Mid-Week Review: True Blood: Season 3, Episode 1

In my mind, there are a few cut and dry things in this world that define people. Things that you can either be one or the other, but never both. For instance:

If you're politically minded, you're either a Democrat or a Republican.

You either like the color pink or you don't.

You either believe in UFOs or you don't.  

You're either an over or under toilette-paper person.

You either like cats or you like dogs.

You either cheer for the vampires or the werewolves.

As for me, I'm a werewolf guy.  Have been since I first saw the old 1940s movie, The Wolf Man, when I was a kid.  Coincidently, I'm also a dog person.  Don't get me wrong, I think the blood suckers are cool and all, but there's just something awesome about the conflicted nature of werewolf that is attractive to me.  So it goes without saying that when I learned that one of my favorite shows on television, True Blood, was going to be bringing in the werewolves, I was all kinds of school girl giddy.  

For the uninitiated, True Blood (as shown on HBO) is based off of the excellent Sookie Stackhouse novels by Charlaine Harris.  The title character, Sookie, is a barmaid living in rural Louisiana.  She's pretty much like any other small town girl, except for the fact she's telepathic and is in a world where vampires have recently come out of hiding in an attempt to live alongside normal humans.  As you can imagine, this would create some interesting problems and relationships as vampires kind of feed off of humans.  The universe that Harris has created is deep (there are currently 10 books and several short stories in the Sookie Stackhouse series) and phenomenally unique considering the subject matter (vampires) has been beaten staked to death in recent years.


The television show has taken some liberties with the content of its written counterpart over the first two seasons, but has followed the general outline of the book in regards to characters and major plot points.  You'll find most of the major players from the books in the show, and here's a quick run down of the most important:

Sookie - She's lived with her grandmother and brother from the time she was little.  Her parents died in an accident.  

Jason - Sookie's handsome, but incompetent, brother

Sam Merlot - Sookie's boss and maybe best friend

Bill Compton - The first vampire Sookie meets, and her first love

Eric Northman - Owner of a vampire bar and sheriff over all of the vampires that live in Sookie's area of Louisiana

There are BUNCHES of other great characters, which I'll reference in the review (s), but they won't mean much unless you're familiar with the show/stories.  


(FYI, the books and show are for mature audiences) 

Without further adieu, here's my review for the inaugural episode of season three.  



Last we saw from season 2, Bill had presumably been kidnapped after proposing to Sookie; Jason had shot Tara's boyfriend Eggs; Sam had gone in search of his real family; and Eric had further weaseled his way into Sookie's mind by tricking her into drinking some of his blood after the whole Fellowship of the Sun fiasco.

Season 3 starts up EXACTLY where we left off.  Sookie comes out of the bathroom to find Bill gone, and the ball starts rolling from there.  We quickly catch up to Bill and find that he has indeed been kidnapped by some kind of gang.  They get busy draining his blood on the car ride to wherever they're taking him (it's clear they work for someone else).  However, they get more than they bargain for when Bill escapes.  

Meanwhile, Jason is trying to come to grips with the fact that he accidentally put a bullet between someone's eyes.  As you may recall, police detective Andy Bel Leflour took the blame for the shooting, saying it was self-defense.  Jason is pretty humorous in this episode, particularly when Andy tries to convince him to go back to his womanizing days so people won't suspect he's had anything to do with the shooting.  I really grew to love his character in the show over the course of last season, so I hope they can figure out some clever thing to do with him again.  I'm not sure the PTSD from his accidental killing is enough for an entire season ...  

The bigger drama from that situation comes from Tara, who's beyond upset that Eggs is dead.  She basically blows a gasket in this episode by blaming/attacking Arlene (who had it coming BY A MILE) and Sookie (who kind of is responsible), and then trying to kill herself.  I felt like Tara's character was sort of channeling the earlier crazy (er) versions of her mother from past seasons.  I don't like this Tara as much, but I think I can see where they're headed with her.  I did LOVE Lafayette in this episode!  It's nice to seem him back and interacting with his cousin.

Back to Sookie.  She's convinced that something bad has happened to Bill, so she goes to Eric (naturally) for help.  Eric is less than enthusiastic, and basically tells her he has bigger fish to fry.  We find out that he's not lying (for once) as apparently the big whig vampires have caught on to his under the table dealing of vampire blood.  Not only that, but the queen vampire of Lousiana, Sophie, is also being implicated.  You may recall that last season ended with Sophie and Eric having conversations about their elicit blood business (she's in cahoots with him).  There's some tension building here that'll be fun to see shake out.  Perhaps the biggest revelation is that Eric had in fact sent someone to kidnap Bill, but was beaten to the punch.  He didn't expressly say that he was going to kill Bill (HA!), but I think it was implied.  Bill is the only other vamp that knows he's selling V illegally, after all.  Not to mention that he's got eyes for Sook.  

