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.

10 girl crushes: My favorite ladies of TV

I just love the wit and wisdom of Dr. Temperance Brennan.

                                                                         

On the way to work this morning, I was thinking about Bones. That got me thinking about Dr. Brennan, and how much I love her character, which got me thinking about some of the other cool ladies on TV right now.

My co-blogger, Mark, has said that we are in a Golden Age of TV. I tend to agree – there are so many good things to watch right now. Part of the appeal of many of the shows I watch is the strong leading lady. It used to be that such strong women on TV were few and far between. Of course, the ‘90s gave us Dana Scully and Buffy Summers, two monoliths of TV womanhood. But to my knowledge there has never been a time when so many women dominated the tube. And the great thing about these leading ladies is that they are such diverse characters – gone are the days of the token strong-willed woman trying to eke out a living among the boys. Here are some ladies of note.

  • Dr. Temperance Brennan (aka Bones, of Bones) – Leader of squints and lover of guns, she’s a highly objective scientist who blows away the stereotype of the overly emotional woman.
  • Annie Walker (of Covert Affairs) – This rookie CIA agent doesn’t need a partner to take down the bad guys in her way. She’s spunky and fresh, not your typical tough girl, and she’s a one-woman wolf pack.
  • Fiona Glenanne (of Burn Notice) – How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. You build bombs. You rescue boys. You kill bad guys. You have impeccable style. You have such a sharp sense of humor.  And I love the way you say, “Shall we shoot them?”
  • Debra Morgan (of Dexter) – She’s hot mess when it comes to the opposite sex, and she’s got a mouth like a sailor. In seasons past, her vulnerability bordered on annoying, but this year she has really come into her own.
  • Liz Lemon (of 30 Rock) – LL is the funniest woman on TV, simply put. She’s a proud nerd who’s not afraid to admit to wearing a bathing suit as underwear. Need I say more?
  • Margene Heffman, Nicki Grant and Barb Henrickson (of Big Love) – Three very different women (who I am counting as one, polygamist girl crush), married to one man. In four seasons, each has shown strength of character and vulnerability. The complexities of their relationships to one another go beyond the challenges of polygamy, and delve into the differences between each one’s ideas of what it means to be a woman, wife and mother.
  • Caroline Forbes (of Vampire Diaries) – Not the obvious choice from this show (that would be the main star, Elena), but I really like Caroline. And what’s more, I think she’s a good example for young ladies. Last year, she was shallow and mean. But over time, her character grew (and changed into a vampire) into a much deeper person capable of true friendship, love and compassion. This season, she has weathered her change with grace, and even stepped up to the plate to help Tyler handle his own change. She’s a nice example of how a young woman can transcend the cliques, gossip and stereotyping of high school.
  • Olivia Dunham (of Fringe) ­ – Olivia is a smart agent who follows her instincts. She not only solves mysteries in our world, she crosses to other universes as well. She is a fascinating character, capable of great emotional depth as well as detachment.   
  • Myka Bering (of Warehouse 13) – Myka left her gig with the Warehouse at the end of last season following the debacle with H.G. Wells. But if you ask me, the empathy she showed for H.G.’s loss added a new dimension to her previously businesslike demeanor. But don’t get me wrong – I have always appreciated her focus on being the best agent she can be, and putting that before her personal feelings.
  • Pam Swynford De Beaufort (of True Blood) – Again, not the obvious choice, which would be Sookie Stackhouse. However, I just love Pam. Classy and ruthless, she is equally commanding in the pleather Fangtasia costumes as she is in her two-piece pink suits.

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 8

Goodbye, Talbot. I’ll miss your hissy fits and flamboyant ways.

Heartbreak, sex and violence is what True Blood does best, and last night there was a whole lot of all three, often simultaneously. Here’s the Top 10.

