"A 3,000-year old vampire wants to suck my bloodâ€¦must be
Thursday!" - Sookie
I always look forward to a new season of True Blood
arriving on Blu-ray. It's a great show and
each season has managed
to top the previous oneâ€¦ until now. The
fifth season of the show is excellent and filled with all of the
mayhem, and erotic interludes that fans have come to expect from the
but it errs by trying to cram too many plots (all of them interesting)
scant 12-episode season and looses just a bit in the process.
Season four didn't end on a cliffhanger, it ended on
several. Everyone was in trouble, from
Sookie who just killed a woman after seeing her best friend getting
shot in the
head to Bill and Eric who killed an important and powerful vampire and
to be facing the Authority, the secret vampire government.
Oh yeah, and Russell Edgington, the
incredibly powerful 3000-year-old vampire who killed Eric Northman's
back when has escaped from his solid-concrete prison.
The fifth season opens just where the previous one left off,
with Sookie cradling Tara's head in
and Bill and Eric planning on how to get out of the mess they find
in. It turns out that the latter pair
doesn't have much time at all. Literally
minutes after the murder the vampire soldiers arrive at Bill's
silver nets over them, and locks them in a trunk for transport to the
Authority, presumably for execution.
Sookie isn't doing much better, but there's a glimmer of
hope for her childhood friend when Pam, Eric's offspring, arrives
her maker. Making a quick decision,
Sookie begs Pam to turn Taraâ€¦ something that Tara
surely wouldn't have wanted since she hates vampires.
Pam isn't that interesting but eventually
agrees after Sookie promises to bring Eric back to her in addition to
As happens with this show, thing go from bad to worse for
just about everyone. While Tara is turned into a vampire, saving her from
(sort of) she emerges from her grave crazed and hating Sookie. Only Pam's hold on the vampire that she
created prevents Tara from killing
and her brother Lafayette.
Once they arrive at Authority headquarters, Bill and Eric
see little chance of saving their lives.
They're tortured to see if they're part of a rebel movement
threatening the body that governs vampires, and they realize whether
confess or not, the â€˜true death' awaits them.
Playing the only card they have, they inform the powers that be
Russell Edgington is still alive.
Everyone thought he was dead, not just wrapped in silver chains
entombed in a concrete foundation.
Realizing that Edgington will be recuperating for a couple of
then will come after the two people who buried him, Bill and Eric, the
Authority sends them after Russell, figuring they have the best chance,
it's a slim one, of capturing him and if they end up deadâ€¦ oh well. Of course if they do find him, the trouble
Each episode in this season is fun to watch and a quality
piece of entertainment, but the show doesn't have the "I've got to
next episode now, even though it's one o'clock in the morning"
quality that filled the previous seasons.
The acting is still top-notch and the stories are incredibly
interesting, but there are just too many competing plot lines. It's hard to get drawn into one person's tale
when they only get a few minutes in each show.
Here's a brief list of just some of the plots from this season:
Tara is turned into a
vampire and has to adjust.
Sookie and Jason start to suspect that their parents were
killed by a vampire.
is possessed by an evil demon.
Russell Edgington has escaped.
The Authority is fighting a civil war.
Terry, the ex-marine who is still haunted by his time in Iraq, discovers that his demons are not
his mindâ€¦ they've come to Louisiana
to kill him.
There's a group hunting shape-shifter including Sam and
Alcide, the hunky werewolf, has to face the consequences of
killing his pack leader.
Jessica and Jason have to come to terms with their
Some fairies are still in our world, and they're running a
There's a lot going on, and it's just too much to fit nicely
in a 12-epiosde season. If there were
more installments to flesh out some of these competing plots it would
That's not to say that this season is bad. It's
actually quite good even as plot-dense
as it is and there are some nice twists and surprises.
One thing that will surprise a lot of people
(who managed to avoid reading about it in the press beforehand) is that
Meloni who played Detective Elliot Stabler on Law &
Order: Special Victims Unit has an important role in this
season as the leader of the Authority, Roman Zimojic.
He's a ruthless, conniving, amoral creature
who delights in killing his opponents without remorseâ€¦ basically the
opposite of his Law & Order role.
Though it's a bit jarring to see him play
that character he does a fantastic job.
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
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 four 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. 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 five 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. These are quick
looks at the events of the episode, but they do contain major spoilers
to watch them until after you've seen the show in question.
Other bonus features include Autopsy: True Blood Episode
Six, an hour-long in depth look at one
installment of the show, an interactive character family tree, 12 fun Authority Confessionals, where members
of the organization talk (in character) about their pasts and views.
Creator Alan Ball stepped down as showrunner at the end of
this season. Maybe he was trying to tell
too many stories before he left, but this season is a step down from
before. It's still a fun and
entertaining series, but not as engrossing and gripping and the earlier
seasons. Fans should still have a good
time watching the drama and horror unfold in Bon Temps in any case. Recommended.