True Blood: The Complete Second Season Blu-ray Review
True Blood’s second season, with episodes involving a new cast of monsters invading Louisiana swamp town Bon Temps, is notably gorier and more camp than the first season. While thematically the central focus in these 12 exciting episodes still revolves around faith and loyalty, these questions are complicated by displays of pagan ritual and obsession. Though the vampire/human relationship dilemma continues, spearheaded by lovers Sookie Stackhouse (Anna Paquin) and vampire Bill Compton (Stephen Moyer), there is less emphasis on addiction to V, or vampire blood, and more time dedicated to outsiders whose supernatural talents make some episodes feel like superhero battles.
Studio: HBO Home Video
Release Date: May 25, 2010
Run time: 720 minutes
Audio: DTS-HD MA lossless 5.1 mix
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
Disc Spec: 5 BD50
With the juggernaut that is the Twilight series raising vampires out of the coffin and into mainstream popular culture, there has been no shortage of fangs on screens both silver and small in recent times. But while the aforementioned franchise with its chaste love story and Diet Coke vamps caters to the teen girl demographic, Alan Ball’s daring, socially aware and often graphic True Blood is a decidedly more adult affair. With Ball’s brilliant interpretation of the universe put to paper by Charlaine Harris in her Sookie Stackhouse novels, as well as a healthy shot of the raw emotion and black humour that made his previous show Six Feet Under such a success, True Blood’s inaugural season quickly amassed an obsessive following and much acclaim.
The centre of this universe is the small town of Bon Temps in the backwoods of Louisiana, telepathic waitress Sookie and her vampire boyfriend Bill. They, along with a superb ensemble of supporting characters (flamboyant cook Lafayette is already a cult hero) are now not only dealing with life, love, death and drugs, but are still adjusting to the now ‘mainstreaming’ vampire population. They are also none too pleased that the string of murders that was the focus of Season One does not seem to be over.This season picks up exactly where the previous one left off, with the discovery of a body in the Merlotte’s bar parking lot. Meanwhile, Bill is dealing with his hilariously bratty new progeny Jessica, Sookie’s clueless brother Jason has joined a vampire-hating church, and screw-up best friend Tara has been taken in by the shady Maryann. Revealed to be a supernatural creature who shares a history with Sam (the owner of Merlotte’s and a shape-shifter), she has tracked him down and is now intent on corrupting the entire town with her bizarre powers. The townsfolk’s descent into madness is the season’s ‘Bon Temps storyline’, presumably constructed to keep Sam, Tara and the other regular characters on the screen while across state lines in Texas the two lead characters have an entirely separate storyline.
The problem with these parallel storylines is that unfortunately they are not equally satisfying, with Sookie and Bill’s misadventures in Dallas proving far more engaging than the shenanigans back home. While the acting of Sam Trammell (as Sam) is consistently good and the character development of Andy Bellefleur into the town drunk who happens to be the only one still sane provides numerous amusing scenes, it is not enough to stop you wishing for more Dallas vampire action. A big factor in the superiority of the Dallas arc is Anna Paquin’s complete ownership of the character of Sookie and her ability to create chemistry with anybody she shares a scene with. Also coming into his own is Alexander Skarsgard as vampire sheriff Eric (whose role is greatly expanded), Ryan Kwanten is still ultra-convincing as gullible simpleton Jason, and church-owning couple Steve & Sarah Newlin’s frightening fanaticism behind a façade of smiles is unnervingly realistic.
Although no one episode is completely disastrous, the season does suffer dips in quality. Episodes 1 & 2 provide a strong start, and things hit their peak in episodes 8 & 9 where the Dallas story is culminated with some exciting action sequences and a poignant death scene. The middle of the 12 episode season however stalls the momentum slightly, and there are issues with pace that leave too much to be revealed in the final two episodes. The season finale is so full of explanation and tying of loose ends (not to mention being massively camp and OTT, even for this show) that only a cliffhanger of monumental proportions could save it, and in this respect the writers don’t disappoint
Movie Content: 9.5/10
The print is presented in 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 with a 1.78:1 aspect ratio. If you thought the first season looked absolutely stunning on Blu-ray, season 2 takes it up a notch. I found colors to be strong throughout each of the episodes and this is an area that was great in season 1, but lacking a bit due to some saturation. Black levels are deep and it shows very well with this season on Blu-ray considering that there are a lot of dark scenes. There is grain throughout the show, but it translates so well that at times you don’t even notice it. Fleshtones are natural and accurate considering the color palette jumps. Details are fantastic and some of the best that I have seen in high definition.
Video Quality: 9.5/10
The audio is presented in DTS-HD MA lossless 5.1 mix. This is another case where the audio mix for season 2 sounds a tad bit better than the mix in season 1. I think much of that has to do with the addition of a lot more special effects in the sound design when compared to the first film. Since this is a dialogue driven television show, the audio peers through the center channel ever so cleanly with no apparent issues. The rears are at constant work whenever there is sound effects which come through the soundfield immersing the viewer. I was not disappointed at all with the sound and it took me by surprise as to how much better sounding this was than the first season.
Audio Quality: 9.5/10
- Enhanced Viewing Experience
- Cast and Crew Audio Commentaries
- Character Perspectives
- Fellowship of the Sun: Reflections of Light
- The Vampire Report: Special Edition
- True Blood Previews
Special Features: 6/10
I did not find Season two to be on the same level as the first season due to a few inconsistencies in the middle of the season, but this was still a very addictive season. The finale was put together so well that it left us with a cliffhanger that has made the wait to Season 3 that much greater. I just hope that there is a bit more focus come Season 3 and I think there will be considering that the storyline this previous season was trying to cover too much ground. If you own a Blu-ray player, I highly recommend buying this on Blu-ray to take full advantage of the high def audio and video presentation.
Overall Rating: 9/10