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True Blood Panel: Alan Ball, Charlaine Harris, Sookie and More

Above: True Blood panel at Comic-Con, 2009

At the "True Blood" panel, fans expressed their admiration for the Swede Alexander Skarsgård, who plays the powerful, 1,000-year-old vampire Eric on HBO's "True Blood," proving once again that Comic-Con fans are cuckoo for vampires. In this case, it's warranted, as Eric is the most interesting character on a show that I wished I loved, but often find hit or miss.

"True Blood" was created by Alan Ball ("Six Feet Under") and is based on the series of novels by southern writer Charlaine Harris. It is set in the small Louisiana town of Bon Temps at a time when vampires are able to live openly among humans because the Japanese have invented a synthetic blood (called Tru Blood), freeing vamps from their dependence on human blood. The central protagonist is a waitress named Sookie Stackhouse (Anna Paquin) who has telepathic powers and is in a heated love affair with southern gent vampire Bill (Stephen Moyer).

The show has plenty of colorful characters with various powers and suspect motives, including shape shifters and some kind of Pan/Bacchus creature (Michelle Forbes) whose main motive seems to be getting everyone in town to party.

I admired "Six Feet Under" a great deal, so I figured Alan Ball would create a complex emotional world for humans and vampires alike. So far, I've found the show's writing inconsistent and sometimes cheesy, and too reliant on stereotypes. That said, I keep watching. The premise is such a good one, and for the most part the acting is good. I'm interested in what's going to happen to some of the characters, and hope they spend more time within the vampire culture and political structure instead of the shape shifters, etc. My guess is that won't happen, since Ball revealed that werewolves are on the way to the already creature-crowded Bon Temps.

Anna Paquin, Stephen Moyer, Rutina Wesley and Alan Ball on the True Blood panel at Comic-Con, 2009

Above: Anna Paquin, Stephen Moyer, Rutina Wesley and Alan Ball on the True Blood panel at Comic-Con, 2009

Here are some highlights from the panel, which also included the actors who play Sookie, Bill, Tara, Lafayette, Mary Ann, Sam, Jessica and Eric (Anna Paquin, Stephen Moyer, Rutina Wesley, Nelsan Ellis, Michelle Forbes, Sam Trammell, Deborah Ann Woll, and Alexander Skarsgård ):

A real Tru Blood drink will be available on September 10th, although it's not clear where it will be sold. You can currently preorder iton the HBO website. The drink will have a blood orange, fruity taste but does not include any alcohol.

Eric's fascination with Sookie will continue, and plenty of fans asked if they will eventually land in bed. Ball remained coy on that topic but it seems likely (I'm told it happens in the books). When Skarsgård was asked about Eric's interest in Sookie, he said, "Well, just look at her." Then he added, "Sorry, Stephen" (Anna Paquin and Stephen Moyer are dating in real life).

Charlaine Harris has signed a contract for three more books and Ball said another season of "True Blood" will be officially announced soon.

A fan asked if there would be a half-vampire, half-human baby added to the show (like "Twilight"). This inspired loud booing from the audience and Ball's response was "Uh…NO." He made a quip about how "we have real vampires" but you couldn't hear it because the crowd cheered so loudly. Obviously there's some "True Blood" vs. "Twilight" action going on.

I haven't read the books, but Ball said certain characters from the books will be added soon, such as Debbie Pelt, werewolves, and vampires from Mississippi. The crowd then started yelling "Bubba" which is an Elvis character from the book. Ball said he couldn't figure out a way to add Bubba without it seeming cheesy (ironically, the cheesiness of the show is my biggest complaint) because they would have to use an Elvis impersonator. The crowd booed.

A fan asked Alexander Skarsgård what the difference is between the Swedish and American media. He said, "If we were in Sweden, this would be a barn, there would 30 people in the room and 25 of them would have the last name Skarsgård." Funny.

The credits are the best thing about "True Blood." A fan asked about the music used in the credits and Alan Ball said he didn't know the song "Bad Things" by Jace Everett before working on the show. He was on iTunes looking for a country-western song to fit a pilot of the credits and he chose it. They could never find another song that worked as well. Check it out for yourself.

Video

Opening Credits of HBO's True Blood

"True Blood" airs on Sundays at 9 p.m. on HBO.

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