Books vs. Screen

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Alright, you guys!  I’ve been pretty excited to write this post for a good chunk of the season, and I’m sure there will be several out there interested in having this discussion.  TVD has such a good, active fan base.  Just to warn you, I have no spoilers on the TV show, but there will be indiscriminate spoilers galore about the books, so if you don’t want to know what happens in the books, don’t read any further!

… Last chance to bail!

Alright, I’m spoilering on!  Let me first say that I know there’s a fifth book out, but I’ve only read the first four.  I definitely WANT to read the fifth book, but I kind of want to wait for the sixth so I can read them together.  I love me some YA fiction, can’t help it, but trying to read YA series one book at a time is a little too serialized for me and I like to read these things like they’re one giant volume. 

Man, you guys–this is hard.  I’ve probably had three or four false starts now.  There’s just SO MUCH to go over.  The books were really entertaining, and we all know the show packs a ton of material into every single episode, but it’s really gone its own way–it’s pretty much an entirely different story except with two rival brothers fighting over the same girl and some familiar supporting characters.

Alright, let’s start with some basics.  Obviously, the Salvatore backstory was much different in the books than in the TV show.  I did like in the books how they were actually from Italy and had been vampires for like 500 years, but I can see why the TV show went for the Civil War era, given that they’re in the south, costume porn translates well to TV, and it’s definitely more recent history, which made the tomb vampire story possible.  Plus, Civil War history is just more familiar in general to audiences, and … well, look at how much hell Edward Cullen caught for being 100 and in love with a teenager.  How many Pedobear jokes do you think there would’ve been for someone 500 and in love with a teenager?

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The answer, of course, is no!  I’ll talk to myself about True Blood all day long if I have to, internet!

Anyway, I visited my parents over the weekend and caught up on True Blood OnDemand because they have bitchin’ cable (whereas my cable is–you guessed it–just a bitch).  So I know I’m WAY late to the party, but I did want to share some thoughts on Season Two and see if anyone else wanted to chat it up!  But mostly, this will be a discussion of the books vs. the show.  Cool?  It better be.

So, I kind of felt like, in my heart, Season Two ended with Godric “meeting the sun” as it were, but I suppose we did have to wrap up all this Maryann nonsense, THANK GOD.  You know, Michelle Forbes has been on three of my all-time favorite shows now, and I like her–I think she’s actually really awesome.  But her storylines suck and I’m always so ready for her to go because I end up bored to tears.  Firefly was the only one of the three to not really fall into that trap since she wasn’t around that much, but I was SO ready for her stint as the Admiral of the fleet to be over on Battlestar Galactica, and Maryann was even more tedious.

Here’s what I will say, though.  I’ve read all of the Sookie books except the latest one (because I think it’s ridiculous to pay for it in hardback and I’ll wait for paperback, thankyouverymuch), and while none of them are literary works of art (although HIGHLY entertaining, no doubt about it), the second one was by far the shittiest.  But at that point, the series was still new and I don’t think that Charlaine (Harris, the author–I like to refer to her on a first name basis though because it sounds so southern to say it.  Try it.  CharLAINE.  It makes me feel like drinking a sweet tea and eating some biscuits, which are two of my fave things in this world.  Tangent over.) had a great grasp yet on exactly what the series would be like or where it would go.  The books got much better, but that one was all over the place.

You always hear people say “the book was so much better”, but this is one of those cases where it’s just untrue, and not just of this particular book (the second), but of the entire series.

Anyway, I thought the first season followed pretty closely with the books, but the second one diverged much further.  In hindsight, I think that what is mostly going on is that the books are told in first-person narrative, which means we always know what Sookie is thinking and doing and not really much about anyone else.  For purposes of a TV show, details had to be filled in and storylines developed for the secondary characters, and for the most part, the changes that have been made there have been to REALLY great effect. 

For one thing, Lafayette was very minor in the first book and was killed off either at the end of the first book or beginning of the second, but he just came ALIVE on the show and it was smart to keep him around.  He adds SO much to the show.  Tara was completely different in the books, but the Tara we have now is much better integrated (and we got rid of the god-awfulness that was “Tara’s Togs”–are you fucking kidding me with that name?).  And where Book Jason is really nothing but an selfish, inconsiderate manwhore, TV Jason is much more likeable and really just more dumb than anything (which works).  And I almost forgot Terry–TV Terry is so bomb (pun intended and FAAABULOUS!).

And then there are characters in the TV show who didn’t even exist in the book, that I’ve either liked (Amy, Eddie), or couldn’t imagine the show without (Jessica).  My one tiny gripe is that I need more Pam (MORE PAM!), but she’s a character who is around more and more as the books go on, and hopefully it’ll pan out that way on the show as well.

The other thing the show has been able to do is to draw in characters and elements who don’t show up until later in the books but who enhance the story earlier on.  Sophie Ann LeClerq made a much earlier appearance on the show, which I think was good (and Evan Rachel Wood was some shockingly great casting), and Sarah and Steve Newlin and the Fellowship of the Sun were developed much more and were way more integral to the story now, which is useful for things that happen (at least in the books) later on.  And we got to see Lorena, which was cool.

One of the best things for me, as a reader of the series and a fan of the show, is that while the show does stay close to the books (so far, about one book translating into a season), it takes enough turns and goes off on its own enough to keep me guessing.  But I feel like the choices made have been good ones. 

Mostly.  I understand why they did what they did with the Maryann story, because in the book that whole thing was just a weird little afterthought when Sookie and Bill got back from Dallas, and they needed something for Sam and Tara to be doing (and the rest of the townspeople too, I suppose–they were definitely “doing it”).  It was tedious and it did drag on a bit too long, but we made it, right?

Also, as a side note, I went out to this little diner last night with Billy, and I got a breakfast sandwich on a croissant (which I LOVE).  I was starving and it was so good, and I was eating it so voraciously that I caught myself thinking that at any moment, there would be a big reveal and it turned out it was made of people.  Or maybe that people were watching nearby, and THEY knew it contained people, and they were just being silently horrified.  Because if there is one thing I’ve learned from TV, it’s that if something is really, REALLY delicious, it must be made of humans.

I’m excited about Season Three though, because I felt like the books took a MAJOR turn in the third novel.  And I loved Alcide, so I’m really curious if we’re going to see him or what’s going to happen.  Bill proposing to Sookie didn’t happen in the books (it was illegal for the vampires to marry humans, even in Vermont), so I’m not sure where they’re going with that, and Lafayette selling SOPHIE’S blood?  Fascinating.  Next season should be even better than this one.  Now who wants to pay for my HBO subscription next summer? :)

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