( Max score: 100 )
Welcome back to Bon Temps, home to mystery, Southern sensuality and dark secrets. For Sookie Stackhouse, life is more dangerous than ever after she and Bill become more deeply involved. Meanwhile, Tara finds herself in love and under a spell; Sam puts his trust in an unlikely ally; Jason becomes involved with an anti-vampire sect; Eric recruits Sookie to investigate the disappearance of a 2,000 year old vampire; and Maryann is revealed to possess a power that can control almost everyone in town. Then, after making a shocking discovery, Sookie, Bill and Sam must form the last line of defense against a diabolical plan that raises this award-winning series to bloody new heights.
True Blood is a one hour HBO TV series that takes place in the back woods Louisiana town of Bon Temps. It is a small community where everyone knows everyone else. The people of Bon Temps are your typical small town folk who take an active interest in each others business and seem to get along pretty well regardless. The world in which they reside is different. In their world vampire and humans coexist together in society. This was made possible by a scientist's invention called Tru Blood, a synthetic blood which can be bought at most local mini-marts and provides sustenance for vampires. Like humans they now have civil rights and an association to protect them. No longer do they have to feed on humans and their existence while not common place is looked upon as a regular occurrence. There are still many though who remain distrustful and apprehensive of them. Debates about the appropriateness and safety of allowing them to live among humans is a topic that is regularly debated among religious leaders and government officials.
In Bon Temps the presence of vampires has been much less of an issue until now. Local waitress Sookie Stackhouse (Anna Paquin) knows how it feels to be an outcast. Since she was a child she has had the ability to hear people's thoughts. She has learned some level of control over it when around family and friends but she often has trouble controlling the rush of images and thoughts that flood her mind. She tends to see things differently than most and is open-minded about the integration of vampires. She became romantically involved with a hansdome 173 year old vampire named Bill Compton (Stephen Moyer), after he moved back to Bon Temps and the two have become an item after going through a series of misfortunes that nearly resulted in both of their deaths.
When we last checked in with Sookie Stackhouse, the mystery surrounding a Bon Temps serial killer had finally been solved, to the town's infinite relief. Sookie is thrilled that soul mate Bill Compton escaped with his life (or is it death?) after coming to her daylight defense. On other fronts, Sookie's pal Tara Thornton sets down new roots with an affluent benefactor, Maryann Forrester; Sam Merlotte resolves to get in shape-shift shape after a forest foray; roguish brother Jason finds new purpose with an anti-vampire sect; and detective Andy Bellefleur licks his wounds after being proven wrong about Jason's guilt. But just as things are settling down, some deadly new twists threaten to ratchet up the saga of Sookie Stackhouse to bloody new heights!
This is an original show that feels unlike most other vampire based themes, especially compared to the rash of tween based films/shows that have arisen lately. Alan Ball is no stranger to successful cable television series. Six feet under was another well conceived and executed creation of his. Like that show this one's dark side isn't overtly so (even though we are talking about vampires). Its strength is drawn from interesting characters and intelligent writing. Anna Paquin is a talented actress who has been in the business for a long time for someone so young. She and Stephen Moyer have no trouble carrying the torch as the show's center piece although I like the fact that this season widens the focus with more of a multifaceted storyline. Tara (Rutina Wesley) and Lafayette (Nelsan Ellis) remain among my favorite supporting players with vampire sheriff Eric (Alexander Skarsgard), newly turned Jessica (Deborah Ann Woll) and Jason Stackhouse (Ryan Kwanten) all coming in close seconds.
The show is perfectly paced as the storyline plays out over the season's twelve 1 hour episodes. It draws you into this alternate reality (of sorts) that feels relatively normal outside of the rather obvious (or maybe not) elephant in the room. Most would initially consider that elephant to be the vampires that have come to town and the assertion that they are inherently evil. Assuming that is true than you probably aren't looking hard enough because there is more to the events and people (both dead and alive) of Bon Temps than meets the eye. THAT is what makes this show so interesting and fun to watch. The season is spread out over five BD-50 dual layered Blu-ray discs. The bonus content is integrated and viewable by selecting the Enhanced viewing option that accompanies each episode. When applicable there are pop-ups (both video and text based) that features lots of trivia (both faux and actual), interviews, background on characters, animated maps, hints, behind the scenes content, flashback/forward timeline options and more. There are also seven audio commentaries by writers, directors, and cast members that further enhance the viewing experience. After watching last season I found that I quickly became addicted to this show and season two is no different as it has plenty of twists, turns and surprises as we follow the gang from Bon Temps as they encounter new evil that will require help from the most unlikely of sources if they are to survive.
The show contains violence, language, sexual content, nudity and strong thematic material.
True Blood: Season Two comes to Blu-ray Disc from Warner/HBO featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 19 mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 4.1 mbps.
This 1.78:1 framed video presentation offers good high definition resolution that has a gritty, filmic texture that works very well with the show's theme. Images are stable and sharp with plenty of discernible texture and revealing fine detail during close-ups. Many of the show's sequences are shot in uneven and low lighting. Grain tends to take on more prominence during these segments which sometimes leaves backgrounds appearing a little muddled. Shadow delineation and depth is quite good. Blacks are deep while exhibiting appreciable dynamic range with stable yet slightly elevated contrast that never infringes upon fidelity. Colors are snappy and bright and sullen and muted where appropriate. Fleshtones appear descriptive with variable depth that brings out the finest gradations in the differing complexional types among the cast. The DTS-HD MA soundtrack is among the best I have heard from a TV series. The presentation is open with superb rendering of spatial sounds and off camera directional cues. Dynamics are punchy and sharp without being harsh or edgy. Bass response is deep, authoritative and on occasion room filling. Voices are clearly intonated with smooth sibilant free highs that offer excellent delineation that makes small inflectional changes detectable. Surround activity is abundant and predominantly comes in the form of atmosphere generating ambience however there is also effective use of discretely placed sounds that occasionally emanate from both the front and rear channels. The result is an immersive and involving soundscape that augments the show's dark theme.
True Blood is a well written character driven show that pushes the envelope with its eclectic premise which is drawn from the novels by Charlaine Harris. Being a fan I appreciate its evolving, multi-layered story and different perspective on the vampire genre. Season Two continues in that vein with its compelling, fun and dark theme. The show looks and sounds terrific in high definition and contains an assortment of fan friendly bonus features that enhance the experience on Blu-ray Disc. This season two set is a must have for fans and comes recommended if you're looking for a rewarding and darkly entertaining TV series. Enjoy!