TRUE BLOOD: Shake and Fingerpop Review - Mania.com



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  • TV Series: True Blood
  • Episode: Shake and Fingerpop
  • Starring: Anna Paquin, Stephen Moyer, Ryan Kwanten, Rutina Wesley, Sam Trammell, Nelsan Ellis, Chris Bauer, Michelle Forbes, Alexander SkarsgĂ„rd, Deborah Ann Woll, Carrie Preston and William Sanderson
  • Written By: Alan Ball
  • Directed By: Michael Lehmann
  • Network: HBO
  • Series: True Blood

TRUE BLOOD: Shake and Fingerpop Review

Have Your Ever Seen Dallas From a DC-9 at Night?

By Rob Vaux     July 12, 2009


Mania's review of TRUE BLOOD: Shake and Fingerpop(2009).
© HBO/Robert Trate

 

The juiciest bits of this week's True Blood concern the long-awaited trip to Dallas, where an important vampire has disappeared, and Sookie (Anna Paquin) and Bill (Stephen Moyer) have agreed to find him. The remainder of the episode steps back to let the subplot flourish, while revealing minor developments of its own. Lafayette (Nelsan Ellis) grapples with fallout from his tenure in the Fangtasia basement, Maryann (Michelle Forbes) throws yet another orgy, and Jason (Ryan Kwanten) starts picking up serious vibes from the smoking hot preacher's wife (Anna Camp) at Bible camp. Each thread remains resolutely predictable, following well-established paths which shouldn't surprise any of the show's regular viewers (though we do catch horrifying site of some of Maryann's natural anatomy, and Lafayette receives an unwelcome shock during his recuperation).
 
No, screenwriter/co-creator Alan Ball saves all his goodies for Big D, both in the abstract and the particulars. Vampires' impact on popular culture appears more copious here, complete with a trip on Anubis airlines (the country's premiere service for undead travelers) and vampire porn on the hotel TV. The details fit perfectly, helping us grasp the larger universe (which, as always, owes a great deal to White Wolf's World of Darkness) in clever ways that nonetheless retain a core of plausibility. Bill brings Jessica (Deborah Ann Woll) along at Sookie's behest, and the babe-in-the-woods bloodsucker steals the show yet again with her eager indulgence in a new playground. Ball wisely tones down the bickering between Sookie and Bill this week--focusing more on the satirical side of their current adventures--and the results make for another engaging episode.
 
The mystery of the missing vampire becomes equally intriguing: possibly perpetrated by the Fellowship of the Sun, but raising questions as to how mere humans could dispose of one so powerful. (Rvd. Newlin [Michael McMillian] seems awfully sure his vamp killing methods are effective, but frankly, when you're hunting centuries-old undead, the phrase "or so I've heard" should never apply to your tactics.) Ball and director Michael Lehmann take a gentle, nudging tone to the proceedings: keeping our heroes more concerned with their own safety than with accomplishing their chosen task. It leaves them wide open for another of the series' patented sucker punches, which as usual, makes for a delightful twist at the end. It also side-steps the expected detective clichés by focusing on the characters' reactions to their situation rather than the clues leading towards the culprit.
 
Elsewhere, things proceed in dribs and drabs, as Sam (Sam Trammell) begins ruining another potentially great relationship and Tara (Rutina Wesley) falls further under Maryann's spell. True Blood often adopts such methods, keeping various subplots percolating on the back burner until the time comes for their respective bombshells. Bloodshed is way down this week, though there is a copious sex scene exemplifying HBO's established philosophy of using serious nudity to prove how "edgy" they are. Lehmann makes up for it by maintaining the show's careful balance between humor and horror… or in this case an undercurrent of dread which surfaces just often enough to remind us that it's there.
 
Such tactics may be the only effective way to juggle its full plate of stories, though the most recent characters provide much more energy this week than the well-established ones. That may prove dangerous in the long run, but for now the dividends are well worth such a risk. The same holds true for the Dallas trip--presumably a staple for numerous episodes this season--which might become a gimmick in less skilled hands, but here reveals a wealth of information while allowing our heroes to explore a new environment. Provided characters like Maryann and Jessica can match the same feat--adding to the show rather than just propping it up--True Blood is in no danger at all.

