Tuesday, September 9, 2014

'Vampyres of Hollywood' Review + 'True Blood' Season 7 Discussion, Pt. 1

Vampyres of Hollywood  (Vampyres of Hollywood, #1)Vampyres of Hollywood by Adrienne Barbeau

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I would have been slightly disappointed if the lovely and talented film actress Adrienne Barbeau hadn't written a fabulously entertaining book with her co-author Michael Scott of The Alchemyst fame. Fortunately, this vampyre fantasy/murder mystery set in modern-day Hollywood IS fabulously entertaining. Horror, humor, and suspense are deftly blended into this unusual boy-meets-ghoul story reminiscent of the best of Charlaine Harris's Southern Vampire Mysteries series (if by Southern we meant SoCal). True Blood aficionados will appreciate this stand-alone novel.

If Lady Gaga were ever to decide to star in a movie, she would be perfect in the role of vampyre heroine Ovsanna Moore. I also like that Hollywood classics like Rudolph Valentino, Orson Welles, and Mary Pickford make appearances, and the fictional timeline also plays with history. Let's just say that Dan Brown's explanation of the original Friday the 13th in The Da Vinci Code isn't the full story in Ovsanna's telling.

I bought this book for $1 at a library used book sale. I was not obligated to review it in any way. All the opinions stated here are my own.

View all my reviews on Goodreads

Now, I can't let the opportunity to mention True Blood pass without discussing the Season 7. If you want episode-by-episode recaps of the final season of True Blood, I direct your attention to the blog Fangs, Wands, and Fairy Dust. Fair warning, Steph also recaps Outlander and Masters of Sex, so beware of spoilers:

Season 7 Episode 2
Season 7 Episode 5
Season 7 Episode 6
Season 7 Episode 7
Season 7 Episode 8
Season 7 Episode 9
Season 7 Episode 10

I didn't see episodes 1, 3, or 4 on Steph's blog. She may have missed a few.

(Sidenote: I wish my parents had Showtime so we could watch Masters of Sex. Not only do I find Masters and Johnson terribly fascinating, but I also love Michael Sheen because he plays creepy Aro in the Twilight Saga films.)

Tara Thornton

So let's talk about the ultimate fates of some of my favorite characters from the series. My #1 problem with this season is the fate of Tara Thornton, the kickass vamp played by the gorgeous Rutina Wesley.

Tara dies. In the first episode of the season. Offscreen.

Look, it's bad enough that Season 6 gave barely even a flicker of screen time to the Pam-Tara romance. That was on top of all the previous sufferings of Tara's character: an abusive, alcoholic mother; having her mind held hostage by the maenad; losing Eggs; being kidnapped, raped, and tortured by the evil vampire Franklin; getting shot in the head by that psycho Debbie Pelt, and then turned into a vampire against her will; and then being locked up in nutty Sarah Newlin's vampire prison camp. Just when you thought Tara had suffered enough and deserved a happy ending, though - BAM! An undignified off-screen death.

Creative Commons image by Ronald Woan
She appeared a few more times throughout the season, as a V-induced hallucination/ghost - crucified, no less. Dear TV: is it too much to ask that we have some African-American female characters who survive, thrive, succeed, and excel?

So that writing pissed me off, as did the fact that Pam barely brought up Tara's name the entire season. Because (so the writers seem to think) why would Pam grieve for her woman of color lover when she could just as easily obsess over Eric's pasty white Viking ass?

See Also: "Stick a Fork In It" on Dorothy Surrenders

Ginger (No Last Name)

One of the most enjoyable sequences (the beginning of it, anyway) this season was a flashback to the '90s in which Eric and Pam acquired the building that would come to house Fangtasia. The vampire night club of the '00s started life as a humble video store. As Pam stood in it, bewildered by being ordered to manage such a mundane center of human activity, who should pop in but Ginger (played by Tara Buck), searching for vampire movies.

Ah, but this is not the Ginger we've come to know over the past six seasons, the clueless human pathetically and hopelessly lusting after the lanky blond vampire. This Ginger is smart!Ginger. See, she's wearing glasses! She's a student at Tulane! She needs those vampire movies for her thesis on the vampire as metaphor for social outsider!

"#1 Crush" by Garbage plays in the background. Then, suddenly, Eric walks up from the basement. Smart!Ginger takes a half-second glance in his direction, and the immense surge of lust erases half her brain cells, instantly turning her into the Ginger we all know and consider an unflattering stereotype of women. Apparently we can be brainy or express our sexuality, but not both at the same time. It's like that lame-ass "Blow Minds, Not Guys" virtual poster I sometimes see around social media.

