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True Blood has quickly become my favorite summer show. With the airing of last night’s season two finale, “Beyond Here Lies Nothin“, I can already feel the pain of another year-long wait ahead of me. Just like Dollhouse, the first season of True Blood took a few episodes to truly get in gear—but once the series found its groove it became an intoxicating combination of sex, violence, and camp. (Anna Paquin’s increasing disregard for clothes was yet another plus.)

The second season hit the ground running, and introduced some fascinating new characters (Michelle Forbes’ deliciously anarchistic Maryann, Allan Hyde’s zen Godric), along with some transformative changes for existing characters that kept things from getting stale. I haven’t read the original novels by Charlaine Harris, but from everything I’ve heard and read it seems that this season is where the series begins to depart heavily from the books. At Comic-Con, Harris said she was fine with series showrunner Alan Ball changing things because some things (such as a recurring Elvis character) probably wouldn’t have translated to the screen very well.

While it didn’t seem that obvious from the start, it’s clear to me now that Ball has a keen sense of what makes a fun and pulpy show—which is especially surprising coming from the guy who brought us American Beauty and Six Feet Under. The series rarely feels like it’s treading water, and its brisk pace makes it perfect for relaxed summertime viewing. Ball seemed very excited about tackling some of the later plots from the novels, and I hope the series ends up running for several more seasons to give him the chance. It’s the one shining grace that HBO has today, and they would be stupid to kill it off before it gets a healthy five-season run.

Discuss: What did you think of the True Blood finale, and the second season overall? (Please try and refrain from mentioning spoilers in the beginning of your comments. Your first couple sentences get posted on the front page.)

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