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July 12 2008

Alan Ball claims never to have watched "Buffy" or "Angel". In July 10 interviews about his new show, "True Blood," Ball says he created his own vampire mythology.

Mo Ryan of the Chicago Times also blogged about meeting Ball and asking him a few questions (he also compares moving on from Six Feet Under to True Blood): Mo Ryan Blog

In Ryan's blog he simply says that the supernatural doesn't interest him, per se. So someone in the comments section had to write that he was dissing Buffy and Angel. Lack of interest does not equal criticism. Apples.Oranges.Kumquats, you know? Buffy and Angel are their own Universe. And so will True Blood be.
Ahh, this makes me so sad. I've been meaning to check out Six Feet Under ever since it was recommended to me on another Whedonesque thread, and I still will. But this news doesn't inspire hope about his new series. How can someone hope to produce a television show that isn't derivative when they're not familiar with all the other television series that've been based on vampires? Vampires are so cliched, it's difficult to produce something original, and to not even have watched Buffy...


Also, is anyone else sick of having to keep track of what vampire mythology different writers subscribe to? I've seen my fair share of television shows/movies/books and they all add or remove bits of vampire lore to suit their purposes.
How can someone hope to produce a television show that isn't derivative when they're not familiar with all the other television series that've been based on vampires?

Um, how could it be "derivative" if he hasn't watched Buffy/Angel anyway? You can't derive one thing from another if you haven't gone anywhere near that first thing to begin with.

Anyway, please note that the show is based on a book (or is it books?), and so they really have no responsibility whatsoever to look at anything beyond those books when developing the show.
Eep, sorry, "derivative" was a poor choice of word. "Unoriginal" would be entirely more appropriate.

From the article Tonya J linked to:

...

Wouldn't the general public know about the properties the vamps possess? Given how quickly information travels in this digital age, wouldn't those aspects of the vamps be more than mere rumors? I asked Ball that.

"It's a world where people are actually interacting with each other than, like, sitting at their computer and reading blogs all the time. ...[T]hat's a long-winded way of saying I don't really care," Ball said.


Not a huge fan of the snark there, to be honest. Or the plot hole (the question was asked by someone who'd seen the first 2 episodes).
The show is based on a series of books. There are eight in total now. I've read all the books and loved them.

The vampire mythology is almost completely the same as you would expect when you'd go to watch something about vampires. The True Blood angle is a twist but it's not so far out of the realm of possibility that it's unbelievable.

At any rate, True Blood is my #2 show of shows that I just can't wait to see. Dollhouse, of course, being the first.
That quote from him makes me think he's just trying to collect a paycheck. Which would explain the pilot.
He's lying. Everyone's seen B.

:)
There's been some discussion of this among those of us who have seen the pilot over at Whedonesque.org if anyone's interested. I'll leave it at that ;) I always love the assumption that being internet savvy means you don't go outside.
Stephenie Meyer also claims to have never watched 'Buffy'. Her books don't really call to me, but I'm sure I'll still go and see the "Twilight" movie when it comes out, as well as tune in to Alan's new series.

I mean, despite my love for 'Angel' I've never seen 'Forever Knight', so who am I to judge what others do and don't watch?
I changed the link title somewhat to bring the Whedonesque relevance to the fore.
Never seen Buffy? I feel so sorry for the guy...
Ok, I'm going to own up right off the bat - I absolutely adore six feet under, one of the best shows ever to have been on television, IMO. So I am obviously biased. But...

I actually think its a good thing that Ball isn't coming at it from a genre perspective. He seems to be starting from character and working out, rather than starting from the mythology and working in. Although this judgement is very subjective, I think that's the way these sort of projects work best. Joss' work is certainly character driven, the mythology being simply the means. Also I think that's why Brian Singer's x-men films were so good and X3 was so bad (IMO) - what's an interesting character arc, rather than what cool new thing can we do?

So, I think its pretty irrelevant that he hasn't watched Buffy, and I don't think he was being snide about the show. Possibly a little fatigued by every single reporter asking him about a show he's never seen, but not critical.

I am also highly anticipating True Blood. I hope that it's going to be different from anything we've seen before, which can only be a good thing!
I completely agree, Gil-Martin. There is absolutely no reason for Ball to have ever seen Buffy or even care. After 6 Feet Under, I'll give anything he does a shot.
Other than that it would have been cool, TamaraC. :-) I'm a huge fan of Six Feet Under too so AB gets a lot of slack from me. (Although I'm in the minority, I believe, in not caring particularly for American Beauty). Alas, I was underwhelmed by the TB rough pilot (and am making allowances for it being exactly that - a rough pilot), as can be read on the discussion linked by the Z.
I hope that it's going to be different from anything we've seen before, which can only be a good thing!


