TV: From Bon Temps to Amish Country


First, it was a family living in a funeral parlor. Then, a troop of supernatural creatures running amok in Louisiana. And now? An ex-con, adept in the martial arts, posing as a murdered sheriff in Amish country. What do these things have in common?

All three are television series created by the acclaimed screenwriter Alan Ball.

The writer and producer of HBO’s “Six Feet Under” and “True Blood” is raising eyebrows with his latest project: a move to Cinemax to executive produce a new series called “Banshee.”

A tight lid is being kept on the show’s details. The LA Times obtained an exclusive report that reveals only the following: “Banshee” will premiere on Cinemax as part of the network’s push towards original programming. It will be set in a small town in Pennsylvania Amish Country. It will be darkly comic in tone and feature an “ex-con posing as a murdered sheriff, imposing his own brand of justice while also cooking up plans that serve his own interests.”

Oh, and there won’t be any faeries, vampires, or otherworldly inhabitants. The residents of “Banshee” are one hundred percent human — which doesn’t make them any less flawed, or moral, than their non-human counterparts, if “Six Feet Under” is any indication.

Will you tune in to see what the macabre screenwriter has to offer? Is the third time the charm?

Be sure to follow Trove’s HBO, True Blood, and Television channels to keep up with the latest in Ball’s unpredictable celluloid journey.

Image by Getty

TV: The New ‘Must See TV’ Is Sunday Night on HBO

Let’s face facts: It’s August. Network executives are most likely sunning themselves on yachts under cloudless Caribbean skies, sipping gin-and-tonics, their only concern what Hamptons property to buy next.

What aren’t they doing? Thinking about what’s on TV right now. And that’s why – to be frank – the current lineup is a parched wasteland, the only tumbleweed a lonely “Jersey Shore” in Italy, dragging Snooki’s wilted poof through the dust.

Luckily, there’s one exception to the rule:

Sunday nights on HBO.

The cable network’s Sunday night lineup has become a staple of popular culture in and of itself, as individual shows cycle through their seasons at different times. And the dead zone of August is no exception.

So what does this haven of original programming look like? Glad you asked.

» “Boardwalk Empire,” currently airing repeats of its debut season in anticipation of next season’s premiere, chronicles the origins of crime in Atlantic City during the Prohibition Era. Called “the most purely — and impurely — enjoyable storytelling HBO has delivered in ages, like a movie that you never want to end” and “the best new show on television” by critics, it’s hard to think of a reason not to tune in.

» “True Blood” – the fourth season about the residents of fictional Bon Temps, Louisiana, adds even more sizzle to its already scalding Cajun mix by introducing a slew of supernatural creatures (were-panthers, necromantic witches) to keep the vampires company. “True Blood” has been called “graphically sexy and scary, and often wildly funny,” and “an irresistible mixture of pungent political satire, observant pop sociology and lurid drive-in thrills.” Also, the vampires are sexy.

» “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” now in its eighth season, follows “Seinfeld” co-creator Larry David as he blunders his way through conventional social situations, offending friends and enemies alike. Critics call the current season “as twisted, and twistedly funny, as ever” and “a strange world indeed, where the rules and the rituals are both fragile and yet brash. It’s like Jane Austen doing vaudeville.” Pretty-pretty-pretty good.

» “Entourage” – the eighth and final season chronicling the trials and tribulations of A-list movie star Vincent Chase and his childhood friends from Queens as they attempt to navigate the unfamiliar landscape of LA is “unmatched as a portrait of the entertainment industry.” “’Entourage’ is clarifying a moral message — drugs will kill you, terrible behavior is terrible, and real friends are forever. It feels like a reassuring final season.”

Gangsters, vampires, neurotics, and movie stars – what else could you possibly ask for on a Sunday night? The curtain rises at 8 p.m. eastern.

To follow the line-up, check out Trove’s HBO, Boardwalk Empire, True Blood, Curb Your Enthusiasm, and Entourage channels.

All photos from HBO.

TV: ‘True Blood’ Bears Its Fangs Again



In the last few years, vampires have been popping up out of their coffins everywhere — on tween t-shirts declaring allegiance to “Team Jacob,” on Teen Choice Award surfboards, on the covers of young adult “paranormal romance” novels — but none are as wickedly dark and cunning as the vampiric residents of Bon Temps, featured in HBO’s “True Blood.”

This Sunday, after sunset, the bloodthirsty, motley crew of vampires, shape-shifters, witches, faeries, and were-panthers slink into a fourth season of the acclaimed series that is loosely based on Charlaine Harris’ “The Southern Vampire Mysteries" novels.

“True Blood,” which follows protagonist Sookie Stackhouse as she navigates her way through a rocky relationship with southern gentleman-slash-Civil War veteran-slash-vampire Bill Compton and an exceptionally stressful waitressing job, has been embraced by critics and viewers alike. TV Guide’s Matt Roush called the series “graphically sexy and scary, and often wildly funny,” while Glenn Garvin of the Miami Herald categorized it as an “irresistible mixture of pungent political satire, observant pop sociology and lurid drive-in thrills.”

The new season promises to serve up everything audiences have come to expect: “More fetishes, more lust, more evil, more startling ways for bodies to change and transmogrify … and more love gone wrong, which is something Bon Temps never runs out of,” according to Rolling Stone’s Rob Sheffield.

Fangbangers” can tune in to HBO at 9 p.m. Eastern on Sunday to watch the premiere.

Also premiering this week:

» “Suits”: A new USA series that follows “a high-powered, smug attorney who hires a con man with a photographic memory to serve as his protege at his law firm.” Tonight at 10 p.m. Eastern on USA.

» “Weeds”: The dark comedy series about a widow who begins selling marijuana to support her family and becomes entangled in a slew of illegal activities returns for a seventh season. Monday at 10 p.m. Eastern on Showtime.

For more, follow Trove’s True Blood, Vampires, and Television channels.