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March 02 2008

"It's the closest thing... to a scary, funny successor to Buffy". Alan Ball (American Beauty, Six Feet Under) recreates Charlaine Harris' "Southern Vampire" book series for HBO.

The series is reported to have a blond kick-butt main character (played by Anna Paquin) and a sense of humor to die for. Hmmm. Similarities anyone?

The article in question, in fact, specifically argues "it's the closest thing we have to a scary, funny successor to Buffy's insurmountable genius".
Alan Ball is also one of my favourite writers. He's bloody amazing.
I heard about this years ago, and I sporadically check up on it to make sure it's still alive. I'm a fan of the series (though I haven't read the most recent book, All Together Dead), and even more so one of Alan Ball, so it's a perfect match.

Charlaine Harris is a Joss fan, though, and contributed an essay to one of those Buffy books (was it Seven Seasons of Buffy, perhaps?). Sookie, at least in the books, also has DVDs of Buffy and Angel which her vamp boyfriend Bill enjoys greatly.
Yes, there are vampires involved. Yes, there is a blonde involved. But honestly, if you've read any of the Sookie Stackhouse novels, you'll know that the similarities end about there.

Don't get me wrong, I'm a big fan of Charlaine Harris. I just think the Buffy comparison detracts from the actual content. Hopefully people will be able to move beyond that and enjoy what happens to be a really great story.

ETA: Years before I ever saw Buffy or Angel, I remember reading a segment where one of Sookie's vampire friends explodes in hysterical laughter at watching an episode of Angel (and no, it wasn't because of the clever writing; more to do with the hideous makeup). One of my favorite parts of the the entire series. ;)

[ edited by deepgirl187 on 2008-03-02 22:11 ]
I may have to (for the first time ever) actually subscribe to HBO for this series.
I love Charlaine's Sookie books. They're great. Completely different from Joss's mythology, but I still love them. Ah, deepgirl187, that is the book I'm on right now. I believe it was Sookie's friend Eric who was watching Buffy. So cute, and a great little shout out! I'm looking forward to this series!
Charlaine Harris is a Joss fan, though, and contributed an essay to one of those Buffy books (was it Seven Seasons of Buffy, perhaps?). Sookie, at least in the books, also has DVDs of Buffy and Angel which her vamp boyfriend Bill enjoys greatly.
Heh, really? I own the first five of these, but have never read them.

It always bugs/amuses me when something gets compared to Buffy for such a small similarity. One example is the Demon-Hunting Soccer Mom series by Julie Kenner. The tagline on the first one was something like "what would happen if Buffy grew up and moved to the suburbs."

But aside from the fact that there were some demons, there's /nothing/ Buffy-like about it. The heroine is pretty blah, and though I came to kind of accidentally like the series, it doesn't come close to excellence.
Buffy was iconic, groundbreaking, and very successful. Lots of sort-of-likes followed. Anything with some similarities to it gets compared to it because people generally know a little about Buffy (familiarity) and it was a good show (association with previous success).

People are currently trying to figure out which of several existing pegs to hang the Dollhouse hat on. Is it like Alias meets Pretender? Will it be like Buffy? I don't like it, but I kinda get why people do it. I imagine there's probably a lot of pressure to pitch a show kind of like something that already proved itself very marketable. What really bugs me is when reviewers sum things up that way. I'd much rather they used their own words.
I've changed the headline to make it more relevant for the front page.

Also is the movie Last Goodbye inspired by this Southern Vampire book series?
This series will help fill a big hole as far as the dearth of vampires on television (Moonlight is iffy. Did it even get a 2nd season?). Well, there's Supernatural, but it's not all vamps all the time. Add Alan Ball and you've got intelligent, witty, hopefully (insert adjectives, superlatives here) vampire show.
I really don't see the similarities between Sookie and Buffy. One of the very reasons I'm not a fan of this series is because of Sookie and how much of a weak character and pushover she tends to be. Not to mention her flightiness.

Alan Ball may really be able to do something more with the material, but it's definitely not something I'm coming running to, especially with Paquin cast as Sookie, which I simply don't buy or see.
Could be interesting, long thought that cable's a more natural fit for these sorts of shows than broadcast.

