Now that True Blood has shuffled off its immortal coil I can admit I liked the series less than I wanted to. And I wanted to. I watched every episode, usually twice because HBO runs their series forever. You can almost always catch any of their series on each of their channels and they give you a guaranteed marathon every three weeks. True Blood’s last season was the first time I only watched each episode once.
I like my vampires a little more sociopathic than the ones Charlaine Harris offers. I thought True Blood could cover that. They teased with vampires like Franklin Mott and Russell Edginton, psychopathic maniacs in a world of sociopathic lunatics, a netherworld where True Blood seldom went. It was a romance, a soap opera with a grinding organ, swelling with the drama, not a horror series. Of course, that wasn’t the point.
True Blood‘s Alan Ball used the Charlaine Harris Sookie Stackhouse novels as a starting point and he translated the first book, Dead Until Dark, as faithfully as one would expect. But Ball had his own stories to tell, his own mythology to create. It wasn’t like Ball had his hands on the Vampire Bible and he was Vampire Bill Compton infused with the spirit of his creator, or at least his licensee.
With each season Ball’s series and the written word deviated more and more until they seemed like fan fiction of each other. At first, it was the little things, like how Lafayette dies in the beginning of the second book while he’s still alive and cooking on screen in Bon Temps. Terry Bellefleur makes it to the end of the books, but died during season six over two episodes on TV. By the last season, the series made a fairly complete break from the novels, only giving lip service to plots and character arcs.
Now that True Blood has met the true death and it’s Definitely Dead we know certain characters from the book won’t get a chance to make an appearance. Some of the characters were very well suited for the screen. Some, not so much. But we’ll never know because they never showed up for the party. Here are some of the characters from the book series that were never unborn on the screen.
JB Du Rone
JB Du Rone is as dumb as socks and I’m only really including him so I can write that. Sookie describes him as gorgeous and vacant. He lifts weights for a living. When he needs extra cash, he strips at a fairy Chippendale knock-off. He is very loyal, kind of like a cocker spaniel, though he never turns into anything. JB Du Rone went to school with Tara and Sookie, and didn’t learn a thing. Sookie and Tara, who is an entirely different character in the book series, take turns being chaperoned to places with him when they want good-looking arm candy.
In the books, Tara runs a store called Tara’s Togs, marries JB and has kids with him, Sara Sookie du Rone and Robert Thorton du Rone. That’s after she survived being made into a vampire’s love-slave. Tara Thornton spends a lot of the book forgiving Sookie, while not really listening.
True Blood could have afforded a JB du Rone, they grow like magnolia in Louisiana. The book’s arc could have replaced Tara’s turn as a pissed off vampire who’s all loving sunshine with her maker, Pamela Swynford De Beaufort (played by Kristin Bauer van Straten, the girlfriend with “Man-Hands” on Seinfeld). Tara could still have been the wise ass human, rather than settling into the scene as a smitten succubus. A marriage to JB could also have replaced the whole thing with her mother, Lettie Mae Thornton (played by Obie-winning Adina Porter who is currently in the pitch room as Kendra on The Newsroom).
That just went on and on, and though I’m sure it’s a staple of Southern Gothic, a little less bible-thumping goes a long way. There’s a reason vampires run from crosses. They’re usually attached to someone trying to save your soul or sell you resurrection, neither of which vampires need. Hell no, as Spike Lee told the Jehovah’s. If True Blood needed another vampire, they probably could have bought the license to…
Imagine a rock and roll star gone to fat. Imagine that he was so big that the world felt his influence and knew what he ate. Imagine probably the biggest solo rock star in modern history, so handsome they put him in movies. So popular, his TV appearances made history. So sexy, they could only film him from the hip-shaking waist down. So big, he insulated himself from the world.
Now imagine that star, who could send his Cadillac out on tour for him, dying while taking a shit. You don’t like it, do you? Or maybe you do, there are some people who love that shit. Eddie Murphy wondered if they flushed that shit.
Anyway, if you’re from the South, and the Sookie Stackhouse novels are definitely southern gothics, for a kick-off you hate that he died like that. You’d do anything to keep that rock and roll god alive, even if he was far too gone to save in any way possible or impossible. You’d turn him into a vampire, wouldn’t you? Hell, you’d feed him your favorite cat.
The unlicensed Pelvis could have been replaced by his brother Enis or could have sat in for Sam’s brother, Tommy Mickens, star of I Was A Teenage Shapeshifter. Tommy was alright when he was ripping off Sam and trying to kill him, and he was a good gamble in a dog fight. But ultimately, I was glad when they put him to sleep. The concept of skinwalking, being able to turn into people after you kill your parents, would never have seen the light of day, and Tommy did get to sleep with Sam’s girlfriend Luna. Bubba could have swiveled his hips at one of the too-few orgies. He would have given a great eulogy for Terry.
John Quinn is Sookie’s weretiger lover in the novels. She had to have one. He completed the set. Quinn first shows up when he’s putting together the fight ring for Alcede’s father to die in when he fights for the challenge of packmaster.
When he’s not a tiger, John Quinn looks like Mr. Clean. I kinda pictured Yul Brynner in clown pants, but I probably wouldn’t tell him that to his face because even as Mr. Clean he could mop the floor with you. He almost held his own against Bill Compton, and Bill was pissed. Broke Mr. Clean’s jaw.