I can resist no longer! I was very much looking forward to this, not being a reader of the books, but being a fan of Alan Ball. I know there are people who enjoyed it, but I found it to be probably the worst single episode of television that I have experienced in the last decade (I felt insulted when I was done). As it is a rough of the pilot, I hope that what makes it to air is a different animal than what I witnessed, because as it stands I'm pretty sure that the Geneva conventions would disallow its use in warfare. Don't worry, I'm sure that it could all be fixed by re-shoots... and re-casting... and a new pilot script. Over the top? Me? I guess if I weren't serious... ;)
Ok, now I have to see the pilot. As one of the 7 people who actually liked John From Cincinnati, I can only hope that something about True Blood appeals to me in spite of its apparent flaws...
I don't feel the need to comment on the "never seen Buffy or Angel" remark.

However, claiming to have invented new vampire mythology?
Every single possible twist on vampires, at least in terms of plot mechanics, has already been done. The things that made Buffy and Angel original in their approach were the characters, and the subverting of traditional expectations. I hope this series has a lot more put into it than "Different Vampires".
Well, you may find that Anna Paquin was not entirely unappealing :) No, I don't believe there was anything new to the mythology. Vamps out-of-the-coffin as it were was also done by Laurel K. Hamilton and probably others. The Anita Blake books are probably the closest match for True Blood, seeing as they are kinda gothic softcore porn once you get a few books in. Which some people dig and that's fine :).
MattK Vampires are different the world over, so just about anyone could write a story about vampires and have it be "true;" they'd simply have to know which type of vampire they're writing about.

As I have Giles explain in one of my fics: "In Scotland, there is a particular type of female vampire, known as the baobhan sith, who generally hunted in groups." The only thing that can turn them away is iron.

Or what about lesbian vampires? "The historical reference for the first lesbian vampire is Elizabeth Bathory, the so-called blood countess, who lived in the seventeenth-century and whose story Bram Stoker used to develop the character of Dracula. snip She was related to Hungarian royalty, and she killed hundreds of young girls, whose blood she drained...her victims were almost exclusively young women. She was assisted in her crimes by her Aunt Klara, who has been described as a lesbian who liked to dress in male clothing and 'play men's games'."

The Gypsies of India have a variety of acknowledged vampire creatures. "For example, the bhuta, found in western India, was believed to be the soul of a man who died in an untimely fashion (such as an accident or suicide). The bhuta wandered around at night, and among its attributes was the ability to animate dead bodies, which in turn attacked the living in ghoulish fashion. In northern India, from whence the Gypsies probably started their journey to the West, the brahmaparusha was a vampirelike creature who was pictured with a head encircled by intestines and a skull filled with blood from which it drank."

from - "Completely Revamped - The Vampire Book - The Encyclopedia of the Undead" by J. Gordon Melton

So how is someone inventing their own mythology for a television series any different from all these other cultures who have their own "brand" of vampire?
New? There is no new. Vampires coexisting with humans thanks to synthetic blood? The awesomely terrible movie "Sundown: The Vampire in Retreat" touched on this.

Not thrilled with the pilot but I'll wish it luck since so many of you are fans of Ball.
Televisionary did a recent review of the new and improved pilot along with the second episode. I understand that some of the extreme roughness of the original pilot has been worked out and that the second episode is a huge improvement.

I just think that the whole "this is derivative" argument on anything is ridiculous at this point. Everything is derivative of something and is inspired by something. Moonlight even managed to not be Angel as much as it tried. Can we go back to the day when imitation was flattery and not some ridiculous sin. Check with Shakespeare, he ripped off everyone, liberally.

Yet the bard was able to transcend the source material, most of the time and create magical plays that are liberally ripped off to this day. Can we give writers and creators the same leeway, and hope to enjoy works that transcend what came before or do we need to always be cynical and condemn everything sight unseen?

[ edited by TamaraC on 2008-07-12 05:12 ]
Stephenie Meyer also claims to have never watched 'Buffy'.

She really should. Maybe she'd be inspired to make her heroine a little more interesting. (I imagine she's not pestered with those "why do you write such strong female character?" questions.)

On topic, I liked American Beauty but got bored w/ Six Feet Under after a while (don't know why--guess I just didn't really love any of the characters). And after hearing z's reaction to the pilot, I don't think I'll be watching this. (Maybe I should check out the books, though.)
Well, Z has been known to make mistakes . . . from time to time . . . ;-)
SNT - Tell me I was totally wrong, this time ;) Its not great TV. Plus barest's reaction makes mine look like I loved it by comparison.

TamaraC - Your post was totally derivative of one that I previously made.
I added more to it and it is now derivative of itself, zeitgeist.
Z, you're not totally wrong. This time. Although Tamara derivatively says that it gets better.
Well, that was the direction it could go ;)
This comment, on the other hand, is Completely Original™.
"This comment, on the other hand, is Completely Original." Whatever.

(Fair use commentary/parody) ETA: Oops, forgot the ubiquitous, except in this case, wink: ;-).
Hee! You guys are funny. That is all I got and I'm sure it has been said before.
For parody you could probably use the whole thing, but for a review of the comment you would only be able to reproduce it in part. Something like:

This comments, on the...