What sort of vibe do the books have then ? Are they action oriented or more detective/mystery or sort of romantic "blood and bodices" type of things ? And are the vamps magic vamps or have they gone down a virus (or similar) route ?

Sounds like vampires are completely open about their existence so that they're basically a kind of minority with their own issues to address in this 'verse, am I understanding that correctly ?
God, I've been waiting for this show for years. I freaking adore Alan Ball.
Saje, you're correct. The vampires are out in the open. I tend to think it's more along the lines of X-Men as far as mutants vs. vampires go and how the rest of the world deals with them. They are the first "out" non-humans, but the are other closeted werewolves and witches. And to answer your question about what the vibe is, I think it's a toss between a romance and a mystery novel. You have Sookie's on again off again romance with vampire Bill. Then you also have a "who done it" in every novel Hope that helps!
I think you all have a knee-jerk reaction to protest anytime any article sounds like it's comparing another show to Buffy. In this case, I don't see the article drawing any comparisons between the two shows at all. It just says it's the closest thing to a scary, funny successor to Buffy's insurmountable genius. Not that it is a successor. And if it is as witty and dramatic as the article says, I think that's probably true.
"you all", electricspacegirl? That might be about 10 times too much. A few folks here, maybe.

[ edited by TamaraC on 2008-03-03 01:30 ]
they're basically a kind of minority

Exactly, Miss Kittys Mom. According to the books, the vampire population has been "out" for a relatively short time and most people are disgusted, afraid, and curious all at the same time - especially in Sookie's small Louisiana home town.

I'm curious as to how they'll present her relationships, I never much liked Bill myself, I liked the werewolf (I won't spoil by saying who that is). Shades of Bangel and Spuffy :)
Sounds more like an Anita Blake comparison would be more apt. Aren't her vamps out in the open as well?
Not very Anita Blake like at all- these stories have a sense of humor. They can be a bit all-over-the-place, and seem to need some pulling together- which hopefully will happen here. There are, to my taste, a few too many varieties of were-animal, that sort of thing..but I think it has potential.
Alan Ball is kind of a super genius and I absolutely love everything he touches. So needless to say ever since this was first announced forever ago I have been excited. I never read the books, nor am I that interested too. Maybe during the long break between Seasons One and Two I will feel differently though. Heres to hoping Alan Ball can break the supernatural on HBO curse as in all of their supernatural shows get cancelled much quicker than the others. If anyone can do it, its Alan, so I have hope (especially since I have been planning a supernatural based HBO show for a few years now that I would like to get make fully someday). Honestly though Alan could adapt my least favorite story of all time into a TV show and I would be there with bells on.
I am a huge Alan Ball fan and picked up Charlaine's books on the initial 2005 announcement that Ball was making them into an HBO series. I could NOT put the first book down in all it's vampy, soapy glory. The opportunity for layered metaphor, societal self examination and shipping wars with vamps has never been better. And the humor! It's got quips, yo! (also as a Southerner that lived in Lousiana for many years, Mrs. Harris gets it absolutely right)

[ edited by Charmuse on 2008-03-03 04:54 ]
I think I may have to check this out...or I would if I had HBO. They were filming some of it in the house next door, so I at least have to see it for that. It's hard committing to another slayer story though...
Rogue Slayer, I don't think this is about a vampire slayer. Somebody correct me if I'm wrong...
You're right, esg. The main character Sookie, is a telepath.
Never heard of Alan Ball, never read anything by Charlaine Harris except her Buffy essay (and yes, Unplugged Crazy, it's in Seven Seasons of Buffy).

