Posted in: Disc Reviews by Michael Durr on June 4th, 2011
The other day, I was taking a look at my past reviews and I realized that I have been reviewing on this site for over six years. If you have been reading my reviews for that long and you aren’t married to me, bless you for sticking it out that long. Heck, I’ve only known my wife for almost 4 of those years. Anyhow, I have reviewed a plethora of subjects. One of the hardest things to do is to review a dvd season in the middle of its run. It becomes even harder when that show is True Blood
Before we go anywhere with Season 3, we need to take a step back in time and analyze the last couple of episodes of Season 2.
There is a minor story involving Hoyt Fortenberry (played by Jim Parrack) who is dealing with two important women in his life. The first, his mother, Maxine (played by Dale Raoul) and the second, his girlfriend, Jessica Hamby (played by Debroah Ann Wolf). Maxine’s mind has been taken over by Mary-Ann Forrester (played by Michelle Forbes) (bigger story, we will get to that later on).
As a result, Maxine has been insulting her son and Jessica non-stop. It becomes so much a problem that Jessica, a vampire decides to give her a huge bite. Hoyt, distraught decides to throw Jessica out and deal with his mother. Only problem is that the mother doesn’t stop and proceeds to go on telling him terrible things about his dad. We find out later unfortunately that all of this is actually true (but never said by Maxine before out of respect).
Now we mentioned that Maxine’s mind has been influenced by one Mary-Ann Forrester. That is not the only mind she has taken under her wing. In fact, she is actually controlling most of Bon Temps, Louisiana. This has led to debauchery and mayhem on every level. As a result, some of the unaffected locals have had to take the law into their own hands.
Jason Stackhouse (played by Ryan Kwanten), Andy Bellefleur (played by Chris Bauer), and the shapeshifter, Sam Merlotte (played by Sam Trammell) lead the charge but will need help. Bill Compton (played by Stephen Moyer), the main vampire in the show has had to go to Sophie-Anne Leclerq (played by Evan Rachel Wood), the vampire queen of Louisiana for help on how to kill Mary-Ann before it is too late.
However, Sophie-Anne is more bent on playing Yahtzee than telling Bill vital information. But eventually she gives it up. After a brief altercation with another vampire named Eric Northman(played by Alexander Skarsgard) and telling him to leave his love, Sookie (played by Anna Paquin) alone, he heads back to the town of Bon Temps.
There we join a scene where Lafayette Reynolds (played by Nelsan Ellis), Sookie and Lettie Mae (played by Adina Porter) are trying to convince Tara Thornton (played by Rutina Wesley) to not go after her boyfriend, “Eggs” Benedict (played by Mehcad Brooks) who is also under influence from Mary-Ann. However, Tara outwits her mother Lettie Mae and is soon off to Sookie’s house (Mary-Ann took it over).
To cut this story a little short, Tara goes off to the house, gets turned (of course) and then Sookie, Bill, Sam and Lafayette come to save the day. Well, Lafayette eventually gets turned too. By use of creative shape-shifting and the information Bill got from Sophie-Anne, they are able to defeat the crazy chickie and kill her once and for all. All of the townspeople go back to normal and retain only fragments of what they once did. But life in Bon Temps doesn’t quite return to normal.
“Eggs” Benedict once he gets help from Sookie’s special power, realizes what he has done (murdering people) and tries to turn himself in. However, in the fray, he gets shot by Jason (“Eggs” was probably being replaced by “Sunny Side Up” next season, a California native vampire who can survive in the daylight) and dies. Tara weeps. But, there is a cliffhanger that is going on right around the corner.
Sookie and Bill go to an expensive French restaurant for a very special night. (somehow I’m guessing French Fries were not on the menu, but perhaps French Kissing was). Anyhow, Bill pops the question (no, not about Grey Poupon, the #1 French Dijon Mustard). Sookie, flustered goes to the bathroom to think about it. But before Sookie can come out and says yes, Bill is choked with a silver chain by an unknown assailant and dragged away. Sookie comes out to see an empty restaurant and Bill is gone.
Season 3, I really can’t reveal too much (one of the major problems I had writing this review). I can tell you that it follows (very loosely) the plot of the novel, Club Dead. But it does introduce characters that occur later on in subsequent novels of the Southern Vampire Mysteries. A main character is introduced in the form of a werewolf named Alcide Herveaux (played by Joe Manganiello) who plays alongside Sookie as they try to find out what happened to Bill.
Erik Northman becomes a fixture in this season and Pamela Swynford de Beaufort (played by Kristin Bauer van Straten) who was a reoccurring character in Seasons one and two, gets a main role for the third season. Sam the shapeshifter finds out he has a brother Tommy (played by Marshall Allman) who has the same powers. We also become reacquainted with Lorena (played by Mariana Klaveno), the vampire who made Bill.
More fascinating characters are introduced such as Magnus the Magister (played by Zeljko Ivanek) and Jesus Velasquez (played by Kevin Alejandro). Jesus, as the season goes on becomes linked with Lafayette if you catch my drift. Finally, we will be introduced to a man simply known as Russell Edgington (played by Denis O’ Hare), the vampire king of Mississippi.
It is a season of blood, sex, and all sorts of things that make a prime time cable soap opera keep its hardcore audience. Yep, you heard me right. True Blood (if you haven’t figured it out already) is a glorified soap opera. It has more twists and turns than General Hospital and saucier romances than the Bold and the Beautiful, in a deliciously perverted way. Seriously, nothing is taboo in Bon Temps, Louisiana or any other location in this fantasy world.
