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

16 Jun, 2009 By: John Latchem

True Blood

$59.99 five-DVD set, $79.98 Blu-ray
Not rated.
Stars Anna Paquin, Stephen Moyer, Ryan Kwanten, Rutina Wesley, Sam Trammell, Nelsan Ellie, Chris Bauer, Jim Parrack, Carrie Preston, Michael Raymond James, William Sanderson, Alexander Skarsgäard.

For those who have enjoyed vampire lore one way or another, “True Blood” represents an exciting new mythology to explore, filled with interesting characters and engaging storylines rich in allegory (civil rights and religious zealotry being prime themes). The twist of the show is that vampires have announced their existence to the public, after development of an artificial blood source called TruBlood has lessened their need to feed off humans. Set in vampire-rich Louisiana, the show focuses on the struggles of telepathic barmaid Sookie Stackhouse (Anna Paquin) to adjust to her power while pursuing a relationship with vampire Bill Compton (Stephen Moyer), amid a series of murders.

“True Blood” was adapted by “Six Feet Under” creator Alan Ball from the “Southern Vampire Mysteries” book series by Charlaine Harris. The first season roughly follows events from the first book, Dead Until Dark, though is in no way constrained by the source material.

Under Ball’s skillful eye, “True Blood” is one of the best-looking shows on television, and is perfectly suited for Blu-ray, where all the gruesome blood effects are that much more gooey in high-definition.

In addition to a few commentaries that also are available on the DVD, the Blu-ray edition has a special enhanced viewing mode that offers pop-up trivia about different characters, hints about the larger mythology behind the show, animated maps of the show’s locations, and picture-in-picture videos.

These range from fake TruBlood commercials, vampire-themed PSAs and fake news reports about vampire activities. The real treat for fans, though, is a hilarious in-character video blog from Lafayette (Nelsan Ellis) giving his thoughts on various characters and situations.

This is a great use of home video to expand the show’s fictional world that both enhances the viewing experience and adds great little insights about the series. Unfortunately the extra material isn’t available independent of the enhanced mode. Some of it is available at the HBO “True Blood” Web site, and a couple of videos are included as separate extras on the last disc of the standard-DVD set, which perhaps is to the advantage of the DVD.

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