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True Blood - The Complete Third Season

Review by: 
Catwalk
Release Date: 
2010
Studio: 
HBO
Genre: 
Vampire
Format: 
DVD
Region: 
1 NTSC
Aspect Ratio: 
1.78:1
Directed by: 
various
Cast: 
Anna Paquin
Stephen Moyer
Ryan Kwanten
Sam Trammell
Alexander Skarsgård
Movie: 
5
Extras: 
4
Bottom Line: 
5
Video: 
Click to Play

True Blood is an HBO series (loosely) based on the Sookie Stackhouse novels by author Charlaine Harris. 

It’s about vampires…to start with.

It’s been wildly successful and has created a huge buzz over the last few years.

In the first season of True Blood, viewers met the primary characters. True Blood centers around Sookie Stackhouse, a waitress at Merlotte’s; the local dirty spoon in quiet, scenic Bon Temps, LA. Sookie is a little different.  She can hear the thoughts of everyone around her, even when she doesn’t want to.  That’s why she becomes immediately infatuated with Bill Compton; the stranger who enters Merlotte’s – the first person Sookie (Paquin) has never been able to hear. It is soon revealed that Bill (Moyer) is a vampire.  Sookie and Bill start a whirlwind relationship, and the series is set in motion.

The first season focuses on vampires; who they are, how long they’ve lived among us and why they are seeking equal rights with the rest of America.  (The highlight of Season One is Bill addressing the people of Bon Temps as he mentions the humans who fought by his side during the Civil War.) A new beverage, True Blood, has been developed, and vampires no longer need to feed on humans.  They’ve emerged from the shadows, seeking acceptance, connection, and even love.

The series’ second season introduced complexities in Bill and Sookie’s relationship, while the town falls prey to the seduction of a supernatural creature known as a Maynad.  Throughout both seasons, viewers discovered new facts about Sookie, Bill, and the other vampires, including Sookie’s other suitor; the vampire sheriff named Eric (Skarsgard).

Season Three focuses heavily on another popular paranormal creature – werewolves. Bill proposed to Sookie during the 2nd season cliffhanger, and before she could answer, he was kidnapped by a group of guys sporting tattoos, mullets and leather jackets.  (No, it wasn’t the Jaromir Jagr, a Lost Boys reunion, Joe Dirt, or Andre Agassi in the 80’s.) The culprits are werewolves; primal, headstrong beasts who get off on vampire blood.

What the werewolves are after is really a key to the whole plot of the season.  Each character has a very detailed and challenging arc.  Sookie has to weigh her feelings for Bill, and for Eric.  She is also granted insight into her gift, and why she is sought by so many players in the vampire battle for control.  Eric regains a focus and devotion to his heritage.  Sam (the owner of Merlotte’s) meets his real family, with mixed results. Tara and Lafayette, the human cousins caught in the middle of the many supernatural beings, discover things about themselves they never thought possible. A new vampire lord, Russell Edgington, comes to the forefront with delusions of uniting all vampires under his rule.

The season introduces werewolf Alcide (Joe Manganiello), expands on the role of the bisexual, flamboyant Lafayette (Nelsan Ellis) and gives Sam a kid brother (Marshall Alman).  True Blood leaves a lot of room for the supporting cast to shine and to become ever more crucial as the secrets of Bon Temps are slowly revealed during the developing war of the supernatural.

Paquin and Moyer are essential to the success of the show, and they deliver in spades. They run through the entire emotional spectrum, from distrust to devotion (all while being a happily married pair of actors.)  Skarsgard is fantastic and gets to show some of his range (this is a guy who was in Zoolander, and Generation Kill!) The script leaves plenty of room for the other characters to show their strengths.  Denis O’ Hare (The Proposal, Milk) is delightful as the megalomaniac, Russell. Chris Bauer (Face/Off) plays a well-tortured local cop. There are a dozen other actors and actresses who breathe life into their roles who viewers will come to enjoy, sympathize with, or lack at their expense, as the script demands.

True Blood was created by Alan Ball, who earlier created “Six Feet Under”. The series benefits from the lack of censorship provided by being on a premium cable network.  True Blood does not shy away from nudity, sexuality, violence, language or adult themes.  This isn’t the Twilight Saga, folks. Don’t watch it with your kids.

Extras:

HBO loves to tease its viewers.  Every True Blood character has its own twitter account, and they regularly interact with hashtags and responses to viewers to keep the interest up. The DVD provides another example of this viewer-friendly interaction.  First up is the Anatomy of a Scene where series creator Alan Ball (Six Feet Under) and others describe their joy at revealing both the human and very wolfen aspects of introducing werewolves to True Blood.

Next up are several minisodes, where True Blood viewers get to see what happened between the events revealed in the series.  Baby vampire Jessica (Deborah Ann Woll) shows up in the 3rd season with a trucker.  This sequence shows how they met, and how she lured him to privacy. Post Mortem: a follow up from each episode that acts as a synopsis. There’s even a section with Snoop Dogg on the music video for “Oh Sookie.”

Other extras include SIX audio commentaries with the cast and the crew, including series creator Alan Ball, stars Anna Paquin, Stephen Moyer, Alexander Skarsgard, Joe Manganiello, Kristen Bauer Van Straten (Pam), Denis O’ Hare (Russell) and more.  

One of True Blood’s biggest strength is the diversity of its cast.  Just like Showtime’s Dexter series, True Blood takes the first person perspective of its source material and moves it outside of the protagonist’s head.  This allows the show to flow through the many subplots; revealing what’s important to each character as the episode demands. Each series has even omitted characters or let them survive based on fans’ opinions.

In one sentence – HBO gets it.  The studio launched True Blood with a swarm of press kits, promotion, and visibility.  They got it right from frame one.  True Blood is a self-aware franchise, with throwback jokes that reference Harris’ novels, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Greek poetry.  The cast is fantastic, and the writers set every actor up with the best potential to make viewers love, hate or question the characters as the story demands.

Fans of True Blood will love the Season Three DVD, and can also treat themselves to the first six minutes of Season Four, Episode One HERE.

Quotes:

True Blood characters are incredibly quotable.  If this is your first time watching Season Three, look for some of these quotes along the way:

Good:

“The last time you had any real money, you ended up at the slots in Biloxi, slaughtering a church group of elderly women.”

Better:

“To have and to hold. To love and to cherish. To blah blah blah blah. Till death do you part. Doesn't bother you that you'll be the only one doing the dying?”

Best:

"Mine is the true face of vampire! Why would we seek equal rights? You are not our equals. We will eat you after we eat your children. Now, time for the weather. Tiffany?”

The Fourth Season of True Blood begins on June 26, 2011 on HBO.

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