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Blu-Ray Review: Second Season of HBO’s Addictive ‘True Blood’

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CHICAGO – The second season of HBO’s wildly addictive “True Blood” may not have been quite as stellar as the first but Alan Ball’s often-mesmerizing creation still stands as one of the best shows on television. There’s nothing quite like it on the air and HBO pulls out all the stops with their best Blu-ray season release to date.

HollywoodChicago.com Blu-Ray Rating: 4.5/5.0
Blu-Ray Rating: 4.5/5.0

You can keep “The Twilight Saga”. I’ll take “The Sookie Saga” any day. The second season of “True Blood” started with a bang, picking up immediately after the end of the first one. Where the season went from there is something that only a true cynic would ruin but the theme of the sophomore installment of HBO’s hit seemed to be an examination of free will within a world where vampires walk among us, threatening to take it.

True Blood: Season Two was released on Blu-Ray and DVD on May 25th, 2010.
True Blood: Season Two was released on Blu-Ray and DVD on May 25th, 2010.
Photo credit: HBO Home Video

The season featured three plot arcs, all of which centered on issues of self control. Jason (Ryan Kwanten) gets tangled up in the vampire-hating “Fellowship of the Sun,” a group longing to control those they deem unworthy of God’s love while they themselves can’t even control their own issues of sexuality or power. Meanwhile. Tara (Rutina Wesley) was seduced by a demon (Michelle Forbes) who thrived on breaking down the self-control of the populous of Bon Temps. Finally, Sookie (Anna Paquin) found herself under the spell of Eric (Alexander Skarsgard) through a scenario I won’t spoil here. Even an underdeveloped-but-great subplot featured a new vampire (Deborah Ann Woll) dealing with both the loss control associated with young love and being a new member of the undead club.

True Blood: Season Two was released on Blu-Ray and DVD on May 25th, 2010.
True Blood: Season Two was released on Blu-Ray and DVD on May 25th, 2010.
Photo credit: HBO Home Video

Despite the relative thematic unity, the second season of “True Blood” shot all over the place when it comes to plot. There’s a fine line between being unpredictable and being unfocused and I think “True Blood” sometimes crossed over into the latter category. Having said that, Paquin and Skarsgard both deserve Emmy consideration and the consistently clever dialogue highlights some of the best writing out there. It is a confident, thoroughly entertaining drama that’s unlike anything else on television. I can’t wait for season three.

And the Blu-ray is a stunner. Not only are the episodes presented in as pristine an HD transfer as we’ve yet seen for a TV show but the special features are copious, impressive, and, in a first for HBO, original. HBO has never been known for their special features, releasing many of their shows bare-bones, but they recognized that “True Blood” fans want as much information and material regarding their favorite show as possible and they’ve totally delivered.

The most original and interesting feature is the “True Blood Live Feed”. Trying to merge Blu-ray watching with social networking, the discs are programmed to merge with the viewer’s Facebook account and not only keep it updated with status updates about what the viewer is watching but making their profile pic more vampire-esque. It goes a step further. During some scenes, you can click a button and post the clip on your FB wall. I’m not sure how many people want to read about what you’re watching on Blu-ray but the attempt to merge a hit show with Facebook is a clever one.

True Blood: Season Two was released on Blu-Ray and DVD on May 25th, 2010.
True Blood: Season Two was released on Blu-Ray and DVD on May 25th, 2010.
Photo credit: HBO Home Video

A bit less clever is the “Character Perspectives” feature which offers picture-in-picture insights from characters about the action of the show including Hoyt, Pam, Karl, and Steve Newlin. Most are not very well-written or performed and kind of take away from the overall experience of the show more than adding to it although the effort to do something new is appreciated. Other special features available through “Enhanced Viewing” while an episode plays include “Flashback/Flash Forward,” “Pro/Anti-Vampire Feeds,” and “Hints/FYI”.

With more special features than any HBO release to date, the second season of “True Blood” also includes “The Vampire Report” and commentaries on seven episodes that include Alan Ball, Anna Paquin, Stephen Moyer, Michelle Forbes, Alexander Skarsgard, Rutina Wesley, Ryan Kwanten, Sam Trammell, and many more.

Perfectly transferred episodes with commentaries on more than half and informative, unique bonus material. What more do you want from a TV Blu-ray release? This is the best of the year to date.

‘True Blood: Season One’ is released by HBO Home Video and stars Anna Paquin, Stephen Moyer, Sam Trammell, Ryan Kwanten, Rutina Wesley, Chris Bauer, Nelsan Ellis, Jim Parrack, Deborah Ann Woll, Michelle Forbes, Mehcad Brooks, Alexander Skarsgard, and William Sanderson. It was created by Alan Ball. The Blu-Ray was released on May 25th, 2010. It is not rated.

HollywoodChicago.com content director Brian Tallerico

By BRIAN TALLERICO
Content Director
HollywoodChicago.com
brian@hollywoodchicago.com

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