If you didn't see the first season of HBO's True Blood, you'd better pay attention if you want be able to follow the show's second season, said creator and executive producer Alan Ball in an exclusive interview with SCI FI Wire.
"Everything gets deeper," Ball said. "Everything gets more intense. It's a lot scarier. It's sexier. It's just really, really fun. I feel like each season is a novel, and the episodes are just chapters. Especially the way our show is. The episodes are not self-contained. You know, you gotta be involved in the story, and you gotta know what's going on."
True Blood's second season begins June 14 in its Sunday 9 p.m. ET/PT timeslot. The season is based loosely on the second book in Charlaine Harris' Sookie Stackhouse Series, Living Dead in Dallas, Ball said.
"Sookie [Anna Paquin] and Bill [Stephen Moyer] will go to Dallas to help find a missing vampire who is the sheriff of the Dallas area," Ball said. "And Jason [Ryan Kwanten] is going to become involved in the Fellowship of the Sun Church in a way that is really surprising. ... There's a very interesting relationship in the show between Rev. Steve Newland of the Fellowship of the Sun Church and his wife, Sarah [Anna Camp], and Jason, that just took on its own life as we were shooting, and it's hilarious. I can't get enough of the Newlands and Jason together."
And Sookie's hometown of Bon Temps will have some drama as well when Maryann Forrester, played by Michelle Forbes, "begins stirring up all kinds of trouble," Ball said. Last season Maryann appeared to offer Tara (Rutina Wesley) some goodwill and a place to stay. But "she's got an agenda, and it's not a good one," Ball said.
According to Ball, the vampire series will continue to explore the "terrors of intimacy, in that when you really, really open up and let another person into your life and your psyche, it can be terrifying—especially when that person is a vampire. ... And then there's just the whole exploration of the dark side of human nature," he said.
While Ball plans on incorporating many elements from the book, he admits he's taken liberties. He's expanded several of the characters' stories and added more of an African-American presence. And one thing you won't see in True Blood is Elvis, a character who ends up helping Sookie out in many of her adventures in the books. In the novel series, the real Elvis gets turned into a vampire; however, the process leaves him different. Elvis becomes Bubba, a slightly touched vampire whom the vampire community takes care of.
"We are not going to meet him," Ball said. "I just couldn't figure out a way to do it that would not be cheesy. I mean, not that it is in the books. It's great, because you can imagine that it's him. ... But the only way to do it [on screen] is to have some Elvis impersonator, and it just wouldn't [be] the same."
Ball added: "The challenges for me are to remain very true to the spirit of Charlaine's books and the world and the characters. To not just go, like, 'Oh, it's supernatural, so we can do this. Wouldn't it be fun?' without keeping it rooted in the characters' emotional lives. You know, I'm a big fan. I've read a lot of speculative fiction, and the ones that really work for me are the ones in which, no matter how outlandish or otherworldly the story is, the characters, I really care about them. I'm really invested, and I understand why they behave the way they do. I'm rooting for them, and so that's the challenge for this show as well. And in that sense it's not that different from Six Feet Under [Ball's first HBO series]. People did a lot of outlandish things on that show, but you had to remain invested in them. And this is pretty much the same thing. I do have to say that I've never worked in any genre-type format where you can really just open so many doors. There's a lot of ways to tell stories that are really fresh and exciting for me as a storyteller."