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

20 May, 2011 By: John Latchem

Street 5/31/11
$59.99 five-DVD set, $79.98 five-disc Blu-ray
Not rated
Stars Anna Paquin, Stephen Moyer, Ryan Kwanten, Rutina Wesley, Sam Trammell, Nelsan Ellis, Chris Bauer, Carrie Preston, Todd Lowe, Jim Parrack, Alexander Skarsgård, Deborah Ann Woll, Joe Manganiello, Evan Rachel Wood, Denis O’Hare.

The capacity of Blu-ray Disc allows for so many expansive and interactive extras that sometimes I fear the designers might miss the forest for the trees.

True Blood: The Complete Third Season offers a wide array of extras on Blu-ray, starting with an enhanced viewing mode that provides trivia, picture-in-picture character perspectives and links to other videos that tie into the current scene. Sometimes this video is a clip from a previous season, while other times it’s one of the special promotional “minisodes” that were created for the “True Blood” website in the lead-up to the airing of the third season on HBO.

These minisodes are pretty cool, offering self-contained little scenes that take place before and after key moments from the earlier seasons. Being able to access them during the enhanced viewing mode is fine because it creates a contextual link to what’s being watched. But it would be helpful to have them presented on disc on their own to watch a la carte (instead of having to hunt for them online).

The DVD, which doesn’t have an enhanced viewing option, actually offers seven of these minisodes as separate extras. On the other hand, the DVD does not offer the character perspectives, while the Blu-ray for some reason offers these vignettes grouped together on the bonus disc so they can be watched separately.

The third season finds Sookie and Bill confronting a dangerous vampire king who is using an army of werewolves to expand his power at the expense of peace with the humans. The perspectives offer one of the characters speaking to the audience about their opinion about what is happening in a particular scene, and often are quite entertaining. There are usually four or five characters presented in a season, and the highlight this year is Chris Bauer as Sheriff Andy, whose gruffness and irascibility plays well as an inner monologue, even as his character is backed into a corner of meekness on the show.

That’s the thing, though. The character perspectives might seem a bit odd out of the context of the enhanced viewing mode, which only makes it more curious why those would be presented separately on the Blu-ray while the minisodes aren’t.

The only other knock against the enhanced viewing mode is that it turns off the subtitles, even those that are needed during the show when characters speak in a foreign language.

Otherwise, this is the most comprehensive set of extras yet offered for a “True Blood” season. The big new feature is “True Blood Lines,” an interactive virtual encyclopedia containing profiles of the various characters and how they are related to each other.

The discs also contain “True Blood Post Mortems,” which are clips originally presented with the episodes that take viewers behind the scenes or offer an in-universe bonus scene that expands the show’s mythology. There’s also an “Anatomy of a Scene” featurette about using wolves on the show.

Rounding out the set is the hilarious Snoop Dogg “Oh Sookie” video, which features such lyrics as “Bill ain’t for real, he ain’t true blood. Snoop is a G, I smoke true bud.” What else would you expect from the “Tru Pimp”?

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