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

14 May, 2010 By: John Latchem

Street 5/25/10
$59.99 five-DVD set
$79.98 Blu-ray
Not rated.
Stars Anna Paquin, Stephen Moyer, Alexander Skarsgård, Michelle Forbes, Ryan Kwanten, Sam Trammell, Rutina Wesley.

While the “Twilight” movies have hogged the lion’s share of attention for the vampire genre lately, their focus on teen romance and emo angst doesn’t offer much for an audience to sink its teeth into. But Alan Ball’s vampire series is no slouch in the popularity department either, after runaway sales of the first season on DVD and ever-increasing ratings on HBO.

“True Blood” displays an intricacy of story and character that makes it a much more worthy successor to the legacy of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” — not to mention copious amounts of sex and gore. No one could accuse this show of not indulging in soft-core decadence, which makes it all the more delicious.

The bulk of the second season is consumed by a storyline involving a supernatural being that casts a spell over the people of Bon Temps, causing the town to descend into chaos and its residents to engage in acts of hedonism, leading to what best could be described as a giant orgy. Meanwhile, Sookie Stackhouse, her vampire lover, Bill Compton (real-life couple Anna Paquin and Stephen Moyer), and other key characters find themselves in Texas, putting them in the best position to fend off the evil that has befallen their home.

The show loosely follows the story arcs of Charlaine Harris’ “Southern Vampire Mysteries” series of novels, with season two based for the most part on Living Dead in Dallas. It all comes together nicely and provides a perfect launching point into season three.

In addition to some richly informative behind-the-scenes commentaries on select episodes, the Blu-ray Disc offers an enhanced viewing mode that contains picture-in-picture comments from some of the show’s minor characters, as well as in-universe press statements from the pro- and anti-vampire organizations depicted on the show, pop-up hints about key plot points and a cool feature that offers viewers a chance to watch a clip from an earlier episode that relates to the current moment being watched.

The last disc offers all the character perspectives viewable on their own, plus two in-universe featurettes. The most prominent is “The Vampire Report: Special Edition,” which is structured as a half-hour episode of a news-magazine program, complete with fake commercials. The other is a series of short “Fellowship of the Sun: Reflections of Light” vignettes, featuring life lessons from Steve and Sarah Newlin, who run the anti-vampire church that plays a major role in season two.

One of the strengths of “True Blood” is the level of detail put into the world behind the storylines, and extras such as these go a long way to enhancing this sense of reality. That these videos are available as separate extras represents a bit of an improvement over the first-season Blu-ray, for which the enhanced mode was the only way to view the extra video (the DVD version, which didn’t have the enhanced mode, had the video a la carte).

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