Stream On: Dead – and loving it!

By on February 6, 2020

WHAT TO WATCH ON TV: Alan Ball’s “Six Feet Under” and Trueblood,” and Netflix’s “Dracula,” from the creators of “Sherlock”

Nate and David Fisher (center) inherit their father’s funeral home business when he is killed bringing a new hearse home from the dealership in Six Feet Under. (

Writer/director Alan Ball’s 1999 film American Beauty, about the psychic liberation of a suburban dad, won five Academy Awards and laid out Ball’s abiding concerns: Life, and explicitly, death, with a healthy helping of how society deals with the “other” (Ball is gay). He used these themes to great success, in his 2001 TV series Six Feet Under, a sometimes comedic drama about a dysfunctional family that owns a funeral home, and his 2008 series Trueblood, in which society’s psychic monsters are given flesh and blood. And in 2020, the writers of Sherlock brought their remarkable storytelling powers to a deconstruction of Bram Stoker’s Dracula on Netflix.

SIX FEET UNDER (; Prime Video; on demand from several other services)

Six Feet Under premiered on HBO in 2001 and went on to win numerous awards, including nine Emmys, three Screen Actors Guild Awards, and three Golden Globes.

Nathaniel Fisher (Richard Jenkins, The Shape of Water) is killed on Christmas Eve in a traffic accident coming home from an auto dealership in a new hearse for his funeral home. Reaching for a pack of cigarettes, he runs a light and is hit by a bus, which pretty much sets the tone for the entire series. Closeted gay son David (Michael C. Hall, Dexter) is set to inherit Fisher and Sons, but his brother Nate (Peter Krause, 9-1-1) has already fled the family for a health-food co-op in Seattle.

Nate, on his way home for the holidays, first meets his apparent soul-mate Brenda Chenowith (Rachel Griffiths, When We Rise) in the airport for a random, casual fling, in one of the ironies that fill the series, and is talked into staying in Los Angeles to help out with the funeral home.

David and Nate’s younger sister Claire (Lauren Ambrose, The X-Files reboot) is in high school, and in the absence of her father, begins to act out. Alan Ball has said of his show’s concerns, “Who are these people … that we hire to face death for us? What does that do to their own lives – to grow up in a home where there are dead bodies in the basement? What does that do to you?”(1)

Six Feet Under refers not only to being buried as a dead body is buried, but [also] to primal emotions and feelings running under the surface. When one is surrounded by death, there needs to be a certain intensity of experience, of needing to escape.”(2)

Most episodes begin with the death of a future “dearly departed” who sometimes become the focus of the episode, and sometimes a footnote. The audience is often teased here: in one episode, a high-rise construction worker slips and almost plunges to his death. He saves himself, but his lunchbox is knocked from its perch and kills a pedestrian. Often the dead seem to come to life in the funerary workroom, the corpse providing one side of a character’s internal dialogue. This device is extended with the death in the final season of a major character, but then the line between internal dialogue and spiritual visitation is blurred.

The five-season series is a dramatic, comedic and emotional experience; the series finale is always included in critics’ lists of best-ever finales. Here is a trailer. [TV14]

(1) Ball, Alan. Six Feet Under: The Complete Series – “In Memoriam” featurette (DVD). HBO Home Video.

(2) Ball, Alan (writer/director). Six Feet Under: The Complete Fifth Season – “Everyone’s Waiting” audio commentary (DVD). HBO Home Video.

Louisiana waitress Sookie Stackhouse is in love with Bill Compton. Their romance faces some challenges, the least of which being the difference in their ages: she is in her twenties, and Bill is 173 years old – and a vampire – in Trueblood. (

TRUEBLOOD (; Prime Video; on demand from several other services)

Alan Ball’s 2008-2014 series is his followup to Six Feet Under, but here, psychological monsters are given flesh: Vampires, werewolves, shapeshifters and telepaths are a normal occurrence. It’s set in a backwoods Louisiana town; the premise is that Japanese scientists have invented a viable artificial blood (“TruBlood”) for medical use, which also allows vampires to “come out of the coffin” and live openly in society (after dark, of course), as they are able to use it for sustenance.

It’s an entertaining, melodramatic soap opera of the netherworld. Characters include a telepathic waitress and the handsome vampire whom she’s seeing, to the consternation of her friends (a local church displays the sign “God Hates Fangs”); her boss, a closeted shapeshifter haunted by his past; a local gang of biker/werewolves; and local and regional vampire nests, which are self-governed by sheriffs, magisters and royalty. Questions of forbidden love, prejudice, and “the other” (and I do mean the other!) are mixed in with typical vampire horror: some “die-hard” vampires hate the artificial blood and continue to surreptitiously hunt humans; also, the vampires’ own blood becomes sought after for its aphrodisiacal effects. It’s a lot of fun and full of food for thought. Here’s a trailer. [TVMA]

John Renfield, Esq., visits Transylvania to facilitate a reclusive Count’s purchase of property in London, in Netflix’s new miniseries Dracula. (

DRACULA (Netflix)

The creators of Sherlock, Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat, have now done to Bram Stoker what they did to his friend Sir Arthur Conan Doyle: taken his most beloved creation and expanded it by following existing threads and adding insights of their own. As a fairly strict adherent to Conan Doyle’s canon, I found Sherlock to be the only modern take on it that I liked. The same goes for Bram Stoker’s 1897 gothic horror novel “Dracula.”

