'True Blood' review: No fresh blood here

"True Blood" stars Stephen Moyer, Alexander Skarsgard, and

"True Blood" stars Stephen Moyer, Alexander Skarsgard, and Lucy Griffiths in season 5. (Credit: HBO)

THE SERIES "True Blood"

WHEN | WHERE Sunday at 9 p.m. on HBO

WHAT IT'S ABOUT Toward the end of the fifth season, the reign of crazed über-fanger and chancellor of the Vampire Authority, Russell Edgington, ended abruptly in a pool of blood and guts -- his own. But Sookie's (Anna Paquin) troubles are hardly over (as if). Russell's Authority has tried to spark civil war with humans by bombing true blood factories -- it's what Vampire Bible has prophesied anyway. By Sunday night, the prophecy appears to be coming true.


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Meanwhile, back at the Authority, Bill (Stephen Moyer) drinks a tiny vile of First Vampire Lilith's (Jessica Clark) blood -- turning him into a terrifying who-knows-what; let's call him Billith. Eric (Alexander Skarsgård), who witnessed the transformation, tells Sookie to run. He doesn't have to tell her twice. Sunday night, the Louisiana governor has declared a state of emergency as hungry vamps prowl the streets in search of fresh blood. The war may be on.

MY SAY Three, four seasons ago "True Blood" got much of the fan rapture that has now shifted to "Game of Thrones," and the reason is obvious -- there are no stakes here anymore, other than the ones that fend off fangers. When a beloved character on "Thrones" dies, he or she stays dead; when one goes here -- Bill, for example -- death may be messy, but only temporarily. A new incredibly evil figure looms this season -- Warlow -- but haven't we seen these big bad dudes before -- most recently, dearly departed Russ? Another civil rights story line is arriving, too (with shape-shifters) by next week's episode. While "True Blood" remains wildly and bloodily inventive -- and will certainly remain a huge HBO hit -- there's still an overwhelming sense that deja-vu-all-over-again has set in. Creator Alan Ball left after last season; is it possible he went because he couldn't think of anything new?

GRADE B-

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