x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Stay in and grab the TV remote: True Blood, Homeland and Baby Daddy

Three hit TV shows wrap up seasons this week - True Blood Homeland and Baby Daddy.

Alexander Skarsgard and Anna Paquin in True Blood. Courtesy HBO
Alexander Skarsgard and Anna Paquin in True Blood. Courtesy HBO

It’s a big week for scrambled brains, exploding vampires and nappy changes as Homeland, True Blood and Baby Daddy, respectively, button up their seasons with superb finales.

The psychological warfare sings tighter than a piano wire on Tuesday with Marine One, the first-season ender of Homeland, a show that was the recent winner of six Emmys including Outstanding Drama, Best Actress (Claire Danes) and Best Actor (Damian Lewis) for the Showtime network.

The delicate dance of lies, suspicion and desire performed by two of TV’s most complex characters – Marine Sergeant Nicholas Brody (Lewis), who’s both a decorated war hero and a terrorism threat, and the CIA officer Carrie Mathison (Danes), a brilliant agent who’s losing her mind to bipolar illness – delivers nail-biting, emotional thrills.

With the fate of America at stake, we find Carrie near-catatonic and confined to bed, while Brody straps on a bomb and prepares to take down half of the US government at a policy summit. Can Brody convince Carrie to get the professional help she’s been putting off all this time, even though ECT (Electroconvulsive Therapy, also known as  shock treatment) may fry her memories and hobble her usefulness as an agent? Can Carrie bring Brody back from the edge?

No spoilers here, but in the words of Homeland’s executive producer Howard Gordon: “We debated endlessly about whether or not he should flip the switch.”

While Brody and Carrie may yet survive – seeing as Homeland has a second season waiting in the wings – there’s no such luck for many of the vampires and supernatural beings who populate True Blood, a show that the creator Alan Ball fondly calls “popcorn for smart people”.It’s been five years since a Japanese scientist’s invention of synthetic blood allowed vampires to come out of their coffins to live among humans and the waitress Sookie Stackhouse (Anna Paquin), who can hear people’s thoughts, fell hard for Bill Compton (Stephen Moyer), a fetching 173-year-old bloodsucker living up the road in their sleepy Louisiana town of Bon Temps.

“I get really upset when I write scenes where characters that I love die. It’s emotional for me. It’s a form of craziness for me, I’ll admit,” says Ball, who also created Six Feet Under for HBO.

Tonight’s fifth-season finale, Save Yourself, will positively drip with “blood vengeance. It’s primal. It’s mythic”, adds Ball, as Eric (Alexander Skarsgård) tries to save Bill from losing his humanity; Andy faces the consequences of a pact he made; Alcide girds for a showdown; and Sam and Luna test their limits.

“This is the hardest episode I’ve had to do for the show,” says the director Michael Lehmann. “We have more kills. We have more blood. We have more effects. Once the attack on the vampire authority happens, there’s just, you know, vampires exploding all over the place. Eric and Nora come flying off the ceiling and kill 12 vampires in the space of about three seconds.”

Blood aside, the week’s sweet comic relief comes on Thursday with Baby Daddy, the ongoing yarn of the bachelor Ben Wheeler (Jean-Luc Bilodeau), whose carefree life is thrust in a fatherly direction when a baby girl named Emma is dumped on his doorstep. Helping him raise the tot are his brother Danny (Derek Theler), his close friends Riley (Chelsea Kane) and Tucker (Tahj Mowry) and his mother, Bonnie (Melissa Peterman).

The first-season finale, Something Borrowed, Something Ben, sees Riley in full maid-of-honour mode as she preps for her friend Katie’s wedding. Convinced that the wedding is going to be a yawner, Ben invites his wild buddy, Gene, to spice things up.

Like a toddler, Baby Daddy can be a bit unsteady on its comic feet, but at heart, it’s a good sitcom with potential for greatness: ABC has already renewed it for a second season to be broadcast next year.

The following season finales will be broadcast as follows: True Blood at 11pm tonight on OSN First HD; Homeland at 10pm on Tuesday on OSN First HD; Baby Daddy at 7.30pm on Thursday on OSN Comedy HD.