06
Jan
10

New Alan Ball interview and I’m feeling stabby

Another interview with Alan Ball out today. And another day that I gnash my teeth and wish for 5 minutes alone with him in a dark alley…Eric Northman and Book Sookie bringing up my rear.

I try not to go off the deep end too much about True Blood – I know it’s not the books, I know it’s fanfic, and I know that I’ll always have my dog eared copies of the SVM as the final word on the characters in Sookieverse. But there are times when Ball opens his yap hole and what comes out cannot go unaddressed. Today is one of those times.

But let’s begin on a positive note.

Two more seasons of True Blood are now locked in, and the Sacred Season Four is therefore confirmed. Late last year, Ball stated at Paley he would be including the amnesia story line and I’m reasonably confident he will stick to that. Even with Ball’s “creative genius” he couldn’t do anything remotely resembling Book 4 without it, since Eric and his kooky curse was tied into everything. Yet Amnesia Eric getting the Ball Treatment is not something I’m altogether sure that I want to see.

OK I guess that didn’t really come out so positive.

Let’s forget the positive mental attitude and move onto the part of the interview that made me spit my lunch out.

What does Ball feel is important to preserve from Harris’ books? “The main story is the same. We diverge mostly in the secondary characters…we’ve tried to remain very true to the spirit of the world.”

What fucking universe is he living in?

Let me say first of all that I don’t want to see the books reproduced word for word on the screen. That’s boring and I would have no reason to watch. I do wonder though why Ball would think that taking a series with an estabished and devoted fandom, and changing the fundamental personality traits of the characters would be a good idea. Plot changes? Sure, I’m all for them. Rendering unrecognisable the characters that a proportion of the viewership (a larger proportion than his oft-quoted “5 percent” I might point out) already know and love? You’d better have a damn good reason for it and so far I’m not seeing one.

The problem with messing with the fundamental personalities and nature of the characters is that it means that you CAN’T keep the main story the same. Sure, the locations for each season are the same as for each book. The characters names are the same as they are in the book. Some plot lines resemble those in the book. But to say that the main story is the same is just total bullshit.

The characters are the “spirit of the books”. It is the characters we invest in, and Ball’s version of them is making it hard to care. With the exception of Sam – who for some inexplicable reason is the only main character lifted from the books 100% intact – I barely recognise them. I’m about the most hardcore E/S shipper you’re ever going to find, yet I am at the point with True Blood Sookie where I don’t even want her near my viking. I have to say Ball, that’s a monumental achievement and you managed it in one season. Spirit of the books, my arse.

So yes, I am irritated at some of the changes he has made to the characters. But what really rankled me about this interview was this:

As True Blood continues, Ball says, “I think we’re always going to use the books as sort of a foundation, but I just don’t see how, as time goes on, you can’t diverge from them a little bit more each season. I don’t know, though. We’re starting to work on Season Three and we actually are really, really sticking to the books, at the beginning at least.”

Is this man the master of moving his mouth without saying anything or what? Let me translate that quote from BallSpeak – “I’m going to do what I want on this show. Book Loons – I’m sticking to the books! Bill fans – Don’t fret, Bill won’t rape Sookie since that’s near the end of the book!”.

This little tactic reminds me of Raelle Tucker’s comments a couple of months back, where she responded to the criticisms of lack of Eric time at the end of season 2 by saying “well Eric wasn’t in the first two books much either!” (paraphrasing). Well yes Raelle, that is true. It is also true that in those books you’re suddenly so keen on Eric didn’t have short hair, he didn’t torture people in his basement, and oh yeah – Bill didn’t stake Longshadow, Eric did. Yet I didn’t see any of the True Blood crew feeling the need to address any of that while waving around their copy of DUD.

The books are being used to tease and manipulate. They’re being used as a shield against criticism, and a carrot to waive in front part of the audience. It pisses me fair off. And I know, I can choose to not watch the show if it upsets me so much. But I want to watch the show. I want to like it! No, I want to love it, because I’m so invested in this story and these characters.

If Ball was telling a better story than Harris, I’m sure I’d feel differently about the changes that he’s made. But he’s not. And it’s not just about the Eric/Sookie arc, or what he has done to those two (and Bill) as individual characters that riles me. It’s the wholesale sacrifice of character development and logical plot in the name of shock value and sexual titillation that is so disappointing. I just hate seeing the integrity and depth of the book series being carved up for ratings.

