Book vs. DVD: Sookie Stackhouse

Some of today’s most popular movies and television series started off as books.  Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris is a mystery starring Sookie Stackhouse, a telepathic barmaid from Bon Temps, Louisiana.  The story takes place after vampires have made their existence known to the world and are beginning to be accepted into mainstream society in America.  One night at work, Sookie’s dream comes true and a vampire named Bill walks into the bar.  After rescuing Bill from a couple attempting to drain his blood, Sookie and the vampire embark on a romance and Sookie learns that there are many more interesting creatures in this world than she ever knew of before.  If you like vampire novels with a splash of romance and mystery, this book is for you.  It’s an entertaining bit of light reading that will force you to leave the comfy confines of your home and race back to the library for the sequel.

Following the success of this book and its sequels, HBO adapted it into a television series.  Starring Anna Paquin as Sookie, True Blood: The Complete First Season follows the events of Dead Until Dark.  The main storyline remains the same, with Sookie and the residents of Bon Temps trying to figure out who is murdering local women.  Not everything is exactly the same as the book:  characters who are minor in the novel are given their own important storylines (with Sookie’s brother Jason becoming addicted to vampire blood), and characters who don’t appear until later novels are transplanted into this first season and are given new personalities (like Tara and her new “don’t take any you-know-what” attitude).

Personally, I enjoyed the book much more than the TV series.  While the HBO series was spot-on concerning the main events of the novel, the changes that were made from what was originally in the book didn’t seem fitting to me.  However, the casting is excellent and most of the characters are exactly as I saw them in my head while reading the book.  My only other complaint is that I am a bit squeamish, and due to the graphic nature of the show, some of the scenes were a little hard to watch.  But overall, reading the bok and watching the show are both fun escapes from reality.

But enough about what I think.  Which did YOU enjoy more:  the book, or the DVD?

A Man for All Species by Marc Marrone

You may already be familiar with Marc Marrone – he has appeared on the Martha Stewart Show many times as a pet expert, giving helpful advice and information all while surrounded by a menagerie of animals. It’s a fascinating sight – birds, bunnies, kittens, gerbils – all adorable, all  in perfect harmony, the living embodiment of a peaceable kingdom. Meanwhile, Marc calmly explains the best way to brush your cat’s teeth, or gives tips on caring for your iguana, while Harry, his giant red Amazon parrot perches on his shoulder.

A Man for All Species is Marc’s story and, while it’s not a guide to keeping pets, you’ll pick up all kinds of fascinating details that will help you enjoy and understand your pet. Marc owns Parrots of the World, one of the largest pet stores in the world, he is one of the largest exporters of ferrets to Japan (where they are wildly popular) and now Europe, exports birds (many of which he has bred and raised himself) all over the world but always makes time for the smallest birds and animals in his care. Cleanliness and their comfort and safety is always his primary concern.

Some of the most interesting sections of the book include his helping Orthodox Jews during Passover (no grain is allowed in the house during Passover so he has developed grain-free food for birds and small pets; also many cannot have an animal in the house during Passover and board their pets with Marc at his store) and his relationship with Martha Stewart – taping live television segments with animals can forge a strong friendship!

Through all the ups and downs and adventures of all sorts, Marc’s love of animals of all kinds remains unwavering and he shares that love and fascination with us in this fun book.

Gone Too Soon

If you’re a fan of television it’s probably happened to you – and probably more than once. You start watching a new show, you really enjoy it and start to follow it and then – BAM! – it gets canceled, usually before an important story line is finished. A lot of these shows are critical darlings, but never found a large audience, or they’re the victim of being moved to different nights and times too often. The Hollywood writer’s strike two years ago was devastating for several shows. While we can’t fire up production again on some of these beloved shows, thanks to DVDs the library can give you a chance to go back and re-live many shows, even those with too short of a run to go to syndication. Here’s just a sampling of what we have available:

Veronica Mars (victim of network tinkering, the first season is outstanding, 2nd and 3rd seasons go progressively downhill)

Firefly (yanked by FOX despite rabid fan following; those fans helped push the making of the feature film, Serenity)

Better Off Ted (funnier than The Office, this corporate snark-fest was big on laughs, low on viewers partly because it’s schedule changed constantly)

Eli Stone (creative thinking outside the box and the writer’s strike spelled doom for this fun drama)

Pushing Daisies (nothing else quite like it on tv – funny, romantic, silly, profound, and colorful with pies! – the writer’s strike prevented it from picking up the audience it deserved)

What about you? Any short-lived tv series you’d love to see again?

