Follow us on

Featured TV on DVD Review: True Blood: The Complete Third Season

June 10th, 2011

True Blood: The Complete Third Season - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray

True Blood debuted in 2008 with modest ratings of 1.44 million viewers for its premiere. However, by the time the season finale aired, it had gained 1 million viewers, while between season one and season two, an additional 1.2 million people started watching. When season three first aired, it was watched by just over 5 million people, a viewership it was able to maintain over the rest of the season.

The Show

We'll start with a recap of the show. A brief one. The series True Blood is named after the eponymous blood substitute, which is not used in blood transfusions for humans, but as a food for vampires. The Great Revelation allowed many vampires to come out of hiding and "mainstream", as is it called. However, not all do, nor are they exactly welcome with open arms by most humans. Some humans fear them, some hate them, some even drink vampire blood as a drug called V. This is the world of True Blood.

The show mostly takes place in a small Louisiana town called Bon Temps and focuses on Sookie Stackhouse, a waitress at a local restaurant, and a psychic. (We do eventually learn why, but that's a massive, massive spoiler.) In season one she becomes attracted to Bill Compton, after she learns she can't read his mind. The reason for that becomes known immediately: he's a vampire. Sookie and Bill's relationship is frowned upon by humans and vampires. For instance, Sookie's brother, Jason, is so disturbed that he joins an anti-Vampire church / cult. (He does leave before season three begins.) On the other hand, Tara, Sookie's best friend since childhood is a lot more supportive.

Other main characters that need to be introduced before you can get to the plot include Sam Merlotte, the owner of Merlotte's, the bar / restaurant that Sookie, Tara, and Lafayette. (Lafayette is Tara's cousin, and a dealer of V.) Sam is a shapeshifter; yes, there are more than just vampires and psychics representing the supernatural world in True Blood. Eric Northman is one of the higher ranking vampires in Louisiana, while Pamela Swynford De Beaufort as his second in command. In the first season, Bill kills a vampire to protect Sookie, and as punishment for killing one of his own in defense of a human, he is forced to turn Jessica Hamby into a vampire. She has trouble adjusting to her new life; she likes the freedom after living a repressed life, but all the new rules about being a vampire still confuse her.

At the very end of season two, lots of stories were set into motion that would play out in season three. These include, and there are lots of spoilers here, so be prepared for a wall of greyed out text, Bill proposing to Sookie. She responds with, 'I'll have to think about it.' But before she can, he's kidnapped. Meanwhile, Benedict Talley, also known as "Eggs", is killed by Jason shortly after Eggs confesses to killing several people while under the influence of Maryann, a follower of the Greek god Dionysus. His death is particularly hard for Tara, as the pair had fallen in love. Jessica, meanwhile, is having a bad day. She tried to feed on a human but accidentally killed him and now has to deal with the body. Fortunately, she does get help, but the price might be too high. Sam Merlotte was adopted as a child, but when his shapeshifting power manifested itself at age 15, he's adoptive family abandoned him. At the end of season two, he had a lead, but the reunion isn't exactly a happy one. Finally, the Magister, one of the highest ranking vampires in the world, pays a visit to Eric and Pam about the amount of V being sold in the area. He figures so much V is being produced, that either there should be a spat of vampires being abducted and drained, or the production is being controlled by a vampire. And he's right. In fact, Eric and Pam are the ones in charge, under orders from Sophie-Anne, the Vampire Queen of Louisiana.

Some of these threads have immediate payouts. For instance, we learn Bill was taken by werewolves that were working for Russell Edgington, the Vampire King of Mississippi. He's planning on expanding his territory by marrying Sophie-Anne. Also, some of these epesodes have some rather interesting twists to them. I love the reveal that Sophie-Anne is dealing in V, because the IRS is cutting into her wealth so much. It's just such a mundane problem to have such a large impact in the vampire world.

Not every storyline was engaging. Sam's family life left me flat. Tara's creepy stalker story was not as compelling as others. When they introduced werewolves, I was worried. "If the vampires start sparkling, I'm walking down to the studio and slapping people." Then when we learned about the source of Sookie's power, it was a total facepalm situation. Seriously, adding another supernatural element to True Blood it like adding another faction to Lost or another personality to United States of Tara. For every possible dramatic element it might add, it also increases the chance the show would enter the realm of self-parody. It's not there yet, but I am concerned.

The Extras

Extras on the DVD include audio commentary tracks on six of the twelve episodes with various writers, directors, and actors. There are also two-minute Post Mortems for each episode, which are sometimes behind-the-scenes, sometimes background information, etc. The only featurette on disc one is a 10-minute making of featurette on the fight scene from the beginning of episode two. The only other featurette is on disc five: True Blood Lines. It's not really a featurette, but an interactive, interconnected character bio / mythological creature encyclopedia. There's also a music video on disc five.

The Blu-ray also have Enhanced Viewing Experiences, a picture-in-picture track that include various flashbacks, character insights, trivia, etc. The character insights can be watched as part if the Enhanced Viewing Experiences, or all in a row, but you have to head to disc five for that.

Moving onto the technical presentation, True Blood's video presentation is not quite up to the level of a theatrical blockbuster. However, being close to the level of a theatrical blockbuster is a huge complement for a TV on DVD release. The level of detail is fantastic, while the blacks are as deep as you could want. (The latter is especially important, as there are a lot of nighttime scenes, as you would expect in a series about vampires.) The sound is even better with clear dialogue, great use of surround sound speakers for ambient sounds, score, etc., as well as fantastic directional effects.

Finally we get to the price. HBO shows tend to be a little expensive on a per-minute basis, but with the discount, $40 for the five-disc Blu-ray is an excellent deal. It's only 33% more than the DVD and with the exclusive extras and the technical presentation, it's absolutely worth it.

The Verdict

Despite a couple storylines that were not as compelling as others and a couple points where I'm a little concerned going forward, True Blood: The Complete Third Season is still an amazing show. The DVD and the Blu-ray are both loaded with extras, while the latter is the better deal. Easily worth picking up, and a contender for Pick of the Week.

- Submitted by:

Filed under: Video Review