The Witching Hour: HBO, 9 p.m., Sunday

Marnie’s got that crazy look in her eye. I like it.

After a year of waiting, True Blood fans got their first episode of season four on Sunday.  Beginning with Sookie’s journey to the fairy world, the episode started off with a distinctly different feel from previous seasons. And while this may have seemed disjointed to some fans, die-hard Trubies who have read all of Charlaine Harris’s books probably weren’t too surprised by the show’s new dimension (although book purists probably noted many differences).

Here are my two cents on the premiere. I liked the opening. I think it was an abrupt start to the new season, but it also allowed the story to move forward one year in time. While this jump did not make much of a difference in the Bill-Sookie-Eric love triangle, the year seemed monumental in the character development of Jason, who is noticeably more mature; Andy, who is a V addict; Tara, who is having a lesbian relationship; and Bill, who seems to have taken on a high-profile role in local vampire politics. Of all of these developments, I was the most pleased to see the growth in Jason’s character. To be honest, his ditsy routine was getting a bit old by the end of last season. And he looks gorgeous in that uniform.

Many loyal fans of the books rate the fourth in the series as their favorite (myself included). There are a few reasons for this in my case. First, I’m Team Eric. And if the show follows the books (and Alan Ball’s allusions) this is going to be a good summer for Eric fans. Second, the witches are cool, and introduce yet another interesting supernatural element to the mythology. Third, Sookie really comes into her own as she explores her options post-Bill.

If the first episode is any indication, all of these elements are going to come into play. And while I’m not going to count down my favorite moments, I will say that the witches’ coven left quite an impression on me. The lead witch Marnie, played by Harry Potter’s Fiona Shaw, is a frightening, intimidating and wild presence. As she was chanting to resurrect her bird, I had the distinct feeling that she is completely unstable – and there’s nothing more dangerous and interesting than an unstable, morally dubious, brilliant purveyor of the mystic arts.

Did anyone else tune in? If so, I’d love to hear your two cents.

Top 10 moments from True Blood season 3 episode 10

The biggest revelation of the night was that Sookie is a fairy.

Only two episodes left and then we have to wait months for season 4. If it’s anything like the books, it will be the best season yet, and last night we got a glimpse into the new waitress at Merlotte’s whose Wiccan beliefs will likely play a role in next year’s storyline. Before I give too much away, here’s your weekly True Blood top 10.

  1. Sookie’s a fairy! OK, I already knew that, but it was still a landmark moment. Going forward, if the show follows the books, this will shape the course of events to come.
  2. I’ve been waiting a long time for a real-life, non-dreaming kiss between Sookie and Eric. Last night’s quick smooch in Eric’s office delivered, and it’s clear that even though Sookie is in love with Bill, her feelings for Eric aren’t exactly platonic.
  3. Crystal is a werepanther! OK, I knew that too (sorry if that’s annoying to those of you who haven’t read Charlaine Harris). As a side note, props to Alan Ball for using live animals instead of ridiculous computer-generated imagery (CGI). It’s just another reason why this show is in a class of its own, and it will ensure that it stands the test of time. If you aren’t sure what I mean, watch a movie or show with CGI from the ‘90s (say Charmed or Lawnmower Man, for example). Looks pretty silly right? 
  4. Sam has a past, and what a past it is. A stint as a slick con artist? Although Sam’s story lines have seemed somewhat random this season, this one has more potential than his annoying biological family members being involved in a dog fighting ring.
  5. Russell’s prime time debut last week left no doubt as to his mental state. However, we did get to see the depth of his pain over the loss of Talbot in last night’s episode. As brutal as it was, the scene in which he killed the Talbot look-alike was a glimpse into how powerless someone can feel over the sudden loss of a loved one.
  6. Jessica shared blood with Hoyt for the first time, after Tommy (in the form of a pit bull) gave him a good chomp on the arm. This moment was almost easy to miss in this jam-packed episode, but I think it’s significant. I’m not sure how sweet, down-home Hoyt will like the experience or the resulting bond.
  7. Speaking of Jessica, I think I speak for all Truebies when I say that Arlene had it coming, and Jessica’s little spat with her was long overdue. My only question is, will Arlene heed her advice and keep her mouth shut, or will she continue to poke the bear?
  8. Terry has got to be the kindest, gentlest guy in the world to take so well the news that Arlene’s baby was fathered by René. I expected him to go nuts when she blurted out the truth, but instead he gives her a big hug and plenty of reassurance. Apparently, his kind words fell on deaf ears as Arlene is still exploring her options, but it was touching nonetheless.
  9. Jason let the cat out of the bag, in a big way. Now that Tara knows he shot Eggs, and Andy Bellefleur covered up the incident, there’s going to be hell to pay.
  10. The most bizarre moment of the night was probably the trippy V-induced delirium experienced by Lafayette and Jesus. I’m not sure where the writers are going with this storyline, as it is not one from the books, so at this point it just seems like True Blood with a side of weirdo Voodoo.

Top 10 moments from True Blood season 3, episode 5

Lindsay Pulsipher plays Crystal Norris, Jason’s sweet and mysterious new love.

It’s time for your weekly fangover top 10 list. Here goes.

