism  due to the image's supposed promotion of sexuality and violence. About 30% of the people who took a poll in regard to this cover declared it “gross” and “unnecessary”. The show’s creator, Alan Ball, stated in the magazine, “To me, vampires are sex... I don't get a vampire story about abstinence. I'm 53. I don't care about high school students. I find them irritating and uninformed.
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