I've been reading Dresden, but I've been watching Sookie. Yeah. Carl and I finished the last episodes of the season yesterday, and I've been mulling over my thoughts about them. Mostly, I was entertained. The things that did not entertain me were things that were not in the books I read.
First, let me say, that I really enjoy the idea of doing a book justice by creating a season of television around it. It's more "permanent" than a miniseries. It gets into the details more than a movie can. THIS is the forum (format) Stephan King novels need when they are taken to video.
Having said that - and adding in a warning for spoilers to follow - what the books DON'T need is a lot of what Charlaine Harris' books got: cliches. I mean the woman went to a lot of talented, creative effort to create vampires that were not cliche, still, in the series, these vampires hold their tribunal in a junkyard. The vampires did not look like sophisticated, rich and powerful individuals, they looked like The Lost Boys, or Thunderdome... or trailer trash. In a scene that was not in the book at all!!! The character of Eric lost almost all of his power and attraction due to his treatment in the series. In the books, he holds power over Bill and over Sookie, but he also recognizes and values the usefulness of Sookie's telepathy. Values it enough to kill the vampire who attacks her himself. Still there is a tension between the two parties, that shifts interestingly as each asks favors of and does favors for the other.
Another character the series treated poorly is Andy Bellefluer. Instead of being a supercillious snob and a decent cop, he's becomes the cliche red-neck bad cop. He isn't interested in finding the killer, just putting Jason in jail. In the books, he is someone Sookie may not like, but someone whom she can trust in his profession. Someone she is willing to help, and stand up for in the second book, instead of someone we really care very little about at all at this point, even though in the second book - and the second season which has been set up to follow that book - that sympathy is a big part of the motivation for solving a murder.
Over all, I must say this for the series, True Blood. The parts that kept to the book were good. That should testify to that talent of Harris, and the quality of her work. The parts that were added were the ones that disappointed me, that didn't live up to the quality of the rest. Those superfluous plot lines didn't add to the story as it was told in the books. They didn't add to the quality of the program as a whole. If the producers don't think one book is enough material for one season, then take a cue from British television, and do the one book and do it justice, then move on to the next... weave them together some, so that you can place the cliff hangers, etc. So you can forshadow coming events and tease the audience's attention. We enjoy that!
I can't say I'll be buying season 2 of True Blood, though. I think I'll follow Fran's lead in this, and enjoy the books instead.