Alas, I guess that’s the way the commercial world works. Despite what she says publicly, I really do wonder whether Charlaine feels like throwing her wine at the TV like the rest of us at times.

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24 Responses to “New Alan Ball interview and I’m feeling stabby”


  1. 1 nskars
    January 6, 2010 at 11:31 am

    I hate the entire scene where Sookie interrogates Fangtasia’s staff. Especially the fact that Bill staked Longshadow instead of Eric. And Eric remaining impassive the entire time. Not right.

  2. 2 Stef
    January 6, 2010 at 11:55 am

    Well put! “I am at the point with True Blood Sookie where I don’t even want her near my viking”–I can totally sympathize…but in all honesty…i’m gonna stick to watching mainly for ASkars…he’s the main one I have complete faith in to give Eric’s character the depth and sincerity it deserves (of course as long as AB keeps his mouth shut on the direction front, but who knows if THAT will happen).

    “The books are being used to tease and manipulate. They’re being used as a shield against criticism, and a carrot to waive in front part of the audience”–I completely agree! I think AB feels that us “bookies” will go along with whatever direction he wishes to take just because we love the books and will stick with the show because of the books. But like you I want to watch the show and I want to be entertained. I know it won’t be exactly as I hope (that’s life, of course) but throw us a bone here!!

  3. 3 caratstick
    January 6, 2010 at 2:32 pm

    I read this (completely agreed) and thought of this bit of dialogue from S2.11:

    Somebody need to slap that bitch.

    I have.

    Well, look at you.

  4. 5 JurassicMark
    January 6, 2010 at 4:09 pm

    Oh that is priceless, “Book Loons!”

  5. 6 Pogonip
    January 6, 2010 at 7:04 pm

    Maybe we’re all missing something here. Maybe True Blood is a parody of the Sookie Stackhouse series. A sort of Saturday Night Live take on the happenings in Northern Louisiana. Alan Ball could be yukking it up all the way to his bank and back.

  6. 7 Kealeagh
    January 6, 2010 at 9:12 pm

    I think a lot of it has to do with ego.

  7. 8 VampirePamsGirl
    January 6, 2010 at 9:55 pm

    “The characters are the “spirit of the books”.” – That is sooo true. It always makes me cringe when AB talks about how he stays true to the ‘spirit of the books’. Because what you just said definitely proves that he does not!

    The really sad thing though, as I was reading this interview, I actually found myself kinda happy at the end just because we got through an entire interview with AB without him out and out saying something negative about Eric. When it comes to interviews with AB, there are times when I feel like a puppy that’s been kicked so often that every now and then when I get a pat on the head, I think it’s the best thing ever. Maybe that’s what he’s aiming for. Oh well, I’m going to stay positive and like Stef said I’ll be watching mainly for ASkars anyway. Even if his character is not the Eric I know and love (though I hope,hope,hope,hope it will be and I’m sure ASkars will do all he can to make it be) at least I’ll still get to feast my eyes on that lovely man each week. 😉

  8. 10 walgigi
    January 7, 2010 at 5:25 pm

    Here I wrote my first reaction to this interview:
    https://sookieverseblog.wordpress.com/2010/01/04/lafayettes-new-boy-toy/
    And most of you already read here my opinion about Allan Ball and what he’s doing with the SVM and TB:
    https://sookieverseblog.wordpress.com/2009/12/16/here-she-is-erics-euro-ho/

    I just wrote the links because actually I don’t want to bore anyone by repeating the same words over and over again, and in fact, Allan Ball and his True Blood are beginning to bore me, too.

    I’m always saying I hate Allan Ball, but I don’t really hate him. I came to the knowlege that what he makes me feel is a deep lack of respect because he lacks of proffesionalism and he is showing his “true colors”. Also he makes me feel a huge anger because he is not using, but abusing from the “surprise” factor technique in order to manipulate us the SMV fans into watch his TB. Of course, it’s a matter of dollars and cents in a multimillionaire industry… and it’s seems that wherever is money involved, there’s no space in him for the proffesional ethic.

    VPG wrote: “When it comes to interviews with AB, there are times when I feel like a puppy that’s been kicked so often that every now and then when I get a pat on the head, I think it’s the best thing ever. Maybe that’s what he’s aiming for”; and THAT is a commom feeling between thousand of women who read the books and watch the show. When I read comments like this, its only reaffirms my inferences about why he is destroying this story the way he’s doing it. Most of you know I can’t help myself about looking for what are the motives behind a behavior… (because it’s my nature and it’s my job). But with the purpose of being practical and because I know not everyone is interested in understand them, I’m going to reserve my conclusions about his ulterior motives, and anyway, I just talk enough about “abuse” during the lasts posts.

