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.

Blogging for two

Don’t forget to tune in for True Blood Sunday at 9 p.m. on HBO.

It’s been a busy few months for me, so forgive my absence. Never fear, I’m still watching TV and talking TV, although blogging about TV has taken a backseat to another very important adventure: Baby Rogers.

My friends and family already know what I am just now announcing on Remotely Entertaining (and to the world). I am 16 weeks pregnant with my first little one. The husband and I are super-excited.

In between eating for two, running for two, and sleeping for two; I found time over the last four months to watch The Killing, Game of Thrones and Borgias, which were all pretty great. I also caught up with the first two seasons of Sons of Anarchy, an awesome, gritty, over-the-top show that I was instantly addicted to.

Now, I’m watching Teen Wolf, Covert Affairs and Burn Notice. Most importantly, this Sunday I’ll be watching episode one of True Blood season four. Stay tuned for Monday updates, as I’m sure I’ll have a lot to say.

Aren't they cute? Scott and Allison get up close and personal in MTV’s Teen Wolf.

The big surprise for me has been Teen Wolf. If you haven’t checked it out, and you are a fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, I’d highly recommend you give it a whirl. I think it comes the closest to striking the Buffy chord of any show I’ve seen in recent memory – humor, supernatural elements, teen angst, good special effects and best of all, strong acting and writing.

Is anyone else loving Teen Wolf? Who’s going to watch True Blood this Sunday?

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 season finale

We’ll miss you until next season, Sook.

Even with a full line-up of fall TV shows about to start, I am mourning the passing of True Blood season three. Unlike past top 10 lists, I have left my comments brief, as I have a few concluding remarks on this season. As I move on to Vampire Diaries (what a great first episode that was last week!), here’s what I’ll remember from the True Blood finale.

  1. Maniacal laughter from Sookie as she disposed of Talbot’s remains
  2. Russell Edgington, extra crispy recipe – Kudos to the makeup team.
  3. Russell Edgington, encased in cement for at least 100 years
  4. Bill vs. Sophie Ann – She’s old, but he has nothing to lose.
  5. Bill vs. Eric – I didn’t see that one coming.
  6. Sookie vs. Bill – Invitation revoked.
  7. Jesus is a man-witch.
  8. Tara’s new haircut is super cute, even if she is still annoying.
  9. Sookie’s close encounters of the Fae kind
  10. Alcide is still gorgeous, dreams of Sookie, and is quite eligible now that Debbie is missing.

Before I move on to other remotely entertaining shows, I have a few thoughts on season three. Even for devoted Truebies such as myself, there were times during last season when my interest in Marianne waned. And, truth be told, the season finale was lacking – it felt more like a prelude to season three than a wrap up of season two.

Despite some less than thrilling sub-plots (ahem, Sam’s dog-fighting biological family), this year’s story arc was awesome, and Russell stole the show as the primary villain. A quick look back at my top 10 lists reveals so many great moments that it’s hard to believe this wasn’t a network show with 22 episodes.

What’s a girl to do over the next few months without True Blood? Well, there should be a new book in Charlaine Harris’s series. And there is no shortage of good TV – I’ll be watching Vampire Diaries, Boardwalk Empire, Eastbound and Down, Big Love, Dexter, Fringe, 30 Rock, The Office, as well as trying a few other shows including Detroit 1-8-7, Blue Bloods, and The Walking Dead. So stay tuned, dear readers, as we deal with this nine-month fangover.

Top 10 moments from True Blood season 3, episode 11

Let’s hope Eric finds a way out of the trap he set for Russell and makes it back to Sookie and Pam.

Only one episode left to go, and here’s your weekly countdown of the best moments from True Blood.