Ballykissangel – Village with Heart

Many years ago, one summer evening I was switching channels, trying to find something other than reruns. On IPTV, I came across a charming show about a village in Ireland. It had quirky characters, an English Catholic priest who didn’t want to be there and an feisty Irish lady Barkeep. Thus began my love affair with Ballykissangel. It was a wonderful BBC soap opera, which was broadcast 1996 – 2001. There is humor and sadness. Peter Clifford, ( Stephen Tompkinson) a young Catholic priest from Manchester, is transferred to the village of Ballykissangel, Ireland, and is taken by the dry-humored publican Assumpta Fitzgerald (Dervla Kirwan) who has almost the exact opposite of his good nature and dislikes the organized church. As soap operas, go this one was very good. The third season was the best as Peter and Assumpta declare their love and are going to leave Ballykissangel.

Both Stephen Tompkinson and Dervla Kriwan left the show at the end of the third season. The 4th, 5th and 6th seasons were good, but didn’t compare to the first 3 seasons. During the last 3 seasons a young actor, Col Farrell, joined the show. He is now know as Colin Farrell, star of many major motion pictures. Stephen Tompkinson now stars in a IPTV show called Wild at Heart, which we also own.

Horror Week at DPL – “Hush” from Buffy the Vampire Slayer

To help get you in the mood for a deliciously frightening Halloween, the librarians at Davenport Public Library are going to share some of the favorite blood-chilling books and movies. Read on if you dare!

GentlemenI’ll get things started with an episode from the late, lamented tv series Buffy the Vampire Slayer. “Hush”, from the 4th season, has almost no dialogue, but it’s this very silence that adds to the horror. One night while everyone is asleep, The Gentlemen – tall, spectral figures dressed like funeral directors – magically steal the voice of everyone in Sunnydale. The people panic and chaos reins. The next night The Gentlemen, accompanied by their gruesome, Igor-like henchmen, go in search of their first victim. The trapped man is unable to scream for help and The Gentlemen cut out his heart.  Of course, Buffy, Xander, Willow, Giles and company soon find a solution, but not before everyone is thoroughly terrified.

There are two things that completely freaked me out about this show – the fact that no one could speak (and therefore were unable to call for help) and the fact that The Gentlemen, their skeletel faces grinning widely, floated above the ground as they wandered through the silent town searching for victims, their terrifying helpers limping along at their sides. I couldn’t look out the window after dark for months after seeing the show.

Written and directed by series creator Joss Whedon, this episode was nominated for an Emmy for Best Writing and is often included in lists of 10 best Buffy episodes.

I am not a number– I am a Free Man!

Okay, so I like to think I would defend our intellectual freedoms under desperate circumstances, but what if I was mysteriously kidnapped and dropped into an Utopian community? Yes, I lose my name and I cannot leave the city limits or this weird orb-like creature will eat me, but everyone is so happy and intelligent and beautiful.  All I have to do is stop asking questions and I could be content like them. And they have parades, like, everyday.

prisonerThis is the basic plot of The Prisoner–a 1960’s cult British program starring Patrick McGoohan. McGoohan plays an ex-British Government employee who wakes up to find himself in “The Village” with everyone calling him number Six. Unlike me, Six is not charmed by the pretty landscaping and golf cart rides; he spends all 17 episodes in a constant mind-battle with number Two while alternately trying to escape and find out who is number One. Just writing this blogpost, my brain has gone into overdrive remembering the mental exercise I received from watching this show: What freedoms do I have? What freedoms do I not have? What freedoms would I not realize were gone? What freedoms would I allow to be taken in order to be happy? Would I know the difference between freedom and the illusion of freedom? Ack! Thought-provoking television!

You’ve got several options on experiencing the Prisoner:

Be seeing you!

TV on DVD

Want to take a walk down memory lane and follow the adventures of Sheriff Andy Taylor again? Miss a pivotol episode of Lost? Need a good laugh, something witty from Frasier or laugh-out loud silly from Home Improvement? The Davenport Library is the place to go for Television on DVD. We have all kinds of programs for all kinds of tastes – comedy, drama, action, science fiction. We have classic shows as well as the latest releases and best of all – there’s no cost to rent them!

All DVDs check out for one week and can be renewed once (so long as no one else is waiting for that particular season of Charmed!)