;)
True, but mine is a transformative use, so I'm going the whole hog. :-)
Ben is Glory? I did not know that.
zeitgeist, I'm curious. Can you be more specific about what you didn't like about the pilot? I haven't seen it. And honestly, this is pretty much the first I'm even hearing of it. But I like to read people's impressions of things, particularly if they feel as strongly about it as you appear to.
Jobo: his (and other) reviews/thoughts are to be found here, as mentioned above.

But let's all bear in mind that it was a rough unfinished pilot.

Like Wash in the Out of Gas flashback . . . *crickets etc.*
Much to my relief, I actually really liked it. I think its worth bearing in mind that it is very hard to judge a series by its pilot (I expect it to get much better) but the potential is certainly there. I get why some people don't connect with it, but I think any Alan Ball fans should definitely check it out for themselves.

And the vampire thing seems pretty old school to me in many ways, except that the treatment of vampires as a sort of ethnic group concerned with their rights as citizens and so on is something I've never seen before, though I'm hardly an authority.

I'm staying positive!
Alan Ball never saw Buffy and Angel? Well, I guess that explains that riff on Buffy in Six Feet Under (though I guess it was more of a riff on The WB in general). Having said that, I still love Six Feet Under, and found it in my heart to forgive them for questioning the acting abilities of the Buffyverse.
Is W.org taking the big dirt nap? I know I don't post over there very often and I didn't mean to break it...
Oops, sure seems to be... stay tuned!
Just as I was about to make my first post on the .org! Well, I look forward to reading folk's comments on the pilot when it comes to - I'm already preparing to defend it!
I have read the pilot was disappointing, and that it has been retooled. I have held off from watching the leaked pilot in favor of waiting on the official airing. Being a huge fan of the books and Ball I kind of thought the first episode would kind of write itself and be wonderful, but a suppose that's being naive. I am glad to hear it improves on progression, but I was hoping a rocky start was not going to be part of the equation.

Additionally, I read Ball's comment about creating his own mythology with some amusement since the series is an adaptation of a set of books. That being said, the author, Charlaine Harris, has never gone into much historical detail on vampire origins as a whole. The issue gets treated much very like "we are here, get used to it" which makes sense with what Ball has said he wants to accomplish metaphorically with the show. However, If the show does go farther in explanation, then that might be what he is referring to.
I find it ironic that Ball, who wants a character-driven show that explores some interesting metaphors, dismisses Buffy as just something supernatural -- which is exactly the same response his own show will get from people like him who aren't prepared to give something a go because it sounds "supernatural."


ShadowQuest: one could argue they're not vampires, but baobhan sith, bhuta or brahmaparusha respectively (as an aside, I still remember "researching" baobhan sith a long time ago for some reason, in some Harry Potter-related context? I have absolutely no idea why now).

TamaraC:
I just think that the whole "this is derivative" argument on anything is ridiculous at this point. Everything is derivative of something and is inspired by something.


I couldn't agree more with this, yet again showing why my choice of the word "derivative" was spectacularly unacceptable. :) The fact a show brings something new to the table, and is just original and fresh, is far more important.

As far as Alan Ball goes, as I've said I've never seen Six Feet Under properly, but I have seen American Beauty, which I absolutely loved, so I do have some hope for the show.

[ edited by MattK on 2008-07-12 09:00 ]

[ edited by MattK on 2008-07-12 09:03 ]
Additionally, I read Ball's comment about creating his own mythology with some amusement since the series is an adaptation of a set of books.


You beat me to it Charmuse. Having read the books of Ms. Harris faithfully, I took Mr. Ball's statement with a grain of salt. But perhaps he will try to do something different like you said.
"Oh, I like that story! I'll write a check now."
FWIW the author of the books Charlaine Harris is a fan of Buffy.
IIRC she dedicated a book to her. The first season of this
series is supposed to cover a time frame equivilant to the first
book.
This thread, aside from funny, is so many perspectives in a blender. I hated American Beauty when I first saw it, though seeing it since on TV has softened that to "some good parts." I also saw some good stuff on Six Feet Under, though I also didn't, and still haven't, watched long stretches (maybe most) of it because I just got disgusted. I don't trust Alan Ball that much, in synopsis. I think I'd like him best as a "Best Scenes of..." sort compilation thing. If he thinks he's going to create a whole new thing in an existing genre because he isn't very familiar with it? I wouldn't wish that on him, so I hope that's not what's happening.
Something to consider -- the first series of "True Blood" follows Charlaine Harris's first book in the series, "Dead Until Dark," relatively closely. "Dead Until Dark" was written in 2002. While the Internet was already up and thriving, it wasn't *quite* as prevalent as it is now. Being true to the book means that the characters (as in the book) aren't online much. Also, then as now, the blogosphere is not necessarily a source of *correct* information about minorities feared by the majority. It's not that humans in the Southern vampire/"True Blood" universe don't know about vampires, it's just that most of them don't have accurate information, just as I'd say a lot of people (myself included) don't necessarily know that much about minority groups we don't interact much with directly. The question to me sounded like, "How can humans with access to the Internet be so uninformed about vampires existing mostly in their own culture, but still among humans?" to which *my* answer would be, "Well, an example would be, how can so many people in suburban Los Angeles with Internet access know so little factually/have so much misinformation about people in the inner city?" I'd like to give Alan Ball benefit of the doubt here and think perhaps he didn't quite understand the question and/or didn't have time to think through the answer, which is how it sounded to me.

