Saturday, June 12, 2010

"True Blood" returns with even sharper teeth

"The one time in my entire life I thought I was happy, I was a zombie." -- Tara (Rutina Wesley),"True Blood"

Sometimes I wonder if I'll wake up from these happy, golden years as a TV critic and say the same thing. But then the third season screeners of "True Blood" (returns 9 p.m. Sunday, June 13) arrive in the mail, and I forget all of that and instead plummet into a world so dark and dirty and hilarious and unnerving that it glamours me into a placid state, then leaves me wanting more.

How does Alan Ball do it? His vampire tale serves up the stickiest, filthiest, most delicious debauchery imaginable with reckless abandon. Whether Bill is throwing a flaming lamp at someone's head or Eric is biting into a foe and then apologizing to his hostess by saying, bashfully, "I got your rug all wet," whether Tara is weeping snottily into a bottle of Wild Turkey or slugging some racist rednecks in the face, whether Sam is earnestly discussing his roots with some strangers or ripping off his clothes and running through the woods as a dog, this show is filled with the kinds of curveballs that keep you slightly off-kilter, unsettled and unprepared for what might happen next.