While True Blood owes its existence to author Charlaine Harris and her Southern Vampire Mysteries series of books, there's no denying that it owes its popularity to creator and showrunner Alan Ball. So what happens when said creator/showrunner leaves the show?
Well, we're about find out. After season five ends -- which, for those not keeping track, is the upcoming season -- Ball will be leaving True Blood in the capacity of showrunner, though he will remain as an executive producer/advisor.
Courtesy of Deadline, here's the statement from HBO:
"When we extended our overall deal with Alan Ball in July 2011, we always intended that if we proceeded to 'True Blood'’s sixth season that Alan would take a supervisory role on the series and not be the day-to-day showrunner. If we proceed to season six, the show will remain in the very capable hands of the talented team of writers and producers who have been with the show for a number of years. This is the best possible world for both HBO and Alan Ball. Alan will remain available as executive producer to consult and advise on 'True Blood' and he will be free to develop new shows for both HBO and Cinemax. 'Banshee,' on which Alan serves as executive producer, is the first in house series for Cinemax and is expected to begin production this spring."
And here's the statement from Alan Ball:
"'True Blood' has been, and will continue to be, a highlight of not only my career but my life. Because of the fantastic cast, writers, producers and crew, with whom I have been lucky enough to work these past five years, I know I could step back and the show will continue to thrive as I look forward to new and exciting ventures."
Season four of True Blood was considered by many to be the worst of the series – directionless, ridiculous, obnoxious, and worst of all, boring. As someone who has watched the show from start to finish, I can scarcely remember what the point of season four was. Fairies! Cat people! Witches! Baby Eric! King Bill! Jason and Jessica, sitting in a tree! Hilarious ghost-action! And more, more, more. It was as though the writers of the show picked plot points at random and refused to make sense of any of them.
At this point, it's unclear as to whether or not Alan Ball leaving the show is a good thing or a bad thing. Obviously, the first and best season wouldn't have been the funny, fresh, and entertaining experience it was without Ball, but perhaps the guy is just sick of living in the world of True Blood and would do everyone a hearty favor by moving on to something new.
As utterly senseless as season four was, the most interesting stuff came at the very end of the very last episode (SPOILER ALERT!) – Russell Edgington was alive and on the loose, the vampire-hating Steve Newlin was back as a vampire, Bill and Eric teamed up and murdered Nan Flanagan, and Tara, the most maligned and annoying True Blood character of all time, was shot and seemed to be dying. Like I said, good things all around!
The point is, there are reasons to look forward to season five, even if season four was consistently disappointing. Are you looking forward to it, Screen Ranters?
Twelve episodes of True Blood return to HBO in summer 2012.
Follow me on Twitter @benandrewmoore.