I'd normally be leery of a "we're reinventing the wheel here" attitude, but the whole vampire civil rights aspect of the books is *not* something that has been covered in series television. (It was covered in the little-seen made-for-cable movie "The Breed," made before Harris' books, but that never went to series and takes a very different tack.) So in that respect, it is a bit different as a TV take on vampires. IMHO, of course.
Hmmm ... American Beauty has never slipped off my "Top Ten Favorite Movies in the History of Ever" list and I never missed an episode of Six Feet Under, it's one of my favorite series ever on TV.
And this from a total film and TV snob who checks out a lot of TV but sticks with maybe 1% for more than a few eps to half a season, and has maybe four movies on my "guilty pleasures" list, since I get hopelessly bored unless it's something really good.

So I'm totally mystified by the almost universally negative reaction from those who've seen the ... ahem ... rough-cut pilot. I'll certainly give it a try but it doesn't sound promising.
I like his/Harris' idea that the vamps spread their own disinformation to avoid detection/death, that's a nice touch and rings true. It makes them seem not like monsters but like another, sentient species that's had to figure out a way to survive.

Not so keen on the bloggers comment or the "I don't really care" comment, that's a bit dismissive. He apparently took great pains to work out a fang biology but he hasn't thought about the way information spreads in the modern world and how that relates to his 'verse ? And to be honest the whole "I'm not into vampires, here's my take on vampires. Look ! Characters !" thing smacks slightly of Tim Kring. Maybe if he was into vampires he'd know the characters thing had kinda been done before ?

ShadowQuest: one could argue they're not vampires, but baobhan sith ...

Well baobhan sith (not to be confused with bean shidh or 'banshees' in English) rise from the dead to seduce men, drink their blood and can't go out in daylight - they at least have a lot of similarities with vampires surely ?

Everyone has their own "vampires" IMO because "the blood is the life" basically and creatures that take it away are to be feared. As is the dark, so they come at night. As is death so (combined with exhumed corpses having a vampiric appearance) they rise from the dead. And then there's sex of course, as close to us all as death - not surprising the two are mixed so often.
To be honest, while I think it's probably a good thing he's coming at it from his own perspective and not focusing on the genre standards, it baffles me that anyone creating modern genre TV (or modern TV in general) can not have seen Buffy.
While I'm not sure if he's being completely honest about not knowing about or seeing other central mythologies about vampires, the pilot for "True Blood" did make the series look like it has a lot of potential. Especially since HBO will allow it to show nearly everything more explicitly, which is something I've been waiting for for a long while now.

Any dismissing of other vampire shows is kind of ridiculous, as his show will get the same response.

This show is based on a book so if he's faithful to that and mixes in some more things that will be enhanced by the added complexities of the television medium, Ball should be fine.
Gil-Martin, I must be the eighth person who liked John From Cincinnatti then.
I can understand Meyer, Ball and others wanting to make clear they haven't seen Buffy (or other vampire movies/tv). If you're operating your own vampire creation the last thing you'd want to hear constantly is that you were ripping somebody else off. That you were, what's the word again...derivative. But in reality how can you not have seen Buffy 'cmon.
He dissed Moonlight, so he's either seen it or at least heard about that show's mythology. Not very chivalrous of him and it denotes a bias on his part about a vampire being allowed to go around during the day. I kind of liked that about the show myself. But in any case, whether he has or hasn't seen certain shows, or dismisses certain elements about vampires, special effects, whatever the case may be, there will be those that won't like True Blood. Period. It's just an inevitability.
Sorry, onthedrift, but you're one of the original seven ; )
Wait, this is a series based on Charlaine Harris' Sookie Stackhouse books? I hate it when they can't leave good books alone.
I guess someone should have told that Peter Jackson guy to leave those good books alone. Thank all that is holy that they didn't. Using books for source material is not some horrible thing. Sometimes the result is excellent.
Indeed, Tamara. And if Philip K. Dick had never written, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, Ridley Scott would never have gotten to self-aggrandize himself create Blade Runner. And so on. That is actually meant to be a compliment to the adaptation form.
My housemate has read or watched every fiction ever written or filmed about vampires. He introduced me to the Sookie Stackhouse series, which I like. We have seen some of the promotional snippets for True Blood on HBO On Demand, and agree that the show looks pretty lame so far. I wish it success, however, as one of the things I liked about Forever Knight was that its vampires were not necessarily supernatural.
This show is based on a book so if he's faithful to that and mixes in some more things that will be enhanced by the added complexities of the television medium, Ball should be fine.


This, of course, assumes that the books are good and that whats good in written form translates well to a visual medium. That's not a judgment of these particular books, I'm just saying that following the book(s) obsessively can be a detriment to an adaptation.