    I think it’s a complete disrespect for viewers the way Allan Ball tries to restricts their freedom to choose if they want to pay or not for what they really want to see (actually, I can say it’s also a felony, but I don’t want to sound too dramatic LOL). Because if he tells everyone he is going to use the SVM as a frame of a story with the objective to show domestic violence and lesbian and gay relationships and their dynamics because it’s time to everyone understand it and blahblah, and keeps the “surprise factor” about how he’s going to do it, everyone can understand it and have the choice to decide if want to watch it or not. But while he holds the lie that “he stays true to the spirit of the books”, he is just keeping all $MV fans (… yeah…that “little 5%”) “glued” to the tv (during 7 years!?!) expecting to watch “IF” he’ll show someday some resemblance of what they read in the books. Manipulation, yes. And I’m getting very tired of it, I don’t have such a long patience, and I do not have a “marty’s soul” that allows me to keep playing his game to makes me feel the way VPG just described.

    I’m not used to go shopping my favorite perfume and buy an expensive refrigerator size box with a rear label that reads: “May be based on your favorite perfume, in fact it IS your perfume, and it isn’t. But it’s your perfume. Don’t be silly, try it and keep buying it as many times needed because you’ll never know when you’ll be so lucky to have your perfume! Don’t forget it IS your perfume.” WTF does that means? Am I a moron?? If I want to play lotery I’d rather buy a lotery ticket! HTH do you expect me to buy and keep buying for years this “thing” that don’t smells like my perfume (and actually smells like shit) because it could smell like it someday??? Fuck off…

    I have the choice to decide if I want to pay HBO to watch TB. The same choice I have if I want to buy a chocolate chip ice cream and the choice to refuse to pay it if they give me a vanilla one. Actually I’m just waiting to watch the first 2 or 3 episodes of the next season to look if there’s going to be some improvement (because truly, I don’t need another full season of plot devices as were the boring orgies of the last season or more Tara’s shit). If not, I’m going to remove my HBO subscription because I can not and I will not sponsor a TV network that profit to deceive in a manner so blatant its viewers. There’s a lot more of good programming at others networks. If I’ll ever want to watch AS as Eric or watch the show again to disscuss it here, I can do it in youtube or download it from the net, there are enough sites where you can watch or download it for free. I just hope AS’s career will not be type-cast into the TB E character, because as far as I can see, AB will never gives him the chance to overcome his protégé (we all know he already sent SM ALONE to the last emmy awards). After 3 years he isn’t even a regular in the show?!? (and of course, Pam is a regular now because she will be in a lesbian relationship… *roll eyes*). He’ll better watch out, because if things stay the way they are, the highest “award” he is going to receive for being such an excellent actor is to be the Scream Awards’ “Best Villian” again…

    As I just said, if after three years I don’t watch any real development in this story, “c’est fini” for me. I’m sorry but NO. I’m not going to invest probably seven years of my time and my money in a show where Allan Ball intends me to buy as “true love” a domestic violence relationship… and even expects me to pay him for making me feels (quoting VPM words) “like a puppy that’s been kicked so often that every now and then when I get a pat on the head, I think it’s the best thing ever.” Maybe he has the “need” to treat us that way, but I don’t have the need to be treated “that way”.

    • January 8, 2010 at 12:40 am

      I’m not used to go shopping my favorite perfume and buy an expensive refrigerator size box with a rear label that reads: “May be based on your favorite perfume, in fact it IS your perfume, and it isn’t. But it’s your perfume. Don’t be silly, try it and keep buying it as many times needed because you’ll never know when you’ll be so lucky to have your perfume! Don’t forget it IS your perfume.” WTF does that means? Am I a moron?? If I want to play lotery I’d rather buy a lotery ticket! HTH do you expect me to buy and keep buying for years this “thing” that don’t smells like my perfume (and actually smells like shit) because it could smell like it someday??? Fuck off…

      I love you gigi.
      That whole post was the most awesome rant…but this bit? This bit was awesomest 🙂

      • 12 walgigi
        January 8, 2010 at 6:03 am

        HAHAHAH OMG, I swear to you I was trying to control myself (I even said that I don’t hate him lol) but I couldn’t… I couldn’t LOL!!!