In the finale, Eric finally offers to have sex with Ginger. She wants to straddle him while he sits on his throne. She does - for all of about two seconds, before the strength of her insta-orgasm literally knocks her to the floor.

I can't remember if Ginger was a character in the books or not. If she was, was she this lame in the novels, or it just TV Ginger that sucks? I wanted so much more for you, Ginger. I really did.

Alcide Herveaux

Season 6 ended with that terribly confusing flash-forward showing Sam as the mayor of Bon Temps and Sookie happily in a relationship with werewolf Alcide. That looked like fun, didn't it? And if I remember correctly from Dead Ever After, which I read a little over a year ago, book-Alcide had a pretty happy ending. I think he settled down with a female werewolf.

Alas, TV-Alcide and TV-Sookie were not meant to be, as he was killed off in Episode 3. Sad, sad, sad.

Creative Commons image by Sue Lukenbaugh

Sam Merlotte

One positive I'll mention out of Season 7 is that Sam Merlotte and his beloved, Nicole Wright (played by Jurnee Smollett-Bell), got the happy ending they deserved. Nicole, heavily pregnant with the couple's baby daughter, told Sam she wanted to leave the high weirdness of Bon Temps behind and raise her child in a safer environment. She asked him to move to Chicago with her so that they could be closer to her parents. Sam deliberated, but he made the right call. He resigned as mayor and chose to protect his de facto wife and unborn child. Which is as it should be.

Creative Commons image by Gage Skidmore
The next thing I see Sam Trammell in is likely to be The Fault in Our Stars. He plays the father of Hazel Grace Lancaster.

Jessica Hamby

Another one of my favorites who actually got a happy ending was Jessica Hamby, Bill's vampire progeny. However, like Nicole, she had to undergo some awful suffering first. (Nicole was among a group of humans abducted by the hepatitis V-infected vampires, ultimately rescued thanks another abductee, the witch Holly Cleary.) She was abducted by my least favorite character of this season, the awful Violet.

Violet (played by Karolina Wydra) first appeared in Season 6, in the vampire prison camp. I don't entirely remember that storyline - first she tried to eat Jason, then she forced him to become her boyfriend, or something. Either way, Violet always seemed to me like she hated other women. Then Jason upset her by having one last fling with Jessica at Sookie's party, and she retaliated by kidnapping and planning to kill Sheriff Andy Bellefleur's half-fairy daughter Adilyn, Adilyn's boyfriend/stepbrother-to-be Wade Cleary (Holly's son), and Jessica.

Jessica's former lover Hoyt Fortenberry disappeared several seasons ago, when Jessica wiped his memory clean of their relationship and he moved to Alaska. He returned to Bon Temps for his mother's funeral - Violet reached into Mrs. Fortenberry's chest and pulled her heart out. He brought a fiancee, but they were fighting over the issue of children, which she wanted but he didn't. Jason and Hoyt both showed up at Violet's creepy fortress to rescue Jessica and the kids. Violet had just finished explaining her evil plan to hideously torture Jessica when Hoyt's bullet turned Violet to the goo she so richly deserved to become.

In a very short time, Jessica fell back in love with Hoyt and won his love again. In the finale, they got married, with Bill giving her away. Deborah Ann Woll looked spectacularly gorgeous as bride!Jessica.

Creative Commons image by Gage Skidmore
That was my favorite part of the finale. Other parts impressed me much, much less.

Arlene Fowler Bellefleur

Let us state for the record that TV-Arlene is a million percent better than book-Arlene. Book-Arlene was a racist bitch. TV-Arlene was much more sympathetic, and I would like her even if the character wasn't played by Carrie Preston, who also plays Grace Hendricks on Person of Interest (and whose real-life husband is Michael Emerson).

Creative Commons image by watchwithkristin
TV-Arlene gets a happy ending, too. She almost died in the rescue attempt, but her life was saved by vampire blood from the newly-introduced Keith (No Last Name). As usual in True Blood land, because Keith's blood is in Arlene, Arlene dreams about Keith. Preston did an almost fully nude sex scene on a pool table with her co-star, the beautiful Riley Smith, for the dream sequence. In waking life, Keith and Arlene are attracted to one another, but because she's hep V positive, they take their relationship very slowly. In one lovely scene, they simply dance.

The finale implies they stayed together.

Tomorrow Next week we'll examine some of our other favorites, including Lafayette, Sookie, and Bill.

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