She really should. Maybe she'd be inspired to make her heroine a little more interesting. (I imagine she's not pestered with those "why do you write such strong female character?" questions.)


So true - the contrast between Bella and Buffy couldn't be stronger.
I'm not sure what I can say about the books without getting into possible spoilers for the TV series, not having seen the pilot. Suffice it to say that the narrator of the books is Sookie Stackhouse, not Bella, and she is a strong woman with several quirks. The books are set in a small Southern town and most of the characters are working class. If these elements are dropped or downplayed in the show, it will be missing a great part of what makes the novels interesting and distinctive.
When people mention Bella and Stephanie Meyer they are referring to the Twilight series, not the Southern Vampire/Charlaine Harris/Sookie Stackhouse books.
Yes, of course not all book adaptations are bad. But Peter Jackson is also not disdainful of the genre, and this director seems to be saying he's not interested in other vampy creations, and that attitude makes me worry about the quality of the show, especially as it relates to the source material. I think I'm not conveying this well; I guess it'd be different if he seemed interested in doing the books justice, instead of just using them as a loose jumping-off point for a series.
You got all that from some very brief comments? Really? He said he liked Near Dark and he said that vampires going out in the sunlight (ala Moonlight) was lame. Which it is. Completely lame. Sounds like the guy knows enough to me. And where exactly is he disdainful of genre?

Not watching Buffy or Angel does not make someone disdainful of drama, it makes them in the majority.
When I was 14 or 15 and saw American Beauty, I loved it...thought it was inspired and haunting and wonderful. I saw it recently and was horribly disappointed. I also have mixed feelings about Six Feet Under. It was so formulaic for so much of the show (excepting season 1) that I became very bored, but felt compelled to finish it because I heard I had to see the ending (specifically, the last 5 minutes of the last episode).

That said, I don't think I'll be checking out this show.

Also, the fact that he has not seen Buffy or Angel should not come as a surprise; most people I know haven't seen it and actively dismiss it, and can in fact be quite insulting to people who love it. I suppose since he is a television writer he could be expected to have seen it...
To be honest, while I think it's probably a good thing he's coming at it from his own perspective and not focusing on the genre standards, it baffles me that anyone creating modern genre TV (or modern TV in general) can not have seen Buffy.


I would be shocked if David Chase, David Milch or David Simon (the creators of the three best modern (no, just best) television series), had seen a second of Buffy. It's a good show, but folks could probably name twenty TV series/miniseries that are more worthwhile (Six Feet Under being one), unless you really place a lot of value on genre TV.

As for Alan Ball/True Blood, well, I saw the original pilot and I'll agree that it was meh. I'd be shocked, even with the new pilot and vast improvements in the second episode, if the show ends up being as good as Six Feet Under was. Just on the strength of casting alone. Michael C. Hall as David Fisher is one of the most remarkable characters in the history of television. No one on the True Blood cast has that kind of talent (though, Chris Bauer is a brilliant actor, but he's got a small role in the original pilot). Doesn't even take into account how brilliant Rachel Griffiths, Lauren Ambrose, Frances Conroy, Krause and the rest of the ensemble were throughout.

Still, I think it could be an excellent, valuable show if Ball manages to get some quality writers to fill out the staff. I believe Ball said he would do what Phillips/Cerone did on Dexter and move away from the novels over time. Which can only be good.
Is Jackson's The Lord of the Rings somehow sacrosanct? I thought I heard a lot of other nerds who have read the whole series double digits times complaining loudly when the second movie really changed the story.

I haven't read this series of books, so I won't care about its loyalty to them. But Ball needs to think like a filmmaker, and if he doesn't make good to the genre audience, I don't think he has much hope of finding a whole new one.
I agree dreamlogic. What's the point of making a genre show if you are not a fan at all of the type of material you're attempting to do? So he is not a fan of vampire stories OR supernatural shows in general apparently, and his overly snarky answer to the question he was asked which is quoted in this thread seems to imply he doesn't really care much for the audience for these types of shows either. The show will already be dismissed by the same type of people that dismiss Buffy/Angel, so he really needs to do all he can to court the genre audience, as it's what will make or break his show.

So what is he really trying to accomplish here? Sounds more like he's just collecting a paycheck rather than doing a project he's really invested and interested in.
Not watching Buffy or Angel does not make someone disdainful of drama, it makes them in the majority.

Even for creators of vampire TV shows TamaraC ? Really ? Cos that seems to be a baseline error there - i.e. the issue isn't "Have most people seen Buffy/Angel ?" (clearly not), the issue is "Have most creators of vampire TV shows since Buffy/Angel seen them ?" (i'd bet on yes, especially given how narrow the field is ;). Imagine someone created a modern noir series and said "Oh i'm not really into noir, never seen 'The Maltese Falcon' or 'The Big Sleep'" - I for one wouldn't take that person particularly seriously (and, as with others, i'd also ask why they chose to make a noir series if the genre doesn't interest them). You have to know what went before in order to ensure you're doing something new IMO.