There was a little bit with Sam in this episode, but other than a crazy dream (it involves he, Bill, and a kiss - that's all I'll say), it was pretty snooze.  He's my favorite character, so it was a little bit of a letdown.  

What about the wolves, you're asking?  Well I was asking the same thing.  It wasn't until the very end of the episode that we finally get some payoff.  Bill escapes from his captors injured and badly in need of some blood, luckily he stumbles upon an old lady living alone in the woods.  After he discovers that he's been taken all the way to Mississippi, he partakes in a little of her  blood (in a very gentlemanly way, I might add), and then heads outside to find that he's been tracked down by werewolves.  The episode ends with Bill being surrounded by wolves and him spoiling for a fight.

Overall, it was a GREAT start to the season!  There were some subplots I didn't discuss, namely some fun stuff with Hoyt and Jessica (Bill's vampire ward) and Arlene makes a discovery of sorts.  Perhaps my favorite thing from this episode was an expanded role for Pam (Eric's second in command); she's one of the best characters in the book, but hasn't really done much in the show.  That looks like it'll be changing.

Still, I can't help but look forward to the next few weeks as some of my favorite characters from the books start showing up in the third and fourth volumes.  I'm very excited to see which weres will get to see next week!         

How about a little tune to get us through the day?  If this isn't a blast from the past, nothing is ...

Get Moving Monday ... Right on, man. Right on.

O.K., my get moving has left me, so I'll be brief ...  

I just wanted to share some exciting news on the writer front; apparently a bunch of GENIUS YA authors and agents have decided to join forces and put on a FREE online writers conference.

FREAKING FREE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Here's the dirty:

It's called WRITEONCON

It's being held August 10-12

There are some absolutely ACE agents and literary pros already signed up to present

You can attend the entire event in your Thundercats PJs

IT's F.R.E.E.

Here's the link.

Now, a funny.

In the words of Uncle Rico, "Right on.  Right on."

You may happy dance now.

Mid-Week Review: Mmmmmm Pizza

I’m back! How about a little blast from the past to get us going?

Wow. Chicago is more awesome than I’d ever imagined. I’ve always kind of claimed it as my unofficial hometown, which is odd to some seeing as how I’ve never actually visited until now.

Being from Oklahoma, I never really had my ‘own’ pro-sports team to cheer for so I had to adopt teams from other states. As a kid one of my first real sports memories was watching the Bears win the 85 Super Bowl. I was a Bears fan from that point on. I remember watching my first NBA game some years later; it was the NBA Finals game 6, Chicago Bulls Vs Portland Trailblazers. Michael Jordan hit 6 threes in that game and I was a diehard Bulls guy from then on. In fact, the only pro-sport that I don’t cheer for Chicago teams in is baseball (go Dodgers!).

Suffice to say, I had high expectations going into the week.

For the sake of brevity, I’ll hit the highlights:

1) I have a great friend that lives near Chicago (Evanston), so I wanted to visit him and his family. I hadn’t seen his oldest son in 3 years (he’s going to be 6 soon), and I’d never met his youngest son (was born the summer after we parted about 3 years ago). Furthermore, I hadn’t seen my friend and his wife in over 2 years. I got to spend sooo much time with them just getting to hang out; we took the boys to swim lessons, they came to our hotel to swim in the saltwater pool several times, we went to LegoLand … basically, I just got to be a part of their lives for a week which was absolutely perfect. It was really hard for me to say goodbye to the boys at the end of the week.

2) I went to a baseball game at Wrigley Field. It was Cubs Vs Dodgers (that’s right, I got to see my favorite baseball team to boot!), and our seats were about 20 yards behind first base. We dodged foul balls all night, and IT WAS AWESOME! I had a Chi-Town style braut (which basically means loaded with mustard, peppers, relish, etc.), made fun of Cubs fans, and marveled at the old beauty of Wrigley Field. Dodgers won, by the way.

