Last Night’s TV – True Blood

true-blood-Anna Paquin and Stephen Moyer

“Doesn’t your race have a rather sordid history? Exploiting and feeding off people for centuries?”

No, I hadn’t inadvertently tuned in to David Cameron taking questions, this was in fact a line from one of the opening scenes of True Blood. A shop assistant was watching a talk show featuring a vampire who explained why they deserve the same civil rights as non-blood drinking people.

And I was hooked…

But given this is from writer Alan Ball, who also wrote Six Feet Under, to which I was addicted, I expected excellence and wasn’t disappointed. I can see me joining the ranks of the so-far small but exponentially growing group of Brits who cannot and will not miss an episode.

True Blood has been showing on FX here for some time, and it’s achieved that prefix that similar shows aspire to but don’t quite make; cult. And now that it’s on Channel 4 – and hence likely to attract a much bigger audience – it won’t be long until the latest episode is the subject of much water cooler gossip.

In case you didn’t manage to catch last night’s premiere on Channel 4, I won’t go into detail about what happens, because trust me, if you enjoy intelligently written, brilliantly acted ‘off-kilter’ shows, then you’re going to love this and you’ll need to catch the opener on 4oD here or wait until it’s show again on Friday.

What I can do without giving away the premiere’s storyline is give you an overview of the show. The basic premise is that vampires now live openly in society without needing to drink human blood, thanks to a synthetic version – invented in Japan – called Tru Blood.

But in Bon Temps, Louisiana, vampires seem a tad thin on the ground, until that is Bill Compton, a very, very fit looking 173 year old, walks into the bar and restaurant where telepathic Sookie works. She can hear other people’s thoughts and it seems that’s a tad distracting when you’re trying to remember a drinks order. However, she can’t hear Bill’s, which is interesting; maybe it’s because he’s not mortal.

Sookie has a hugely oversexed brother called Jason – of whom you’ll see rather a lot, literally, in this episode – and a best friend called Tara who I absolutely loved from the moment we clapped eyes on her.

At the beginning of the show, she was working in one of those we-stock-everything stores, except it would appear, those plastic sheet thingys that hang over the entries of cold storage. In a brilliant scene, a woman who’d driven, she said, for over an hour to get to this we-stock-everything store took exception when Tara informed her they didn’t have the plastic sheet thing that she wanted. Tara then asked her why she hadn’t just called the store to check if they had the item she wanted, and added, “or did you just want an excuse to wear them ugly-ass clothes?”

Epic. Tara’s ‘angry’ at everything and pretty much everyone it would seem, but her acerbic one-liners make it worth tuning in for, if nothing else is… but it all is.

Everything about the show last night was excellent; the southern drawl that I could listen to for hours on end abounded and the new phrases that vampires out of their closets, or coffins, spawned were great. Such as ‘fangbanger’ and ‘V Juice’ which is the name given to the blood of vampires that’s apparently something like a mixture of Viagra and LSD.

And there were certainly plenty of scenes that bore testament to the potency of V Juice, but again, I won’t spoil it for you by telling you about them, and besides, this is a family site and I’d probably get sacked if I did. Yes, they were that good/weird!

Alan Ball based the idea for True Blood on the Southern Vampire Mysteries novels by Charlaine Harris, and he’s done them and their writer proud. And I would imagine Charlaine must be beyond delighted at the size of her royalty cheques, because given the already rabid following in the States, and with the same sure to happen here, she must be thanking every lucky star ever that Alan Ball is an ardent lover of all things dead and grisly and that he evidently loved her work.

As to the cast, Anna Paquin as Sookie put in a tremendous performance last night and I instantly warmed to her character. Ditto for Stephen Moyer’s Bill who’s a bit of a babe as well. Ryan Kwanten as Jason was lurid in his depiction, in all the good ways, and Rutina Wesley as Tara, as I mentioned earlier, was perfect. Sam Tramell as lovesick Sam Merlotte was the stuff of romance novels as he watched Sookie, dreamily but unrequitedly in love with her. I just wanted to give him a big cuddle. Bless.

This really is one of the most watchable shows I’ve ever seen and I’m now wishing I had a third leg so that I could more comfortably kick myself in the butt for not watching it on FX already. But from now on, Wednesday night’s are True Blood nights in our house, and it’ll be phone off the hook, doorbell disabled time.

What did you think of the show? Let us know!

Lynn is an editor and writer here at Unreality TV and is trained psychotherapist and the author of two books. She's addicted to soaps, period drama and reality TV shows such as X Factor, I'm A Celeb and Big Brother.