(though in fairness, it does depend on how closely he's sticking to the books - if very closely then the onus is on the original author to avoid repetition and she certainly seems to be a Buffy/Angel fan)

I was actually a semi-defender of the pilot over on the .org BTW so i'm gonna be watching the next couple (at least) to give it a chance but interviews like these don't fill me full of sunshiney hope. The way he's presenting it, the vampire aspect is incidental to him which I think is a mistake because it may matter (i.e. put off) fans of his other work and his attitude may matter (i.e. put off) fans of vampires. Guess we'll see though.
TamaraC:
he said that vampires going out in the sunlight (ala Moonlight) was lame. Which it is. Completely lame.

Huh. Somebody should have told Bram Stoker that, then, because Dracula could move around during the day in the original novel (although his powers were greatly restricted then.)

TamaraC:
Sounds like the guy knows enough to me.

But he doesn't know that not only did the daddy of all fictional vampires have that ability, quite a few real-world vampire myths also include it. At least he knows vampire clichés. Enough to use them all, I suppose? I'm going to check this out, but I frankly don't have high hopes for it.

Disclaimers:
1. In my opinion, "Moonlight" in general was lame. In fact, I'd go so far as to say it really sucked - and not in a good way. Regardless of whether or not they restricted the vampires to night time.
2. "Originality" in defining vampires' abilities is not necessarily a good or a bad thing; poor writers, poor directors, and poor actors can make any film suck, regardless of anything else. And not in a good way - see disclaimer #1.
3.And I like a lot of Charlaine Harris' books, but the Sookie Stackhouse series isn't included in that. Another reason I don't have high hopes for this show.
I would be shocked if David Chase, David Milch or David Simon (the creators of the three best modern (no, just best) television series), had seen a second of Buffy. It's a good show, but folks could probably name twenty TV series/miniseries that are more worthwhile (Six Feet Under being one), unless you really place a lot of value on genre TV.


Tastes vary, obviously, but I strongly disagree with the implication that a show considered "genre TV" (and I have a hard time understanding exactly what that, somewhat disparaging, term encompasses) cannot be amongst the best television series. I am a huge, huge fan of Milch's Deadwood, but I would place BtVS up there with it, both for how much I personally enjoyed it, and for its artistry, depth, and power over seven seasons. I've watched only the first season of The Sopranos - eh. It was clearly very well-made, but it didn't grab me - and what use is stylish, beautifully-shot drama if you're not sucked in? Six Feet Under is, again, wonderful. But not more worthwhile than BtVS in any sense that I'm aware of. (Haven't seen The Wire, which I acknowledge everyone says is incredible.)

YMMV, but argument by dismissal on the basis of "genre TV" is not very convincing, IMHO. And BtVS, for me, is far, far more than just a "good" show.
The tone from some seems to be, "How dare he not have watched Buffy?" I don't get that. If he has books with a full fledged mythology built in and he wants to make a show based on those books and that mythology, why does he need to watch other shows that touched on the same subject (kind of)? Wouldn't it be better to stay away from those shows entirely?
Okay, I got a transcript of that particular Q and that particular A from a friend. Here is the relevant part of the question: "Can you tell us how the mythology in terms of the lure of the vampire will be different in this show from some of the others, if you know? And also, are there lessons from shows like "Moonlight" to be learned in terms of what to avoid or what to do?" Answer: "I think it's pretty lame when you let your vampire go out in the day just because you don't want to shoot at night. I personally have never seen 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer' or 'Angel.' I'm not really a big vampire fanatic."

Okay, to me, that doesn't read as any kind of a diss -- it reads as, "I can't say whether or not our show is similar, because I haven't seen these others. For all I know, we're identical." They're not, but that's the honest answer -- he hasn't seen it, so he doesn't know. He's not saying, "This is bad, nobody should watch it," he's saying, "I'm not familiar with the mythology, so I can't say for sure if what we're doing is new or not." Most people who work steadily in TV don't tend to watch much of anything they're not working on (or at least that their friends are working on) because they're working 16-hour days and attempting to sleep, eat and not totally destroy their family relationships with the other eight hours. This is one more reason everybody worships Joss -- he finds time to watch other stuff, but I'd say Mr. Ball is more the norm there. As to "Moonlight," he was specifically asked about that, and he was saying he felt that conceptually, going out in the daytime was lame. (It certainly cut down on the vampness of it.)
Once again, the talented SNT is reading my mind (like Sookie. Stop it!), with the exception that I was meh on Deadwood and loved The Sopranos, of the seasons I kept up with it. I think about shows in genre divisions like horror, fantasy, science fiction but not in a pigeon-holing sort of way. Because the minute you lock your mind into genre goose-stepping mode, you leave no room for those exceptional shows that transcend genre. You remember how David said his artistic relationship with Sarah was like "lightning in a bottle?" That's what Buffy, Angel, and every other show I've connected with in an intense way has felt like. The right people came together at the right time and created magic. I don't know that True Blood will be like that, not like Six Feet Under was, but if it's pigeonholed now, it will never have the freedom to flourish.

