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Because Vampires Don’t Have to Suck . . . – Seven (and a half) Ways to Save True Blood, Next Season

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It’s probably no secret that True Blood and I are on a bit of a “break” in our relationship.  I mean, don’t get me wrong, we still see one another, every Sunday night . . .

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But, lately, it’s become more out of habit than anything else.  Basically, I think we’ve both come to the conclusion that the spark in our relationship has fizzled a bit.  We’ve even started seeing other people shows . . .

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Now, lest you think I’m a total sour fangbanger, I will say that the past few episodes of True Blood have been fairly decent.  And yet, with only one episode left in the season, I feel like this may just be a case of “too little, too late.”

However . . .

I don’t give up on my friends and my lovers.  And I definitely don’t give up on my once-favorite television shows.  The truth of the matter is, I still think True Blood can be saved!

A few weeks back, I suggested a few possible spinoffs for the show, that might re-energize the franchise.  This week, I’m focusing on the show, itself.  So, without further adieu, I proudly present to you, my seven (and a half) step foolproof plan to make True Blood fangtastic, once again . . .

1) Minimize Extraneous Plotlines

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The folks of Bon Temps definitely know how to tell a great story.  Over the past few years, we’ve had a few really great plotlines that will forever remind me of why I fell in love with this show, in the first place.  Who could forget Season 1’s Sexy Serial Killer?

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Or Season 2’s “Jason Joins a Jesus Cult” fiasco?

And let us not forget Season 3’s “Mississippi Vampire King Delivers the News” . . .

Like its predecessors, Season 5 has also had its share of solid storylines.  For example, I’ve been genuinely enjoying Tara Thornton’s and Steve Newlin’s parallel transitions into “good new vampire” and “bad new vampire,” respectively.

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And Vampire Pam has positively killed it this season (no pun intended), with her kickass “origins” story, her heartbreaking (hopefully temporary) separation from Eric, and her surprisingly heartwarming acceptance of her responsibilities as Tara’s maker.

Speaking of Eric, I’ve also really enjoyed seeing a genuine soft side to the Viking Vampire (as opposed to the artificial, highly disconcerting “manchild” soft side we got during the Amnesia!Eric Days, last season), as he struggles with his faith, his feelings toward his Maker and Progeny, and his strong desire to save the soul of his “sister” Nora.

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The problem is that these are just four of about twelve different storylines that have been jam-packed into this season.  Now, sure, the idea of every single cast member getting his or her own extended backstory / plotline is good, in theory.  But it’s simply not workable for a twelve-episode season.  I mean, honestly, did we REALLY need to spend eight episodes on the Big Bad Battle between Terri and Noel from Felicity versus The Smoke Monster from Lost 2: Electric Boogaloo?

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And what about that bizarro Shifter Killers in Obama Masks storyline . . . you know, the one that was largely comprised of roughly ten characters we have never seen before, and will likely never see again?  In a 22 or 24 episode season the existence of these sideplots wouldn’t have mattered so much.  But in a cable-sized season, they took significant time away from stories and characters we genuinely care about.

So, in conclusion, when it comes to storylines, less is more.  I don’t think it’s a coincidence that some of the best seasons of True Blood were also the ones with the least storylines.  Season 1 managed to rope all of its characters into a single Serial Killer plotline.  And Season 2 did the same with thing with two plotlines.  As a rule of thumb, the more core characters you can incorporate into your story, the more invested your viewers will be in that story.  This, of course, leads me to . . .

2) Don’t split up your core cast members

The majority of this season found Sookie, Jason, Pam and Tara slumming it in Bon Temps, while their co-stars, Eric and Bill, schmoozed it up with those uber snooty (not to mention, snoozy) Authority folk.  Now, whether you happen to be Team Eric or Team Bill,  TEAM ERIC!  TEAM ERIC!  TEAM ERIC!  as a fan, this had to dust your doilies a little bit.

Now, I’m not even lodging this complaint from a shipper / romance perspective.  I’m simply talking about basic logistics.  Having your most popular characters interact with one another on a regular basis, is something fans LIKE TO SEE.  After all, back in Season 1, we signed on for a show about a spunky Southern Waitress, interacting with Sexy Vampires.

Not a Spunky Southern Waitress traipsing around with nameless fairies, while the Sexy Vampires are doing their own thing, Somewhere ELSE . . .

Just sayin . . .

3) Choose an Interesting and Charismatic Big Bad

Over the years, True Blood has had some stellar super villains.  There was the elusive Rene Lenier in season 1 . . .

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. . . the oddly charming Steve Newlin, in Season 2 . . .

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. . . and who could forget the inimitable Russell Edgington’s debut in Season 3?

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Initially, Season 5 of True Blood seemed to have the right idea.  Bringing back that zany religious nutbar Steve Newlin?  And as a VAMPIRE, no less?  Then, pairing him with Russell Edgington, for a dynamic (and surprisingly likeable) evil duo?  How could this plan NOT succeed?

