HBO: Staying True 

Blood, sexy sweat and tears on True Blood

In its early days, HBO sometimes offered little more than the same movies aired repeatedly, ad nauseam.

But as the channel matured, so did its programming and it became known for producing provocative, original series. Cable audiences were treated to the likes of The Wire, Sopranos, Flight of the Conchords, Tales From the Crypt and Def Comedy Jam, as well as introduced to the scathing sophistication of Dennis Miller and Bill Maher.

Though HBO's True Blood is along the played-out lines of vampire/werewolf/stupidly-brave-in-the-face-of-major-danger human, it has been a successful product. It has strong source material, The Southern Vampire Mysteries by Charlaine Harris, and, in what should be seen as a nod to faithful viewers, True Blood takes relatively short hiatuses between seasons as opposed to the year-long or longer breaks of other HBO shows (ahem, Sopranos).

Season No. 4 of True Blood is back and sees Sookie Stackhouse (Anna Paquin) dealing with shapeshifters, Wiccans, Bill Compton's (Stephen Moyer) past and her changing relationship with drop-dead(ly) dashing vampire Eric Northman (Alexander Skarsgard) and ruggedly handsome werewolf Alcide Herveaux (Joe Manganiello).

Life in the little make-believe parish of Bon Temps (French for "good times"), La., is as juicy as ever, as blood, sex, manipulation, revenge and magic overtake its residents like creeping marshland.

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