[ edited by Tonya J on 2008-07-13 20:11 ]
Great post, SNT, I agree wholeheartedly with every word, especially what you said about Deadwood, and how BtVS is much more than just a 'good' show. Spot on.
(Haven't seen The Wire, which I acknowledge everyone says is incredible.)

Except for season two, which is rather boring. Unfortunately you need it for references/elements in later seasons.

ETA thanks to Shapenew for providing the proper context for the remarks in question.

[ edited by theonetruebix on 2008-07-13 20:53 ]
Is that his answer in its entirety Shapenew ? Because that's not just context, he's actually been misquoted (maybe not in a major way but enough to subtly change the feel of his comment - if someone says "I'm not really a big vampire fan" then to me it implies they're not fans of vampire fiction at all but if someone says "I'm not really a big vampire fanatic.", despite actually being strictly the same words, that means more "I don't mind vampire fiction but i'm not so much of a fan that i've read/watched a lot/all of it" to me. 'Fan' = 'fanatic' but in common usage they're not the same).

That said, the Sci-fi Wire comments never read as a dis of Buffy/Angel to me (you can't meaningfully dis something you've never seen) it just read as someone that doesn't really like the (sub-)genre of vampire fiction creating a vampire show, which seemed weird to me.
Saje, the rest of that quote -- "This was really my first -- I've never read the Anne Rice books. This was really my first foray into the world of vampires. All I knew was the movies that I'd seen, and so I think probably -- I mean, I can tell you some specific ways the mythology differs." Now, since he's said all he knows is the movies he's seen (and the one we know for sure is "Near Dark," in response to a different question), he then goes into how the "True Blood" vamps are different from the vamps in those movies. As it turns out, they differ in some ways from "Buffy"/"Angel" and Anne Rice vamps also.

I should also add that his response to the computer question is not about fans, it's about the *characters* -- he was asked why the humans weren't more savvy about vamps because they could look up info on vamps online, and he was saying that the *characters* were more interesting out interacting in the world, not sitting at a computer, researching vamps. (And again, the point I'd make is that there's plenty of misinformation about *real* minorities online that people believe, so that wouldn't necessarily give human characters a correct view.) It wasn't an audience diss.
Re: Six Feet Under and anyone who gave up part-way through

It's worthwhile to continue. I couldn't find fault with the first two seasons, didn't have any major problems with Season 3 either (it was a little slower paced maybe, dealt with characters being "stuck" in situations they weren't happy with which might sorta rub off on some audience members, and a lotta viewers seemed to hate Lisa), but Season 4 had some serious issues. Season 5, the last, is a thing of beauty. Every show on TV wishes it could wrap up as well as Six Feet Under did, and no I'm not only talking about those last five minutes. I know I dig up this dead horse to beat yet again, but I would love to rewind time and somehow encourage the writers to bring the entirety of Buffy Season 7 (or at least several more episodes from it) up to the quality of SFU's fifth season (or instead of comparing it to another show, if Buffy Season 7 could've simply been raised to the best of Buffy Season 5 levels, I would've been a lot more content that year...in conclusion, it's nice to have the comics).

I'll check out True Blood. I'm glad to have been forwarned that the pilot might not be all that (but I won't watch the rough cut), encouraged that more than a few folks are saying the second episode improves, and think it'll be interesting to see a vampire show given to us by a guy who's not particularly a fan of genre or at least doesn't seem to actively seek it out. I'm not a fan of vampire fiction either, I only head toward it if there's supposed to be a good story there.

SNT said:
"I've watched only the first season of The Sopranos - eh."

I started watching when the show was more than halfway done, Season 4 was about to run through again in repeats. A smart[ass] fried of mine who almost always had excellent taste in film encouraged me to check it out. Season 1 is well-crafted, but dull, IMO. I'm not particularly a fan of mob/gangster material. A lot of the gangster-speak and humor and characters grew on me over time, but I was kept on board by the family dynamics and non-mob characters initially. Season 2 had certain episodes that raised it above the enjoyment factor of Season 1, Season 3 I thought was excellent, Season 4 even better though a completely different animal, Season 5 was tense and pretty good up until [spoiler omitted]/about halfway through, and the sixth and final season was a mixed bag but I liked certain parts of it.

The dialogue and the acting, that's all that really kept me coming back to The Sopranos. It was definitely enough, but I don't want more of it.

That so many of the characters are thoroughly detestable (not just because they're killers/criminals, but because their lack of self-awareness is painful to witness and redemptive arcs are almost always aborted due to idiocy, doesn't exactly help connect the viewer to the show. I've watched movies and TV shows before where the villains-as-main-or-serious-supporting-characters are easier to enjoy on a weekly basis.

It's not HBO's crown jewel, IMO, despite all the critical praise, but I'm glad I didn't miss out on it. I think, among their start-to-finish shows, SFU remains the best. Deadwood, if only it had finished maybe...

[ edited by Kris on 2008-07-14 03:07 ]
(Haven't seen The Wire, which I acknowledge everyone says is incredible.)


