One of my favorite shows to air on HBO was Alan Ball’s classic dark comedy Six Feet Under. A couple of years ago, I read that he was turning a series of vampire books into his first project since Six Feet Under went off the air. It didn’t really strike me as the kind of project that I would associate with the man who was responsible for writing the script for American Beauty. Yet, I gave the show a shot, and while it will never be a show that I consider great, it’s a fun descent into a TV fantasy that feature’s Ball’s darkly comic tone mixed with a healthy dose of sex and graphic violence. The fourth season airs this June, and since I never watched the third season when it aired, I thought there was no better time than now to catch the stuff I missed.

Season 3 picks up literally seconds after the end of season 2. Bill Compton has just proposed to Sookie Stackhouse, but he’s been kidnapped by the vampire King of Mississippi, Russel Edginton, and his crew of werewolves. The town of Bon Temps, Louisiana, is recovering from the destruction wrought by Maryann, a maenad. Jason Stackhouse is dealing with the stress and guilt he feels for shooting Eggs, Tara Thornton’s boyfriend. Tara is suicidal and in the throes of depression at the death of her boyfriend and the revelation that he had murdered many girls in town. Sam Merlotte has headed off to find his birth family who turn out to be a bunch of white trash rednecks. Sookie enlists the help of the Vampire Sheriff of her area, Eric Northman, so that he can help her find Bill.

The first season was a fun distraction while I waited for my regular shows like Lost and The Wire to come back on. Season 2 was actually a significantly better product as it widened the scope and dramatic thrust of the series. I’m way too early into this season to guess anything about the overall quality of the season, but I’m not going to lie, these first two episodes were sort of disappointing. I didn’t really feel like a whole lot happened and there wasn’t any major development of the characters. It mostly consisted of Sookie running around like a cat in heat trying to find Bill. Sookie’s strength as a character is that she is such a powerful and usually independent woman. Having her seem so broken at the loss of her man is an insult to her character and to feminism. The only perks fo the episodes involved Jason Stackhouse and his usual whoring and hilarity and the scenes with the always refreshing Lafayette Reynolds, the gay fry cook at Merlotte’s Bar and Grill.

HBO shows have a lot less episodes per disc than the average TV show. Lost would have 4 episodes a disc. True Blood is never going to have more than three, but it will just as often be two. This would be good for a show like The Wire or The Sopranos where each episode would have an incredible amount of material to cover. I’m not so sure how well it’s going to work out for True Blood, but we shall see. Anyways, I’ll be back later with the next two episodes of the series and hopefully, it’s able to get out of the gates a little stronger than this less than impressive beginning.

Score in Progress: B