"Could True Blood truly be the best, bloodiest, bloody good drama on TV right now?
It's not an entirely absurd question. Tonight's outing -- only the second in what looks to be True Blood's most frantic, action-packed and morally complex season so far -- is so fast, funny and clever, it's hard to believe it was made for TV.
True Blood breaks long-established TV rules with an almost cheerful abandon: by introducing a half-dozen new characters, all of them flamboyant and over-the-top; by placing old characters in serious jeopardy; and by jamming so many jarring images, funny one-liners and puzzling moments together, the viewer hardly has time to think, let alone take it all in.
A few highlights, to give you an idea:
- Nazi werewolves! No, seriously. There are several flashbacks - the Second World War, when vampire Eric Northman (Alexander Skarsgard, stealing virtually every scene he's in) is a Nazi officer.
- Anna Paquin is marvellous as Sookie, walking so many fine lines -- terror and -tongue-tied and quick to anger. When she tells Eric, "Don't you underestimate me," and he snaps back, "Don't you underestimate yourself," about five different reactions flood across her face at the same time. This is refined acting, at its best.
- A new character -- a cursing werewolf named --- takes serious offence whenever someone mentions his name out loud. "Call me that again," he seethes. "I (expletive) dare you."
- Hard-luck hero Lafayette, preventing his gal-pal -from overdosing, counters her mom's shrieky, "Sweet Jesus!" with, "You're too busy praising Jesus to realize your daughter is trying to move in with Him permanently."
There's much more where this came from. True Blood is powerful, profound, and a guilty pleasure at the same time. Not many TV dramas can pull off that high-wire act. (HBO Canada -- 9 p.m.