I’ve always had a thing for vampire films. From the age of 11 I was allowed to stay up late and watch Hammer’s brilliant Dracula movies. I was obsessed for years with a comic adaptation of The Legend Of The Seven Golden Vampires. I even love Coppola’s Bram Stoker’s Dracula, and no one loves that.
There’s something about vampire mythology that hits the spot in a way that werewolves, zombies and all those other members of the supernatural bestiary just don’t. And let’s be honest, it’s the sex.
In anyone else’s hands, this could have been so bad, but with Ball, you know you’re getting quality. It’s yet another modern televisual classic from the HBO stable. They truly do spoil us.
True Bloodexists in an alternate, maybe not-too-distant-future Deep South where, following the invention of a synthetic blood product, the vampire community have come out of the closet and are trying to co-exist with their normal neighbours. They’re sort of like gays. They’ve got their own bars and their own drinks, and they dress better than the rest of us. Some straights like them (they’re called ‘fang bangers’), and some straights hate their guts (they say ‘God hates fangs’).
And at the heart of this social tinderbox is the cross-the-tracks love affair between waitress Sookie Stackhouse (Anna Paquin) and vampire Bill Compton (Stephen Moyer).
But even the humans have their dark secrets. One of the characters is a shapeshifter, and heroine Sookie is telepathic, which is why she falls for vampire Bill: he’s the only man whose thoughts she can’t read. And that’s before we get into the whole illicit trade in vampire blood, which humans can get incredibly high on, and the lengths to which some of them will go to get it.
If all vampire stories are about ‘surrogate sexual intercourse’, then True Blood goes for it full throttle. There’s a lot of sex in this series. The scene in episode 5 where we flash back to see how Bill first became one of the children of the night is just about the sexiest thing you’ve ever seen on your telly.
Unusually for a modern TV series it opts for powerful serial-like cliffhanger endings, which just goes to show that when you think a TV drama tradition is long dead, up it pops again all alive and in your face.
A bit like… well, you know.