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.

Waiting sucks

Last week was an especially lame week for TV. It seemed like just about every show on every network took a break. And while FOX can blame it all on American Idol, there is just no excuse for the other networks.

At least Big Love was on. And boy was it good. I’m not sure how the writers are going to wrap all of the drama in just a few more episodes, but I’m excited to see them try. It’s nice to know that when the other networks are off, HBO is on.

Thinking about the end of Big Love, and anticipating Game of Thrones (more on that later), makes me even more excited for True Blood in June. And to be quite honest, the shirtless Eric promo that HBO posted this week doesn’t hurt either. Very nice. You’re welcome.

The fourth book in Charlaine Harris’s Southern Vampire series has always been my favorite (a consensus among fans). Without spoiling anything, let me just say that everything changes. The storylines that began at the end of last year (Sookie’s troubles with Bill, witches in Bon Temps, werewolf politics, Jason’s relationship with Crystal, werepanthers in Hotshot, and more) will likely all be important plots in season four. 

The anticipation is killing me. Perhaps a True Blood seasons past marathon is in order. With HBO Go, a new service for  cable subscribers, you can watch any episode of any HBO show online. It’s not available for Time Warner yet, but if you have another cable provider, you should look into it. It sounds pretty cool. For my part, I think I’ll queue up the DVDs on Netflix old school style, and try to ease my True Blood withdrawal symptoms.

Top 10 moments from True Blood season 3, episode 6

True Blood episodes are sometimes so action-packed that it’s hard to know where to begin with my weekly top 10. Things are getting interesting in Bon Temps with Jason and Crystal, as well as Sam and his biological family. This week, I’m less interested in the storyline with Lafeyette and Jesus, which seems a little soft for a show where romance usually involves vampires, werewolves, V, or some other supernatural element.

  1. What a bloody good episode it was. The number one most memorable moment for me has to be Tara biting off a solid chunk of Franklin’s throat, more zombie-esque than vampiric.
  2. In other blood and guts True Blood news, how about Tara bashing Franklin’s head in with a mace? Tara reclaimed her tough-girl reputation and it looks like she will live to see another day. But what about Franklin? Even though his head was smashed, he wasn’t staked or burned. I don’t think we’ve seen the last of him.
  3. Death by banister. I’ve seen dozens of vampire films and TV shows, but True Blood’s vampire death scenes always take the cake. Whenever a vampire gets staked and collapses into a bloody, chunky puddle I always cheer.
  4. In spite of all the blood and gore, the scene between Bill and Lorena was sad and haunting. At this point I would not have anticipated feeling sympathy for Lorena, but as Bill described her savage maker and lonely, unhappy existence, I could feel the emptiness in her. Kudos to Mariana Klaveno, who plays Lorena, and Stephen Moyer, who plays Bill, for conveying so much emotion in this scene.
  5. I loved it when Tara and Sookie beat the crap out of Don Swayze. Way to go, girls!
  6. Sophie Ann, Queen of Louisiana, apparently has a gambling addiction of sorts – I had to laugh at her sitting in a pile of scratch-off lottery tickets, rejoicing over a $100 instant win.  
  7. Bad baby vamp Jessica is learning to control her feedings, and taking care of bad customers in the process. I wasn’t sure if that woman in the curlers was ever coming out of the ladies’ room, but she emerged, probably a pint or so lighter, but alive nonetheless.
  8. Speaking of Jessica, have you Truebies been following her at http://babyvamp-jessica.com? This is Jessica’s video blog, complete with a super-cute post on the aforementioned moment of newfound control from last night’s episode. I love all the great HBO extras – from Jessica’s blog to the Postmortems to the Inside the Episode features to the Truebies and Newbies interviews. Waiting still sucks, but these really take the edge off of a hardcore fangover.
  9. Initially, I wasn’t too interested in the situation with Sam and his family. This week, we got a few more details on their situation, and it’s clear that they are more than just interlopers. A supernatural dog fight could be pretty interesting.
  10. It’s apparent that Jason and Crystal have some issues to work out, but I stand by last week’s blog post in my assertion that they are the cutest thing since Sookie and Bill in season one. I thought it was sweet as pie when Jason asked her not to hurt him. Even if it was a line, it was a good one. Aw.

Top ten moments from True Blood season 3 episode 2

Jason came in at #1 this week in my list of the top ten best moments.

Without further ado, my top ten from last night’s episode of True Blood, a funny, exciting and enthralling hour of TV.

  1. “Santa!?” Jason Stackhouse, how I love you. The best moment of this absolutely awesome hour of True Blood was when Jason replied to Sookie’s revelation about the existence of werewolves with questions about the existence of Bigfoot and Santa.
  2. Second best moment of the night, also a funny one, goes to Terry Bellefleur. The three reasons he listed for being trustworthy with children included nurturing an armadillo back to health and “I’ve never killed anyone by accident.”
  3. Chainsaw shopping with Jessica Hamby to conceal the dead trucker in Bill’s hidey hole, now a couple days ripe. Need I say more?
  4. Eric and Godrick were in the SS. The flashback scenes (as well as the post-mortem special feature propaganda video that you can watch here) revealed an interesting side of Eric and his maker, who believed that vampires should not be controlled by emotions. I loved that Godrick was back, even if only in flashback. Although he was a short-lived character, the dynamic between him and Eric was undoubtedly one of the highlights of season two. I cried when he met the dawn in Dallas.
  5. Who knew Bill could be so brutal? Of course, we have seen vampires covered in blood before on this show (remember the beginning of season two when Eric ripped that redneck to pieces?) but this was the first time I can remember Bill killing in such an animalistic way. He handily dispatched those werewolves in Mississippi and really set the stage for a bloody good episode.
  6. Dinner with Bill, the King of Mississippi and Talbot was interesting, to say the least. The sparkling blood and blood bisque were just a little gross, but did anyone else think the blood gelato looked a little delicious?
  7. There’s a new vamp in town, and he has his eye on Tara. The scene where Tara kicks redneck butt in the parking lot with the help of this handsome stranger (otherwise known as Cromwell from The Tudors) was a stand-out moment.
  8. It wouldn’t be True Blood without a cliffhanger, and this episode had a few (disappearance of the dead trucker’s body and the scene at Sookie’s house), but the moment that really had me amazed was Bill’s attack on Lorena.
  9. The introduction of Hotshot, a community on the periphery of Bon Temps. For many of you, this doesn’t mean much yet, but for those of us who have read Charlaine Harris’s books, this brief scene at a trailer park meth lab is just the beginning of things to come.
  10. “Oh Sookie” by Snoop Dogg. Thanks, for that, Snoop.