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True Blood: The Complete Third Season (Blu-ray Review)

I got into the television show True Blood much the same way I do with most everything else in my life.  I’m a sucker for brilliant marketing.  I’m a salesman’s wet dream   I think you get the picture.  Although I’m a huge fan of vampire lore, it was the seductive lips dripping with blood on the cover art of True Blood Season 1 that were responsible for me blind buying it.  I knew a little bit about the show and it’s onscreen sexual energy and eroticism, but it was ultimately a drawing that did me in.   If that’s not brilliant marketing, then I’m not sure what to call it.   Naturally, I fell in love with the show.   How could I not?   Vampires and sexy sirens make the perfect ingredient for my late night premium cable viewing.   So I guess it goes without saying, I jumped at the chance to review The Complete Third Season Blu-ray set of the HBO hit series.  And that’s why we are all here.  Let’s get it started!

Film  

I would think by now everyone should have some inkling of knowledge as to what the premium television show, True Blood, is all about.   But if not, let’s just take a quick moment to bring everyone up to speed.  The American drama/horror/dark comedy series created and produced by Alan Ball is about to enter its fourth season this June.   Its amazing how fast time flies by when you enjoy something.   The show is based on The Southern Vampire Mysteries series of novels by author Charlaine Harris.  The series details the coexistence of vampires and humans in a small fictional town in Louisiana and centers on the bodacious Sookie Stackhouse (played by Anna Paquin).  Sookie is a telepathic waitress who falls in love with a vampire, Bill Compton (Stephen Moyer).   And coincidentally, the two are also a pair in real life.  Go figure!

It’s no secret that every year at Comic-Con, True Blood is one of my favorite panels to cover (see here and here) so it’s with much excitement that I discuss the star studded cast of the show next.  As I mentioned before, the show would fail to exist (well probably not…I exaggerate) without the beautiful Anna Paquin and her real life beau, Stephen Moyer.  Regular players include the rugged Sam Trammell, the hunky (yes I’m allowed to say that…I’m secure) Ryan Kwanten, Rutina Wesley, Deborah Ann Woll, every woman’s dream man, Alexander Skarsgard (damn him!) and the reason we all laugh uncontrollably, Nelsan Ellis.  GD!  Looking back at those last two sentences, I would be hard pressed if I had to pick a single favorite among the choices.  What a cast!  Newcomers to the third season include Denis O’Hare (one of my new favorites), Marshall Allman, Lauren Bowles, Kevin Alejandro and Superman frontrunner, Joe Manganiello.

Needless to say, I don’t think I really need to spend a lot of time examining how popular the True Blood franchise really is among it’s followers.  The series is a merchandising gold mine and has spun off the usual line of clothing and accessories, a comic book and even an honest to God real refreshing beverage.  It’s like they always say.   Vampires don’t go easy and stopping the momentum of True Blood entering its fourth season this year would be like stopping that train in Unstoppable.  That was a dumb comparison, but you get the picture.  True Blood is to HBO, for lack of better terms, a pop culture phenomenon much like Desperate Housewives was, and some arguably say it still is, to ABC.  You get the point.   Don’t mess with the South!

So here we are.   We are all gathered here today to celebrate the hotly anticipated Blu-ray release of the True Blood‘s third season.   It’s sure a grand event, isn’t it?  The Complete Third Season arrives on the Blu-ray format on May 31st and it starts out immediately following the shocking events in Season 2.   Just where, oh where, is Mr. Bill?   I’ll give you a hint.  He’s not in Louisiana anymore.   He’s a long way from home.  And guess what?   The third season gives us even more reasons to celebrate ghoulishly…werewolves!   Yep.  That’s right.  I used the slang term for the Lycan species.

The third season loosely follows the third novel of The Southern Vampire Mysteries, Club Dead.  We are introduced to the character of Russell Edgington (the always tricked out O’Hare), the Vampire King of Mississippi.  You’ll get to know him real quick.  In addition, we also meet up with Crystal Norris, Jason’s love interest (she truly is more than meets the eye), and Sookie’s fairy godmother, Claudine (I didn’t particularly care for this subplot, but it’s needed).  And guess what?  We finally get to learn what makes Sookie so damn special to everyone, besides her sex bomb of a body.

So if you thought there wasn’t enough testosterone vying for Sookie’s love and attention in the second season, then just wait until you get a look at the new cut of beef an the meat market. Joe Manganiello’s character is nothing to sneeze at with his Lycan prowess and abilities.  Bill and Eric have their work cut out for them.  They are going to have triple their efforts if they want to win Sookie over.  But you didn’t think it was going to be that easy, did you?  The writers have some pretty interesting twists and bumps in the road.  Can Bill and Sookie’s love sustain what they are going to have to go through in this twelve-episode story arc?  I guess you are just going to have to find out.