      • 14 morrissa
        January 8, 2010 at 11:14 am

        I had the exact same reaction! I was having a somewhat crappy day until that excellent rant put a huge smile on my face.

        Love you both.

        This blog is awesome and then some.

  9. January 8, 2010 at 12:47 am

    Holy Hell – this is like the best blog evah!

    Loves!

  10. 16 VampirePamsGirl
    January 8, 2010 at 2:29 am

    @Gigi Totes agree with sookieverseblog “most awesome rant”

    @Rhonda- Absolutely the best blog around. I think of it as a little corner of Eric/ASkars heaven. Sookieverseblog and the other commenters here are made of win. It’s kind of like Eric; the more you read, the more you’ll love all of them. 😉

  11. January 8, 2010 at 4:41 am

    AB makes me get all snarly. It seems what he thinks – and probably hopes – is that most of the TB fans will pick up DUD, get halfway through it, and realize that DUD is kind of…eh. Then put it down and never read more into the series. Because, and I’m sure everyone won’t agree with me, book 1 is probably the weakest in the series. CH’s writing style has definitely grown by leaps and bounds since that one, and even I, now diehard SVM fan that I am, initially had trouble getting into the series because of book 1.

    So, if you’ve only read DUD (or part of it), what major themes do you come away from it with? Eric is creepy, controlling, and kind of an outspoken perv. Bill is a doting undead lover that gives Sookie sex that makes the top of her head want to fly off. Everybody is kind of against B/S, trying to pull them apart because of their differences – very Romeo and Juliet. So of course those fans are going to root for Bill and not shed a tear for Eric, since they have absolutely no idea of the true scope and breadth of the Bill/Sookie/Eric dynamic.

    AB takes advantage of this, since apparently 95% of his fan base doesn’t have a clue what’s really encompasses “spirit of the books” anyways. Not to mention your lead actress is going to be a hell of a lot happier if her fiancee isn’t marginalized into nasty rapist wallpaper in a couple of seasons.

    Unfortunately this leaves the rest of us with a terrible HBO-flavored taste in our mouths. And unfortunately I’m so stuck on, and invested in, these characters that it’s kind of like crack to me. Crack that’s maybe been cut with a healthy dose of baby powder, so it still gives me kind of a buzz but the rest of the high probably isn’t worth it. Can’t look away, though, because I keep HOPING that we’ll start to see some glimmers of Book!Eric. Yep, I spat when Eric called in Lorena. And I cussed like a sailor when he was torturing Lafayette in his basement. And I howled like a wildcat when effing BILL staked Longshadow. (Wait, just thought of something – can anybody remember back to that episode and tell me if Sookie has a flash into reading Eric’s mind in TB? I can’t recall.)

    But, sadly, I keep watching. It’s that bad-crack thing. Maybe eventually after enough disappointments I’ll be able to walk away, but not just yet. Probably have to hit rock bottom first, but I’m not terribly sure that’s too far down from where we are now.

    • 18 Stef
      January 8, 2010 at 4:51 am

      “your lead actress is going to be a hell of a lot happier if her fiancee isn’t marginalized into nasty rapist wallpaper in a couple of seasons”–LOL…Love it!

      I completely agree with you on the DUD storyline mimicking S1. I actually bought DUD just after S1 ended, and was dissapointed, and I put it away and didn’t read it for another year! It was only after S2 came out that I thought “hmmm, maybe I should start reading the books, see if it changes.” I was completely blown away with the SVM series from that point on! I went through 8 books in 2 weeks flat!

      I also agree with you…TB is my crack. And it’s mainly ASkars crack for me. I do enjoy the Lafayette storyline as well…that’s the ONLY thing I think AB has gotten right so far (in his creative expertise, that is). I’m holding out for more glimpses of the “Real Eric” even if it kills me:)

    • 19 walgigi
      January 8, 2010 at 5:44 am

      “Wait, just thought of something – can anybody remember back to that episode and tell me if Sookie has a flash into reading Eric’s mind in TB? I can’t recall.”

      Yes, I remember the episode (and just checked again it), and NO, she hadn’t any flash.. and NO Eric didn’t kill LongShadow, and NO… and NO…, and NO… LOL!!

      And yes, actually AB has been giving Beel most of book Eric’s lines, actions, and details that made him develop a closer relationship with Sookie in the books…

      *roll eyes*

    • 20 VampirePamsGirl
      January 9, 2010 at 1:37 am

      @Lena – I actually do agree with you about the first book being the weakest in the series. I definitely didn’t develop my addiction until the later half of the 2nd book and most definitely with the third and fourth books in the series.

