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TV REVIEW: 'True Blood' better than ever
by Andrew Davis
2010-07-01

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Vampires and shapeshifters and werewolves, oh my!

True Blood, which starts its 12-episode third season Sunday, June 13, at 8 p.m. on HBO, picks up directly where it left off last season—and, having seen the first three shows, the show is tighter and sexier than ever.

Sookie ( played by Anna Paquin ) is on the search for Bill ( Stephen Moyer ) , who did not hear her response to his marriage proposal because, oh, he was kidnapped. The second episode, airing June 20, reveals who was behind the abduction—but that mastermind is far from being the only individual after Bill.

Sookie's friend, Tara ( Rutina Wesley ) , is on her own journey—although it's more of an emotional one. Jason Stackhouse ( portrayed by Ryan Kwanten ) is again involved with the police, but in a different capacity. Teen vampire Jessica ( Deborah Ann Woll ) is on her own a bit more, which leads her to fellow vamp Pam ( the wonderful Kristin Bauer van Straten ) . Pam's boss, vampire sheriff Eric ( the always impressive Alexander Skarsgard ) , is back as he gets involved in Sookie's adventure and has his own venture going with vampire queen Sophie-Anne ( Evan Rachel Wood ) . And shapeshifter Sam ( Sam Trammell ) finally locates his family—who have plenty of surprises of their own.

Of course, it wouldn't be True Blood without lots of gay and lesbian over- and undertones. Tara's cousin, Lafayette ( the amazing Nelsan Ellis ) , is never at a loss for words. However, he now has a competitor for best scene-stealer as van Straten delivers every line she has with delicious venom, whether she's terrorizing Lafayette or, um, getting acquainted with another woman. Also, there is new character Russell Edgington ( played by openly gay actor Denis O'Hare ) , the vampire king of Mississippi who lives with his lover, Talbot ( Theo Alexander ) , and a phalanx of male bodyguards.

Among other new people this season are Ruby ( played by the esteemed Alfre Woodard ) , who is Lafayette's mother; her caretaker, Jesus ( Kevin Alejandro ) ; and Franklin ( James Frain ) , a vampire whose hidden agenda quickly becomes apparent.

And, following the zombies and maenads of last season, there are the werewolves. Specifically, there are Coot ( played by Grant Bowler, best known for being Vanessa Williams' suitor, Connor, on Ugly Betty ) and Alcide ( Joe Manganiello ) , who ends up helping Sookie. By the way, the actors portraying lycanthropes must have working out with the cast of the Spartan movie 300 and muscles bulge everywhere—and I'm certainly not complaining.

With all of these characters, True Blood manages to be compelling while weaving drama, horror and comedy. ( By the way, a VERY homoerotic moment involving two prominent male characters is priceless. ) Showcasing all of its trademark high points ( including sexiness ) , True Blood rates an: A.


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