Even if you fancy yourself over the whole “vampire” thing, there isn’t anything more deliciously nasty than a new season of “True Blood.” The series has devolved from a smartly allegorical look at bigotry in America to an unmitigated clusterfuck of tangled plot twists and boring character additions. But there are still enough one-liner quips, sweet doses of southern-tinged charm and excessive bouts of nudity to make “True Blood” worth a tune-in.

True Blood

Season 5 premiere
Sundays at 9 p.m.
HBO


Season five has already risen above the previous season’s witch-tastic melodrama. The hideously drawn-out, will-they/won’t-they Bill-Sookie-Eric love triangle fuss is finally over. The second Sookie (Anna Paquin) made her non-choice at the end of last season, Bill (Stephen Moyer) and Eric (Alexander Skarsgard) immediately became 10 times more exciting without the love-sick puppy dog auras hanging over their heads every waking moment. The premiere has their new bromance fully on display, with Moyer and Skarsgard each complementing the other to perfection. They never needed Sookie anyway.

Moving on to Sookie: she really is the worst character in the premiere, and, undoubtedly, the entire series. Her self-centeredness knows no bounds and her calm demeanor while cleaning tattered bits of Debbie’s (Brit Morgan) blown-off head from the kitchen floor just comes off way creepier than was probably intended. At least there aren’t any pining lovers hanging around, besides poor Alcide (Joe Manganiello), who’s truly having some bad luck in the romance department lately.

Besides Sookie and Lafayette’s (Nelsan Ellis) poorly played grief (did we really need the scene of Lafayette lying in the tub staring at the razor while the sad music mourns heavily in the background?), the rest of the premiere promises plenty of twisty plots to keep the next 11 episodes juicy. Especially compelling is the imminent return of supposedly dead, badass ex-Vampire-King Russell Edgington (Denis O’Hare), who breathed new life — so to speak — into season three and is the best villain the series has conjured up so far.

What’s more, we finally come close to the illustrious vampire “Authority,” a constant teaser presence in previous seasons. At the same time, we meet Eric’s sister, allowing “True Blood” to violate yet another social dictate. But the incestuous sex comes off as a cheap rip-off of HBO’s golden child, “Game of Thrones,” rather than a shocking moment. The series has to work a lot harder than that to shock it’s audience with mere sex.

Though the premiere did have its upsides — not the least of which is a newly gay, newly fanged Rev. Steve Newlin (Michael McMillian) and Pam (Kristin Bauer van Straten) in a sweat suit — there are still way too many plot lines to make sense of. And why does “True Blood” feel the need to constantly pull in a bunch of unnecessary new characters, who don’t matter and no one cares about? We’re looking at you Terry (Todd Lowe) and all the brouhaha with your former Marine buddy (Scott Foley) about the weird and pointless fires.

But truly, the worst moment of the premiere has to be when Tara awakens as a vampire. “True Blood” just can’t find the courage to kill off any big characters, which is unfortunate as there are way too many to begin with. And Tara has been useless for a while now. What a perfect way to rid the show of yet another boring loose end. Instead, now we have to deal with Tara’s whole baby vamp drama, when we’ve already gone through that mess with Jessica (Deborah Ann Woll) ages ago.

“True Blood” really needs to stop taking itself so seriously. It’s at it’s best when the quips are flying and the cheese factor is high, as long as the series remains self-aware. The premiere makes the mistake of falling into soap opera territory, without having any fun along the way. Still, the show somehow manages to be as addictive as V and equally unpredictable. It has its faults, but none so great as to make us tear our eyes away from the screen and, god forbid, miss what happens next.

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