      I also know exactly what you mean with the bad-crack analogy. I like to compare it to a train wreck; I know it’s gonna be ugly and I know I shouldn’t be watching, but I just can’t look away. Unless they just do something totally unforgivable, I’m sure I’ll be watching too, though I may have to eventually start taking blood pressure medication because of it. 😉

  12. 21 nskars
    January 8, 2010 at 12:31 pm

    So cool to see so many new faces here! Welcome to Sookieverse/Eric/ASkars heaven, lovelies. Be sure to check in daily but especially every Sunday for our beloved Sunday Skars. Hoo boy!

  13. 22 walgigi
    January 8, 2010 at 11:49 pm

    Because AB is always helping me to develop an OCD with him, I need to point some lil details about this last interview. AB on vampire’s f/x:

    “I don’t want any of that blue light from the Underworld movies, and I’m not going to give the vampires weird contact lenses or have the shape of their heads change when their fangs come out.’ In the future, when we get to other creatures that might appear, I don’t want to do that same old stuff. What’s important is the characters. The effects are just the shorthand to get us from one stage to another. But we will never be about the effects. I mean, it’s less interesting to me how [Bill’s] face might change or what exactly are the mechanics of the fangs coming down – although we have really thought about that – than the fact that he’s been alive for a hundred and seventy years, most of them as a vampire, and his wife and children, who he loved deeply, he outlived them. He’s outlived everybody. He’s in a changing world and he’s given up on the idea of having any sort of love in his life until he meets this girl. That to me is way more interesting than what [growing fangs] looks like.”

    The mighty god has spoken…

    “I don’t want any of that blue light from the Underworld movies”

    Right. The light isn’t blue… is green!!! (anyway, even with “the doom wig from hell”, don’t you think he’s the cutest thing you’ve seen in your life?)

    “and I’m not going to give the vampires weird contact lenses
    or have the shape of their heads change when their fangs come out”



    Right. No weird contact lenses (the trashy E.T.’s style ones were for the zombies. Oh noesss!! WTH is that with a watermelon’s sized head, with such a protruding Hulk’s forehead and checkbones, and with blood on his protuding lips before he bit the guy?? Even the wig makes him looks like a hedgehog with all the “teasing” it had! If it wasn’t AS with f/x makeup, does that means he is so important he had his own stunt – double for that scene?? … yeah, right. And no, we can’t trust our own eyes either, because E basement didn’t looks AT ALL like any dungeon from an “Underworld” movie…

    Here is AS again after his Hulk’s face stunt – double *roll eyes*
    finished his scene:

    No Allan Ball, you aren’t a hypocrite liar, no. We believe you with blind faith. OOOPSS!!! Sorry for judging you so hard mighty god… I didn’t understand what you really wanted to mean:

    “I mean, it’s less interesting to me how [Bill’s] face might change or what exactly are the mechanics of the fangs coming down – although we have really thought about that – than the fact that he’s been alive for a hundred and seventy years, most of them as a vampire, and his wife and children, who he loved deeply, he outlived them. He’s outlived everybody. He’s in a changing world and he’s given up on the idea of having any sort of love in his life until he meets this girl. That to me is way more interesting than what [growing fangs] looks like.”

    *ROLL EYES* again… PFF!

  14. January 9, 2010 at 12:15 am

    Hey gigi – this post came up twice so I’ve approved the most recent one – just let me know if you wanted the original.
    If you put more than two (I think it’s two?!) links in your comment WordPress holds it and it has to be manually approved…some spam comments contain alot of links.
    General FYI for everyone that if you post something and it doesn’t show immediately, it’s probably waiting for me to moderate it.
    And sometimes I iz asleep when the blog is most active…damn time zones lol.

    • 24 walgigi
      January 9, 2010 at 3:56 am

      Don’t worry because they should say the same more or less. Today was a very busy day here and (because I think I’m supergirl and can do more than one thing a time when I become hyper) I thought I didn’t sent the it first when I return to my pc and looked at the screen… and sent it again… and then thought I was having problems with the connection. I told you, AB is going to turn me psycho LOL!!


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ABOUT SOOKIEVERSE

My ramblings on the Sookie Stackhouse books, and the HBO series True Blood. Everyone I know is already half crazed with my plot and character assassinations, conspiracy theories, theme explorations and general obsessing, so now I'm going to share it all with you. Spoilers and Viking worship are rampant...you have been warned!

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