The scene opens up on a young couple driving down a dark Louisiana road; we’re pretty much immediately made aware of their character. The girl is willing to give a handjob at the wheel, –very classy, and the young-ish preppy guy wears a polo shirt with his collar flipped up. The tres chic suburbanites suddenly slam on the brakes after spotting a sign “We have Tru Blood” outside a Grabbit Kwik store. Inside the clerk, a tragic victim of 80’s fashion, is watching a small TV where Bill Maher is interviewing Nan Flanagan, a representative from the American Vampire League defending a major mainstream turn to rights for vampires, initiated by the Japanese inventing a synthetic blood beverage — Tru Blood.
Inside the store, the anti-trendy clerk does some shoddy stereotypical acting; he pretends to be a vampire in order to scare his customers/enemies, the preps! Once they laugh off his snarky little funny, they convene over a short-lived discussion of “V-juice” –vampire blood. When humans drink “V”, it has an LSD-like effect, as well as providing erotic enhancements. Naturally, the young prep wants some, no doubt to compensate for his shortcomings in all the ways his SUV cannot. A big man at the cooler, looking equally fashionable in his deer blind attire, casually peruses the store’s wares, only looking up when the clerk’s short, badly accented ruse is midway, and ends up behind the collection of lemmings at the register. A keen eye might notice the Tru-Blood under his arm, as he approaches. The V-juice sales spiel is cut to an abrupt end when our newest character asks them to leave only to be told “Fuck you, Billy Bob” to which he replies with a southern twang “Fuck me. I’ll fuck you boy. I’ll fuck ya, and then I’ll eat you.” His fangs drop and the two idiots are out of the store faster than you can say, “Oh my god, I broke a nail!”. To the clerk he continues coldly, “You ever pretend to be one of us again, and I’ll kill ya. Got it?” Then he grabs his Tru Blood after paying, and in parting delivers a Clampett-esque, “You have a nice day now.”
With an introduction like that, it’s hard to misinterpret the general atmosphere of HBO’s new series Tru-Blood. Vampires are “out of the coffin” as our heroine Sookie Stackhouse likes to say, and the world is dealing with it in varied ways. The perfect theme song intro plays now, Jace Everett’s ‘Bad Things’; it’ll make you want to hop out of your recliner and get nasty right there in your living room, –and it’s a country song! Less than 4 minutes have passed and you know Alan Ball and HBO have another hit on their hands. The setting is as wonderfully colorful as the characters. They’re often over-the-top and cheesy but we wouldn’t have it any other way.
A truck drives into Merlotte’s bar and grill, one of the main hangouts in Bon Temps, Louisiana for the cast of characters revolving around an annoyingly naive and adorable waitress with an ability to read thoughts, Sookie Stackhouse. The bar is owned by Sam who seems to have a bit of a crush on Sookie. We’re automatically introduced to Sookie, as she waits tables, trying to tune out the oh-so-charming thoughts of the Bon Temps natives. And next we me meet Tara; and here, we must hit pause, and head on over to Wikipedia to find out what the hell happened here. I know many of you are thinking; wait, who is that?! because a pilot of True Blood was leaked onto the Internet, and the Tara we originally encountered was barely black, and now we’re meeting someone totally new! The original actress was actually a woman named Brook Kerr; she was in the series “Passions”, and then was suddenly replaced at the last minute by Rutina Wesley. Her career moves forward with her appearance in a Kenny Chesney video for the song “Everyone Wants To Go To Heaven”. If you know why she was replaced, feel free to let us know, since so far, it seems to be a mystery.
When Tara is introduced, she refers to herself as “uppity”, a second before she slaps her poor, stunned boss, and if actress Anna Paquin was in fact a telepath, then she might have gone deaf from the collective, “What a bitch!” thought round the world. The over-the-top aggressive southern black woman role comes into play with Tara’s character, but we discover more of her history later in the series. Inside Merlotte’s kitchen is Tara’s cousin, the cook Lafayette, a sassy gay, well-built black man. We also meet Sookie’s brother Jason, a gullible, puppy dog type man slut, who has no trouble at all, ahem, burying his bone. This show features a lot of nudity as one of it’s recurring subplots is the controversy surrounding fangbangers, or people who have sex with vampires. In the middle of an invigorating session of southern fried screwing, Jason learns the girl he’s with, an older woman, Maudette Pickins, who looks a little “rode hard and put away wet”, has had sex with a vampire, when he sees the fang marks on her thigh. His attitude goes from slightly shocked, to curious. She shows him the sex tape she recorded during the encounter; and wow, vampires really are fast, and in all the right ways! Instead of feeling upstaged, it seems Jason is kind of excited by the vamp’s “superpowers” and they re-create a little bit of the naughty action, though with a little less CGI and a little more dirty talk. But uh oh, Maudette winds up dead later, and of course Jason is the main suspect once the police discover the tape she made, much to his chagrin.
Meanwhile, there’s a swell of melodramatic, moody classical music, and we’re introduced to the vampire, Bill, Sookie’s soon-to-be main squeeze. Sookie’s thrilled with the prospect of waiting on her very first vampire, and has adopted a curious, interested attitude, as opposed to some of the various majority opinions we encounter in the series; such as those of the blood drinking, V users, the profit mongering drainers, the fangbangers, and people who think vampires are evil. A particularly nasty breed of white trash, Denise and Mack Rattray, move in on the vampire and simultaneously humiliate Sookie. A curious Sookie discovers that while Denise is convincing Bill she’s just a fangbanger, the couple actually plan to drain his blood and sell it. There’s a little inconsistency here; apparently, Sookie doesn’t like for Tara to use the “J-word” (Jesus), she herself exclaims “shit!” when she learns of the Rattray’s plan, and bolts off to save her new friend.
