Do Vampires Dream of Eclectic Sheeple?

As I was watching True Blood: Episode 11 last night, I was struck by a particularly existential exchange between Bill and that club promoter chick–or was it LaFayette and Jason–I don’t exactly remember. Anyway, it’s not that important which conversation it was, because the entire show over the course of ten episodes has taken on the classic Philip K. Dickensian theme of human vs. non-human entity in terms of which one is really “alive”, and what we’ve come to consider as “living”. In many ways, drama sets out to level the playing field, reminding us that at times we can all be the Villain. It also reminds us that the Villain is often misunderstood, or reacting to mistreatment which has spurred his or her devious behavior. In True Blood, the vampires perceive humans as “lesser life forms”, yet we’re led to believe throughout that, because they lack a beating organ that pumps blood, they’ve got no heart.

Of course, Bill and Sookie are going out of their way to prove that ancient adage incorrect. And so is Ball, I think. He knows enough to show the good and bad sides of all of his characters, and rarely presents us with a thoroughly distilled archetype one way or the other. That’s why we begin to care for them: because they’re like us. They fuck up, just like we do. And it’s when True Blood started showing that in storyline after storyline that I started wanting to see more.

What struck me last night was either a bit of lazy writing or another concerted effort to blur the lines. Not to give too much away for those who haven’t had a chance to see the penultimate episode, but there’s a moment when Sookie confesses to Sam that she was bitterly angry at Bill for going off without any guarantee that he’ll be back. Erm…that’s not how I remember it, Sookie. Basically, Bill killed one of his own to save her, and did everything he could to let her know that he had no choice but to leave immediately to face what he’d done. It may have been several days in Bon Temps time, but in narrative time it was a only a single episode before Sookie was again trying out that dirty dog from work. People forget easily in Bon Temps. Maybe it’s the heat, I don’t know, or maybe Ball is trying to mix it up a little too much in order to push things in the direction he needs them to go.

Without looking at it too closely (something almost impossible for me, I admit) as things became even darker last night (and funnier, too–Bill’s “makee” was definitely one of the highlights of the season for me) we got a lot of mixed signals and ambiguity that made me wonder if the characters remained true enough to their essence for me to pine for them over the long, winter months. Right now, I’m sort of in mourning for two characters that won’t return (some people do just “die” die on True Blood, come to find), and the others are sticking with me in a rotating state of flummoxed flux. I do love a competent series, though, and waiting for last night’s episode to start brought back that great anticipatory feeling that I hadn’t had since BSG. Regardless of any narrative weaknesses one might clearly or not-so-clearly perceive, wanting to know “what happens next” is a powerful drug; it’s almost as powerful as “V”. Well, okay, that might be overdoing it.

Anyhow, we were dropped a bomb last night, and the coming attractions pretty much left very little doubt as to who might be behind the reign of terror in the town. And if I’m right, you’ve got a better chance of getting out alive after a debauched night at Fangtasia than you do in the comfort of some close friends. We also saw the introduction of a new character which tempts me to guess what page of mythology she comes from, and I suspect Ball will leave us with plenty to think about over the close season. I just hope he stays consistent with what we’ve seen thus far.

One more piece of business before I’m out: I’m considering producing a podcast that will consist of reviews, comments on the world of dark fiction and horror (with perhaps a little “light side” thrown in for balance), and a serially narrated story of my own original fiction. I’ve got tons of it, and I’m always writing more. There’s been a resurgence of interest in “Horror Radio” since podcasts and the like have become so popular, and I like the idea of giving my visitors (which have grown in number lately, and for which I am very grateful) a few minutes of drama to stew over every week like they used to do back in the day. As someone who does lots of voice-overs and impressions and so forth, it would be a fun way to get my ideas out. Now I’d like to know what you think. Comments below or by email would be muchly appreciated.

That’s all for now. Tune in next Monday – or earlier, I haven’t decided yet – and I hope you have an exciting week of stories to look forward to. As for me, I’ve got to go plan some shows.

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About S. Norton

Writer, marketer, musician.
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25 Responses to Do Vampires Dream of Eclectic Sheeple?

  1. yoyolise says:

    Can’t wait!

    Of course, I don’t get many of your shows here, so I imagine a lot of it will leave me wondering what you’re on about. Not that I mind, of course. πŸ™‚

  2. scottyus says:

    Tsk…silly foreigners. πŸ˜‰

    It is a shame that we can’t all have access to the same TV, film and literary entertainment. Wasn’t there a convention about this after one of the world wars?

    Someone needs to sort it out.

  3. Jeanne says:

    Okay- I was able to watch 6-8 while the kids were at school today. Almost. I had to cut 8 short and pick up my daughter. (I sound like a lazy bon-bon eating housewife with nothing to do but watch TV. I promise- I was doing something constructive at the same time.)