I've only seen Season One of The Wire and it was decent and I'll probably watch more some day, but I've yet to see why everyone goes ga-ga over it. I know, as a white person I'm supposed to like it. Okay, I really wrote this post entirely to slip that link in ;) Its a good show so far, and I will just assume that at some later point in the show I will see why it is "THE BEST SHOW EVER!!!!!".
Heh heh, never seen that site before, Z - and I love how het-up some folks get in the comments section. "Wait, that's not true! And some non-white people like that too!"

And I totally cop to liking shows on DVD that were low-rated. Bite me!
LOL, it is of course written by a white guy who loves everything on the list :)
LOL! You guys kill me...

...and Kris, never say die. Deadwood will return. As it stands, it is still the most beautiful piece of television art ever created, second only, ONLY, to Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
Deadwood will return.

That's not what all the news reports out of the TCAs said this past week.

[ edited by theonetruebix on 2008-07-14 04:59 ]
Arghh! Crusher of hopes! ;-) I like to think Willowy was speaking in the high rhetorical mode - "The Dark Prince will return!" sort of thing.
Enthusiasms. I'm the Enthusiasm Crusher. It helps if you hear Robert Deniro in The Untouchables. ;)
Yes bix, lighten up... damn, boy! Is there no hope in your world?

And SNT, you know me so well.
Or "James Bond Will Return".

Shapenew: It wasn't an audience diss.

Well, it wasn't intended that way anyway (I guess it's still possible to read it as "People that look stuff up on the internet don't go out and interact with others"). And "I don't really care" is still dismissive IMO. Course, context is all and if he was grinning ear to ear when he said that or otherwise obviously kidding then it's different than if he was deadly serious or clearly bored even by the question.

But thanks Shapenew, the full quotes do cast most of what he said in a much more favourable light IMO.
Only one of my parents is 'white', should I watch half-seasons of The Wire? ;) (seriously, I've never seen an episode. I should probably watch).

Also? The West Wing. I felt that name should be in this thread somewhere, at least ;).
Enthusiasm, Willowy, not hope. Enthusiasm. I just explained that.

And why should I ignore the facts on Deadwood in the face of irrational enthusiasm, when I've spent years refusing to ignore facts on Firefly in the face of irrational enthusiasm. ;)
Tastes vary, obviously, but I strongly disagree with the implication that a show considered "genre TV" (and I have a hard time understanding exactly what that, somewhat disparaging, term encompasses) cannot be amongst the best television series. I am a huge, huge fan of Milch's Deadwood, but I would place BtVS up there with it, both for how much I personally enjoyed it, and for its artistry, depth, and power over seven seasons. I've watched only the first season of The Sopranos - eh. It was clearly very well-made, but it didn't grab me - and what use is stylish, beautifully-shot drama if you're not sucked in? Six Feet Under is, again, wonderful. But not more worthwhile than BtVS in any sense that I'm aware of. (Haven't seen The Wire, which I acknowledge everyone says is incredible.)

YMMV, but argument by dismissal on the basis of "genre TV" is not very convincing, IMHO. And BtVS, for me, is far, far more than just a "good" show.


I wasn't arguing that a genre show can't be good TV. What I was saying was that if someone weren't a big TV drama watcher and they wanted a list of shows that were worth the time/effort... The only way I'd rate Buffy above Six Feet Under or what have you would be if they valued genre stuff more. That's all. I'm not deriding Buffy. It's a good, fine show. There are plenty of shows, like Six Feet Under that are as good or better. For some people the dialogue, the horror/fantasy elements of Buffy, the high school setting, perceived subtext... It's all going to turn them on in a personal way. That's awesome, but that's not what makes something a great show. To me, a mediocre first season and the show generally being uneven throughout it's run (but especially the later seasons) puts Buffy below Six Feet Under which had one mediocre season (Season 4, which was excessive (Claire becomes a lesbian, George goes insane, David gets kidnapped, Lisa was murdered by her brother-in-law whom she was having an affair with, Rico cheats on his wife, all the most insane shit the show ever did happens in Season 4) and pretentious and totally ruined the awesome Season 3.)

To respond to the question of why The Wire is so awesome. Well, if you've seen Season 1 and you don't feel it, it's not going to really work for you. It's not Joss-y. It's not remotely genre-y. At the barest minimum, people on The Wire actually talk and act like real people. Which, some people don't watch TV to see realism, but I appreciate it immensely because it's really hard to write real people well. It's an incredibly realistic, accurate, complex and compelling display of police procedure. Nothing like that has since, or will ever, be seen on TV again. The building of the case against Stringer/Avon, the detail, the reality. That's what the show is. It gets bigger, it incorporates different elements of the city and such as it goes further on, but that's the show. And if Wallace's arc, what happened with his character, what is says about Poot and Bodie... If stuff like that didn't move you, then, the show probably just isn't going to work for you.

People criticize Season 2, but it's excellent. Ziggy is annoying, but tragic. Frank is one of the best written/performed characters in the history of the medium. Nick is a great character, too. Season 2 is an excellent narrative in and of itself.

[ edited by The Sandy Llama on 2008-07-17 12:29 ]

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