True Blood Returns This Sunday for a Fourth Season

HBO’s True Blood returns for its fourth season this Sunday night. It won’t fill the void left by Game of Thrones, but personally I don’t mind a bit of guilty pleasure TV in the summer.

I’ve never read the Charlaine Harris books. I tried, but there just isn’t enough time. I came to True Blood more as a fan of Alan Ball’s Six Feet Under. Six Feet Under is definitely my favorite non-genre show. A dark, hilarious, impossibly melancholy, and perfectly-acted meditation on mortality. With the best series finale of any series ever. So after seeing what Ball did with the dead, I had to see how he handled the undead on True Blood.

Previously on True Blood:

So tell me that True Blood isn’t really R-rated Charmed? I think it’s just the fairies that are throwing me off. Ball has stated he sees them more as “aliens” which doesn’t exactly make it sound better. At least Sookie admits it sounds stupid, too. I like that Sookie’s (and her brother Jason’s) talents and/or charms are at least partially attributed to fairy bloodlines, but the actual soft-focus, glowing fairyland realm itself? It looks like a feminine hygiene product commercial from the 70s. If the six-minute teaser is any indication, hopefully we won’t be trapped with Sookie in that cheese-fest for long.

This is not to suggest that I am anti-cheese. Bring on the soapy love triangle between Sookie, Bill, and Eric. Let newly-single Sookie rebound with werewolf Alcide properly. I’m super excited to see Alcide in promotional materials. We lost a good villain in Russell Edgington. The charismatic King of Mississippi was a real highlight of a sometimes floundering third season. His dramatic declaration of war on humanity is a PR nightmare that wet blanket Bill will be trying to clean up with a new career in politics.

I feel like True Blood starts off with good storylines, then everything gets really muddled, especially as they seem to follow a formula of adding a new supernatural element every year. I don’t think they need to add fairies or were-panthers when they’ve already got so many plot elements ripe for more exploration. Again, I didn’t read the books and Ball seems to mostly be doing his own thing anyway. Thankfully. I can’t imagine the show without Lafayette. I’m glad we’ll finally be seeing more of the political and religious turmoil between vampires and humans. Will the Fellowship of the Sun return? Will Sam Merlotte stop pretending to be an asshole and get a storyline that effects anyone else’s on the show?

That was my gripe with last year; too many disjointed threads. I’m dreading more of Jason’s Hotshot adventures. Like Sam, Jason’s always been out having his own adventures, but I miss the first season when he really interacted with his sister more. I have to remind myself that while it’s been three years of True Blood, the actual timeline of Bon Temps only goes back a few months! Will time jump ahead so Arlene can have her demon baby? (Yeah, that plot makes no sense at all and seems to exist only to torment fan-favorite Terry.)

In addition to were-panther meth addicts and fairies, this season brings more witchcraft to Bon Temps. A coven has come to town, lead by Harry Potter’s Aunt Petunia, the formidable Fiona Shaw. With the power to raise and control the dead, this is the kind of intriguing development that has the potential to cause some great chaos. And Lafayette’s blooming relationship with cute nurse Jesus will definitely see some bumps.

Some more season four scoop:

  • Eric will be very vulnerable at the start of the season.
  • We “won’t see much of the funny-Lafayette this season.” Boo. I miss AIDS-burger Lafayette already.
  • Expect lots of Pam in corsets, baby-vamp Jessica in lingerie, more strippers at Fangtasia, and a hot new love interest for Sam because Ball wants to “give a little something to the guys, too.” But don’t straight guys have enough on other shows? Yes, I do feel cheated by the lack of promised Jason Momoa gratuitous nudity on Game of Thrones.
  • Someone will be having their first same-sex relationship this year. Twenty bucks says its going to be Tara, because at this point the producers are desperate to give her something interesting to do. In all fairness, if I had a track record like Tara, I’d just give up on relationships entirely.
  • Scott Foley (Felicity, Scrubs) will have a guest spot as Terry’s former war buddy.
  • Jason goes through some big changes that fans of the books have been waiting for.

So why do I come back for more True Blood? I appreciated the metaphor Ball’s out-of-the-closet vampires represented in the first season and it seems the show will go back to addressing that again. Vampires are an enduring symbol of the marginalized outsider and having them fight for equal rights is timely. But for the most part, True Blood doesn’t take itself too seriously. It’s B-movie thrills with gooey blood, goofy CGI, hot women, and lots of bared eight-pack abs.

And the new season of Spartacus doesn’t air until January 2012.

True Blood airs Sundays at 9PM ET on HBO.

Theresa Delucci is not on any vampire or werewolf’s team.


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