DVD Review: True Blood – The Complete First Season
I haven’t had a post on here in a couple of days, and that is partly because I have been hard at “work” on this bad boy. True Blood is a show that I caught a few episodes of during their initial airings on HBO. I don’t watch a lot of TV shows, but this one piqued my interest and got me hooked after seeing just a couple of episodes. Unfortunately, I never got too deep into the show because I don’t have HBO. This 5-disc set was released back in May, but I just recently picked it up after finally finding it at a really good price. The set includes all 12 hour-long episodes from the show’s first season, and a bunch of cool extras. More on the extras later, but I’m going to start with the show itself.
True Blood was created by the Oscar-winning screenwriter of American Beauty, Alan Ball. He also created Six Feet Under, the popular HBO show that ran from 2001-2005. The basis for the show comes from a series of novels by Charlaine Harris, known as The Southern Vampire Mysteries. Since True Blood is often dismissed as an “R-rated Twilight rip-off,” it is important to note that this series of books was started several years before the Twilight saga was written.
The show stars Anna Paquin (in a Golden Globe winning role) as Sookie Stackhouse, a telepathic waitress living in a small Louisiana town. In the True Blood world, vampires are “mainstreaming” and living among humans. A synthetic blood has been created, allowing vampires to survive without killing off humans. Known as “Tru Blood,” the beverage is bottled and sold at grocery stores and served at bars. Sookie is pursued by a friendly vampire named Bill Compton, and goes against the wishes and advice of her friends to get to know him. After just a few dates, she finds herself immersed in the dark underground vampire world of politics and hierarchy.
Sookie is also given a lot of attention from her boss, Sam, which further complicates things with Bill. Other important characters include Sookie’s overly promiscuous brother, Jason and her sassy best friend, Tara. Jason finds himself in the center of a particularly interesting murder-mystery subplot when several of his recent sexual partners wind up dead.
All of the show’s characters are nicely crafted. They all have their very obvious flaws, but are still likable in their own ways. This is what separates True Blood from a lot of other shows, and is probably why it keeps me interested when most shows lose me after a while. A lot of shows have major characters that are completely uninteresting or just plain annoying, forcing me to lose interest every time they show up on screen and eventually stop watching the show all together. There are none of these characters in True Blood. I was a bit skeptical of some of the supporting actors at first, but they really grew on me once I got to know the characters and became more comfortable with everyone’s use of the Cajun accent.
The dialogue is well written, and features a lot of humor sprinkled in with the intense drama. I also find the production values, set design and special effects to be far advanced compared to most TV shows. The show features a lot of cleverly placed vampire references to today’s pop-culture society, such as familiar TV news programs with politicians campaigning for or against “vampire rights” and tabloids featuring the headline of “Angelina Jolie Adopts Vampire Baby.” And finally, the show’s opening credits sequence is one of the coolest (and most gruesome) I can recall.
The twelve episodes that make up the show’s first season are worth the price of purchase alone (I paid only $17 for my copy) but the set also features some cool extras including director commentaries on select episodes, an amusing Vampires in America mockumentary and public service announcements for both pro- and anti-vampire rights organizations. It also features some funny fake commercials for vampire hotels, dating services and “Tru Blood” commercials featuring the clever tagline of “This blood’s for you!”.
I haven’t seen any of the episodes from the show’s second season, so I will probably wait until the season 2 DVD set is released to quench my thirst for more True Blood. If you haven’t seen the show yet, I suggest you buy this set and taste it for yourself.