  1. That’s what I call make-up sex. I didn’t think Sookie was going to take Bill back, let alone have a wild, passionate love-making session with him. Even though I am ambivalent about Bill (I mean, come on, Sook, he cheated on you and tried to kill you in the same week), that was one hell of a reunion.
  2. Sookie v. Debbie Round 1 (or would this be Round 3?) was just the kind of catfight I love. Two gorgeous, tough women going at it, no holds barred. This round ended in a draw, but Sookie left Debbie with a gruesome, Joker-esque wound that will no doubt fester until the next round.
  3. All weirdness aside at seeing Eric’s make-out session with Talbot, it was completely badass when he whipped it out (the stake) and drove it home (through Talbot’s heart).
  4. Bill finally stepped up to the plate when it comes to being Jessica’s maker. I loved their super-fast, werewolf-defense training session.
  5. There were a lot of “aw” moments last night, but the sweetest by far was between Jason and Crystal. She may be from Hot Shot; where the residents smell supernatural, manufacture meth and become betrothed as toddlers, but she makes Jason feel like home. And that makes her OK in my book.
  6. Speaking of sentimental moments, Sookie and Bill’s break-up was heart-wrenching. Say what you will about the means by which he came to know Sookie, in the end I do believe he loves her.
  7. Yet another sweet moment came when Bill returned home to Jessica. Their relationship has always been strained by Bill’s inability to be a good maker, and Jessica’s frivolity, but they really connected over their mutual hardship of love lost. The lesson: when you love someone, you want what’s best for them.
  8. “Maybe you can flirt some sense into her.” Thanks for being the voice of reason, Tara. Last season, I was perpetually annoyed with Tara’s constant waffling between tough girl and pushover. This season, the trauma of losing Eggs and getting caught up in the whirlwind of Franklin Mott seems to have shocked Tara back to her old self. And she isn’t sparing Sookie’s feelings – she is being a good friend.
  9. I’m always rooting for Jessica. In true underdog fashion, she barely escaped Russell’s clutches, darted off into the woods, and kicked some werewolf butt in the woods. R.I.P. Don Swayze.
  10. Speaking of Russell, I am just itching to see what happens next week. His reaction, a mix of unadulterated rage and total heartbreak, to feeling Talbot’s death was awesome. Things are about to get really interesting between him and Eric.

Top 10 moments from True Blood season 3 episode 7

More than a waitress, she’s super Sookie.

Thrills! Chills! Mind reading skills! What a great hour of True Blood, hot on the heels of last week’s excellent installment – let’s hope my heart can take the momentum as we march onward to the season finale. Here’s your weekly top 10, from yours truly.

  1. The best moment of the night, hands down, was when Sookie staked Lorena. I’ve spoken of my sincere love (or blood lust?) for the vampire deaths in this show, and Lorena’s curtain call did not disappoint. I also loved the Bill and Lorena tribute after the credits.
  2. Second best moment of the night goes to Russell, who kindly showed the Magister the true death. I enjoy a good beheading as much as the next Truebie, but this one got bonus points for the wicked splat his head made upon hitting the floor.
  3. Sookie’s coma-induced vision takes the third spot, for its sheer beauty. I often marvel at the quality of HBO programming. The cinematography in this scene, the lovely gold tones and dreamlike quality of the segment, really stood out.
  4. Speaking of lovely, that poem recited by Lafeyette was poignant and moving. Although he often serves as comic relief, Lafeyette is all heart. What more proof do you need than this? “I think over again my small adventures, my fears; Those small ones that seem so big; The vital things I had to get and reach…And yet there is only one great thing, the only thing…To live to see the great day that dawns, and the light that fills the world.”
  5. Hey, she bitch. That’s right, I’m talking about you Debbie Pelt. She’s really got that crazy, foaming-at-the-mouth mad cow thing down, and when she told Alcide she would hunt him down, I believed her. We haven’t seen the last of this sweaty, slutty V addict. I don’t know about you but I’m pretty happy about that.
  6. “I really want you to eat my biscuits.” So that’s what they’re calling it now. “Biscuits.” Right.
  7. Stand by your man, Sookie. The seventh most memorable moment was Sookie’s cringe-inducing, vein saw to bring Bill back.
  8. Bit by bit, we are learning more about Sookie’s special powers. This episode had a few interesting, memorable revelations, the first being that Sookie has no blood type. And she’s never been ill. Interesting.
  9. So, it seems that Sookie’s blood offers some protective powers to vamps in the sun. After Tara gave him the best friend boot from the back of the truck, Bill had a few moments in the sun without the tell tale smoke. Even more interesting.
  10. For fans of the books by Charlaine Harris, there’s nothing better than seeing a character brought to life. So my final memorable moment goes to Claudine, a much loved character from the series with a truly magical role in the Sookie-verse.

