The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: HBO - 2012
MPAA Rating: TV-MA
Feature running time: 720 minutes
Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 1.78:1
Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio, French DTS 5.1, Spanish Stereo
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Latin, Spanish, Brazilian Portuguese, Dutch, Danish, Finnish, Norwegian, Swedish
Starring: Anna Paquin, Stephen Moyer, Sam Trammell, Ryan Kwanten, Rutina Wesley, Nelsan Ellie, Joe Manganiello, Chris Bauer, Jim Parrack, Todd Lowe, Deborah Ann Woll, Alexander Skarsgard, Carrie Preston, Christopher Meloni, Valentina Cervi, Lucy Griffiths, Denis O’Hare
Directed by: Various
Created by: Alan Ball based on the novels by Charlaine Harris
Region Code: A
Blu-ray Disc release Date: May 21, 2013
Returning for its fifth season, True Blood is HBO's sexy, scary, wildly entertaining drama series from Oscar- and Emmy-winner Alan Ball (Six Feet Under) and based on the Sookie Stackhouse novels by Charlaine Harris. In addition to returning cast favorites - human/faerie waitress Sookie Stackhouse, her vampire suitors Bill Compton and Eric Northman, soul-searching pal Tara, shape-shifting boss Sam, rakish brother Jason, clairvoyant Lafayette and teen-vamp Jessica - Season 5 introduces a whole new wave of otherworldly characters. There's Vampire Guardian Roman, president of the Vampire Authority, who wants co-existence between humans and vampires; vampire zealot Salome (yes, the Salome), intent on recreating the world in God's vampyric image; Authority Chancellor Nora, who shares the same maker as Eric; werewolves J.D. and Martha, who want a reluctant Alcide to take his rightful place as packmaster; and many more. Mixing romance, suspense, mystery and humor, True Blood Season 5 goes deep into the battle between the Vampire Authority and "vampire fundamentalists" - a political power play whose outcome could decide not only the fate of Sookie and her Bon Temps friends, but of all human existence.
For those that may have no prior experience with True Blood here is a quick overview: 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 became an item after going through a series of misfortunes that nearly resulted in both of their deaths.
Much has happened since the series inaugural season. We learn that vampire hierarchy and roots run deep in the south as evidenced by the emergence of Vampire King Russell Edgington and his minions. Vampires aren’t the only other worldly beings in existence. Sookie becomes entangled in a world ruled by a pack of vicious werewolves, and witches and shape-shifters hide in plain sight. Speaking of other worldly beings Sookie discovers that her true identity holds the key to her abilities which in turn leads to revelations about her family. In the meantime relationships are built, torn down and turmoil abounds as truths are uncovered heading into the new season.
In season 5 the fate of all humanity is at stake as the Vampire Authority tries to maintain peaceful relations with humans while battling a growing vampire rebellion that threatens to usurp their power and undo years of agreed upon coexistence. Vampires aren’t the only ones dealing with internal squabbles as werewolves and shape-shifters struggle to deal with murder, vengeance and double-dealing. In Bon Temp humans and vampires commingle, love affairs threaten life long friendships and past deeds come to back to haunt. It all adds up to a wicked and bloody climax that will affect the lives of everyone living and dead.
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 solid writing that revolves around interesting characters and interwoven subplots that prevent stagnation. The show is perfectly paced as the storyline plays out over the season’s twelve 1 hour episodes. It draws you into its alternate reality keeping things interesting via a little bit of everything, including drama, violence, sex, and various plot twists. Yes it definitely has a soap operatic feel but not of the campy variety. Season five’s multi-faceted storyline introduces new characters, brings back an old favorite and draws from the stable of recurring roles all of whom assuredly lend credibility to the proceedings. I watched the entire season with my wife and we enjoyed it.
Season Five 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 five audio commentaries by writers, directors, and cast members that further enhance the viewing experience. After having watched the show previously I found that it quickly becomes addicting and season five is no different as it has plenty of twists, turns and surprises as we follow the gang from Bon Temps. The finale leaves things hanging in typical fashion as we look to season 6. Hopefully it lives up to the buildup…
The show contains violence, gore, language, sexual content, nudity and strong thematic material.
AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency extension:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialogue Reproduction:
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Black level/Shadow detail:
- Color reproduction:
True Blood: Season Five comes to Blu-ray Disc from HBO featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 24 Mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 4.2 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.
- (HD) Enhanced viewing/True Blood Live feed option on each disc– Enhanced viewing includes pop-up video/text with trivia (both faux and actual), character bios, vampire histories, hints, behind the scenes content and more. Flashback/Flash Forward: Move through time in the world of Bon Temps. Flashback to relive pivotal moments or Flash Forward to reveal the significance of a certain scene.
- Five audio commentaries featuring cast/crew – Discs 2, 4, 5 on episodes: 4, 8, 9, 11, 12
- (HD) True Blood Episode Six: Autopsy - Join the cast and crew as they dissect the major events of episode six and provide an in-depth, behind-the-scenes look at how True Blood is made – 63 minute documentary
- (HD) Authority Confessionals – covering two episodes each learn more about the mysterious institution known as The Authority, from Nora, Kibwe, Rosalyn, Salome, Steve and Russell
- (HD) True Blood Lines - Uncover secrets from relationships past and present in this engaging, fully interactive "re-Vamped" guide and archive.
- Season Five Bonus DVD (2 dual sided)
- Digital Copy
- Ultraviolet Digital Copy
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 Five 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 five disc set is a must have for fans and comes recommended if you’re looking for a rewarding and darkly entertaining TV series.
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JVC DLA-RS55 3D Ready 1080p High Definition Front Projector
(Calibrated with Calman 5 & C6 Meter from Spectracal)
Stewart Filmscreen - Studiotek 130 G3 100” 16x9 Screen
Marantz AV8801 11.2 Channel Audio/Video Processor
Sherbourn Technologies - 7/200 Seven Channel Amplifier
B&K Reference 200.7 Series 2 Seven Channel Amplifier
Oppo BDP-103 Universal Disc/3D capable Blu-ray Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Panasonic DMP-BDT310 3D capable Blu-ray Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Toshiba HD-XA2 HD DVD Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Sony Playstation 3 Blu-ray disc Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
System Controller: Apple iPad/iRule Pro HD Universal Remote Control
Canton "Ergo" Series speakers
Axiom Audio QS8 Quadpolar speakers
SV Sound PB-13 Ultra (Rosenut finish)
APC AV S15BLK Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Wireworld, Better Cables (Silver Serpent) - Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
Cool Components - CP-CP102 cooling package