Wednesday, June 23, 2010

"They're like humans but miniature. Teacup humans."

The best way I can sum up my personal feelings towards True Blood is that it’s very much like Grey’s Anatomy for me: unfathomably engrossing.

I could never really explain why I’m so enamored with either television show. For the most part I hate both male and female leads on both shows (Mer and Der on Grey’s and Sookie and Bill on True Blood) and I could generally go without watching them on a weekly basis. However, once on dvd or if I start streaming, I’m instantly hooked.
This is of course despite the fact that I roll my eyes at the dialogue, I jeer at the cutesy main couple getting over their pathetic problems. (Do Sookie and Bill ever do anything besides fuck and fight? Oh and rescue?) But when it comes to the supporting cast of both shows, I’m in love.

Friends and I managed to finish True Blood season two in a little over a week. I don’t remember what I was like during the first season as it was well over a year ago but I can attest that the second season is a lot better. Perhaps the writers just managed to find that “it” factor or maybe I had lowered expectations. Who knows? All I can say is that season two was an enjoyable experience and also unique as I read the book along the same time as watching the series.

Similar to my review of the first book, Living Dead in Dallas reads quite easily. It’s a short, compelling and while not overly well written, it’s a fun read. I’m sure a lot of people may categorize is as a “summer read”. It’s the best thing for when you’re on the bus or on a lunch break. It fits nicely in my purse and honestly was pretty forgettable once I put it down--and started on the next one. Yeah, I don’t get it either.

There are obvious differences in the book and on the television show, with the major arcs being quite different: the book focuses mostly on Godric with the maenad being the final show down but kind of a throw away piece while the show is almost the opposite. Not only that but obviously there’s a lot more characters to love in the television show and they are definitely more fleshed out having a full 12-13 episodes versus a few hundred pages.

First the book:

Well as I’ve said before Harris can create a world and a plot. Unfortunately, the writing just isn’t up to par to make the books more than a very popular guilty pleasure. This is one of the few instances where I can 100% say that I enjoy the television show/film over the books.

Yes, there is a bit of shame I get while reading it on the bus (yes, I’m a snob) and while I can commend her for trying to broaden her vocabulary it’s feels very self reflective when she describes Sookie’s “word of the day calendar”. Anytime she throws in a “big” word, it feels like she too read it off a word of the day calendar and chunkily throws it into conversation to make herself feel smarter.

The characters feel shallow, with the exception of Sookie whose narrative drives the plot and possibly Bill--although it’s not really hard to chalk up his characteristics as tall, dark and broody. While the world and the creatures are well rounded, the characters are little more than one note characteristics that don’t give any sympathy or even much thought as the story moves along at a nice clip.

Often times the characters are described using one sentence and while I can enjoy Harris’ brevity and applaud that even the “minor” characters get personalities--that’s all that there ever seems to be. Minor characters that act as fodder as Sookie gets thrown from one peril to the next.

Similarly to her first of the series, the ending seems very thrown together haphazardly and while it wraps up nicely in a neat little bow with none of our main characters getting hurt, it doesn’t feel like there’s much dramatics, especially when Sookie manages to get herself into trouble every five chapters or so.

This isn’t to say that the television series is innocent either. In fact, a lot of these points could be made about the series but honestly I’m a tad blinded by my love of a lot of the supporting cast who manage to be compelling and for me, make the show.

When we were first introduced to Jessica she was a spoiled, whiny brat who I wanted to strangle. Strangely, before my eyes, she’s blossomed into one of my favourite characters, driving her own very sweet little arc of a newly turned vampire both growing up as a person and as an undead creature. It was incredibly endearing to watch her fall in love for the first time, to be opened to new experiences and to inevitably have her first betrayal. I cannot wait to see her character continue to grow as the series progresses.

In addition to this, the series writers know how to actually plot out a story line, giving tension and build up and the ever popular and yet so unpopular cliffhanger ending. There are definitely some scenes that will stick in my head for awhile now. Shockingly the Godric story line left me a bit cold--to the point where I almost preferred the book, but it was understandable when you realize the series was focusing all the attention on the maenad. It wasn’t until the last few moments of the season finale where I was anything less than interested in what these characters were doing--despite the fact that I had finished the book prior.

While a lot of the story lines are similar, these two mediums produced a varied work. Similar to giving two artists the same subject and asking them to paint a picture. They both manage to get the outlines right but the colours and styles are completely different. Both are unique beings, although it’s unfortunate that the books seem little more than an outline for a more vivid story.

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