  1. Jason and Crystal are the cutest thing since Sookie and Bill circa season 1. The scene in the woods was beautifully shot, romantic and mysterious all at once, and reminiscent of the first time Bill and Sookie exchanged blood (still one of my all-time favorite True Blood moments).
  2. Remember when Sookie blasted Maryann with her magic shock fingers in season 2? I knew that we would be seeing more of Sookie’s other ability this season, but it was surprising and thrilling to see her fend off Coot with a good jolt.
  3. Who doesn’t love a good True Blood flashback? This week, we learned several things about Eric – his father was a Viking king, his family was murdered by Russell (who is apparently older than dirt) and his werewolf minions, and he has always been a ladies’ man (duh).
  4. How do you occupy a gorgeous, somewhat dim, guy for eight hours? I could think of a few ways, but I suppose one sure-fire answer is with a large box of paper clips. Jason’s day job in law enforcement was hilarious.
  5. Franklin Mott becomes more manic by the episode. His blood-soaked, teary-eyed ramblings upon learning of Tara’s attempted escape really showed his obsessive personality.
  6. As I’ve said before, I’m firmly in the Team Eric camp. However, Bill has his charms. His reunion with Sookie was touching, although short lived as the bad guys busted in soon after.
  7. Jason had a lot of funny moments this week, and I had to laugh when he pulled Crystal over, frantically looked for something in the police car to make him seem legit, and settled on the aviator sunglasses. Did his shirtless approach remind anyone else of Reno 911?
  8. Franklin, a somewhat unlikely source of humor, had me rolling with his super-fast texting abilities, and his pronunciation of “hookah.”
  9. Keep the postmortems coming, HBO. These hilarious snippets help to flesh out the True Blood universe. This week’s postmortem was a mockumentary about archeologists uncovering the bones of Eric’s family. 
  10. When the maker is away, the baby vamp will play. The rivalry between fiery redheads Jessica and Arlene is awesome, and adds a new, fun dimension to Merlotte’s. It’s clear that Jessica is taking some liberties with her powers, and I’m wondering if she will meet a tragic end.

Top 10 moments from True Blood season 3 episode 4

And the award for most insensitive break-up in TV history goes to…Bill Compton in “9 Crimes.”

It’s been about a week since I last posted. Along with cookouts, fireworks and pool parties, the Independence Day holiday weekend brought a break from True Blood. I didn’t have much time to post, or watch TV for that matter.

Last night’s episode was a welcome return to Bon Temps, or Jackson, depending on which storyline you are most involved with right now. For me, I am on the edge of my seat when it comes to Sookie, Bill, Eric and Tara, but less interested in the sub-plot involving Jason wanting to be a police officer.

Before I start the list, let me say that I am not very happy about Sheriff Bud Dearborn retiring. I really hope this is not William Sanderson’s departure from the show. He’s a great actor, honorable Deadwood alumni, and a fun, minor character on the show who balances Andy Bellefleur’s nonsense shenanigans. I don’t want to see him leave.

That being said, everything else about last night’s episode was satisfying. Here’s my top 10.

  1. Eric’s fantasy about Sookie was steamy, but sweet. Initially, Eric’s interest in Sookie seemed to be selfishly motivated – my impression in the first season and early second season was that he wanted to use her telepathic abilities, and it didn’t hurt that she is smoking hot. But since the middle of season 2, when Sookie stayed with Godric as he met the sun, I think Eric has developed a deeper interest in her. His growing affection becomes clearer with each episode, first with the conversation at Fangtasia, then his late night visit on the eve of Sookie’s departure to Mississippi, and now with this dream.
  2. My second favorite moment of the night revealed even more of Eric’s emotional depth. When Pam was being tortured by the Magister, his concern was palpable. “There is nothing more painful than the loss of child,” is obviously true of vampires and their makers.
  3. How about that communion courtesy of the King of Mississippi? The scene couldn’t have been more tense, as the King bit his wrist and bled into those glasses and the werewolves responded by shifting en masse.
  4. Extreme Makeover: Sookie Edition was awesome. What’s not to love about Sookie with black hair, corset, leather pants and temporary tats? And Alcide’s sister was pretty cool too, so let’s hope she makes another appearance on the show.
  5. Breaking up is hard to do, unless you’re Bill Compton, and you have just finished some really bizarre sex with a psycho. Then you just call the love of your life and let her have it. I felt just awful for Sookie, and I have to give props to Anna Paquin for portraying the crushing reality of such a call from one’s first love.
  6. Ah, Debbie Pelt. Readers of Charlaine Harris’s series know all about you. Brit Morgan brought this character to life – in all her desperate, bitchy, trashy glory. Not since the Lorena vs. Sookie stand-off in season 2 have we seen a good old fashioned redneck woman cat-fight of this magnitude. The meeting between Sookie and Debbie at the bar is just the beginning.
  7. Merlotte’s new hostess is Jessica. Nice hiring, Sam.
  8. Franklin has turned out to be much more sadistic than I originally thought. The flowers, duct taped to Tara’s hands, were a nice touch to show just how weird this new vamp really is.
  9. Bam! Even if he was callous in his break-up with Sookie, Bill was amazing when he punched Lorena in the face.
  10. I couldn’t make a True Blood top 10 list without giving an honorable mention to at least one of the resident hotties on the show. This week’s prize goes to Alcide (played by Joe Manganiello), in all his beautiful, shirtless glory.