True Blood

As en­ters its sixth se­ries, what is left to ex­plore, writes

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - TELEVISION -

THERE was a time long ago when the sexy, gory pay-TV se­ries True Blood was about the un­easy co­ex­is­tence of hu­mans and vam­pires.

OK, maybe there were one or two other supernatural ele­ments thrown in to add a lit­tle spice – the oc­ca­sional min­dreader, the odd shape-shifter – but mostly it was all about the blood­suck­ers.

Not any­more, it would ap­pear. As the sixth sea­son of the se­ries pre­pares to get un­der way on pay-TV’s Show­case chan­nel, view­ers have been treated to an ever-ex­pand­ing cir­cle of mys­ti­cal, mon­strous char­ac­ters, in­clud­ing witches, were­wolves and fairies.

All the while, the show has walked a fine line be­tween height­ened melo­drama and so­cial anal­ogy, us­ing its fan­tas­ti­cal ele­ments to ex­plore real-world is­sues such as re­li­gion, racism, drug ad­dic­tion and the strug­gle for equal rights by marginalised sec­tions of so­ci­ety.

Oh, and there’s also a lot of good­look­ing, well-built peo­ple in var­i­ous stages of undress. Which isn’t with­out its ap­peal, right?

The end of True Blood’s pre­vi­ous sea­son re­solved a few sto­ry­lines but also set many more in mo­tion, es­pe­cially with the vam­piric Bill (Stephen Moyer, who also di­rects the sixth sea­son’s first episode) drain­ing ev­ery last drop of blood from the pow­er­ful Lilith (Jessica Clark), only to be re­duced to a crim­son pud­dle and re­born as some kind of ter­ri­ble hy­brid (which fans of the show have al­ready clev­erly nick­named Bil­lith).

Se­ries cre­ator Alan Ball was sen­si­bly keep­ing hush-hush about what this de­vel­op­ment may en­tail for the char­ac­ter or his re­la­tion­ship with Sookie (Anna Paquin).

‘‘Who’s to say what Lilith re­ally is?’’ he says. ‘‘Bill is still Bill but he is some­thing dif­fer­ent . . . a trans­formed Bill. Is he go­ing to be evil? What does he want? What is he go­ing to do? That’s for fu­ture sea­sons. The im­pli­ca­tion, cer­tainly, is he is more fe­ro­cious.’’

That Alan Ball, such a tease. One thing he would con­firm, how­ever, was that the course of true love – or any­thing, re­ally – in the Louisiana town of Bon Temps isn’t set to run smoothly any time soon.

‘‘Well, here’s the thing with re­la­tion­ships on True Blood,’’ he says.

‘‘Once they hap­pen then you have to throw a mon­key-wrench into them be­cause to have peo­ple be happy is not that ex­cit­ing.’’

An­other cer­tainty is Ball him­self won’t be play­ing as big a role in True Blood’s on­go­ing sto­ry­lines. He de­cided to step away from his showrun­ner du­ties at the end of the show’s fifth sea­son, hand­ing over the reins to long-time col­league Mark Hudis.

‘‘It’s bittersweet,’’ Ball ad­mits.

‘‘It’s been such a big part of my life for so long; of course it’s hard to step away. But run­ning that show is such a huge job and I’ve been do­ing it for five years. I just don’t think I have an­other sea­son left in me. I need to recharge.’’

He is now look­ing for a new creative chal­lenge. ‘‘Some­thing with dif­fer­ent char­ac­ters and a dif­fer­ent tone,’’ he says.

‘‘As a writer, it’s fun to cre­ate. And once you get into a long-run­ning show with very es­tab­lished char­ac­ters and a very es­tab­lished tone and for­mat, af­ter a while it’s a re­ally great job. But that’s what it is – a job. There are things I want to do that are dif­fer­ent. I want to try some­thing com­pletely dif­fer­ent.’’

True Blood: Mon­days, 3.30pm and 8.30pm, Show­case.

Anna Paquin and Stephen Moyer

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