Alan Ball was known for his masterful use of music in Six Feet Under. He's lost none of his touch when it comes to his current HBO series, True Blood -- which happens to be set in the Louisiana swamps, not terribly far from Houston.
I did not have high hopes for this season of True Blood, and frankly the debut of Season 5 isn't really changing my mind. When last we left Bon Temps, Sookie (Anna Paquin) had just shotgunned the head of a spurned romantic rival that had just shot her best friend Tara (Rutina Wesley). In a fit of desperation, Sookie convinces Pam (Kristin Bauer) to try and turn the semi-headless Tara into a vampire to save her.
Really? This came up at a writer's meeting and no one said, "Yeah, let's not do that?" It's not like the show doesn't have enough vampires as it is, and it would've made more since for Tara to just finally die. Her character had more or less reached the end of her personal journey, and increasingly her presence was more of a burden to the story than a help. Tying it all together just got to be a chore.
Bauer provides the only real moments of exceptionalism, selling her typical pissy attitude in a borrowed yellow Walmart track suit. Lafayette (Nelsan Ellis) has a nice scene praying to the ghost of his murdered lover, but Paquin seemed to be phoning in the episode. Seeing as most of her contribution was literally just cleaning her kitchen through most of it, I don't blame her.
Meanwhile, the best of the episode involved my own personal fantasy, a vampire buddy cop flick. Eric (Alexander Skarsgård) and Bill (Stephen Moyer) are on the run from the Vampire Authority for killing a human, as well as from a resurrected Russell Edgington (Denis O'Hare). The two play off each other perfectly, with just the right mixture of respect, love, and mutual antagonism that made films like 48 Hours and Lethal Weapon such a joy to watch.
In a perfect world, that's what we'd get. Just these two dudes bumbling their way badassly through a series of predicaments. Only Bill and Eric would escape the trunk of a car by blowing it up while they were inside the damned thing. That was awesome, hopefully there's more of that to come, but there was just one thing that ruined it.
The song playing on the car's radio in the scene was Wings' "Silly Love Songs," arguably the worst No. 1 song ever released by a Beatle. As a bit of ironic, light-hearted background before a huge explosion, it wasn't bad, but that was surely an accident because whoever picked the soundtrack for this episode must've been stuck in traffic listening to Houston terrestrial radio for two hours and lost his god damned mind.
In addition to Sir Paul the episode featured Rock Band renditions of Foreigner and the Runaways' "Cherry Bomb." The latter proves that Deborah Ann Woll is as tone-deaf as she is beautiful, and also that she has some pretty awful tastes.
The songs serve as the background for a party she throws with local college students, and trust me, when modern college kids listen to classic rock it's only because they're still stuck with their parents' playlists. Few and far between are people that can find the real meaning in classic rock beneath the omnipresent cultural soundtrack it's become, and none of those people are playing beer pong when they do it.
Finally, we're taken out with the Byrds. You know which song, and the episode is even titled "Turn! Turn! Turn!" The use of that song should be outlawed in soundtracks as the tritest example of vague destiny ever. It's never played but to indicate that someone should face coming fate with stoicism. It's overused, over-appreciated, and certainly didn't deserve to have an episode of True Blood named after it.
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SHOW ME HOW
Let me close with this. Inevitably the commenters will say I'm just looking to bash this show, and I've already admitted that this season didn't look good from the onset. That being said, I have watched True Blood do things with music selection that has never been rivaled in any other television show.
If the best it can offer me this round is lazy-ass KKRW drive-time selections, then this season will not be much fun.