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Picks and Pans Main: TV

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True Blood

HBO, June 16, 9 p.m. ET/PT |


True Blood began to go wrong last season, as the supernatural action shifted from life in swampy Bon Temps, La., to corporate and religious issues at vampire headquarters. The first few episodes of season 6 don’t promise much improvement. Bill Compton (Stephen Moyer) has finished digesting the vampire-goddess blood he swallowed at last year’s finale, and in the process he has shed most of his quaint southern gentleman charm to become a powerfully dangerous prophet. The state of Louisiana, meanwhile, is ratcheting up its war on fanged society, shipping vampires to camps and conducting experiments on them. In other words, Blood is neglecting the potent subtext of vampire myth – forbidden sex and romance – in favor of political allegory. Isn’t that what zombies are for? I’d be inclined to ditch the whole thing if it weren’t for Anna Paquin as heroine Sookie Stackhouse, waitress and faerie heiress. Paquin is a sadly underrated actress, probably because she simply creates a grounded character without any fancy technical footwork. But even in this craziness, every word she says rings true.

The Fall

Netflix, currently streaming |


Gillian Anderson, with her sensually curved lips and finely chiseled, patrician features, is perfect in this cool yet intensely emotional British crime series. She’s Stella Gibson, a high-ranking investigator on the hunt in Belfast for a serial killer. He’s played by Jamie Dornan (Once Upon a Time), who looks like a crestfallen Ashton Kutcher and is, for all the repulsive calculation of his killings, strangely sympathetic. You want this monster caught, and yet every time he trips up, you wince. With only five episodes, The Fall makes for a perfect, not-too-long marathon. And a second season has been ordered back in England.

Jodi Arias: Dirty Little Secret

Lifetime, June 22, 8 p.m. ET/PT |


It’s only a month since Jodi Arias was convicted of murder for stabbing her lover Travis Alexander nearly 30 times—and look, here comes Lifetime with a movie, hot from the oven! With the sensational trial taking up no more than the concluding 15 minutes, this is a low-rent Fatal Attraction starring Tania Raymonde (Lost) as a love-crazed stalker and Jesse Lee Soffer (The Mob Doctor) as her rather callow victim. But even a low-rent Fatal Attraction has some power. The crudely shot bloodbath that ends this last tango makes a salient if unpleasant point: Life can go from merely crummy to headline-tawdry in the blink of an eye.