Overall, I think The Complete Third Season is my favorite thus far in the True Blood franchise.  However, it’s not flawless.  It still suffers from too many subplots like the other seasons do, but I guarantee you that you’d be hard pressed to find any other southern drama as hot and as steamy as this one.  Plus there are vampires!  And now there are werewolves!  But before I move onto the vitals of this Blu-ray package, I have to get several things off my chest.  May I?  Ha ha.  Why am I asking you?  This is my review.  I can do what I want, when I want!  First off, let the record show that I think the intro title sequence to True Blood, composed by Digital Kitchen, is the best there is on television.  But hey, that’s only my opinion.  The editing and music just feels like it belongs together and I wouldn’t have done anything different.  Second, I want the record to also reflect that I am not a fan of the way they portray transformed werewolves on the show.  I can appreciate the nod towards realism, but I don’t know.  It just doesn’t work for me.  And finally, what’s with the final episodes of each season?  Is it only me or does it feel like each season builds up this magnificent intensity and just seems to wither during the last episode?  I don’t know what it is, but I can’t always help feeling that way.  Maybe they will knock me dead with a killer last episode in the fourth season or maybe I will win the lottery.  Personally, I’m hoping for the latter.  However, I will say this.  Unlike the other two season finales, this one does shake things up quite a bit…in a good way!

Any way you slice it, there’s no denying that True Blood is a damn good show worthy of your viewing.  The Complete Third Season will not disappoint.  It’s full of high and lows, vampires and werewolves, blood and carnage and of course…the nudity we all crave and watch the show for.  I’m kidding about that last part or am I?  If anything, viewing Season 3 will only reinforce my comments of praise and grow the True Blood audience even larger.  You know what that means?  The line for the True Blood panel at Comic-Con this year is going to be an eight-hour wait instead of the usual four.  Sigh.  But hey, for Alan Ball, HBO and the eccentric cast of actors…that’s a good thing!  Well, I’ve done enough talking; let’s allow the Blu-ray vitals to speak for themselves.  Come on!

Video  

HBO brings True Blood: The Complete Third Season to the Blu-ray format with the same blood curdling force and presentation you have been accustomed to seeing with the previous two seasons.  The swamp lands in the fictional town of Bon Temps, Louisiana are beautifully captured, immortally rendered and on display for all to see in this near perfect 1080p AVC MPEG-4 transfer.  The original widescreen aspect ratio has been preserved in its 1.78:1 entirety.  I’m not going to spend a lot of time here because I really can’t say enough good things and I don’t want to put you all to sleep.  Not everyone wakes up in a world of vampires if you know what I mean.  Sure the Blu-ray set suffers from the occasional banding issues like most television series do, but it’s nothing to pop your fangs out over.  Alan Ball’s vision is intact throughout.  Details are rich and sharp.   Black levels appear like ink flowing from a calligrapher’s writing instrument.  Textures and various objects are well defined in the background.   And better yet, I had zero issues with the colors, contrast or flesh tones.  The reds are impeccably splendid and delicious.   Love ’em!  Come on.   Did you expect anything less in this department?  Moving on…

Audio  

Once again, much like the video, how could you expect anything less in this department than near perfect?  If you ever had the chance to sit down with any of the True Blood seasons on Blu-ray, then you would know that nothing is sacrificed when it comes to the show’s audio presentation.  The Complete Third Season sinks its teeth into Blu-ray with a fang banging DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track.  And what I love about this Blu-ray set’s surround track is that it lives up to its name.  There’s a reason why they call it “surround” sound.  This track puts you right in the middle of the action, craziness and mayhem.  In other words, it utilizes the rear speakers.  Got to love it as every haunting and creeping moment is brought to life all around you.  But that’s just the surround speakers.  What about the LFE action?  Hubba hubba!  The LFE has balls where it counts.  Best of all, as far as my pet peeves are concerned, dialog levels are clear and intelligible through the 5-disc season. Even in the fiercest of battles, Sookie’s voice is as pleasing as it always it is.  Can you just hear Bill Compton saying “Sookie” right now?  LOL.  However, one cannot talk about the show True Blood without mentioning the twangy, moody and stirring Southern flavored soundtrack…the music, baby!  Should I even say anymore?  Give True Blood a spin and you will hear exactly what I’m talking about.  The selection of Southern artists (including my good friend Jesse Dayton) they use to populate the show’s soundscape is one of its greatest assets.  Enough said!