The first of the three 90-minute episodes hews closely to the novel, certainly closer than Tod Browning’s great 1931 movie, with the exception being that the Count’s nemesis is a nun, Sister Agatha van Helsing (Dolly Wells, Bridget Jones’ Diary), who interviews Jonathan Harker (John Heffernan, Foyles’s War), who has escaped the clutches of Count Dracula (Claes Bang, The Bridge, in a delightful, scenery-chewing turn). At the end of this episode, which appears to bring a close to the saga, a cliffhanger appears, enabling the two final episodes.

Like Sherlock, Dracula then takes turn after turn that can’t be guessed beforehand, in an incredibly entertaining manner. You should see for yourself. Here’s a trailer. [TV14]

Next time: Deep under cover in the 1980’s. Email me and follow Stream On OBX on Twitter.

(Pete Hummers is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to earn fees by linking and affiliate sites. This adds nothing to Amazon’s prices.)

Click here for more Stream On: What to watch on TV by Pete Hummers.



Barnhill Building Group has been selected as the Construction Manager @ Risk by the College of the Albemarle and is seeking to pre-qualify construction trade contractors to submit bids for the furnishing labor, materials, equipment, and tools for the new College of The Albemarle – Allied Health Sciences Simulation Lab (COA Health Sciences) located in Elizabeth City, NC. Please note: Only subcontractors who have been prequalified by Barnhill will be able to submit a Bid.

The project consists of the new construction of a 38,000-sf, 2-story expansion to the existing Owens Health Sciences Center and will house classrooms, labs, and a simulation lab. The site is just over just over 4.5 acres and is located on an active campus. This new construction will be a steel structure with a brick and metal panel veneer, curtainwall, and storefront glazing with a PVC roof membrane.

Principal trade and specialty contractors are solicited for the following Bid Packages:

BP0100: General Trades

BP0105: Final Cleaning

BP0390: Turnkey Concrete

BP0400: Turnkey Masonry

BP0500: Structural Steel & Misc. Steel

BP0740: Roofing

BP0750: Metal Panels

BP0790: Caulking / Caulking

BP0800: Turnkey Doors/Frames/Hardware

BP0840: Glass & Glazing

BP0925: Drywall

BP0960: Resilient Flooring

BP0980: Acoustical Ceilings

BP0990: Painting & Wallcovering

BP1005: Toilet Specialties / Accessories / Division 10

BP1010: Signage

BP1098: Demountable Partitions

BP1230: Finish Carpentry and Casework

BP1250: Window Treatment

BP1400: Elevators

BP2100: Fire Protection

BP2200: Plumbing

BP2300: HVAC

BP2600: Turnkey Electrical

BP3100: Turnkey Sitework

BP3290: Landscaping

Packages may be added and/or deleted at the discretion of the Construction Manager. Historically underutilized business firms are encouraged to complete participation submittals.

HUB/MWBE OUTREACH MEETING: Barnhill Building Group will be conducting a HUB/MWBE Informational Session. You are encouraged to attend the following session to learn more about project participation opportunities available to you. These seminars will help to: Learn about project and scope; Inform and train Minority/HUB contractors in preparation for bidding this project; Assist in registration on the State of North Carolina Vendor link; Stimulate opportunities for Networking with other firms. Location and time TBD. Please visit our planroom at for more information.

Interested contractors should submit their completed prequalification submittals, by July 22, 2024, to Meredith Terrell at or hardcopies can be mailed to Barnhill Contracting Company PO Box 31765 Raleigh, NC 27622 (4325 Pleasant Valley Road, NC 27612).


Sussex Development is soliciting bids to turnkey supply and install FF&E for the new Tulls Creek Elementary School, 125 Campus Drive, Moyock, NC27929. This project is a new ground-up 2-story, Pre-K thru 5th grade school, approximately 118,000 square feet. Bid documents may be obtained through Christopher West Interiors LLC. Request bid documents via email to Pre-Bid RFIs will be accepted via email until Wednesday, July 31, 2024 at 5:00PM EST. Pricing proposals are due Wednesday, August 14, 2024 by 5:00PM EST. All bids and inquires to be sent to Certified NC Hub, MBE, WBE, DBE, SBE are highly encouraged to participate. Sussex Development is an EOE and maintains a drug-free workplace.


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