"The ghost of my serial-killing ex-fiancé just tired to
murder us in our sleep. We're just peachy." -Arlene
One of my favorite addictive shows, True Blood, is
back for another season. Though it doesn't
seem possible, this fourth
season manages to top the previous year's story. There
are more mysteries, another formidable
villain or two, a dollop of humor, and some very unexpected twists that
keep the show fresh. Oh yeah, and it's
still as erotic as
ever. The show is still firing on all
cylinders and shows no signs of slowing down.
As we left Sookie at the end of last season, she had just
discovered that she was part fairy and went to another 'world' where
fairies lived. As this season begins
she's just started to experience the fairy dimension and everything
wonderful and nice. But then she
discovers her grandfather, Earl, who had gone missing decades ago. Still young, Earl thought that he'd only been
in the Fairy realm for a few hours, maybe a day, but not longer than
Realizing that she'd been lied to, Snookie makes a break for
it and manages to escape just as the Queen of the Fairies closes the
forever. When she goes home she's
astounded to discover that, while she's been gone for 15 minutes, over
has passed in Bon Temps and everyone thought that she was dead. Her brother Jason has sold her house (to a
corporation that was very eager to buy it) and her best friend Tara has
away. Since she can't tell anyone she
where she really was without being locked up in the nuthouse, she lies
that she was on secret vampire business.
Meanwhile Bill Compton has moved up in the world while
Sookie was missing. He's now the King of
Louisiana and has to answer to the AVL, which is not as much of a cushy
it sounds. When he hears that a group
meeting in the back of a psychic's store managed to briefly resurrect a
bird, he gets very worried and orders Eric to personally check it out. Bill is worried because a witch who can
manipulate the dead can control vampires since, after all, they're dead.
The one-time Viking bad boy thinks it's much ado about
nothing and crashes a meeting of the witches, which is attended by
and his boyfriend Jesus along with Tara
has returned to see Sookie. Lafayette
and Tara know just how powerful and vicious Eric is, and they're
he shows up and starts to threaten them.
The leader of the group, a meek woman named Marnie, tries to
Eric and he attacks her.
Then something unexpected happens. Her
eyes go glassy and she starts chanting in
a strange voice. After a moment Eric
stops biting the witch, drops her, and runs from the building
everyone there. It's soon revealed that
Marnie, being willingly possessed by the spirit of an ancient witch,
him to loose his memory.
In another plot line Arlene has had her baby, a little
boy. She's worried about the child
however, because the father is not Terry, the man she's living with,
the deceased serial killer from season one.
She fears that the baby is evil.
He loves to pull the heads off of Barbies and his favorite toy
creepy doll that Jessica gave him. Terry
says it's all in her mind, and really cares for the child.
One evening when everyone else is asleep
Terry is telling the little child how much he loves "his boy" and then
down on the floor for a minute to get something. When
he returns the baby is playing with a
red magic marker and on the wall is written "baby not yours."
There's a lot more that they poured into the scat 12
episodes that make up this season. Sam
Merlotte meets a lady he likes, who also happens to be a shifter, but
some baggage too, and not just her little daughter.
Sam's half-brother Tommy continues to make
trouble, and Bill's young vampire progeny, Jessica, starts having
her boyfriend Hoyt which leads her to make some bad decisions. Of course Sookie's loveable but dim-witted
brother, Jason, gets into trouble too when his ex-girlfriend's clan
with a plan to make sure that their were-panther bloodline doesn't die
This is another great season. The show has
continued to grow and develop
and in each season the characters become more real and fleshed out. As a matter of fact, in a lot of way some of
the supporting characters have become more interesting and
than Sookie and Bill. In this season,
Jessica really shines. I've enjoyed her
character since she was introduced, but now that she's gotten past the
being a vampire and has learned to accept what she has become, she's
into an even more engaging creature. In
one memorable scene Jason asks her if she'd ever go back to being
human, if she
could. Jessica, holding her fingers an
inch apart, explains that she never would because her world used to be
big. Now it's endless, and she's strong,
and fast, and powerful. Yet even knowing
that, she still loves goofy, red neck, Hoyt, and that's hard at times.
The only character that seems to be going through the same cycle
She's always getting into a jam and becoming a victim. Though she's a strong female and not your
typical helpless woman I was more interested in the life that she had
for herself in New Orleans
than the one she had left in Bon Temps.
This season's villain, Marnie, is a wonderful creation.
I enjoyed the contrast between her normal
self, a quite, meek, powerless woman, and what she became when the
the witch Antonia entered her body.
Marnie realized that she, herself, was virtually nothing. At first she would freely and allow Antonia
to take her over, thinking of it as a gesture of kindness or goodwill. Soon however she was begging the witch to
control her, cutting her arms over and over as a sacrifice to the dead
mystic. It was a natural, if pitiful,
This season does end with an episode that will make fans
yearn for the next season to start. I
won't give anything away, but the creators do know how to ensure an
for the first episode of season five.
Viewers of this set won't have long to wait.
The premier is June 10th, 2012.
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 set also contains a pair of double-sided
DVDs that present the series (but not the extras) in SD and have
for people who want to watch the show while on the move.
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, Pam's rotting face for example. It doesn't look bad, but seeing the effect in
HD on a big screen is a bit less forgiving than in SD.
Aside from that nit-pick I enjoyed the look
of the show. The earthy palate that was
used for the show was reproduced well, as it has been in previous
seasons. The show captures all of the
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 flesh 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
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 three seasons, this set has an extensive
"enhanced viewing" mode. While watching
the shows (with a player equipped for P-in-P playback, many early
players don't have the capability) viewers are treated to a plethora of
in-character interviews with the people who populate the show, trivia,
factoids, and even flashbacks to the earlier seasons.
There's a lot of content here, and it's not
just fluff. They show what happened
during the year that Sookie was missing, fill in some vampire history,
more. This can be distracting when
watching an episode for the first time, so luckily most of the video
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 an Inside the Episode
featurette that originally aired after each
installment on HBO. Last season the
equivalent bit contained interviews with various characters in the show
they revealed what they were thinking at certain points.
This year they took it in the opposite
direction and had the writers and directors discuss the events of the
and give their insights to what happened.
While I enjoyed the in-character bits from the previous season a
more, these are a nice addition to the show and something I wish more
would consider doing.
That would be enough for most shows, but True Blood
has always gone above and
beyond as far as extras were concerned and this season is no exception.
Blood: The Final Touches is a half hour look at the post-production
lead by series creator Alan Ball. There's also an interactive feature, True Blood Lines, that lets viewers
examine the various characters and races/creatures that inhabit the True Blood world and how they are
related and interact.
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. It is a great season, and even
manages to top season three, which I really, really enjoyed. 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. DVDTalk