‘True Blood’ Season Five: The Reviews Are In!

Critics agree the show is worthy summer entertainment but find the plot lacking focus.

Our favorite fantastical creatures from Bon Temps return Sunday night (June 10) with the season-five premiere of HBO’s “True Blood.”

The previous season left off with Sookie professing love for both Eric and Bill while ultimately choosing herself over either lover. Alcide uncovered a giant hole in a cement parking lot, leading us to believe we haven’t heard the last of Russell Edgington. And in the final sequence before the credits, Debbie meant to unload a round of lead into Sookie, but Tara jumped in the way and had half her head blown off.

Along with hopefully revealing whether Sookie’s BFF survived the blast or not, the latest season brings vampire authority in the form of “Law and Order: SVU” star Christopher Meloni, who comes to restore order in the blood-sucking community. Here’s what critics are saying about the season’s opener.

The Story
“The first four episodes of Season 5 recently sent out to critics reflect what’s wrong with the most recent seasons of the HBO drama: they lack focus. The plot, which is based in part on Charlaine Harris’s novels, zigzags in so many different directions that it often seems as though there are no less than 10 separate television shows existing side by side within ‘True Blood.’ While the early seasons of the show wisely focused on a few main characters … the show’s success at creating vivid and engaging supporting characters has also been its downfall.

Rather than allow these characters to exist on the periphery where they might thrive, Alan Ball and his writing staff have forced them front and center, which means that each season now needs to incorporate storylines for the entire cast, which now numbers in the several dozen. The result is a jumble of unrelated storylines that lack cohesion and a strong throughline. (Last season gave us witches, disembodied spirits, shifters, shamans, and faeries, all vying for control of the story.) With almost every character off doing his or her own thing, there’s a distinct lack of unity in the narrative, something keenly felt in the haphazard and unsatisfying fourth season, and that feeling continues into Season 5.” — Jace Lacob, The Daily Beast

The Authority
“Five seasons ago, I publicly declared my undying hatred of all things ‘True Blood.’ … [But Season 5 has] added a new element that makes it something I can finally (I’m sorry) sink my teeth into. They’ve added politics as blood sport. Authority has come to town, boys and gargoyles. … On next week’s episode, the new Guardian, Roman, head of the Authority, is introduced and it’s none other than Christopher Meloni. We still have vamp SVUs, so he’s pledged to root out and bring the ‘Sanguinistas,’ who believe God created humans as a food source for vamps, to heel.” — Linda Stasi, target="_blank">New York Post

Kristin Bauer van Straten’s Pam
“As usual, Pam gets the best lines. When she enters Sookie’s blood-soaked kitchen to find Sookie killed Debbie Pelt in retaliation for shooting Tara, Pam observes, ‘Color me impressed. You know how to party.’ Later, after aiding Sookie’s efforts, Pam declares, ‘I’m wearing a Wal-Mart sweatshirt for you all. If that’s not a demonstration of team spirit, I don’t know what is.’ ” — Rob Owen, target="_blank">Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The Final Word, Pro-Con Style
“As always on a show that tends to be messy in all senses of the word, plots and characters tumble into each other and sometimes threaten to push each other right off the screen. Immediately after tying up last year’s plot strings (by the end of the first hour, you’ll know the fate of Rutina Wesley’s Tara), ‘True’ launches into multiple new crises, led by the horrifying and welcome return of Denis O’Hare’s Russell Edgington. The stories are not all equal, but most more than carry their weight, and all are laced with both humor and the writer’s respect for dramatic consequences. Put them together, and you get summer TV at its witty, riveting best. Come on in; the ‘Blood’ is fine.” — Robert Bianco, target="_blank">USA Today

“Silly doesn’t even begin to describe most of what goes on in the first few episodes, which include a veiled shout-out to former New Jersey Gov. Jim McGreevey, an enormous wink involving the folk standard ‘Turn! Turn! Turn!’ and, as always, an unruly number of subplots. And yet, like an addiction to free-range hemoglobin, there’s something undeniably compelling about the characters, human and otherwise, in a series whose plotting grows more twisted every year.
It doesn’t hurt that this season’s new blood includes characters played by Christopher Meloni (‘Law & Order: SVU’) and Tina Majorino (‘Big Love’). But this is reportedly creator Alan Ball’s final year as showrunner, and if everything truly has a season, it might be time to think about putting a stake through ‘True Blood’ before it begins to seem more undead than alive.” — Ellen Gray, Philadelphia Daily News