Weekly Geeks 2009-10: True Blood season 1 vs. Dead until dark

This week’s weekly geeks is about movie adaptations. "Worst movie adaptations: The recent release of Watchmen based on the graphic novel by Alan Moore got me thinking about what I thought were the worst movie adaptations of books. What book or books did a director or directors completely ruin in the adaptation(s) that you wish you could "unsee," and why in your opinion, what made it or them so bad in contrast to the book or books?"

Right, I usually don’t feel very strongly about movies made from books. If I don’t like them I don’t like them, but that’s it. I can’t remember one that I’d care to elaborate about. I did mention "Needful things" (after the book by Stephen King) the other day over on Book Blogs, but it’s years I’ve seen the film and even longer that I’ve read the book, so I couldn’t even say much about it, other than that the film could never capture the complex and detailed plot and ramifications of the book.

So I decided to go and talk about "True Blood" instead. It’s not exactly a movie adaptation, but rather a TV series they made from the first book of Charlaine Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse series, "Dead until Dark", and I have plenty to complain about. If you have never read the books or watched the series, just ignore me. If you plan on watching it or reading the books, beware! Spoilers ahead.

The series does have a few good points that I want to get out of the way first.

  • Great title song by Jace Everett. Fits perfectly, conveys the right atmosphere.
  • Nice opening credits. Well, maybe not nice, but appropriate.
  • Stephen Moyer as Bill, Sookie’s vampire lover. I liked him a lot.
  • Nelson Ellis as Lafayette. OMG, he was wonderful

Now the not so good points.

  • Eric. WTF did they do to Eric? They picked a handsome Swede, Alexander Skarsgard, to play Eric, a highly attractive Norse vampire leader who can have any girl he wants, for authenticity, and then they take him and turn him into a greasy inconspicuous bloke who hides behind a curtain of even greasier hair. Not good. His character? Totally wrong. They completely failed to portray his relationship with Sookie in a correct way. The fact that they made Bill instead of Eric kill Longshadow (probably to make Bill shine, since he is a rather boring figure otherwise) makes me wonder how they will come round to set Sookie and Eric off eventually. Sookie and Eric have no kind of interaction in the show that is worth mentioning. Why Sookie would call Eric to accompany her to the orgy in the next book and how that no mark would ever turn up in a spandex suit (was it purple? I don’t remember) I can’t see. Book 4 which revolves around Sookie and Eric will never come to pass in that show.
  • Jason, the man slut. Jason is a slut, but never as explicitly as he was in the show. You will know if you read my reviews that I love erotica and never object to a love scene, but not here, please. The books are not explicit, and since they are written from Sookie’s POV we only hear from Jason’s seedy escapades through hearsay. What they are showing us with Jason is nothing but dirty, cheap and nasty.
  • Jason joining the Fellowship of the Sun? What for, for Pete’s sake. Oh, well, it might be all for the better, since that way he will be put out of his misery soon. Undoubtedly, once he turns into a were ("Dead as a doornail", book 5), he will be shot with a silver bullet by his overzealous fellow brethren.
  • Amy. What is this self-righteous, would-be spiritual bitch doing there? Never was in the book, didn’t have a place in the show either. She so got on my nerves that I actually rooted for the murderer when he finally came around to kill her. He deserved a pardon just for finishing her off alone.
  • Tara. She was never even mentioned in book 1, and didn’t play a bigger part until much later. They way she talked and her obnoxious attitude were so aggravating that she should have been next on Rene’s list.
  • The vampire court. Never happened in the book. Since Bill never killed Longshadow in the first place, there was no reason for it. And Eric never got prosecuted either for the killing. He paid a compensation and that was it. But, of course, without that ridiculous Magister Bill wouldn’t have had to turn that whining Jessica who then turned out to be some nutcase with newly found freedom. Maybe she will be the substitute object of desire for Eric, since the thing with Sookie won’t happen. But even that TV Eric can’t be that desperate. The girl is a pain in the ass.
  • Bill coming out of his grave during daylight to rescue Sookie, who doesn’t need rescuing by him, and getting burnt in the process. Please, can it get any more dramatic? Totally ridiculous and redundant.

MaryAnn or the exorcist woman cum saleslady in a drugstore and her vodoo trailer? I won’t even go into them…. I can see the problems with a series where all the input is provided by the POV of one person, but do they have to add such crap? If they couldn’t handle it properly they could have chosen from other series that are quite successful, too, and turn them into a series. The fans of the Black Dagger Brotherhood books would be certainly more than happy to see a TV series made from them. Those books would have provided enough plot and sub-plots and there would have been no need to invent idiotic stuff at will.

8 Comments Write a comment

  1. I’ve only read a couple of the books, and the series is due to start here (NZ) this week.
    Change for the sake of change, I don’t get. Great post. 🙂


  2. I haven’t read the books and only saw the first 4 episodes, we dropped HBO from our package:(

    Your thought were really interesting though. I didn’t realize they’d changed so much. I agree about open titles and song they’re really good. I loved Sookie and Bill but Jason’s antics were a bit much, dressed I thought he was great.


