TV review: True Blood

By Columbus Alive
From the June 7, 2012 edition

With Alan Ball (“American Beauty” writer and “Six Feet Under” showrunner) stepping down as the “True Blood” showrunner after Season 5, I feared he may have mailed it in a bit. Unfortunately, my fears were confirmed — although it’s not as bad as it could have been.

“True Blood” has always been at its best when it’s presenting dramatic storylines with tangible stakes, but with a sly, tongue-in-cheek ridiculousness. It’s an incredibly tough balancing act to pull off, and “True Blood” sometimes fails. But when it’s on, it’s one of the best at delivering a decent horror plot with some great black comedy and absurdist laughs.

The Season 5 premiere picks up with the oh-so-many cliffhangers from last season. There were so many that I had forgotten about a few. I found some of the resolutions well done and others utterly annoying.

Without spoiling too much, I found the best part of the first four episodes to be the buddy cop story with Bill (Stephen Moyer) and Eric (Alexander Skarsgard). I usually have mixed feelings when “True Blood” takes the audience deep into the vampire mythology — it can be overly serious. But Bill and Eric dealing with the Vampire Authority and its leader, Roman (new cast member Christopher Meloni), is interesting.

Sadly, most of the other various plots lack the silly exuberance I love. Sookie’s (Anna Paquin) various dilemmas feel especially downtrodden. Even worse is that Jason’s (Ryan Kwanten) classic dumb-guy jokes are frequent, and Lafayette (Nelsan Ellis) is missing his mojo. Of course, Lafayette is dealing with his lover’s death from last season, so that’s more understandable.

I’ll still be watching, but I have some reservations about this season. I hope I am proved wrong … or that next season’s new showrunner can bring back the “True Blood” we all want.