Quinn runs Extreme(ly Elegant) Events, which puts on shows and stages battles, and provides the pomp and circumstance to the supernatural world in the Sookieverse. Quinn put together assorted vampire weddings and mutant motorcycle races. He stages coronations and werewolf wrestling. I think he put together a beer bong jamboree for some shifters in ’07. Quinn’s mom is crazy and his sister’s taking lessons. Probably the best match for Sookie, save the last, in the last book, and I’m not saying who that is, he might have eaten his rivals on TV.
Personally, I think Quinn would have been a welcome distraction to that oh-too-romantic love fest ménage a trois in season five when Sookie was singing “Torn Between Two Lovers” and asking the vampires to all just get along. Or Quinn would have been a memorable addition.
True Blood could have used some of the supernatural radio station, WDED or KDED, that was played in the werewolf bars and at Fangtasia in the novels. Quinn also could have stepped in for the Terry Bellefleur (played by Todd Lowe who broke up Lane Kim’s band as Zach Van Gerbig on Gilmore Girls) supernatural nonsense too. He was a Gulf War Vet…there’s evil everywhere. We get it. Humans are meant for eating, so all this nonsense about human on human crime deserves to get his PTSD ass choked by the desert Ifrit. Desert Ifrit? Sounds like it goes good with Turkish coffee.
Desmond Cataliades was probably my favorite character in the book. He was a semi-demon who knew more than he ever let on about Sookie Stackhouse, the errant waitress the book is told through. Mr. Cataliades is a semi-demon, but also a little devil. By the last book he’s even gathering souls and making deals.
Desmond is the lawyer for Sophie-Anne Leclerq, the Queen of Louisiana, who was played by Evan Rachel Wood in the series. Sookie first encounters Cataliades when her cousin Hadley dies. Hadley was a favorite of the Queen and Cataliades had his own reasons to take an interest in the fairy blood-bag.
Cataliades was Sookie’s sponsor. He’s the reason she can read minds. Desmond spilled a little blood into Sookie’s grandfather. Desmond. Cataliades is the great-great great grandfather of the first telepath Sookie encounters other than herself, Barry Horowitz. Barry doesn’t know this and Sookie never lets it slip. She respects Desmond Cataliades, feels protective of the semi-satanic shyster, slips him some wedding catering food while he’s fleeing to fight another day.
He is also uncle to my second favorite character …
DianthatalkssofastthatCharlaineHarrishastotypeherconsverationslikethis. I won’t do that anymore. If I do it’s a typo.
Diantha is a punk semi-demon with a fashion sense that is all her own and if you think she clashes, keep it to yourself. She’s got pointy teeth and a killer smile. Diantha would probably be the first person I’d call to get rid of a body. Diantha had a sister, Gladiola, who was a messenger for Queen Sophie-Anne, but she died delivering Sookie a message. Charlaine Harris took the kill-the-messenger idea very seriously in her books.
Diantha was first called into the Sookieverse to sniff out her sister’s body, which she burns in Sookie’s driveway. Diantha tells Sookie about Niall and all the trouble he winds up causing in all the worlds he causes them in. Diantha had a no bullshit attitude and was a much better listener than a sharer. She was completely without guile and yet, all guile.
True Blood could have inserted Diantha and Cataliades into the series in place of Jessica. There was no Jessica in the book. Jessica Hamby was supposed to be Bill’s punishment, not ours. I was annoyed by Jessica when she was first introduced in the series and again later. I fell into her glamor for a little bit, even watched her video blogs, well some of them. The affair with Hoyt Fortenberry broke the trance if only because Maxine Fortenberry is a perennial buzz-kill for me. Given the size of her role in the book, Diantha could also have stood in for Fangtasia’s Ginger, who started screaming in season one and didn’t stop until well, we’re still waiting.
Appius Livius Ocella
Appius Livius Ocella is Eric Northman’s maker. He thought Eric was cute and force-fed him some blood and a little something on the side for a century or two. In life, Appius Livius Ocella was a Roman soldier. He was ’round when Jesus Christ had his moment of doubt and pain.
In death, he’s described as a bastard. He turned Russian Royalty Alexei Romanov into a vampire because he didn’t like commies. Alexei was always a troubled child and he’s no less troubled as a vampire. Alexei is a true mad Russian and breaks Appius Livius Ocella’s spine in a fit of clarity. Appius Livius dies by accident when he’s skewered by a fairy who was actually aiming for Sookie. HBO could have picked anyone from Rome. I could see Lucius Vorenus or Titus Pullo twisting the knife into this role.
I would have preferred the bare-faced animal instincts and self-serving ruthlessness of Appius Livius Ocella to the benevolent, metaphysical, smiling baby face of Godric (played by Allan Hyde). The Viking Eric needed to be tamed, not nurtured. I’d like to think Appius Livius Ocella passed on Godric, who was 16 when he was turned by a Roman Soldier, after being liberated from Gaul to be brought back to Rome as a slave. Godric was also 2,000 years old and also played with his food until one day he got tired of killing and fell into an existential crisis. Godric solved this by deciding not to exist. It worked out for him, but not for the viewer, because he kept coming back in flashbacks.
Movies and TV shows have to shrink-wrap the books they’re based on. They have to cut corners and make statements. Very few movies are competely faithful to a book and almost no TV series. Half of Angel Heart was set in New Orleans, Falling Angel takes place entirely in New York, and neither suffers. True Blood stayed fairly true until it learned its power, like the baby vampire Jessica.