Special Features  

So besides the killer show and the near reference quality video and audio, do you still need another reason to pick up True Blood: The Complete Third Season on Blu-ray?  Well then, try this one on.  Take a look at the cover art below.  Isn’t that bada$$?  I’m just kidding (or am I?).  I’m going to give you not one, but SEVEN more reasons why you should bring home this Blu-ray set on May 31st.  Seven is a nice round number, right?  It may not look like much, but it will keep you busy for a couple hours.  So are you ready?  I can’t hear you!  Louder!  Make some noise!  Alright, here we go!  The following is a comprehensive list of the Special Features you will find within this 5-disc set.  And thank the guy above too.  All the Special Features are in High-Definition.  Okay.  Let’s get down to business.

  • Enhanced Viewing Experiences (HD) – Dive deeper into the world of Bon temps with the “Enhanced Viewing” experience on all 12 episodes.  When selected, this becomes an engaging Picture-in-Picture experience.  This includes the following.
    • Character Perspectives – Here you can learn more about what’s going on the lives of Jessica, Andy, Tommy and Alcide.
    • Flashback / Flash Forward – Hey!  You can now time travel!  Flashback to relive pivotal moments and watch exclusives that you have never seen before.  And then…flash forward to reveal the significance of a certain scene.  No DeLorean required.
    • Vampire Histories / Character Bios – Get the background stories here on all your favorite characters.
    • Hints / FYIs – The producers of this Blu-ray want to make sure you don’t miss a beat.  You will find the answers you are looking for here.  I hope.  If not, then God help you.
  • True Blood Lines (HD) – This Special Feature is housed on disc #5 and it is nothing more than an on-screen guide to the creatures, humans and other inhabitants in the world of True Blood.  If you need to know, this is the place to go!  I know…it rhymes!  LOL!
  • Anatomy of a Scene (HD, 11 mins.) – This one can be found on disc #1 and it encompasses the introduction of the werewolves in Episode #2 as Alan Ball, cast and crew take us through the journey and experience of filming the exciting werewolf fight.  No gloves required!
  • True Blood Post Mortems (HD, 22 mins.) – These were are billed as “stick around after each episode for a bonus helping of True Blood.”  These range from cool mini featurettes to absurd mockumentaries.  Either way, give them a spin.  These originally aired after each episode of True Blood and the season finale has a personal thank you from Alan Ball.  I think these are worth a viewing for any fan of the show.  Why not?  What do you have to lose?  Its only time.
  • Snoop Dogg “Oh Sookie” Video (HD, 3 mins.) – This perhaps one of my favorite Special Features here.  This little ditty (music video), found on disc #5, will have you in stitches.  Well, at least it elicited a few hearty chuckles from this old man.  Enjoy this treat!  I remember when this originally aired and my DVR cut it off.  I was so pissed.  Now I get to enjoy it in HD anytime I want.  Yea Team Blu-ray!
  • Seamless Play – This simply means that this Blu-ray set is equipped with a disc-to-disc seamless menu system that provides a complete season viewing experience.  Yeah.  I will let you decide how big of a deal this really is to you.
  • Audio Commentaries – Six audio commentaries are spread across the five discs.  They include the following.
    • “Beautiful Broken” with Alexander Skarsgard and director Scott Winant
    • “It Hurts Me Too” with writer Alexander Woo and director Michael Lehmann
    • “9 Crimes” with actress Kristin Bauer Van Straten and director David Petrarca
    • “I Got a Right to Sing the Blues” with Alan Ball and actor Denis O’Hare
    • “Hitting the Ground” with Anna Paquin and Joe Manganiello and writer Brian Buckner
    • “Evil is Going On” with Stephen Moyer and director Anthony Hemingway

Final Thoughts  

Well ladies and gentlemen, what say you?  There’s a reason why True Blood has been the best selling TV on DVD series for the past two years.  But forget DVD, we’re talking Blu-ray here.  And isn’t it obvious that you need this third season in your Blu-ray collection?  That’s what I thought!  Bring home something scary, sexy and entertaining on May 31st.  Bring home True Blood: The Complete Third Season on Blu-ray and satisfy the vampire in you with 12 episodes to quench your thirst.  Pre-order today!

 

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Owner/Writer/Reviewer/Editor, Dreamer, Producer, Agent of Love, Film Lover, Writer of Screenplays and a Devoted Apostle to all things Ford Mustangs (the real ones with V8's!). Some of my favorite films include FIGHT CLUB, MOULIN ROUGE, THE DARK KNIGHT, STAR WARS alongside television shows such as SEINFELD, 24, SANFORD & SON and even the often loathed in the geek community BIG BANG THEORY. Outside of my three lives I live I also enjoy spending time with my girlfriend and our three girls (of the furry kind).

2 Responses to “True Blood: The Complete Third Season (Blu-ray Review)”


  1. Aaron Neuwirth

    The show is certainly still very strong, but I wouldn’t go so far to say it was my favorite season. Really looking forward to Sesaon 4 though.

  2. Gregg

    When is this supposed to ship? I’ve had mine pre-ordered for months now…can’t wait to see it!