  3. I still need to read the books, but I agree with you on so many aspects about the show, which my husband and I really enjoy. I hated the entire “Bill comes to save the day and becomes burned beyond recognition” in the process–it was pointless. He couldn’t have come close to saving Sookie had Rene even had her right in the front yard. I love the title credits, though; I’m so mad if I miss any of them, even though I’ve seen them multiple times now.

    What irritated my students and I more were the similarities between the show and Twilight. The somewhat boring vamp gets the girl, and the runner-up turns out to be a shapeshifter. He also has to protect the helpless, virginal Bella/Sookie when her vamp is unavailable. Plus, Sookie and Edward both read minds. As I haven’t read the Sookie series yet (note: must go to Amazon next), I can only speculate, but it seems that the Sookie series either provided a LOT of inspiration or the Twilight series simply carries a LOT of coincidences with Sookie Stackhouse.


  4. Melissa, I even downloaded the opening credits to my Walkman, so I can watch them on my mp3 player, LOL. I really, really like them, too.

    As far as Sookie and Twilight goes, it might look that way, but later on in the books Sookie turns out to be quite tough – no comparison with that bland Bella who needs a strong shoulder. Sookie is nothing like it. She saves the day a few times and without her Bill would be dead. Plus, no HEA for her and Bill either. There might be some similarities there in the show from your POV, but later on the series goes into a totally different direction, whereas Bella and Edward are stuck.


  5. Sad! I love True Blood. I like it way better than the books (I have only read the first 4 though).

    I agree with you about a few things:
    -Sookie and Bill (I refer to him as “Boring Bill”) are the worst characters on the show
    -Tara was a surprise since she really isn’t in the books (and she and Eggs are both White from what I remember in the books–that doesn’t bother me though).
    -The Jason stuff in the first season was a little much.

    Things I love about the show:
    1. Eric – He’s gotten SO much better in the second season looks-wise and even better looking in the third season (I feel bad saying this, but men with long hair…kinda gross to me). When he comes down the stairs when they are holding Lafayette prisoner, that was comedy gold. I loved the foil in his hair and when he asks, “Do I have blood in my hair?” Perfect!
    2. I loved the Fellowship of the Sun stuff. I’m rewatching the show with a group of friends and everyone can’t get enough of Sarah Newlin and her slut tongue. She pops that out every chance she gets and she’s a preacher’s wife. Too funny
    3. Jason – He is so wonderfully dense. There is one line he says in Season 2 that goes something like, “If a tree falls in the forest, it’s still a tree right?” Ryan Kwanten plays him so well and his accent is so right on. I had no idea he was Australian until last week.
    4. Lafayette – He might be my favorite character on the show. I actually mourned that Harris killed him off in the first book. He is SO awesome on the show. He always has good dialogue and is one of the smartest characters on the show. I love him!

    I can understand diehard fans of the Southern Vampire series being upset with True Blood. The show isn’t really similar to the books. So, it sounds like you are a big fan of the books which is cool with me! 🙂


  6. Carin, thanks for reading all of my rant. For someone who likes the show I must have sounded a little too angry, but when I watched season one I really was. I never bothered watching season 2. When I told a friend that the body in the car was Lafayette, he asked me what on Earth I was talking about so I knew I was right not to watch it.

    I liked Lafayette a lot in the first season, so I’m sure I’d like him still even though by rights he’s supposed to be dead.

    I saw Eric’s pics with short hair and they didn’t do it for me either, I actually like long hair, but not his. It looked too unkempt.

    Yes, I liked how the actor played Jason, I just didn’t like the Jason scenes because they were just to slutty even for my taste. And some were just too embarrassing.

    I am quite a fan of the books. I haven’t read them all, I think I have two or three to read but I totally enjoed reading them. The plot and the story arc are so good and so are the characters. I just can’t watch something and not compare it to the books. I simply expected the books come to life on the screen and they just didn’t.


  7. That’s understandable to not like a TV show or movie if it’s too far removed from the books. I have some friends that feel like that too. I think it just happened so often that I finally just started trying to enjoy the movie or TV show for what it was and not worry too much about the adaptation.

    I am so thankful that someone else was uncomfortable with the Jason sex scenes. I think I felt really embarrassed when they were showing them. I chalked it up to being American and how Puritanical in general we sometimes are. Honestly, I love the show, but it can be embarrassing to watch with other people around because of all the sex. Luckily, I don’t watch the show with my more conservative friends. 🙂

    I was glad that it wasn’t Lafayette in the car! So glad. The show wouldn’t be the same without him! Hehe!

    Still, I like your “rant” about the show because I wonder what true Southern Vampire series fans think about the show. I’m not a huge Southern Vampire series fan. I’ll finish them, but I think the writing on the show is actually better than the books. Should I run and hide now?!! 😀


  8. Lol, no, no need to hide. As far as I know Charlaine Harris herself is working for the show, so blame it on her!
    From the books I review you might be aware that I don’t have a problem with sex scenes per se. But the ones with Jason were just dirty, meaningless and / or drug induced, so I couldn’t care less. And the scene in jail when he had taken too much V (was it V? I don’t remember what it’s called) was just cringingly embarrassing. Ugh. Jason never was THAT bad in the books.


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