  1. What a cliffhanger! Eric’s plan to kill Russell includes sacrificing himself to save Sookie. The final scene left us with the two vampires, handcuffed together, smoking in the sun. How will Eric escape? Will Russell finally meet the true death? The anticipation over the next two weeks is going to kill me.
  2. Last night’s was a somewhat Eric-centric episode in that we saw his walls come down, twice. First, his touching goodbye with Pam. “I love you more when you are cold and heartless.”
  3. Then, I found Eric’s hesitation in biting Sookie to be tender, in spite of the circumstances. It is pretty clear that he is in love with her for reasons no one; including myself, my co-blogger Mark, Sookie, Bill and Eric himself, fully understands.
  4. I have lauded Denis O’Hare a couple times for his ability to convey real emotion in the extraordinary True Blood universe. He deserves kudos yet again for his reaction to seeing the sunlight for the first time in millennia. His blood tears of joy made me realize that hidden deep underneath the monster is a man.
  5. Remember when Alice drank the potion labeled “Drink me”? That’s what I thought of when Hoyt and Jessica took their relationship to the next level. He can’t possibly understand the consequences of the blood bond. Will it bring them closer or pull them apart?
  6. Something Wiccan this way comes. Arlene’s attempt at aborting Rene’s baby by drinking a potion and invoking the mother goddess has me so intrigued for next season. Merlotte’s newest waitress will surely play a pivotal role in season four.
  7. Cheers for the In Memoriam segment that came before the episode. It was not only funny, it refreshed my memory on some of the True Blood characters who have come and gone. R.I.P. Tina and Gran.
  8. Anyone who has experienced a relationship rough patch knows what it’s like to want to start over. That’s why the conversation between Sookie and Bill on the way home from Fangtasia was so memorable, haunting and realistic.
  9. Doctor by day, dancer by night. Yvetta is not just sexy, she’s smart and pretty sassy, if you ask me. And not one to be scorned – she even got the best of Pam in last night’s episode.
  10. Pam versus Bill. Round one. Fight! I love it when the vampires fight amongst themselves. You always know someone is going to play dirty, as was the case with Pam’s pocket size silver spray.

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 9

Russell is the best True Blood villain yet, and quite the news anchor, if you ask me.

                My summer seems to be flying by, and I can’t believe there are only three True Blood episodes left. In what has been an outstanding season (the best of the three in my opinion) it’s never hard to recall 10 moments from any given episode. As a matter of fact, it is often more difficult for me to rank them, with the exception of last night’s ending.

  1. “Do not turn off the camera!” The most memorable moment of the night was, of course, the ending sequence in which Nan Flanagan incredulously watched Russell de-spine (to coin a phrase) Anchorman Jerry McCafferty. Gross, scary, ironic, humorous – it was a classic True Blood moment.
  2. The second most memorable moment was a toss up, but in the end it goes to Franklin, Tara and Jason. I have to say, I thought Franklin was going to be around for the rest of the season, so I was pretty surprised when Jason showed him the true death via a wooden bullet. And again, I can’t say enough about how much I love those goopy True Blood vampire deaths.
  3. Speaking of surprises, I was shocked at Sam’s reaction to Crystal’s father. Typically mild-mannered (as evidenced by his animal of choice, a collie), I was taken aback as Sam pummeled Calvin.
  4. Kudos to Denis O’Hare (who plays Russell), who gave his finest performance of the night at the beginning of the episode. Sure, it was gross when he grabbed a handful of Talbot, but it was also heart-wrenching. While his TV appearance was the most memorable, this moment showed his acting chops and conveyed his devastation over the loss of his lover.  
  5. You may have noticed, from these True Blood lists as well as other posts, that I love love. Therefore, I appreciated the steamy shower scene with Sookie and Bill. He’s a jerk, but (sigh) she loves him and he’s quite charming at times. The bloody water circling the drain reminded me of Psycho, and that all is not wine and roses in this relationship. It is passionate, but people get hurt.
  6. “Stop being a whiny bitch.” I never thought I’d hear Eric be called a bitch, and I had to laugh at this line. I enjoy Jessica Tuck’s deadpan delivery. Although a minor character, her portrayal of the public face of vampires is essential to the True Blood universe, and she is the perfect opposition to Russell.
  7. “Talk to the hand” took on a new meaning last night when Claudine used the magic fingers of light on Bill. Another beautifully shot scene in this golden, dream-like world brought us one step closer to find out what Sookie is. But can Bill be trusted?
  8. What a touching moment between maker and progeny. Pam’s heartache for Eric’s loss of his family was palpable. These two characters have had a few important, revealing moments this season that allow fans to see the softer side of Fangtasia’s usually tough management.
  9. I thought Bill’s line held a tinge of irony when he asked Sookie, “Would you rather be sitting on the couch watching TV?” If it’s HBO, count me in.
  10. The forward motion of True Blood is due in large part to the awesome cliffhangers in every episode. Case in point, Bill: “I know what you are.” Tell us already! Okay, I already know (I read the books), but I am still on the edge of my seat.

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.