    Anyway, it seems like Sam is a werewolf and that he’s the serial killer. The first hint of this was when he was growling in his sleep in 3 or 4.

    I’ll try to get caught up this week but this is what I think the story is leading up to, as of today. You know more than I.:)

    I think it will be back for a second season. I wouldn’t say it is the best thing I’ve ever watched but it is intruiging and I want it to get really good, and stay good. But, I haven’t read the book that started it all so I can’t judge.

    As for your other ideas- go for them Scott! We only live once! You should run with any idea you have. πŸ™‚

  4. Ryan Field says:

    Can’t read the entire post until I watch it on Demand tonight. I watched “Flith” last night on masterpiece theater, with Julie Waters.

  5. Jeanne says:

    OOOH I wanted to watch that! I’m kicking myself now for forgetting Filth was on! My husband and I were switching off between our two all time favorite movies- The Wizard of Oz (mine) and the Godfather- (his- and mine,too.) Gotta check and see if they’ll repeat Filth.

    Well, I just checked in on Nate’s blog and you are right! The babysitter did take away the commenting priviledges! Do you think Nathan is slowling trying to kill the blog? πŸ™‚ First, guest bloggers, then, no commenting.

    Oh well- I guess I will get back to my real job- dish duty and folding clothes. Fun!!

  6. scottyus says:

    Heh, Ryan, I thought “Flith” was an interesting title until I realized you’d just made a typo. πŸ™‚

    I have to admit I’d never heard of it. I should follow the BBC stuff more closely, though. There’s a lot of quality there. See, Lisa, we’re trying to include you now!

    And yeah, Jeanne, I’m starting to put together ideas for the “show”. I think it would be cool to listen to an “audio book” serial novel. Every Friday when I get home I download an excellent podcast from the folks at Rue-Morgue (http://www.rue-morgue.com). It’s top, top quality, as is their magazine, and I like the idea of being able to do the same with a story. Still in the very early stages yet.

    And I won’t tell you how close you are on your guess with Sam. Have fun catching up, and I’m glad I can say that.

  7. Ryan Field says:

    Ha…”Flith”…I go too “gast” sometimes.

    “Filth” was excellent…and I’m a huge Julie Waters fan. Plus, it was based on true events about censorship, and I write a lot of erotic romance.

    Finally saw TB last night on Demand. Have you noticed how much more attractive Sam has become to sweet Sookie since she learned he’s a shifter? She wouldn’t give him a second thought, until she knew he could freak out and turn into a dog. She’s attracted to danger and all that good stuff.

  8. scottyus says:

    Erotic romance, huh? Sounds fun. I’ve written some erotic horror recently that even shocked my girlfriend. Hey, the characters tell me what they want to do and I try not to get in the way. πŸ™‚

    Sookie’s a bit all over the place, for me. It happens with “everygirl” central characters, I’ve noticed. They have to react to everything to get the action moving again: “I hate you”, “I love you”, “What the fuck?”, “What? Let’s fuck!”, she’s permanently caught up in folly, that one, which makes her fickle but fun. Anna’s been great, too.

    But yeah, you could be right, too; she’s a little freaky but very self unaware about it. At first, I thought she went for Bill because she couldn’t read his thoughts and it felt more normal to her even though he was a vampire. And then she seemed intrigued by Sam because his thoughts were all chew toys and lickin’ his own nads, I suppose. But I like what Ball is doing there: commenting on the mystery in romance and how it’s important and all. It got me thinking, which is good.

    What also got me thinking was researching a photo I want to use on my next self-published book (if I go that way, or have to) and finding a ton of cool Southern Gothic images. You know, the dripping willows with large, porchy houses set back in them that have no discernible pathways? TB is definitely all studio sets, so we only get rich and bright interiors and the occasional matte painting. But I think I might’ve bought a lot of the Southern charm a bit easier at first if the color palette were more muted and “dirty”. HBO doesn’t normally go that way, but when I think about the money spent on each episode of Rome (2 mill!), and with Ball’s track record on the network, I have to think he wanted things to be more controllable and accessible, which lends itself to what we’re seeing.

  9. yoyolise says:

    Boo. “Filth” sounded a lot more interesting than a bio of Mary Whitehouse. Obviously missed it when it was on here, but then it’s not anything I’d have ever considered tuning into, actually.

  10. scottyus says:

    I read a little about her after learning what it was about, but I can’t say I’ve ever heard of her. I am frequently impressed by the BBC, though.

  11. Jeanne says:

    Okay, I’m all caught up. Saw 9-11 of TB today.

