Alan Ball’s True Blood was one of those shows which arrived on UK shores with a wave of great Stateside reviews and the popularity of the TV DVD boxset enabled it to find its way into the hearts and groins of the British viewing public. Now Season Three comes to Blu-ray and DVD – so is it worth throwing your hard earned at it? Let’s find out shall we?
We’ve come a long way from the slow burning revelations of the world of Sookie Stackhouse and the co-habitual culture of vampires and humans, which was a great hook in the first series and seduced many a fang fanatic who graduated from the peppy, wickedly witty world of Buffy to a far more adult tale of bloodlust. Kicking the ‘super’ out of ‘supernatural’ gave True Blood its foundation and the first series did a great job of showing the world of Sookie and her fangman Bill (Anna Paquin and Stephen Moyer) as the small town of Bon Temps opened up to their new arrivals revealing secrets and a far darker world than was originally presented.
I enjoyed the first series a lot with its murder mystery element which went some way to contextualising the the sex and violence which became a huge part of the show’s draw. The second lost me a little until the very end with the Maryann character and the resulting townbound chaos which contrasted well with the moribund relationship shenanigans between the various couplings which began to grate. The less said about the Sunshine Church subplot the better.
So here we are as the third season rolls around with another twelve episodes of vicious death, bloodsplattered banging and things that go bump in the night and there’s a slight return to form with the introuction of a decent villain in the form of Vampire King of Mississippi played with relish and not a small amount of self parody by Denis O’Hare. The series follows on directly from the last episode which had Bill kidnapped and much of the early part of the series deals with Sookie trying to find him.
Show regulars Layfayette and Sookie’s brother Jason suffer from some weak subplots which is a shame as Nelsan Ellis and Ryan Kwanten bring a lot of the spark to the proceedings and when the show works it does so because there’s a wit with the wickedness. Season two felt hollow as the town’s backstories began to pollute the mix, so in the third series with Bill’s kidnapping and the subsequent Vampire King storyline is great fun. The league of Werewolves does peter out a little without adding too many new characters (though a potential new love interest for Sookie does raise the game for a few episodes) but it’s the Sookie and Bill show that gets the third season’s blood up. The final episodes of the series really hits its stride and the climax is worth waiting for, setting up for a very interesting fourth season.
It’s always difficult reviewing these boxsets because it’s unlikely that anyone unfamiliar with the series would choose to step into the world three seasons in and the people who will buy this boxset will already be fans of the show – the only advice I can offer is that if you want your vampires without mysticism but with a boatload of sex this is your show. It’s R-rated Buffy without the pop culture wisecracks and likeable characters and it has more balls than a thousand Twilight films could muster.
At its best it is addictive television and the boxset will allow you to roll right through the series, when it falters it feels sluggishly tethered to its backstories and subplots which go nowhere. The Blu-ray looks the business with a brilliant picture and there is a scary amount of TV spots and character clips as well as the nicely put together commentaries and Enchanced Viewing options to complement the series. The True Blood Lines extra has bios for all the show’s characters and is a nice touch.
In short if you are a fan then HBO have done you proud with this set, and it’s a show which has the potential to be brilliant and this season achieves that, though perhaps not as often as I’d have liked.
The Blu-ray and DVD Boxset is out right now.
And for the True Blooders here’s the recently released trailer for the next season,