One of the things that has surprised me most in the past year or so was how much I enjoyed True Blood, which is coming up to the finale of its third series in the States.
My love of The Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter aside, I've never really been interested in books or films in the Fantasy genre. I've still not read Dracula or seen any adaptations of it and, aside from a screening of Nosferatu, the only other vampire related thing I'd seen, until a couple of years ago, was Ultraviolet. This was a Channel 4 drama series from 1998 starring Jack Davenport. Aside from being a fantastic drama, the attraction was its modern and unconventional take on the vampire myth.
In the past couple of years, however, I've found vampires, werewolves and other supernatural beings have featured more heavily in my tellybox viewing. First came BBC 3's excellent Being Human, set here in Bristol, and then came True Blood.
Made by HBO, so not dependent on attracting advertisers, True Blood can afford to push the creative envelope. As such, it isn't afraid to shy away issues of sexuality and drug use or violence and nudity. Based on the Sookie Stackhouse novels by Charlaine Harris, the series has been created by Alan Ball, who wrote American Beauty and was the executive producer of Six Feet Under.
Set in the deep south where vampires have come into the open and synthetic blood is sold in bars, the programme tells the story of Sookie - who can hear people's thoughts - and her relationship with Bill, a vampire who has forsworn real blood. It's not long , however, before Vampire politics asset themselves and Sookie finds herself being sucked into a world which still remains largely underground (no puns intended).
Brilliantly evoking small town mores in the Deep South of the US, and the varying degrees of suspicion, hatred and acceptance which the Vampires (which could be considered proxies for Blacks or Homosexuals) are treated, True Blood features great performances from the newly married Stephen Moyer and Anna Paquin and a great supporting cast.
And speaking of Mr and Mrs Moyer, here's the main reason for this post, from the cover of Rolling Stone magazine: