True Blood Season 4 Blu-Ray Review (Mania.com)
Review Date: Friday, June 22, 2012
Since I don’t have HBO I don’t get to watch True Blood until it shows up on Blu-ray for me to review. So its kind of like a year family gathering, the one time a year you get to see the more eccentric members of your family like old Uncle Al who likes to tell dirty jokes at the wrong time or Aunt Rose who loves poker and swearing like a trucker…not that I’m speaking from experience mind you…Each year I think this might be the year when the show jumps the shark and this one was no different. We’ve gone from a show about vampires and telepaths, to a show about vampires, telepaths, shape-shifters, werewolves, skin-walkers, fairies, witches, ghosts, were-panthers, shamans, demons…am I missing anything? And yet, like a tasty Cajun Gumbo somehow it all mixes into a satisfying bowl of fun.
True Blood by its very nature defies any attempt to summarize each season as there are so many diverse storyline running through each year. After being transported to the land of the fairies, Sookie meets her Grandfather (played by Gary Cole) who thinks he’s just died even though its been years. Sookie soon finds out that these fairies are less than altruistic and has to make a quick escape back to Bon Temps as her grandfather dies again, this time in her arms.
The main plot that runs throughout the season is of a local witches coven whose leader has found the power to raise the dead. This gets the attention of Bill Compton, the new Vampire King of Louisiana as necromancers have the power to control vampires. Sending Eric Northman to deal with the problem fails as the coven leader, Marnie, channels the spirit of a century’s dead witch who suffered at the hands of vampires. She puts a spell on Eric, completely erasing his memory.
With Eric’s memory gone, Sookie has to protect him by hiding him in her former house, which Eric now owns and the two begin a torrid love affair. Marnie falls deeper under the control of the witch who has the power to force vampires into the sunlight against their wills. Despite the fact that American Vampire league spokesperson, Nan Flanagan, has ordered Bill not to attack Marnie, Bill knows he has to put a stop to the witch especially once Sookie is captured.
So yeah that’s the abridged version, which hardly does the show justice. Meanwhile…Sam is dealing with his troublesome younger brother Tommy as well as the jealous ex husband/werewolf of his new girlfriend; Tara has left Bon Temps and is living under a new name; Sheriff Andy is addicted to vamp blood; Arlene is worried her baby is possessed by the spirit of her deceased, serial-killer husband; Alcide the werewolf is trying to make things work with his wife Debbie but is still in love with Sookie; Jason may or may not becoming a were-panther; Jessica is growing tired of Hoyt; Lafayette and Jesus discover each has some unique powers; and Pam is pissed off at everyone, especially Sookie.
True Blood is never short on memorable quotes and season 4 was no different:
Sookie to Claudine: "I have a fairy godmother? Okay, if your job is to look after me, can I just say you suck."
Sookie to Eric: "You just killed my fairy godmother!"
Lafayette to Marnie: "I... look, this kind of dog ate my homework excuse don't really fly with the vampires, because they sniff that and then they eat you like a f***in' pot pie."
Pam, having a meltdown: "I am so over Sookie and her precious fairy vagina and her unbelievably stupid name. F*** Sookie. I've been with Eric for over a hundred years. I've watched him seduce supermodels and princesses and spit out their bones when he is finished. How could someone named Sookie take him away from me?"
Man, that’s gold. Does everything work in True Blood? No. The writers seem determined to give every character a sub-plot of their own rather than letting them just be a part of the main story. There are a few storylines which easily could have been lost in season four such as Jason’s dalliance with the were-panthers which was forgotten about halfway through the season; Arlene and Terry’s sub-plot with their baby wasn’t the most compelling although it did offer some comic relief; and Tara’s lesbian tryst seem forced just to give her something to do.
But in the end True Blood always ends up shining due to an incredible balance of drama, comedy, romance, action, and horror and the characters have become just as beloved as those eccentric relatives you visit once a year.
Six Audio Commentary tracks on the following episodes:
"You Smell Like Dinner”
"If You Love Me, Why Am I Dyin'?"
"I'm Alive and On Fire"
"I Wish I Was the Moon"
"Let's Get Out of Here"
"Burning Down the House"
Inside the Episode Featurettes – These short featurettes for each episode run 3 – 5 minutes long as the writers and directors share their thoughts on a few key scenes or characters from that week's episode.
The Final Touches (28:00) – This is a roundtable discussion led by show creator Alan Ball and members of the post-production team. They take a look at the series’ special effects, editing, sounds, and other post-production items.
True Blood Lines – This is one of the best extras in this year’s set. It is basically an interactive encyclopedia to the season’s characters which includes bios of each and also covers their connections to other characters. It’s not exhaustive information but there is a bit more meat to some characters who don’t get a lot of backstory in the actual season.
Enhanced Viewing Mode – If you got the Game of Thrones blu-ray set, season four offers basically the same sort of optional and interactive viewing mode. You can flip while watching the episode to text entries and additional video featurettes with the actors still “in character” and commenting on the on-screen events. The only problem is that you can’t watch these separately as you could in the past so you have to watch them within each episode although you can quickly switch from one video to the next.
Mania Grade: A
Cast: Anna Paquin, Stephen Moyer, Alexander Skarsgard, Ryan Kwanten, Sam Trammell, Nelsan Ellis
Distributor: HBO Home Entertainment
Original Year of Release: 2011
Extras: See Below