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And, to some extent, it did succeed . . . Russell’s and Steve’s scenes together comprise some of the most enjoyable, hilarious moments of this entire series.

So, what’s the problem, then?  All those OTHER lame villains, who have also been thrown into the mix, starting with . . .  WAIT FOR IT . . . That Gross Red Lady, Lilith . . .

I mean, honestly, aside from that extremely small population of men who get turned on by women coated in chunky tomato sauce, with voices like drag queens, who exactly is the audience for this kind of character?  I mean, doesn’t say much, so she’s not exactly funny or smart.  The fact that she may or may not be real, makes her not particularly scary.  And the fact that she seems to get everyone else to do her dirty work, while she just stands there and stares at the camera, makes her flat out LAZY!

The same can pretty much be said for her minion, Salome, who, at least is a bit nicer to look at, but pretty much bores me to tears, every time she is on screen.

What bothers me so much about this flaw in Season 5, is that it was entirely unnecessary!  We had two perfectly good villains, who were more than capable of carrying the show on their own.

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Sigh!  Maybe next season . . .

4) Keep Fabulous Characters Behaving Fabulously . . .

One of my favorite things about True Blood, was that the show could always be counted on to bring the SASSY.  Back in Season 1, Pam, Tara and Lafayette comprised the Triumvirate of Sass.  These three could always be counted on to have the perfect zinger for just about every wacky situation on the show.  Here are just a few of their highlights . .  .

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But then somewhere in the middle of the series Pam got quiet, Tara got whiny, and Lafayette (when he wasn’t getting kidnapped, or crying about something) was getting possessed way too often by people who were way less sassy then himself.

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Somewhere in the middle of this recent season however, Pam, Tara, and Lafayette all managed to simultaneously get their respective grooves back.  Now, that has been a joy to watch!

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So, in the future, TB writers.  Let’s keep the Triumvirate of Sass doing what they do best, BEING SASSY.  And please, for the love of all that is holy, NO MORE POSSESSIONS . . . EVER!

5) The books are GOOD!  (Well, at least the first seven were . . . ) USE THEM!

By now, it’s certainly no secret, even to the most casual True Blood fan that the television series is based on a collection of books called the Sookie Stackhouse Mysteries, written by the author, Charlaine Harris.  Up until this year, each season of True Blood could be mapped directly to a Sookie Stackhouse Book.  Season 1 of True Blood loosely followed, Book 1 of the Series, Dead Until Dark.  Season 2 followed Book 2, Living Dead in Dallas, and so on . . .

Following along with a popular book series, was a win-win proposition for True Blood.  Fans of the books enjoyed seeing their favorite characters come to life on the small screen.  And while these book readers knew the basic structure of the season’s plot line, there were always little surprises thrown into the series, to keep them on their toes.  Like, for example, there was that time that a character who died early in the books (Lafayette), shockingly survived in the series.  And then, there was that other character (Jason), who turned into a shifter in the books, but stayed human in the series.  Book fans were also able to enjoy the addition into the television series of a few original plotlines which, while they didn’t actually take place in the context of the books, still seemed to consistent enough with the overall narrative of the story, that they conceivably COULD have happened, in the novel’s “deleted scenes.”

Then Season 5 came, and it suddenly felt as though the books never existed . . .

Now, I know . . . I know . . . the show is NOT meant the same as the books.  And True Blood writers are obviously well within their rights to develop original plotlines for these characters in the context of the show.  On the other hand, there are still a couple of excellent plotlines from the books that it would almost be a shame not to use in the series.  I mainly referring to the AWESOME World Vampire Conference in Book 7, and the very intriguing mystery of what happened to Sookie’s cousin Hadley, in Book 6 . .  .

Basing the True Blood Seasons around particular books, helped the writers give this show consistency, structure, and balance, which brings me to . . .

7) Maintain a healthy balance between camp and horror

True Blood still remains one of the few shows out there that can make things like brutal stabbings, and bloody murder FUNNY.

Part of the reason for this is that the show, its actors, and its writers never  took themselves too seriously.  By inserting moments of “meta” self awareness, and slapstick hilarity, into even its most gruesome sequences, early True Blood episodes successfully towed the line between comedy and horror, without being totally offensive or tasteless.

Then came this season . . . and that vampire that eats little kids and babies . . .  Now, call me prude, but there’s just no way I can find that funny.  In fact, I have trouble finding any portion of the Vampire Authority Storyline (with the exception of the scenes including Russell and Steve) funny . . .

Maybe it’s because those stuffy, Lilith-loving politicians are always so gosh darn serious all the time!

So, in conclusion, for next season, I suggest, more CAMP . . .  less politics / baby eaters.  KAPEESH?

And finally . . . last, but certainly not least . . .

7.5) Less naked Lilith and Luna, more naked Eric / Alcide / and Jason!

I think this one is pretty much, self-explanatory.  Don’t you?

So, there you have it, 7.5 surefire ways to keep True Blood Fangtastic for Season 6. Any questions?

[www.juliekushner.com][Fangirls Forever]

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