In a recent interview with Complex.com Alan Ball talks about character development, Oh Shit moments and Season 4.
Oh, of course. I think all of the characters are so much fun—I would love to spend more time with all of them. And that’s one of the reasons why I like the additional content in the DVD, because you do get to spend a little more time with certain characters outside of the context of the show itself.
For me, this show is really my first time working in something that’s so “genre.” I’m learning all kinds of geeky genre terms, like “the canon.” [Laughs.] And we’re always adding to the show’s canon. It’s very interesting, and it is daunting, but that’s just sort of the nature of what the show has evolved into. That’s what it comes with.
You love to end episodes with these crazy “Oh shit!” moments, and it’s often a pain to have to wait a week to see what happens next.
[Laughs.] With those moments, we don’t think in terms of, “OK, now we have to top how the last episode ended”; we pay more attention to the organic moment where it’s like, “Oh my God, I really want to see what happens next!” You can say that True Blood is a metaphor for this, or it’s a metaphor for that, but ultimately the show is just entertainment. So, at the risk of sounding hokey, you want to leave people wanting more, because you want them to come back the next weekend. Even when they bought the DVD set, you want them to think, “Oh, man, I have to watch the next episode immediately!”
“I remember when I read the books, I would read before I went to bed at night. I’d think, “OK, I have to get up for a six o’clock production meeting tomorrow morning, so I can only read one chapter.” Then, I’d get to the end of that chapter and it’d be, like, And Gram’s dead. [Laughs.] And I’m sitting there, in bed, thinking, “No way, motherfucker! What am I gonna do?” Then I’d end up reading seven chapters, and I’d look at the clock and it’d be one in the morning, and I’d think, “Oh well.”
There’s something kind of cool about being sucked into a story that intensely, no pun intended. But I loved that, and I really felt that it’s such an important element of the books that we needed to capture in the show as organically as possible.
Going into this new season, Season Four, it seems like you’re taking it back to the more Bon Temps-based nature of Season Two, with a new character coming into the town and raising all kinds of hell.
Well, it is like that, in that there is some person shaking things up at home, and all of Season Four takes place in Bon Temps or Shreveport; nobody goes anywhere. In Season Two, the vampires did go to Dallas, and there was all of the stuff with the Fellowship of the Sun, but everybody ended up in Bon Temps; this year, everybody pretty much stays at home.
There are less new characters then there were last season probably. And there’s something kind of fun about taking some of your characters, sticking them in a plane, and flying them off somewhere new, where they’re sort of fish out of water. But I basically just go wherever the story takes us. I work with five other writers, and we try to figure out interesting stories that will challenge all of our regular characters in new and interesting ways, and force them to change and grow, sometimes for the better and sometimes not. We always want to keep the show fresh and not make it seem like we’re just treading water.