3) To finish the week, my wife and I transferred hotels to stay downtown (we were in the burbs for her conference). We rode the El train in all of its rattling and jostling glory. Just the variance in architecture that Chicago offers makes any type of commuting worth it (for visitors). If you’ve never been, you should also know that Chicago is one of the friendliest, cleanest, and green (vegetation-wise) big cities around. The only other city I’ve been to that compares to the green factor is Seattle. Our hotel was right off of Michigan Ave. which is basically a fancy outdoor shopping mall that extends for miles. We walked to Grant and Millennium Parks daily (it boggles the mind that a city as big as Chicago could have so many massive parks in the middle of it), we had deep-dish pizza, we went to the Chicago Art Institute Museum (fans of Monet and van Goh MUST go), we went to the Field Museum of Natural History (their famous T-Rex, Sue, is having a big 10th anniversary thing), we ate amazing meals, we had drinks on the roofs of a buildings … there is just way too much to cover and we were only downtown for three nights!

All in all it was an amazing trip that left me planning my next visit (hopefully sooner than later).

Now, without further ado, I present a Chicago version of the Mid-Week Review:

Chicago-Style Deep Dish Pizza

For those who are unfamiliar with this style of pizza, let me explain. Unlike traditional pizza Chicago-style pizza is really, really thick. We’re talking 2-4 inches. The crust has more in common with pie (the dessert kind) than anything else, but similar to traditional pizza it goes on the bottom. That’s where the similarities between Chi-Pizza and the norm end. Once the crust is laid out, a layer of cheese is placed directly on top and then toppings like pepperoni, sausage, etc. are placed on top of the cheese. Finally, a massive layer of sauce is poured on so that the top of the pizza is sauce, not cheese. Basically, it’s the reverse order of how you’d normally top a pizza.

For this review, I’m going to be comparing the two pizzas I sampled during my stay.

The Contenders: Lou Malnati’s Pizza Vs Giordano’s Stuffed Pizza

The Crust

Unlike other types of pizza where crust can be an afterthought, Chicago pizza requires a good amount of it simply to hold together all of those toppings. So crust is a big deal.

Lou’s – The crust was appropriately flaky, but not dense. It wasn’t greasy, which is a big key with this kind of pizza. You wouldn’t want to eat apple pie with a greasy crust, nor would you want tons of grease here. It added texture to the pizza, but wasn’t over emphasized. This is the Chicago-style crust for the pizza lover who doesn’t normally like crust.

Giordano’s – Unfair advantage time: Giordano’s specializes in stuffed crust pizza, and I’m not talking about that nasty stuff Pizza Hut does. There are basically two layers of crust in this pizza with a layer of gooey awesome cheese in between. The crust at Giordano’s is buttery and super flakey. It’s basically the best crust I’ve ever had for pies, pizza, cobblers, etc. ever.

Winner: Giordano’s

The Cheese

One may think that cheese is cheese, but that’s just not so. If you’ve ever had pizza made with ‘real’ mozzarella (not that shredded junk from Kraft), you’ll know what I’m talking about.

Lou’s – The cheese was plentiful and tasty. It was gooey and perfectly stretchy. In short, it was the real deal.

Giordano’s – Another unfair advantage as Giordano’s simply has more cheese (between what they put in the crust AND what they put in as pie filling). I love cheese, and the cheese at Giordano’s was amazing.

Winner: Giordano’s


Are you a pepperoni fan like myself? You like sausage and mushrooms? Just cheese? Rest easy, you can get pretty much any topping you want with Chicago-style pizza. For the sake of this very scientific study, I had pepperoni on both pizzas (although we did add shrooms to the Giordano’s).

Lou’s – The pepperoni at Lou’s was spicy, thick, and perfect. It was a high-quality sausage. It’s worth noting that Lou’s specializes in Italian sausage. It’s not the crumbly kind, either. They use a flat patty that lines the entire bottom of the pizza.

Giordano’s – This is where Gior’s cheese and crust begin to work against them. The pepperoni and shrooms were almost an afterthought. The roni was good, but all I could think about was cheese and crust.

Winner – Lou’s. Overall, Lou’s offers more unique pizzas and the toppings there (like the sausage) are kind of their calling card.


As far as filling goes, for many the sauce is THE ingredient in Chicago pizza as it’s the most present topping by volume.

Lou’s – The sauce at Lou’s is spicy, which is my thing. It’s got a basil bite to it that I love, and it doesn’t need red pepper to make your mouth warm. It’s chunky too.

Giordano’s – The sauce at Gior’s is mild, but fresh. It tastes like they just whipped it up and put it on your pizza to order. You can actually taste the tomatoes. In the end, I felt it suffered the same fate as the toppings – it just couldn’t compete with the cheese and crust.

Winner – Lou’s.


Both of these pizzas were amazing. I suppose you could pick between what you value most in your pizza (sauce and toppings Vs cheese and crust). I would probably give a slight personal nod to Giordano’s, but Lou’s is equally delicious, just in different ways.

My advice? If you make it to Chicago try all of them!

Now I've made myself hungry ...