Vampires, vampires, vampires. They seem to have taken over the world recently, thanks to the sparking success of the Twilight saga, and it seems that you can’t swing a cat without knocking into a book, film or TV series about our fanged friends, and I, for one, am a (mind the pun) sucker for them.
One of my favourite films is The Lost Boys and Buffy The Vampire Slayer is still my all-time favourite show, but vampires now just don’t seem that fun anymore. They’re all more likely to moon over you than actually bite you. Well, at least according to Hollywood. Maybe the Hollywood execs should take a trip down to Bon Temps and learn a thing or two about vampires.
Based on the hugely success series of The Southern Vampire Mysteries by Charlaine Harris, True Blood has been a summer staple on HBO over the past couple of years and has garnered a huge following for those looking for vampires with a bit more bite.
We start where we left off at the end of Season two, with Vampire Bill (Stephen Moyer) popping the question to waitress and telepath, Sookie Stackhouse (Anna Paquin). Her reluctance in answering straight away and his kidnapping nicely lead into the season’s events, which focus mostly on the vampire king of Louisiana, Russell Edgington (credit where credit’s due, Denis O’Hare is brilliant in this role), and his connection with the werewolf community and the wrong he did to Eric centuries ago.
If there are two strong undercurrents of this season it’s that of revenge and redemption. Eric wants revenge for his family’s death. Bill wants revenge on his sire, Lorena (Mariana Klaveno is fine villain form), for stealing him away from his family and human life, and Russell, who plays with them both for his own amusement, ends up becoming the most vengeful of all when something very important to him is taken away, and his descent into grief and madness is thrilling to watch.
To balance this out, we have Jason (Ryan Kwanten) trying to become a hero after his deadly actions at the end of last season, which leads him to become the unexpected hero of a rather bizarre community.
Most interesting of all of the storylines, though, is Sam’s (Sam Trammell) journey to find the family that left him as a child and discovering they probably were best left where they were. Watching his descent back into the depths he thought he’d left behind has helped him become the most interesting of the True Blood characters.
The only downside for me was the arc given to Tara (Rutina Wesley), whom I’m just fed up with seeing exploited season after season. Yes, she had a terrible childhood. Yes, she has problems trusting anybody. Yes, she was brainwashed by a maenad and her boyfriend is killed. But did she really need to be kidnapped, raped and nearly killed by a crazy vampire? Although I do have to add that I did enjoy James Frain’s portrayal of Franklin, I just don’t think Tara needed this much drama so soon after what had happened the previous season.
The previous seasons have mostly focused on Sookie and her relationship with Bill, and this season allows the supporting cast to hold their own on screen and really gives you a glimpse into their characters, with all getting some great little stories in the relatively short twelve episodes of the season. I was pleased that the world of True Blood was opened up more, including the introduction of more supernatural creatures, adding fairies and werewolves to the mix of vampires and shapeshifters.
Fans of the show’s two previous outings will find very little to dislike about season three, and for newcomers who are starting off here, it’s a nice season to slide into, with a lot of backstory being covered, while interlocking with the new storylines.
Much like previous seasons, there’s a cliffhanger ending, but it isn’t as urgent as those from previous seasons, which slightly let me down a bit, but still left me hungry for more. Thank goodness the summer season is nearly upon us.
I can never fault HBO for its filming standards and, as expected, True Blood looks fantastic on the 1080p format and the surround sound perfectly fits into the ambiance of the show and gives you the odd jump now and again!
I also cannot fault the extras content on the disc, either, which includes a really fun enhanced viewing mode, which includes Picture in Picture Character Perspectives. They’re really humorous and well thought out and something that possibly other shows could pick up on to add as extras.
There are some Minisodes, which link seasons two and three up and are worth a watch before you hit play on the main season, and Post Mortems which sum up the episode just watched.
There are also Vampire histories and character biographies, flash backs and forwards which you can use to either move back or forth in the series to see when something important happened and the impact it has, as well as trivia sections in hints and FYIs, which don’t do much for me, but will be a welcome addition for any hardcore fan.
There are also a couple of interesting featurettes, including Anatomy of a Scene, which is worth watching to see how much time and effort is put into making a scene come to life and how close TV and film standards are now.
The Standalone Full Actor Interview Character Perspectives feaurette is also interesting, as it gives you a good sense of how the actors see their characters. Also on the disk are previews and recaps and nice a little True Blood Lines interactive character guide, and as a bonus, the Snoop Dog music video, Oh Sooki’.
Last but not least, there’s an audio commentary on episodes two, three, four, six, seven and twelve, which is actually pretty interesting and gives a fresh insight into the episodes.
True Blood season 3 is out now on Blu-ray and available from the Den Of Geek Store.