HBO has always been the source for gritty, raw programming that has captivated and polarized viewers for years with the likes of Oz, The Sopranos, and Game Of Thrones. But the deviantly so-good-you-can’t-stop-watching True Blood has carved out one excellent season after another consistently for the last four years. Based the series of Sookie Stackhouse (played by X-Men‘s Anna Paquin) novels by Charlaine Harris, it’s set in a world in which vampires openly co-exist with the human population, but not without some turbulent conflicts. The town of Bon Temps, Louisiana becomes the focal point of the action.
Showrunner Alan Ball (American Beauty) has developed Blood into a wickedly raw, funny, violent, sexy, and character-driven piece of supernatural drama that’s backed up by an impeccable cast. The series began with telepathic waitress Sookie Stackhouse falling in love with rogue vampire Bill Compton (real-life husband Bill Moyer) while being stalked by a serial killer, continued with the town of Bon Temps being possessed and maniuplated by an ancient demon, and explored the still-secret existence of werewolves being used by a power-hungry vampire king.
All the while Sookie Stackhouse tries to uncover the answers to her mysterious gifts and abilities that manifest themselves sporadically, while thwarting off the advancements of a notorious vampire club-owner named Eric (Alexander Skarsgard) and keeping her friendship with smoldering werewolf Alcide (Joe Manganiello) strictly plutonic. The end of Season 3 culminates with Sookie discovering she’s a Fey (aka Fairy) and in a moment of despair, disappears from Bon Temps with other members of her kind.
After realizing that her kind may not be all wine and roses, Sookie escapes the Fey realm and returns to Bon Temps to discover an entire year has passed since her disappearance. In that time, Bill has become the new king vampire of Louisiana, her brother Jason is now an officer of the law, and Alcide has moved back in with the crazy ex-girlfriend/werewolf that tried to kill her, Debbie.
But the real game changer is the formation of a coven of necromancers in town, led by middle-aged Wiccan named Marnie (Fiona Shaw). Marnie’s various sessions have raised the interest of a dead Spanish witch named Antonia who was burned at the stake by vampires centuries before and is bent on revenge. Seems witches can control vampires easily through spells because they’re dead, so Bill sends Eric to squash the threat before it gets out of hand.
As a result, Eric has his memory erased, forcing Sookie to hide him away from his enemies to protect him. The situation causes her to reconsider her feelings for him while she struggles to forgive Bill for past atrocities. As Marnie allows herself to be fully possessed by the witch, a war breaks out in Bon Temps between the two supernatural factions, which threatens the vampires’ already strained relationship with the humans.
Season 4 is unquestionably True Blood‘s best season to date, satiating fans’ desires for character developments, deaths, and steamy hook-ups. It does this by changing the status quo immediately by jumping a year ahead and introducing the new elements of witchery and magic into the mix. The resulting shift in gears puts all the characters fasincating new developments, keeping the show fresh and engaging through all episodes.
The Blu-ray Box Set
For this volume of True Blood, HBO goes all out in giving fans and consumers the absolute best quality possible in all facets. The Blu-ray picture quality is outstanding, featuring crystal quality sharpness and a colorful vividness that easily tops its original HD broadcast quality. The video is supported by an impeccable DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack that is immersive, specific, and extremely well balanced.
The set is also loaded with bonus features for fans to play with. Exclusive to the Blu-ray box is first an Enhanced Viewing option per episode. Once selected viewers are treated to character perspectives on what happened during the year of Sookie’s disappearance, bios, vampire history, hints, trvia, and flashes in time to previously seen footage in other seasons. An interacitve guide and archive on the relationships between characters is also provided and the menu system can be adjusted for seamless play between episodes.
Additionally there are features that one can also find on the standard box set, including Inside The Episodes – a look into each episode through interviews featuring Alan Ball, along with the writers and directors involved. The talk greatly about the characters and their development throughout the season, which is a treat for fans. Ball also reveals for the first time the post-production process for the season in “True Blood: The Final Touches” and contributes along with various cast and crew six informative audio commentaries.
Want more? Alright then. The set also serves up the entire season again with three standard definition DVD discs that also double as Digital Download copies for portable purposes, a great offering if one is planning a lengthy vacation with an iPad in tow.
Putting A Spell On Viewers
True Blood is unquestionably one of the most addictive shows on television and once in hand as a multi-disc set, it is hard not to indulge in a super-season marathon viewing. The fourth season outdoes its predecessors with dynamite writing in the most fantastical and mesmerizing ways possible, told through great characters. Not only is the content some of the best there is out there regarding the vampire genre, but the Blu-ray set puts other television DVD show releases to shame with its superior technical presentation and plethora of bonus material.