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.

Thanks, CW, for a bloody good time

Ian Somerhalder and Nina Dobrev do a great job with their respective characters, Damon and Elena. I’m guessing we will see a lot of these two young, talented actors in the future.

As you may know from previous posts, I am a die-hard Truebie. So at the end of season two, I was suffering some severe depression. Then came Vampire Diaries (CW, Thursdays at 8 p.m.), which immediately lured me in with the hope that I could somehow survive eight months without Sookie, Bill and Eric.

When Vampire Diaries was announced I thought it had potential, but I was a little worried that it might be Gossip Girl with fangs. I was even more worried when I picked up the books, which are really quite ridiculous. Trust me, as an avid reader of science fiction and horror, I can say with confidence that the show’s writers have done remarkable things with the weak material from the books by P.C. Cast.

As the first season progressed, it became clear that the show was much more than a teen romance drama that happens to involve vampires. It’s got some great young actors – Nina Dobrev (as Elena Gilbert) and Ian Somerhalder (as Damon Salvatore) really stand out, and the story has mystery and intrigue. And it’s not afraid to take risks. This season major characters like Vickie, Pearl, Anna and John Gilbert all bit the dust.  

Of course, last week was the season finale – and what a finale it was with the return of Katherine, Damon’s newfound conscience, Jeremy’s suicide, John Gilbert’s murder and the revelation that Tyler is more than a high school football player. As with all shows, you can’t really judge it until a few seasons in, but the final episode really has given fans a lot to think about and look forward to.

Throughout the course of the year, I tried a few new shows (Eastwick, Parenthood, Funny or Die and Happy Town) but none of these held my interest. Except Vampire Diaries. So if you haven’t seen it, do yourself a favor and catch the first season online, on DVD, or on re-runs. I think you’ll be sucked in.

Everyone, including me, is watching

Happy St. Patrick’s Day. Has anyone seen the new HBO teaser trailer?

I watched it today, on the lookout for anything related to the next season of True Blood, which I am absolutely addicted to. As a matter of fact, I didn’t have cable until True Blood came to HBO – I had been a long-time fan of the Charlaine Harris books, and was thrilled when she announced the show. And, true to form, HBO delivered. The first and second seasons were great – and I can hardly wait until June when season three begins.

Needless to say, this short trailer is not giving too much away. But, we do see Jessica at the very end dragging a body into what looks like Bill’s house. So we can assume she’s a girl gone wild (which seemed evident in the last episode of season 2). I just hope it’s not poor Hoyt she’s dragging in – they make such a sweet couple on the show. Nice shot of Eric in there, by the way.

Other items to note about the trailer:

  • Ricky Gervais Show: I’ve been watching this season and it’s pretty hilarious. Karl Pilkington, Monkey News – it’s all good and definitely makes me chuckle. Is anybody else watching this?
  • Funny or Die Presents: Thus far, I have been disappointed in this latest effort from Will Ferrell and Adam McKay. Aside from a few funny bits (Drunk History and Snakes come to mind) the show is just plain silly – and not always in a good way. Its saving grace is that it has about a 26-minute run time. Sometime’s I’m astounded that HBO actually went for this.
  • Boardwalk Empire: I’m going to give this show a try when it comes on. It looks to be a hard-edge drama, along the lines of the Sopranos (which I never watched, but have been thinking about checking out on DVD). I’m a fan of Steve Buscemi, so I have high hopes for this one. Is anyone else going to tune in?
  • Where is Kenny-effing Powers? I really hope HBO isn’t going to abandon Eastbound and Down.