Blu-Ray Review: Third Season of HBO’s Sex-Soaked Smash ‘True Blood’

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CHICAGO – The most blood and sex-soaked program on television returns at the end of this month for another round of supernatural chaos but there’s still time to catch up with the third season of HBO’s “True Blood,” recently released in a bonus-packed DVD and Blu-ray set. Blu-Ray Rating: 4.5/5.0
Blu-Ray Rating: 4.5/5.0

Vampires, werewolves, shapeshifters, and even fairies — life in Bon Temps seems to get more complicated every season and the third installment of Alan Ball’s Emmy-nominated cult hit was arguably a bit TOO cluttered. With so many subplots, focus was lost a bit, but the show was still undeniably fun, clever, and consistently enjoyable. I don’t think season three was quite as strong as the first two, but, thanks in no small part to great supporting turns by Alexander Skarsgard and Denis O’Hare, it was still a blast.

True Blood: Season Three was released on Blu-Ray and DVD on May 31st, 2011.
True Blood: Season Three was released on Blu-Ray and DVD on May 31st, 2011.
Photo credit: HBO Home Video

Life for Sookie Stackhouse (Anna Paquin) was significantly complicated by the prominent roles of two men in season three — Alcide (Joe Manganiello) and Eric (Skarsgard) — and further issues with her annoying-but-true love Bill (Stephen Moyer). And while this is far from a rip-off of “Twilight,” season three did feature a bit of vampire-on-werewolf animosity, along with a stellar plotline about a crazy bloodsucker named Russell (O’Hare) and even an appearance by Queen Sophie-Anne (Evan Rachel Wood).

True Blood: Season Three was released on Blu-Ray and DVD on May 31st, 2011.
True Blood: Season Three was released on Blu-Ray and DVD on May 31st, 2011.
Photo credit: HBO Home Video

Meanwhile, Jason (Ryan Kwanten) deals with the shooting death of Eggs from season three, Tara (Rutina Wesley) continues to be abused as much as any character on television, Jessica (Deborah Ann Woll) struggles with her role as a vampire in a human world, Lafayette (Nelsan Ellis) falls in love and faces his own demons, and Sam (Sam Trammell) begins to address his own dark past.

There was a lot going on in season three of “True Blood” but the show faltered a bit every time O’Hare and Skarsgard were off-screen (with the possibly exception of the fascinating Woll). Wesley’s acting in particular reached beyond the stratosphere of melodrama to annoyance and Trammell, Ellis, and Kwanten felt wasted this year. It was still a very good show, just more unfocused than the first two years and one hopes the writers can find that focus again.

The Blu-ray set from HBO is anything but unfocused with stellar video and audio (some of the best HD transfers out there for TV on Blu-ray) spread out over five discs. The number of Blu-rays seems a bit hefty and probably exists purely to crank up sale price but it does allow for a minimal amount of compression, creating damn good HD video.

The special features on the third season of “True Blood” are also remarkable with commentaries on half of the season’s 12 episodes by a rotating group of cast and crew that includes Alan Ball, Anna Paquin, Stephen Moyer, Alexander Skarsgard, Joe Manganiello, Denis O’Hare, and many more. The episodes are also heavily enhanced as HBO realizes that, perhaps more than any of their current properties, fans of this program will watch it again and again.

The Enhanced Viewing on all twelve episodes features “Character Perspectives,” “Flashback/Flash Forward,” “Vampire Histories/Character Bios,” and “Hints/FYIs.” Other special features include “True Blood Lines,” “Anatomy of a Scene,” “True Blood Post Mortems,” and, believe it or not, a Snoop Dogg video for “Oh Sookie.” Why not? For most shows that would seem ridiculous. “True Blood” is not most shows.

‘True Blood: Season Three’ is released by HBO Home Video and stars Anna Paquin, Stephen Moyer, Sam Trammell, Ryan Kwanten, Rutina Wesley, Chris Bauer, Nelsan Ellis, Deborah Ann Woll, Alexander Skarsgard, Joe Manganiello, and Denis O’Hare. It was created by Alan Ball. The Blu-Ray and DVD were released on May 31st, 2011. It is not rated. content director Brian Tallerico

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