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Info:

  • DVD: True Blood (Complete First Season)
  • Rating: Unrated
  • Starring: Anna Paquin, Stephen Moyer, Sam Trammell, Ryan Kwanten
  • Written By: Charlaine Harris, Alan Ball, Chris Offutt, Alexander Woo, Brian Buckner, Nancy Oliver, Raelle Tucker,
  • Directed By: Alan Ball, Scott Winant, John Dahl, Michael Lehmann, Daniel Minahan, Nick Gomez, Marcos Siega, Anthony Hemingway, Nancy Oliver,
  • Distributor: HBO Home Entertainment
  • Original Year of Release: 2008 (HBO), 2009 (DVD)
  • Extras: See Below
  • Series: True Blood

True Blood (Complete First Season)

HBO's adaptation of the best-selling Southern Vampire series True Blood.

By Tim Janson     June 09, 2009


Anna Paquin and Stephen Moyer star in HBO's TRUE BLOOD(2008).
© HBO

 

I’ve never read any of Charlaine Harris’ Southern Vampire series that this HBO show is based on so I have no predispositions and fortunately don’t have to go through the labor of comparing the books to the TV show.  Set within Louisiana amidst eroded Southern gothic homes, True Blood is a vampire drama that is emphasizes drama much more than its supernatural elements.  In this world vampires have “come out of the coffin” and made their existence known to the world.  They want to live among humans with the same rights, in fact there’s even a running subplot about the Vampires fighting for the Vampire Rights Amendment, and its debate among various factions in the media.

Sookie Stackhouse (Paquin) lives with her grandmother and works in a local bar and grill.  Ever since she was a child, Sookie has had the ability to read minds and hear the thoughts of those around her.  With effort, she can shut off the ability when she is around her close friends and relatives but most of the people in the town of Bon Temps know there’s something odd about Sookie.

In fact, Sookie may very well be the most normal character in the show and she’s definitely the show’s foundation.  Sookie is surrounded by an oddball assortment of dysfunctional characters.  Her brother Jason is the town’s “man whore” whose sexual habits lead him to be accused of murdering a couple of local women.  Her best friend Tara (Rutina Wesley) has anger and relationship issues and lives with her alcoholic mother; Lafayette is Tara’s cousin, a cook at the bar who is homosexual and deals drugs and is a prostitute on the side; Sam Merlotte (Sam Trammell )owns the bar where Sookie works and he’s carried a torch for Sookie for many years but he has his own dark secret.  
 
Into this small town walks Bill Compton, a 173-year-old vampire who has returned to Bon Temps, his ancestral home.  Sparks fly between Sookie and Bill immediately and Bill is in her debt when she rescues him from a couple who try to drain him of his blood.  Vampire blood is a powerful and expensive drug for humans.  Sookie feels safe with Bill as she cannot read his thoughts and thus feels more comfortable in opening up to him.  Their romance entangles most of the town as people take up sides in the issue of humans dating vampires.  She begins to learn the culture of vampires.  Bill is a mainstreamer, living alone among humans and drinking synthetic blood.  Other vamps live in nests, making them more aggressive and more likely to attack humans.  

Their relationship will be put to the test over and over again through a series on increasingly disturbing events as Bill tries to protect Sookie from his brethren and from a serial killer who targets women who date vamps referred to as “fang bangers”.

Vampires aside, True Blood could work almost as well as any ensemble drama.  I found it quite amazing that so many stories and plots were able to be explored in a short, 12-episode season.  There’s a lot of story crunched into each show but you never feel as if anything is left out.

Paquin as Sookie does a fantastic job.  She’s attractive and yet not OVERLY beautiful.  She’s perceptive even without the ability to read minds.  She knows right from wrong and even her attraction to Bill won’t allow her to jeopardize her morals.  The Vampires all seem to know that there is something special about Sookie but they don’t know what it is.  Bill Compton (Stephen Moyer) is also not your typical TV show vampire.  One gets the feeling that Bill returned to the town for reasons other than it was his home when he was still alive.  Jason (Ryan Kwanten) is the perfect male bimbo, stupidly walking into one treacherous situation after another and yet deep down he has a wonderful soul.  Only Tara begins to wear on the viewer after awhile…her constant complaining and feeling sorry for herself just makes you want to scream.
 

What makes True Blood work so well is that it does offer something for everyone…there’s enough vampire and horror elements to attract fans of that genre but also enough great drama to turn off people who are not horror fans. The writers have barely scratched the surface of these characters and it’s bloody obvious (pardon the pun) that there are many more secrets to be revealed. If you don’t get HBO then I highly recommend this set.

 
Extras
 
The extras are modest but fun. There are a number of Faux commercials geared towards vampires such as the ad for True Blood which spoofs male-bonding beer commercials. There are ads for a vampire dating service, hotel, and lawyer who promises to protect the rights of his fanged clientele. There are public service announcements both pro and con on the Vampire Rights Amendment.
 
