Alan Ball (creator of Six Feet Under) sucks - like the vampires in his award-winning series True Blood (Max; Saturdays at 9pm) - us into a dark and lusty fantasy world, set in America's deep south. Basing the story loosely on Charlaine Harris' Southern Vampire Mysteries series (the 10th of which is slated to come out in October), Ball uses the undead-as-social-outcast analogy to underscore the racial and sexual prejudices that remain thick in pockets of society, punching his tales up with black humour, mystery and graphic bursts of sex and violence. The True Blood universe begins two years after the invention of synthetic blood allows vampires to come out of hiding and live among people. To the liberal-minded in big cities, the integration of this newly acknowledged minority is nominally applauded, but in the fictional rural town of Bon Temps, Louisiana, hostility between 'breathers' and bloodsuckers often escalates into foul play. Telepathic waitress Sookie Stackhouse (Anna Paquin; the X-Men movies) learned the hard way in the first season, when she started dating vampire Bill Compton (Stephen Moyer; The Starter Wife) and became the target of a serial killer of 'fang-bangers' (the derogatory term for humans who desire vampires). Things get even more interesting this season as we find out: who the body in Detective Andy Bellefleur's (Chris Bauer; The Notorious Bettie Page) car belongs to; who the naked lady with a pig, Maryanne, is and what she wants with Stackhouse's shape-shifting boss, Sam Merlotte (Sam Trammell; Autumn in New York); and whether Stackhouse's brother, Jason (Ryan Kwanten; Dead Silence), will get roped into the anti-vampire Fellowship of the Sun Church. Also, we get to know Fangtasia (vampire bar) owner and 1,000-year-old Viking bloodsucker Eric Northman (Swedish heartthrob Alexander Skarsgard; Generation Kill) a lot better this season. His entrance at the end of the first episode will leave gore fans panting for more. Sink your teeth into this one, it's juicy. Speaking of the immortal, David Letterman is getting ready to host his 17th season of The Late Show at the CBS network, marking his 27th consecutive year as a late-night talk show host (he previously hosted Late Night with David Letterman on NBC). In television time, that counts as forever. A mentor and friend to Letterman, the late Johnny Carson holds the record: he was host of The Tonight Show for 30 years. Letterman appears on form and his quintuple bypass surgery in 2000 shows no signs of holding him back - with his contract recently extended to 2012, Carson's record looks vulnerable. The all-new Late Show will premiere on Star World next month but Letterman fans can tune in tomorrow - and on subsequent nights - at 11pm for highlights from last season and a chance to again see an A-list lineup that includes Julia Roberts (above with Letterman), Dolly Parton, Tom Hanks and Denzel Washington. No1 on the top 10 list of reasons to watch Letterman: he let Paris Hilton have it on live television. That demands respect.