Out in the parking lot, they have Bill strapped down helpless with a silver chain and a tube running through his arm collecting the blood. Sookie shows up in time to interrupt the assault with a thick chain. She throws it around the man’s neck disabling him temporarily as he struggles to breath, grabs the knife quickly and confronts the woman. But wait; where’s the strange woman in the shiny dress who runs off, that was in the unaired pilot? Strange that she’s missing, because it appeared that the chain suddenly tightening on its own, might have had something to do with the appearance and immediate disappearance of this bizarre individual. Oh well; in the aired version of episode 1, the figure is missing, and the audience is left to assume Sookie did it, or just be confused. Back to the some very pissed off white trash, the Rattray couple threaten Sookie, and leave quickly. Sookie slowly removes the silver chain from Bill’s body, which has begun to painfully burn itself into his flesh. Amazed, Sookie does an Anne Hathaway “Shut up!” as she watches his wounds heal before her eyes. In a weakened state, Bill asks her to remain with him a little while. A dog seems to appear, checking up on Sookie and seeing things are all right, he heads back off again. With sudden clarity, Sookie realizes she can’t hear the vampire’s thoughts. Some flirting transpires between them with some humorous dialog for several moments, including a laugh at the name “Vampire Bill.” Before their moonlit tryst ends however, Bill catches onto Sookie’s unique nature, and asks her for the first time, “What are you?” in his intense, sexy voice, that manages to sound dangerous, despite his name, and situation. Sookie returns to the bar where Sam is waiting, practically pacing the floor, anxious to see that she doesn’t have so much as a bruised capillary.
While Sam rushes off to do… huh, what was he doing? –he thrusts a bar towel into Tara’s hands, and Tara helps Sam out at the bar, winding up with a job; convenient, since once she slapped her boss at ‘Super-Save-A-Bunch’, her emploment pretty much ended then and there. Jason, after his potentially fatal romp with Maudette, shows up at the bar just before closing. Despite Tara’s obvious thing for Jason, he’s more interested in Dawn, who is busy wiggling around the bar before closing, and planning an evening alone. Tara’s got an attraction to Jason, but Jason’s interested in Dawn and leaves on her heels to Tara’s dismay. It’s pretty easy to see at this point, that the series is going to have more lusty twists and turns that a game of ‘Strip Chutes and Ladders’.
Sookie’s home from work, and has a conversation with her sweet, and very southern belle-esque ‘Gran’. They both discuss Sookie’s meeting with Bill; sans the dangerous interlude, and it’s easy to see that Gran is without the prejudices of most of her neighbors, towards vampires. After a brief talk, she goes up to bed, but Sookie is awakened shortly by a noise and sees Bill out on the lawn looking up at her with that, “Hey, I wanna eat you” smile.With her virginity in mind, no doubt, Sookie wraps herself in a robe and walks out to talk to him. She says “Hello. I never thought I would be having sex with you. At least, not so fast.” Wow, well, apparently, virginity was the last thing on her mind! Bill removes his shirt, to reveal a more reassuring glimpse of manly chest hair. Isn’t it nice to see that he’s full grown, and isn’t sporting the usual Hollywood wax job? I sure thought it was nice, anyway. But when Sookie starts to become a little more scantily clad, he responds, “Who said anything about sex?” Uh oh! He licks his fangs, a sexy little preparatory movie before dinner, and Sookie awake with a gasp, realizing that her raging hormones were merely playing a trick on her; just a dream.
Jason is over at Sookie’s Gran’s house the next morning, and spills the gossip with Sookie about what happened at the bar, berating her for her role in the incident in the adorable big brother concerned man way. Next, they learn Maudette Pickins, the girl Jason had sex with was found strangled and dead. They talk inside at lunch about vampires, and fangbangers; Gran seems interested, in the weird way that old people like to learn about all things hip and trendy. Jason gets a little worried and upset. Jason seems to think she was killed by the new vampire in town. Sookie wonders about Jason’s uneasiness at the prospect of Maudette’s murder, so she attempts to read his mind. When Jason gets angry, it’s easy to see that although he’s her brother, he has a few of the same misgivings about her mental state, that everyone else in town does. While at work on road construction, the police show up to question Jason Stackhouse about Maudette’s murder.
Back at Gran’s house, Gran discusses Bill with Sookie, and asks if Sookie might inquire if Bill, is willing to speak to the Descendants of the Glorious Dead, a civil war descendants group that Gran belongs to, and Sookie agrees to ask if Bill shows up again. At work, Sookie discovers that Jason was arrested from Lafayette and the skanky waitress, Dawn. Bill shows up at the bar again, and the patrons’ minds are a’buzzing with concern, disgust, and shock at Sookie’s interest in the vampire, and his patronage. The romantic theme music plays once more, and there’s a short interlude, where Bill asks once more, “What are you?” of Sookie. And again, she tells him that she’s a waitress. She asks Bill if he’ll speak to her after work, and he agrees, claiming “delight”. Sam thororoughly scolds Sookie, as well, for her involvement with the vampire; of course, this only makes his attraction to her more obvious. Tara joins in, and Sookie escapes to the parking lot to wait for Bill. After work, Sookie waits for Bill outside the bar after work, and gets jumped by the Rattrays, who proceed to beat the shit out of poor Sookie. …and then, roll credits. So we’re left to think the worst of our poor heroine!