Media

Home Theater Movie Renter's Guide - August, 2010

ARTICLE INDEX

"True Blood Season 2" (Blu-ray) - Reviewed by Chris Eberle

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Synopsis

True Blood follows the adventures of Louisiana waitress Sookie Stackhouse (Paquin), her brother Jason (Kwanten), her best friend Tara (Wesley) and her vampire boyfriend Bill Compton (Moyer).  In this world, vampires are commonplace now that a synthetic blood substitute has been found, True Blood.  Vampires are the new racial minority as their various issues are debated and they try to integrate with human society.  Sookie is no ordinary human as she can read people’s minds.  As the series progresses, we also learn of the existence of shape shifters, ancient demons and even werewolves.  It all takes place in the otherwise sleepy town of Bon Temps, Louisiana.

Season 2 of this successful series finds Bon Temps visited by the mysterious Maryann Forrester.  She has an unusual power over the people around her and as we get closer to the end, it becomes obvious she means to do harm on a Biblical scale.  Meanwhile, Jason Stackhouse joins the Fellowship of the Sun, a radical church that seeks to destroy all vampires and non-humans.  Sookie’s boyfriend Bill has troubles of his own as he tries to control a young girl he was forced to turn into a vampire.  When a vampire leader is kidnapped, Eric, the local vampire sheriff recruits Sookie and her telepathic powers to help rescue his 2000-year old friend.  The last few episodes cover Maryann’s diabolical activities and the finale has to be seen to be believed.  The season ends with a cliffhanger as Bill is taken by force from a restaurant just as he is about to ask Sookie to marry him.

 

Specifications

  • HBO/Warner Home Video
  • 2009, Color, Not Rated, 10 Hr 24 min (12 Episodes)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • 1080p
  • Codec:  AVC
  • English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio
  • Starring:  Anna Paquin, Stephen Moyer, Ryan Kwanten, Rutina Wesley
Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: Yes
  • Sex: Yes
  • Language: Bad

Commentary

I got hooked on this show after watching just one episode from season 1.  I immediately bought all the Blu-rays since Netflix only rents TV shows on DVD.  I’ve always enjoyed stories about vampires and other mythical creatures.  I thought at first vampires being commonplace might be a bit boring - True Blood is anything but.  There are plenty of action scenes for the guys and a good amount of romance to please the ladies.  This show has something for everyone over the age of 18.  Being an HBO series, there is plenty of sex, nudity and language.  You’ll want to put the kids to bed before dropping this in the player.  Some of the love scenes are so over-the-top, I couldn’t help laughing.  My wife and I watched all the discs together and we ripped through season 2 in about a week.  All the principal actors are wonderful in their parts and the show has received many awards including two Golden Globe nominations and one win for Anna Paquin.  Production quality is as good or better than many feature films.  It’s more like watching a 12-hour movie than a TV show.  Highly recommended!

Technical

Picture quality is excellent but not quite reference level.  Frankly, I have yet to see a TV show on Blu-ray that competes with the best movies for ultimate image quality.  That being said, color is very natural and saturated with consistent and accurate tones throughout.  Detail is very good though again, a bit short of the very best.  Contrast is also broad and deep with excellent black levels and shadow detail.  There are many dark scenes as you’d expect from a show that takes place mostly at night!  CGI effects are done pretty well and integrate smoothly into the live action.

It’s rare a TV show includes a lossless soundtrack but True Blood checks in with an excellent 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio mix.  Dynamic range is a bit short of the typical modern film but it’s a huge improvement over what you’ll get from your cable or satellite feed.  Dialog is always clean and clear with correct environmental cues.  You’ll always know whether a conversation is taking place in a parking lot versus a bar or a living room.  Effects like the vampire’s rapid movement are accentuated with deep bass which will get your sub going nicely.  Surrounds are also used well and often creating a seamless three-dimensional sound stage.  The music is written by Nathan Barr and includes some toe-tapping country funk-style tunes which you can enjoy during the show and the end credits of each episode.

Extras

Bonus features include a picture-in-picture feature that shows character trivia and other info in an on-screen window.  There are also featurettes covering character perspectives (2 hours’ worth!), the Fellowship of the Sun church and a 24-minute vampire news presentation.  Finally you can turn on audio commentary by various cast and crew members.