June 28, 2011

THE SKED: “True Blood” Keeps Gushing

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Written by: Mitch Salem
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According to TV By the Numbers, the season premiere of TRUE BLOOD on Sunday night had 5.4 million viewers (a virtual tie with its all-time high) and a 3.0 rating in 18-49s (slightly below its previous high).  Considering that HBO repeats its shows nonstop through the week and on VOD (a million extra viewers joined in the fun via the Sunday 11PM repeat alone), and that HBO subscribers only comprise 1/3 of households, these are amazing numbers. 
True Blood isn’t just HBO’s cash cow, but the network’s raging id; while every original HBO show makes use of its generous allowance of sex and violence, none of the others do it with such unrestrained glee.  The season premiere itself (Spoiler Alert if you haven’t tuned in yet), was largely a reset of the main plotlines, because it turns out that while Sookie thought she was spending just a few minutes in the surprisingly evil faerie world (the opening sequence that was shown as a “special preview” after the season finale of Game of Thrones), time works differently there, so when she returned to Bon Temps, more than a year had passed.  

So:  Jason is now a real cop and the fairy (but not faerie?) godfather to some notably ungrateful were-somethings; Tara has changed her identity and seems very happy in her new relationship with her (female) cage-fighting opponent; Lafayette, at the behest of Jesus (not that one), is sitting in with a coven of witches–they’re led by Fiona Shaw and she’s already used Lafayette’s powers to bring a bird back from the dead, so that’s not going anywhere pleasant; Andy is addicted to V; Jessica is living with Hoyt but missing that old vampiric ultra-violence; and Sam is part of an anger management group that transforms into horses to release the tension.  Oh, and Bill is the Vampire King of Louisiana.  And Eric has bought Sookie’s house, because apparently real property law trumps restrictions on vampire powers, and now he can come and go from the house as he pleases–and he mostly pleases to arrive when Sookie is naked.  All of this is as over the top and guilty pleasure-ish as the show always has been.

Back to ratings:  HBO is trying an interesting experiment this week, allowing network subscribers to watch Episode 2 of the series a week in advance on its online HBO Go service.  I’ve chosen to wait, because I’d rather watch the episode in HD on Sunday, and seeing Episode 2 early just means a 2-week wait for Episode 3.  It’s not clear if they’ll release any information about the number of viewers who opt for the HBO Go version, but HBO has cleverly scheduled the test on a holiday weekend when viewership would be lower anyway, so it would be hard to figure out whether the online viewers dented the on-air audience.   

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."