After all, this show is on HBO and if you have seen Deadwood or the Sorpranos, you can guess that this show doesn’t pull any punches. The series has the benefit that it can use a ton of material from the book series and use some or all of it. Most viewers by now understand that it is a loose interpretation but that doesn’t mean they don’t enjoy it all the same. This allows the show some freedom but a great deal of depth at the same time. It certainly succeeds in this venture.
But much like a soap opera, it does suffer from trying to juggle too many stories at once. Often, a viewer might find themselves lost if they don’t watch each and every episode. In this review, I might present 2 or 3 stories for a main focus but there are easily half a dozen little arches and minor plots that I could spend chapters on. The fact that I wrote this review and took almost triple the space I normally do should give you a clue on how much is going on in True Blood at any given time.
The video is presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen. Bon Temps despite being a fictional town feels every bit of real as we roll through the episodes. Color is detailed here and we get a wonderful sense of small town life. As expected, we get a good dose of swamps and marshlands but despite the dingy intentions, it feels quite beautiful. High marks all around and some solid video from HBO.
The audio is presented in 5.1 English Dolby Digital (French 5.1 and Spanish 2.0 mix also included). Again, the series shines, this time in audio presentation. Dialog is super clear which is crucial when dealing with the broad range of dialects and accents. The cast is diverse and is not limited at all to any sort of Cajun background. Surround, or more important environment effects are used quite frequently and will give one’s speakers a whirl. Sound is strong, but never takes away from the action in front of the viewer.
- Automatic Trailers: HBO: Boardwalk Empire, Big Love, Entourage, Curb Your Enthusiasm, How to Make It in America, Treme, In Treatment, Eastbound & Down, Hung, Bored to Death, True Blood.
- Audio Commentary for Episode 2: We get Alexander Skarsgard (Erik) and Scott Winant the director for this one.
- Anatomy of a Scene 10:31 : This explores the scene where Bill comes into contact with some unsavory creatures. I love how they used the various real live animals here. They also go over a great deal of safety which was very necessary.
- Post Mortems 3:53: Tiny featurettes, the first of which was basically a repeat of the Anatomy featurette mentioned above in a smaller bite. (There is a little bit of different footage). The second featurette shows an old World War II film, with a True Blood flair. I won’t elaborate too much further, but it is a fun one.
- Audio Commentary for Episode 3,4: Episode 3 treats us to the writer, Alexander Woo and director, Michael Lehmann. Episode 4 has director, David Petrarca and Kristin Bauer van Straten (Pamela).
- Post Mortems 4:02 : The first feature talks about the character of Alcide. The second tells us a bit about vampire kings and queens. It does this in a FBI type interrogation setting. Interesting take.
- Audio Commentary for Episode 6,7: Episode 6 has the pair of Denis O’ Hare (Russell Edgington) and Alan Ball, executive producer and creator. The seventh episode should be a popular one with Anna Paquin (Sookie), Joe Manganiello (Alcide) and writer, Brian Buckner.
- Post Mortems 6:11: The first disguises itself as a mock show, Digging for the Dirt one might find on the History Channel if they had nothing else to run. 2nd, is a Sunday Morning with McCaffery sketch that discusses the Vampire Rights Amendment. The third deals with a very interesting love affair which reminds me of the movie Mr. and Mrs. Smith
- Post Mortems 5:31: More fun. Number one gives us a vampire’s guide to surviving a very special type of attack. Funniest sketch so far. The second feature is more good stuff with McCaffery. Finally, we get a sketch with Reverend Steve Newlin titled Praise His Light. Mr. Newlin is the head of the Fellowship of the Sun, a very vocal anti-vampire organization. This plays out like a bad right-wing talk show.
- Audio Commentary for Episode 12: Mister Bill (Stephen Moyer) and director Anthony Hemingway finish us out in the last commentary.
- Post Mortems 3:22: The final bit of Post Mortems starts us out with Sookie when she finds out what she partly is. The second one is a thank you from Alan Ball, creator and producer. He teases us a little bit about Season four.
- Minisodes 18:55: These six episodes led up to the season three premiere and usually highlight a single character such as Sam or Bill. The Jessica one is pure gold. These are mostly played up for comedy, something that I feel is lacking in the show from time to time. There are a couple of serious moments too which give more depth in bridging Season 2 and 3. The first disc would have been a better home for this.
- Snoop Dogg “Oh Sookie” Video 3:00: Snoop rolls up in Bon Temps and decides to sing a tune about Sookie. Good lord, it is awful and I actually like an occasional song from the D oh Double G.
As one could probably tell, I am not the most avid watcher of the True Blood series. I have seen various episodes from the first couple of seasons through my wife who loves the show before I dived head first into the third season. It is a satisfying romp and fans will be glued to their chairs as they uncover the secrets this next time around. Everybody should find a character or two they really like even if they are not into the next big thing with Sookie and Bill.
The disc package sports fantastic audio and video. The extras are quite extensive and run the gambit of information from fun sketches to featurettes to mini-episodes that a lot of people did not get to see the first time around. This is an easy recommendation for old viewers of the show. As for the newbies like me, you will need to pay close attention and make extensive use of every supplement one can find on the series. Better yet, just go buy the first couple of seasons. Then you too can be a Fangbanger, if you dare.
It Hurts Me Too
I Got A Right To Sing The Blues
Hitting The Ground
Night on the Sun
Everything is Broken
I Smell A Rat
Evil Is Going On