I may very well check this out, however, on the strength of Anna Paquin alone. She's one of my longtime favorites.
Have you ever seen the film, American Beauty? Alan Ball wrote the award-winning screenplay.
Wow, I adore the Sookie Stories but as others have pointed out, no comparison to Buffy, {other than, yes, Sookie has all 7 seasons of Buffy but NOT Angel and ERIC is the Vamp than stays up watching them} Anyway, I'm really looking forward to the series. It does have a fresh take on the whole Vampire theme. A lot of the usual main vamp issues are gone. No big OMG he/she's-a-vamp-must-keep-it-secret, and as the Vamps have blood alternatives there is no need to get it from people so no huge redemption themes. It's Vamps without all the angst. I for one, really look forward to it. For those who are familar with the series, hopefully we have Bubba.
One Whedonverse connection already -- John Billingsley (werewolf expert Dr. Royce on "Angel") has a recurring role as the town coroner. And of course Michelle Trachtenberg and Tom Lenk both appeared on Alan Ball's "Six Feet Under" series. ETA some more six-degrees stuff: star Anna Paquin was in "Amistad" with Chiwetel Ejiofor (though they didn't have scenes together) and in "She's All That" with Clea DuVall ("Buffy's" invisible Marcie).

[ edited by Shapenew on 2008-03-03 07:19 ]
I haven't read any of the books and I'm leaning toward leaving it that way, at least until I see what I think of the series. Which won't be much of a lean, since reading would involve finding time and "not" only requites procrastination.

If Alan Ball can't pull off a good vampire show, I don't know who could, (assuming decent source material), he certainly has a unique creative vision.

My only problem with the article is really OT. When naming the true greats of HBO series', she left out The Wire. And Carnivale, but leaving off The Wire is a really glaring omission, as it's possibly the most universally critically acclaimed show ever on U.S. TV. The Sopranos had more buzz and name recognition, but The Wire has always been the real critics darling (and deservedly so).
I swear I will get around to watching The Wire this year, especially since it's almost at an end (this month, I think, its seeries finale airs?) and I can just marathon the DVDs. That and Rome are the only HBO dramas I've missed (and the final season of Oz, but I'm in no rush there).

Anyone who hasn't seen Six Feet Under, get renting. Five seasons comprised of 13 or 12 episodes each, it's finished, it's waiting ("Everyone's Waiting"). I would go out on a limb and say it's well worth a blind buy as well (except it wouldn't be a completely blind purchase, what with all the critical acclaim and lots of love on this site too). The box set is really neat, it's a chunk of earth with fake grass and a headstone on top. "Six Feet Under, 2001 - 2005"

My vote for the best TV drama ever/so far, but then again I haven't seen 'em all...

Not especially interested in vampire stories (it ain't why I originally tuned in to Buffy or stuck with Angel, thinking they would specifically and constantly be focused on the vampire aspect), but I do like well-written characters and arcs. Uncensored often helps too. Hopefully the acting rocks.
Thanks Harmalicious, yeah the X-Men thing is kind of what I was assuming, there's a bit of meat to a long-running metaphorical take on bigotry I reckon.

There've been a few vampire universes where they're out in the open but something I haven't seen addressed is what the overt existence of magical creatures would do to people's belief systems, it'd be cool if that was part of this show (scientists for instance would have a pretty hard time with it and I could see a fair few existential crises ;).

(and I bought the first season of 'The Wire' a few weeks back, largely because of what people on here have said about it - not watched any yet though)
For those who haven't yet seen The Wire .... this show is demanding. Everything about it is dense and complex, you can't miss a word, much less a sentence. Which can be challenging. There is a distinct "dialect" among inner-city African Americans that varies in different regions of the country.

As someone born and raised in the L.A. area, I had no problem with this in for example, The Shield. But I had a hard time following some of the gang members' dialog, in The Wire. But this show is so well worth the effort.

Kris, to say the acting rocks is such an understatement, even by HBO standards.
I can't wait for the new season. Buffy and Six Feet Under are my favorite show ever ! and with Dollhouse and True Blood, each creator have its new show, what more can I ask ?
Damn, my tv bill just went up. I already subscribe to Showtime for Dexter and now I have to have HBO. I have read all the Sookie books and am currently in the middle of the last one, 'Definitely Dead' and I have a standing pre-order for the next paperback, 'Ultimately Dead'. It's funny, just the other night I was thinking what a good tv series the books would make.

Although Sookie is nothing like Buffy, other than maybe laying vampires. She is more the type to try to understand the demons around her rather than slay them. I just love her and I can't wait for the series.

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