True Blood

HBO, June 10, 9 p.m. ET/PT |


A mix of gore, sex and camp humor, True Blood is constitutionally so unstable, it never has to worry about jumping the shark: It could waltz with a penguin too, and who’d know? The first episodes of season 5 are a mess, with little of the cohesion provided by last summer’s strong, seizing guest performance by Fiona Shaw. But the show is still crazily entertaining. Bill Compton (Stephen Moyer) and Eric Northman (Alexander Skarsgard) are pawns in the growing fundamentalist vampire war. We’re ushered into oppressively corporate vampire headquarters and learn all sorts of silly arcana about these monsters. For example, did you know vampires can suffer developmental disabilities? This is revealed in a bizarre plot twist that plays like a sick joke. Cast newcomer Christopher Meloni emerges from the shadows looking like a barrel-chested mobster, then retracts his fangs with an amusingly delicate click. As one of the show’s many vaguely defined uber-vampires, he seems to be having a sly good time. Beyond that, the plot just sloshes around. The werewolves, who are about as scary as pack dogs waiting for a sled, return for a funeral. And indefatigable Sookie Stackhouse (the terrific Anna Paquin) gets on with the business of dealing with the supernatural freaks crowding her porch.

Jersey Shore Shark Attack

Syfy, June 9, 9 p.m. ET/PT |


Syfy keeps gamely throwing out silly horror mash-ups along the lines of 2010’s Sharktopus. This one takes Jaws and grafts it, probably with chewed gum and waterproof hair gel, onto a parody of MTV’s Jersey Shore. Pile-drilling off the sands of Seaside Heights stirs up a school of red-eyed, albino sharks. They leap out of the water and terrify a population that includes proud lowlifes named Nooki and the Complication. It’s intentionally bad, but I laughed anyways-sorry, anyway. When an overturned boat covered with blood drifts near shore, one kid’s first assumption is that the smears are spaghetti sauce.


A&E, June 3, 10 p.m. ET/PT |


Sheriff Walt Longmire of Absaroka County, Wyo., makes Justified’s Raylan Givens look like the sort of fun-lover who’d wear a lampshade over his marshal’s hat. Stoic, plainspoken and poker-faced, Longmire nonetheless grieves for his dead wife and, reminded of her, lets one buffalo-size teardrop splatter the toe of his dusty boot. Then it’s back to solving a murder. Robert Taylor, an Australian actor virtually unknown here, makes a fine, old-fashioned lawman: He looks and sounds a lot like the late James Arness, star of the long-ago, legendary CBS western Gunsmoke. If the show isn’t terribly ambitious to break new ground (you’ve already got Justified for that), it’s a nice lull.

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