“In Focus: Vampires in America” is a mock-u-mentary which covers the vampire issue from the day they went public to the present and includes segments on the creation of synthetic blood as well as debunking popular vampire myths.
 
Finally, there are audio commentaries on six of the twelve episodes featuring various members of cast and crew including Anna Paquin and Stephen Moyer.

 

COMMENTS AND RESPONSES

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Hobbs 6/9/2009 6:55:38 AM

Good review Tim.  I have been wondering about this show.  All that Twlight crap out there has diluted the vampire genre in my opinion so I'm hesitant about checking any of the stuff that is coming out.  Once something is huge, everyone in Hollywood copies it so I thought were going to get nothing but Twlight vampire stuff from now on.

Too bad this is HBO though...I'm sure the 13 episodes are probably 100 bucks for the season or close to it.  HBO is nuts about their prices.

lusiphur 6/9/2009 7:46:51 AM


Actually Hobbs, Amazon has it listed at $59.99.

Sound like a good series, I may have to check it out.  Thanks for the review.

hanso 6/9/2009 8:46:30 AM

It's an excellent series, definitely check it out.  I think BestBuy has it on sale at around $54.  Or Netflix it!

They show Anna Paquin's boobs.  Nuff said.

tjanson 6/9/2009 9:10:19 AM

Hanso...lmao...I forgot to mention that very important selling point in my review!

StarlightGuard 6/9/2009 9:54:54 AM

Yeah, I'm not convinced that Twilight has watered down vampires on Hollywood at all.

Let's face it, Twilight couldn't have because we've had COUNTLESS vampire and werewolf stories, so it is by nature watered down. And every time they come back and one of them is an actual success, then Hollywood starts up its carbon copy machine and makes another half dozen of them per day.

So it's not really fair to blame Twilight....although Hanso is looking for a way, I'm certain.

Twilight was the first different thing dealing within this genre in recent history...when I was writing "Unbitten," I was also looking for something dramatically different. But there's no way in hell I'll promote it now or for quite a while with all these other vamp stories going on.

Hobbs 6/9/2009 10:09:16 AM

Starlight, someone on here once said Twlight was a chick flick disguised as a vampire movie and with the exception of yourself, most everyone supports that theory.  I haven't seen Twlight but the fact my teenage niece and her girlfriends want to see it a million times is enough evidence for me to blame Twlight for the crap vampire movies that are on the way to coming out.  

I'll back hanso especially when he was talking about the "glow" the vampires would give off...WTF...it's a chick flick.

Iusiphur....is 13 episodes really worth 60 bucks?  To each their own but HBO series are way over priced.

 

gauleyboy420 6/9/2009 10:35:29 AM

ummmm hello!!! Anna's BOOBS!, $60 buck sis a steal, this show is great, can't wait for season 2.

just rent the damn thing

liana 6/9/2009 11:35:07 AM

Great review Tim! I am so excited about this

StarlightGuard 6/9/2009 1:03:05 PM

you also have to consider (as Jarrod once pointed out on his Facebook page) that posting news about Twilight and such is a difficult task given mania's mostly male readership...so first off take that into account...

I wouldn't say it's "disguised as a vampire movie," and those that say so are just pissed off little boys expecting one thing and getting another.....kind of like when Sascha Baron Cohen pulled his Bruno stunt in Fort Smith last year when all these drunk rednecks were expecting "wrassling" and got two grown men kissing...

I still love that...I can't wait to see Bruno so I can actually see the madness that ensued.

To assume it's disguised as a vampire movie and backed up by everyone on here is to say HEY! WE WERE TRICKED! BASTARD!

Yes it's a romance. Yes vampires are in it. Big deal.

I'm sure you already know these points aren't aimed at you hobbs...it's just trusting just this readership of  guys that feel betrayed and are now likely pouting like my nephew when he can't play a game is just limiting...

Twilight did something different...because everything before it was pretty much VAMPIRE BITES PRETTY GIRL, VAMPIRE KILLS PEOPLE, VAMPIRE SEDUCES MORE PRETTY GIRLS, PEOPLE GET PISSED, VAMPIRE IS STAKED.....etc...

yeah I want to see this as much as anyone else...I just look beyond the limitations we can (and often do) impose on ourselves...but frankly I'm not really impressed with vampires, and you have to find a way to liven it up....and we're at the point where it's really, really hard to do and vampires being vampires is just a gimmick anymore....ooh blood suckers gonna get you, be scared....yawn......

ripum853 6/9/2009 3:10:40 PM

Not just Paquin's boobs (which are fantastic), but that Lizzy Caplan's (Surprisingly) stunning body. Yeeooowww!!!! Plus that hottie that was part of X-men Origins: Wolverine's downfall is a lot hotter in this.

 

Female anatomy 101 aside, great show. Although, Sookie gets on my nerves with her constant drama, negative attitude, and cry-baby act almost as much as Tara. Thankfully Sookie has some saving points that make her a little bit likeable for me. Still a great fan of the show over all, and can't wait for the new season this weekend, with supposedly a few new creatures introduced.

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