COMMENTS AND RESPONSES

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MrJawbreakingEquilibrium 7/13/2009 12:28:09 AM

Why do they have to be "edgy"?  How do you know they're just not less uptight like the rest of America? How do you know they're not as concerned about offending middle - Bible thumping - America than the other networks?  Hell, Showtime shows just as muc nudity now - have you ever seen Weeds?  I don't think has to do at all with trying to be "edgy".  I think it's about letting the creators do what they want without trying to restrict them too much.  HBO isn't making the show they're just putting it on their channel and not being to controlling.

wessmith1966 7/13/2009 7:17:22 AM

I don't believe anything in True Blood is done to show how "edgy" HBO is; the violence, sex or language is just a part of the story. I watched the first season of True Blood and wasn't all that impressed; for me it was a bit boring most of the time. So far, I've enjoyed the second season a lot. The show really seems to have gotten its legs and hit its stride.

hanso 7/13/2009 7:45:04 AM

So Maryanne is the minotaur lady?

Kerrith 7/13/2009 9:01:41 AM

I really enjoy the show.  This week's episode was probably one of the most humorous episodes so far.  I suspect it is going to be like taking a deep breath before they plunge headlong into frentic storytelling for several episodes.

avidfan 7/13/2009 9:38:22 AM

I watched this show since the beginning and have to say it has improved each episode.  Sookie is a fox.  I want to go to a Maryanne orgy-party sans the dirt munching.  My only real complaint is with the acting of "Bill."  I get the whole jaded, steely eyed vampire but he is so over the top with it is just plain silly.

Yes Hanso, it looks like she's the bull-bitch.

 

hanso 7/13/2009 9:55:59 AM

Yo that dirt eating was weird as hell. 

I wanna know what's up with the pig.  The detective is still looking for it.

MrJawbreakingEquilibrium 7/13/2009 12:27:59 PM

I think the pig is either Eggs or her servant.  What purpose he serves I don't know but I bet whoever it is it's a shapeshifter like Sam - and that's why she used to want Sam so bad.  As for her other motives I have no idea but I bet one of them involves Eggs and Tara hooking up for some reason as well.

ddiaz28 7/13/2009 12:29:28 PM

And what's up with the mind reader Sookie met at the end?  That was such a great scene.  I'm glad they are bringing that part of her to the forefront again because it has been on the backburner for these early episodes so far. 

And I wonder what the deal with Sam's new love interest is?  She knows what he is and has the scars from a Maryanne attack.  She's probably a shape shifter as well who somehow survived an attack from Maryanne and will maybe help Sam to bring her down.

MrJawbreakingEquilibrium 7/13/2009 3:47:07 PM

I wouldn't say they put in on the backburner, DDiaz, because her ability is the reason that she was "asked" to go to Dallas  in the first place.

ripum853 7/13/2009 10:37:51 PM

Great episode, and it looks like Maryann finally got Sam hooked now as well; if this new blonde employee, forget her name already, is working for her.  I think she is, unless people that know the books know otherwise??

 

It hasn't been too edgy with the nudity this season so far.  Sure, Anna still looks great and continues to show her goods, but been there seen that haha.  But otherwise it's just been random background extra women at Maryann's parties.  Jessica, Maryann, Sam's new woman, and Jason's new obsession in the spiritual leader's wife are four other character's that should've easily shown skin by now, and probably won't if they haven't already.   

 

Gets on my nerves when cable shows promise sex and nudity, but they only deliver the goods for so long, until they start toning it down thinking that the show itself should be enough to keep the regular viewers.  Californication, Entourage, Big Love, etc. etc. etc. are some examples.  And sure they're right....but still!!!  Season 2 needs its season 1's Lizzy Caplan.

 

But enough of sounding like a perv, terrific show haha!!

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