    It’s probably because I’ve overdosed on the show, by catching up so fast, but I’m a little bored and burned out. I was SO disappointed in Sookie in 11. In the first few episodes she came across as such a deep person who was willing to look beyond the whole Vampire thing. It’s hard to swallow that the character was willing to go so far with Bill, and then is so impatient when he’s gone, dealing with his problems. I’m sure you’re right about the central character thing. Just hard to believe that she was so sincere and understanding at first, and then so- not.

    But, I was all wrong about Sam. πŸ™‚ But, one last complaint- first the killer is spilling a great deal of blood. Now, he’s a strangler. Okay, that doesn’t jive! My hubby used to be a Cop, and one thing he’s told me is the murders tend to prefer one manner of death, to another. Stranglers usually don’t like blood. Maybe there are TWO murderers?!

    I’m sure I’ll watch 12 next week.

  12. Jeanne says:

    Murderers….. I can’t spell.

  13. scottyus says:

    Ahh, astute observation, Jeanne. And suuuure, I’ll buy the whole “husband was a cop” thing, too. πŸ˜‰

    But that is a good point. Maybe there is more to the story, which would be impressive considering the bean spilling in ep. 11. We saw a pic come out of the fax, and then we saw the coming attractions that pretty much removed all doubt as to who was up to no good. But if there were two…hmm…like a husband and wife team… πŸ™‚

  14. Ryan Field says:

    I got into erotic romance by accident, and my agent reps a lot in that genre, so it makes money. It’s also a good way to learn to develop characters. I write other things, under different names, too. I try to keep each genre and each name in a different file, so to speak… πŸ™‚

    “I have to think he wanted things to be more controllable and accessible, which lends itself to what we’re seeing.” …I think so, too.

  15. Jeanne says:

    Laugh all you want!:) Steve really was a Police Officer in Amarillo for 2 years. 1990-1992. I hated it! He wasn’t a Cop when we married but it was his dream to become one so I went along with it. Two years later we were broke, and at the edge of divorce. He was a totally different person. They call it the “John Wayne Syndrome.” They had a whole class about it for new Cops and their wives because the divorce rate is so high. But, it is really hard to see what they see without it changing you. Awful!

    Okay, I’m slow on the uptake and proud of it. But, I’m a blond. It’s not my fault.

  16. scottyus says:

    I’ve been accused of having “blond roots” before, Jeanne, so I feel your pain. πŸ˜‰

    You sound awfully prolific, Ryan. Or should I say, Mr Grisham.

  17. Ryan Field says:

    “You sound awfully prolific, Ryan. Or should I say, Mr Grisham.”

    Naw…I’ve just been working at it for a long time, is all. Publishing is a tough industry, and I started at the bottom in Conde Nast, working for Playgirl Magazine, of all things.

  18. scottyus says:

    I should have probably started somewhere in the industry. It would have probably been easier to network, which is certainly not a news flash. Instead, I tried music and stayed where everyone in the industry was not. I took it as my “laboratory” approach. These were the days before teh internets so it was even more stupid than it sounds.

    And it’s only been recently that I’ve wanted to write prose, so I’m really playing catch up. I have a feeling I’ll end up making my own film before anything happens for me, but I am proud of everything I’m writing when I’m writing it so maybe one day I’ll be right about it. These days I’m so “outside looking in” I could out-humble Yakov Smirnov.

    “All I wanted was seemple flat een Stalin’s Russia..” πŸ™‚

  19. Ryan Field says:

    You know what, Scott, you write very well. And your voice is unique and professional and memorable, among other things. I feel very strongly that there are not enough powerful male voices in fiction these days…powerful like yours. You’re smart, too. Keep absorbing everything, and don’t let the rejections get to you (too much).

  20. yoyolise says:

    Hear hear!

  21. scottyus says:

    Thanks, Ryan. I might just print that out and tape it over my desk. And I’m not even kidding.

    Damn, now I feel like writing. πŸ™‚

  22. Ryan Field says:

    Your welcome.

    When I get more time, I’d really like to read a few of the pieces you’ve written, too.

  23. scottyus says:

    Only say the word, sir. And again, “thanks” barely covers it.

    And I’ve meant to ask, are you just a very articulate stadium in Evanston, Illinois, or were you named after it? πŸ™‚

  24. Ryan Field says:

    Ha! You googled me. And then you got the Chicago Ryan Field thing (and every other sports stadium in the US). I’m really screwed there. It sux having that kind of competition.

    The only way to come up with anything on me right now is to google me with a publisher or a tag (Ryan Field Alyson Books, or Ryan Field Starbooks Press, or Ryan Field Cleis Press, etc…)

  25. Ryan Field says:

    PS…and then there are my pen names too πŸ™‚

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