True Blood: Season 1 (Blu-ray/DVD Combo + Digital Copy)
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True Blood chronicles the backwoods Louisiana town of Bon Temps... where vampires have emerged from the coffin, and no longer need humans for their fix. Sookie Stackhouse (Anna Paquin, Academy Award-winner for “The Piano”) works as a waitress at the rural bar Merlotte's. Though outwardly a typical young woman, she keeps a dangerous secret: she has the ability to hear the thoughts of others. Her situation is further complicated when the bar gets its first vampire patron - 173-year old Bill Compton (Steven Moyer, "Quills") - and the two outsiders are immediately drawn to each other. Delivering the best of what audiences have come to expect from Creator and Executive Producer Alan Ball (writer of Oscar-winning Best Picture "American Beauty", creator of the Emmy Award-winning HBO series Six Feet Under), True Blood is a dark and sexy tale that boldly delves into the heart - and the neck - of the Deep South.
Alan Ball’s True Blood series works well for television, as it has enough sensationalism to tantalize and enough story girth to make the viewer care about the characters. That one can finally invest emotion into monsters, including an undead Civil War victim, a transformer who can shapeshift into various animals, and a female mind reader, speaks volumes about America’s willingness to accept fantasy. Of course, television has always produced good fantasy shows (I Dream of Genie), but True Blood’s Southern Goth brand of fun horror is more macabre and more perverse, not to mention gorier, than most shows of its kind to date. Adapted from Charlaine Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse novels, True Blood thrills because of its equal blend in each episode of erotica, humor, tragedy, mystery, and fantasy.
Set in a rural, swampy Louisiana parrish, the show centers around Sookie Stackhouse (Anna Paquin) and her clan, sweet grandmother Adele (Lois Smith) and air-headed brother Jason (Ryan Kwanten). Illicit love is spawned early on, when Sookie saves vampire Bill Compton (Stephen Moyer) from having his blood stolen in the parking lot of Merlotte’s diner, owned by Sam Merlotte (Sam Trammell) who completes what will form a complex love triangle. As tensions between Sookie’s suitors loosen or tighten, many side plots, such as her African American best friend Tara’s (Rutina Wesley) struggle with an alcoholic, Bible-thumping mother and her brother’s dangerous crush on drug addicted hippie, Amy Burley (Lizzy Caplan), keep one wondering who will succeed in this podunk place. The main tension throughout, however, is a race war waged between vampires and humans. As murders of “fang bangers” occur (human girls who let vampires bite them) and dumb policeman Andy Bellefleur (Chris Bauer) fails to find clues, one sees the metaphorical implications of vampirism and feels deeper resonance with what can be a downright trashy show. Gossip galore, especially about what kinds of babies interbreeding will produce, is rampant. One of the funniest characters is Tara’s flamboyant cousin, Lafayette (Nelsan Ellis), who deals drugs, works as a fry cook, and services the local white politicians, while making sure he’s always up in everyone’s business.
What makes True Blood smarter than pure soap opera is the parallels it draws between its monster mash and actual, familiar societal problems. Sookie and her friends watch the news, where Evangelicals bash vampires and prohibit mixed marriage, and everyone is addicted to V, a.k.a vampire blood, that effects like psychedelic heroin. Even its gore reflects a mix of serious and silly, as vampires explode into red, sticky goop. Though it may not be attempting to qualify for the best vampire footage ever shot, True Blood is as addictive as that substance the town’s youth obsesses over, which is a metaphor in itself. --Trinie Dalton
Top customer reviews
If you are still reading this, you will want to know that this is also a very clever and well produced series that does seem to work combining the harsher elements with a good bit of humor and surprisingly well developed characters.
Set in Louisiana after vampires have "come out" because they can now get a synthetic blood to curb their thirst of humans, this starts off with most people's impression of what a "hick" town is like in the more remote parishes. The main character, Sookie, is a fairly straight laced "good girl" who works as waitress in the local bar. She also happens to be able to read minds (not a spoiler, this is stated in the show "synopsis" and is obvious very quickly). Things get interesting quickly when the bar gets it's first vampire customer ("Bill") and around the same time, Sookie's handsome brother finds himself in some legal trouble.
The casting was fairly good and the actors are mostly believable, which is a relative term in reference to a vampire themed HBO series. The special effects have been kept to a minimum, so the plot is mostly story driven.
This is not for everyone and there is a big difference between reading about the subjects I covered in the first paragraph and seeing it expanded and shown in full HD in your living room. Definitely also not for the younger crowed either!
An imaginative world where vampires are out in the open. The allegory is obviously meant to point out prejudice in a metaphor about racism. But it is done with some fun and creeps along the way.
As mentioned above, the writing is excellent. One of the best aspects about this series is that it is definitely NOT predictable! Not in the least. You never know where the writers are going to take you...from one episode to the next, or from one season to the next. The character development, story lines, acting, directing, casting and effects are all first rate. Considering that the series has its fair share of killing (although not overly so, and it's certainly not the focus of the show), the series couldn't be called "dark" or gory by any means. I also would not call this show necessarily "violent" either. (Personally, I don't care for violent shows or movies, and I find this series to be tolerable on the violence scale. It does have killing and blood and bodies and body parts, after all there are vampires in it, but even so, it's done in a way that is not offensive or vulgar.)
There is comedy, drama, action and suspense...and very well choreographed cliff-hangers to end each episode. Despite the blood, death and suspense, the series as a whole is well balanced with comedy and other character's story lines which help keep it from being overly dark. There is a quite a bit of nudity - not raunchy, but tasteful and almost artful. So if you're sensitive to nudity, just be forewarned...or simply cover your eyes during those parts, because the story lines and acting make this series well worth watching.) I easily give 5-stars to every season.
Another refreshing bonus is that the episode commentary for every season is also worth watching. The actors, directors and writers actually contribute thoughtful and interesting tidbits that add to the episodes and the series. It's best to watch the commentary after you've completed the season because sometimes they accidentally reveal things that happen later in that season.
This series is well worth purchasing.
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