Werewolves come to Bon Temps.
HBO's hit series True Blood
keeps getting better and
better. This third season is the best
yet, expanding the show's 'world' by exploring the politics of vampires
also telling an interesting story that will keep viewers on the edge of
Due to the invention of artificial blood, vampires have now
come 'out of the coffin' and revealed their existence to humanity. Since they no longer need to feed on humans,
they want to be productive members of society... or so they say.
The politics surrounding vampires doesn't really concern
Sookie Stackhouse however. Being a
waitress at a restaurant/bar in the small town of Bon Temps, Louisiana,
never even seen a vampire. She has
of her own, including the fact that she's a 25 year old virgin who's
a boyfriend. That's because Sookie has a
special ability: she can hear other
people's thoughts, whether she wants to or not.
It's hard for her to get past the first date when she knows the
across the table from her is wondering how far he'll get that night.
That changes when Bill walks into the restaurant one
evening. A ruggedly handsome and
extremely genteel man who is new to town, Bill is the one person who
'hear'. That's because he's a vampire,
'killed' during the civil war he's come to reclaim his family's house
abandoned since his last living relative passed away with no heirs.
Sookie and Bill grow close, and in the first season they investigate
a series of murders that has terrified the sleepy little town. Most people thought that Sookie's brother,
Jason, was the killer, but it turns out they were wrong.
During the second season, where they
investigate the disappearance of a very old and very powerful vampire,
grow even closer. The season ends with
Bill proposing to Sookie. While she's in
the bathroom trying to decide what to say, some unseen people attack
drag him out into the night.
When Sookie realizes that Bill has been kidnapped, she's
beside herself with worry. Not a wilting
violet to just sit at home and wait for developments, she turns to Eric
Northman (the vampire sheriff of her area) after the human sheriff
Eric is little help, and he has troubles of his own.
He's been dealing V (vampire blood) on the
orders of the Queen of Louisiana, something that is strictly forbidden
vampire law. The
Magister has determined that the source
of the V is coming from Eric's area and has turned his eyes on the
Viking. Needless to say Eric is in a
tough spot. If they find out he'd been
dealing V he's dead, and if he turns on the Queen, that's treason which
punishable by death. What he needs is a
scapegoat... someone he can pin the illegal activity on.
Maybe someone who is currently missing...
Meanwhile Bill has been captured by a group of werewolves
and taken to Mississippi
on the order of the king of that state.
The two types of supernatural creatures have always been
these particular werewolves are branded with a mark that shows they've
themselves to follow a particularly powerful vampire.
It also happens to be the same mark that was
on the creatures that slaughtered Eric's human family a thousand years
he's been looking for their master ever since.
Back in Bon Temps, Jessica, the 'baby vampire' that Bill
turned, is having troubles with her relationships and figuring out just
be a vampire. With Bill missing, she's
at loose ends. She's not sure how to
feed without killing someone, or what to do with the body if she goes
meets a sexy vampire and becomes involved with him, Sam goes searching
birth parents and gets a rude surprise, and Jason finds his true
calling again: he wants to be a sheriff's
There's a lot going on in this season, though it does get
off to a somewhat slow start. The first
couple of episodes seemed to lack the impact of a lot of the earlier
that's mainly because they're introducing new races and characters. The vampire politics, which have never been
my favorite part of the story, also start playing a more important part
season which makes the beginning drag a bit.
After the first couple of episodes however the show shifts
into high and really starts to move. The
story advances quickly and the various subplots are all juggled nicely
no one dominates.
It's the characters in the series that really draw me in,
and this season introduces a lot of new and interesting players. The werewolves add a new dimension to the True Blood world and the one that
befriends Sookie is a very sympathetic, yet tough, character. The King of Mississippi, who first seems to
be a caricature of a rich, incompetent European noble from the middle
reveals himself to be a calculating and more devious than anyone
imagines. There's also a psycho vampire, a
redneck shape-shifters, and a mysterious girl, Chrystal, which Jason
falls for. Each off these has a complex
back story and
that makes it very easy to forget you're watching a show about vampires
The Blu-ray Discs:
The twelve episodes that make up this third season are
presented on five Blu-ray discs.
Unfortunately they're housed in one of those fold-out books. You know, the ones where you have to have
four feet of free table space to unravel the cardboard so you can
disc you want. Most studios have gone to
double thinpaks by now, and I wish HBO had followed.
The 1.78:1 AVC encoded image looks good. The
first thing that viewers notice is the
nice detail. As a matter of fact, that
increased definition works against the show in a couple of places,
someone is wielding a wound that is made with a prosthetic makeup
appliance. These tended to less
realistic than they would have in SD, Crystal's
black eye when she shows up at Jason's house and the wounds on Tommy's
good examples. The earthy palate that
was used for the show was reproduced well too.
The show captures all of the ambiance of living in Louisiana and
just watching some scenes will
make you feel hot and humid. The swamps
were filled with bright green foliage and brown rotting vegetation, the
tones are great, and the red blood is vivid and impressive. Lines were generally tights and even
low-light situations had a good amount of detail.
Presented with a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack, the
show sounds absolutely wonderful. From
the first notes of the opening song the full-ranged audio does a
job of accenting the emotions of scenes without ever becoming intrusive
overbearing. The full soundstage is used
with ambient noises coming from all corners of the room and the result
effective. This doesn't only apply to
the action sequences, but to the quieter moments too.
The soft sounds of a graveyard at night or
the gentle noises you hear while two people are fishing on a lake do a
draw the viewer into the show. This is a
great sounding set that I couldn't find any fault with.
As with the first two seasons, this set has an extensive
"enhanced viewing" mode. While watching
the shows (with a player equipped for P-in-P playback, many early
player's can't) viewers are treated to a plethora of in-character
with the people who populate the show, trivia, factoids, and even
the earlier seasons. This can be
distracting when watching an episode for the first time, so luckily
most of the
video content is accessible from the extras menu.
There are also six commentary tracks with various members of
the cast and crew who talk about the show, the production, and their
characters. While I didn't have time to
listen to all of these, the ones I spot checked was entertaining and
Each episode also includes a 'Post Mortem" which originally
aired after the episode on HBO. These
are fun, shorts that expand the True
Blood universe by filling in details and presenting clips that
fit into the narrative of the show.
These include an interview with Anne Flannigan, the Vampire
person and US
Representative David Finch, a documentary on werewolves in WWII, and
reports concerning a high-profile murder that takes place in this
season. I really enjoyed these. They're a lot of fun.
The fifth disc includes the bulk of the stand along
featurettes. It starts out with Character Perspectives, two and a half
hours of the in-character shorts that made up part of the P-in-P
experience. These are fun, getting a
chance to hear the characters speak about their thoughts and motivation
having to shoe-horn it into an episode, but it did go on for a bit too
long. Near the end my eyes were glazing
of a Scene: Episode 2 has the cast and crew explain how a scene was
(the werewolf attack) and True Blood
Lines is an interactive guide that keeps track of all the main
and their relationship to each other.
The disc is rounded out by a music video.
Be warned: this show
is addictive. I watched this in the
evenings with my wife after the kids went to bed, and the phrase "let's
just one more" came up often and was followed by lots of caffeine the
morning. This season fleshes out the
back story of some of the main characters even more (especially Eric
and is even more engrossing than the previous two seasons.
The image on these Blu-ray discs looks great,
and the extras add a lot of value too.
If you haven't discovered this series yet, start with the first
and you won't be disappointed. DVD Talk