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Archive for the ‘TV Review’ Category

It’s been a year since I first became obsessed with True Blood, and unfortunately, that year has not been kind to the HBO series. When I first started watching my brand-new Season 3 DVDs, I noticed that I wasn’t as engaged as I had been for the first or second seasons. Perhaps the spark of interest has flickered out, perhaps there were too many new characters introduced, though I don’t have the technical eye to really notice that sort of thing. I think that part of the problem is that there weren’t any happy endings or satisfying resolutions. While I highly disapprove of Spielberg endings – ahem, Saving Private Ryan – I still think that you need to throw the audience a bone and give them something to be happy about. There’s a pervading dirtiness to the whole season that didn’t have the cathartic cleansing of, say, killing a sea goddess or beheading a serial killer. And no, I don’t think we’ve seen the last of Russell.

The DVD is still a worthwhile investment, though, as each episode has a mini “post-mortem” which explains more about the behind-the-scenes action or provide additional scenes. There are a few commentaries, and of course the Snoop Dog Sookie music video. I can only hope that when viewed in succession, the third season will make the fourth that much more interesting.

I have reservations about Season 4, as the Eric character is destined to become more prominent and Alexander Skarsgard is clearly not of the same acting caliber as Stephen Moyer. Foremost, the chemistry between Skarsgard and Paquin is not smoldering as it is between Moyer and Paquin. Also, Eric is supposed to have an irrepressible zest for life, and strong charisma, however the character we see onscreen is reserved and plotting. He often broods, and the Charlaine Harris Eric is a man of action, not a brooder. Our eyes track Skarsgard on the screen mostly because he is tall rather than because what he is doing is interesting. It’s rather like how beautiful people have trouble showing effective emotions like pain or anger on screen, because they’ve never had to exert themselves to that degree. I hope we see a vast improvement, because I will blame the Swede first if Season Four bites the dust.

As a disclaimer, I’ll admit that my passion for the books has definitely waned, and I cannot wait until the last book comes out next year, so that the ordeal will be over. Apparently from the latest book, Sookie feels likewise. The tv series is doing a good job of using the books as more inspiration rather than script, thankfully.

That being said, I’ve been enjoying the flirty little tidbits that HBO has offered rabid fans like myself since the end of last season. Waiting Sucks indeed, and I’ll have to wait even longer until the episodes become available online, however the steady stream of teaser clips and True Blood Withdrawal PSAs have almost made it worthwhile. The latest 8-minute preview clip of the season premiere did wonders to – pardon the expression – revamp my opinion of what to expect in the upcoming season. I have moderately high hopes.

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When not eating, cooking, or hunting for the next resto to try, I am watching tv or movies. I remember fondly joining the Netflix.com crowd during college, stopping when I was juggling 4 jobs after college and considered ramen to be a major food group, and then joining again when I realized that I was paying the same amount in overdue library fees for dvds. When I  started earning enough to cut down to three, then two, then finally one job, I began to enjoy Netflix.com instead of feeling it hanging over me like a guilty pleasure. Netflix.com had a large selection of dvds, I always got my first-choice selections, and the turnover time was impressive – once I popped a dvd into a mailbox, I always got the replacement 3 days later.

It was a sad day when I moved to Montreal and realized that Netflix.com hadn’t yet made it up North. I had to settle for Zip.ca, which had a smaller selection of dvds, NEVER gave me my first choice selections (or 2nd…or 25th), was more expensive, and took at least a week to process each returned dvd. Perhaps part of this could be operating strategy, as I find myself sitting on dvds for weeks at a time because they were my 64th choice and I need to rev myself up to be in the mood to watch something like Manon of the Spring. I still use Zip.ca, but it will always be second to Netflix.com.

It was a happy day when I learned that Netflix.ca was starting up, and I was one of the first to join up again. But Netflix.ca is no Netflix.com. Netflix.ca has a tiny collection of videos which are only available for online streaming, not as mail-order dvd. While I enjoy streaming videos as much as the next person, I also enjoy watching every single bonus feature on a dvd, especially all of the commentaries; streaming videos don’t have this feature. You also can’t watch an English film with French subtitles so you can feel like you’re learning French subconsciously.

After two months of Netflix.ca, I had had enough and canceled my membership. Two weeks later, when my internet bill arrived, I had a polite yet firm discussion with my internet provider because I thought someone was stealing my internet – the bill was twice the normal size due to a couple hundred GB worth of downloads. Online gaming? No. After receiving only $20 worth of credit from the company, I afterwards realized that the charges were actually mine and that it was for streaming all of those Monk episodes from Netflix.ca. Bad, bad Netflix.ca!

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The first time I was caught in the thrall of a book, I was 11-years old and secretly reading Gone With the Wind in my closet for three nights straight until I’d finished all 1,024 pages. I stayed up later than I ever had before, and couldn’t wait to get back to my closet to finish up the epic novel. There have been other moments of literary obsession, but none for a long time until I decided to bite the bullet so to speak and finally watch an episode of True Blood. I’d watched Family Guy and Bones many times over, the Top Chef season had finished, and couldn’t stomach yet another round of Friends or Sex and the City. For my brethren without televisions, cruising for free streaming videos online, you know what I mean.

I watched the pilot. And then the second episode, then the third, fourth, until I was staying up until 4am for four nights straight, plowing through the entire three season set. The frustrating times came when I couldn’t find an episode, or when the only ones I found had been crudely dubbed over in Russian (you could make out what had originally been said if you really concentrated). Or if the video wasn’t streaming quickly enough and I gnashed my teeth waiting for that little progress bar to inch laboriously forward. Or when my eye balls seemed to dry out around 2:34am, and I would awaken several hours later like a junky, stale from the previous night yet insatiable for more.

Once I finally reached the end, and realized I would have to wait an entire year for the start of the fourth season, I started searching for the books on which the series was loosely based. The Grand Bibliothèque had a couple of them, but they were all on hold. I couldn’t wait – I’d wasted enough time merely visiting the library at all. I ordered the entire ten-book Southern Vampire Series from Abebooks.com (being too cheap to get new, full-priced ones from a more expedient source). However, as soon as I’d placed the ordered and received confirmation, I realized I would have to wait nearly a month for them to get up to me. That night, I found most of them as free ebooks, and plowed through several of them each night, day off, and lunch break at work. I can’t find the eighth book, so I suppose I’ll actually have to wait until it arrives in the mail, but perhaps I’ve sated my book lust for now. I’ve had a lot of Sookie Stackhouse, in both of the tv and book worlds.

About a week after the Sookie-madness first began, I thought it might finally be tapering off, but only because I had to wait 6-13 business days for my books to clear customs and arrive. And then just yesterday, I gave in an ordered the first two seasons on dvd from Amazon.ca. The third season probably won’t be available until May 2011…alas.

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