True Blood - The Complete First Season (DVD, 2009, 5-Disc Set) Reviews

True Blood - The Complete First Season (DVD, 2009, 5-Disc Set)

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All the Glamour of Vampirism with None of the Glitter: TRUE BLOOD

Oct 21, 2010
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Super incredible cast, addictive, well written, entertaining, well-paced, atmosphere

Cons:None whatsoever unless you absolutely hate everything with vampires, sex, and violence.

The Bottom Line: You know, Halloween's coming up. This show isn't really as scary as much as it's thrilling, but it'll definitely get you in the mood...for a ton of things.

True Blood was one of those shows that I had on my Netflix queue for a long time due to how many people really dug it and told me about it...but I've been ridiculously anti-vampire for a few years now due to the embarrassing craze of Twilight business (no disrespect to the fans). It's just that I grew up on Interview with the Vampire and the original Dracula-all of this pussyfooting around the topic and all of the glitter really turned me off to the whole vampire subject much as it did novelist Neil Gaiman who reportedly scrapped one of his books due to the trend. On a whim I decided to just go for it and check out this show because I trust HBO (where this show is broadcast from and produced by) and I like things that are dark, visceral, and a little bit sexy.

This hit back in 2008 and was created for the premium cable network by Alan Ball, fresh out of his Six Feet Under program that I've heard nothing but good things about. True Blood stars Anna Paquin (Rogue from the X-Men films) as one tough cookie Sookie Stackhouse, who works at a local bar/restaurant in the small Louisiana town of Bon Temps. She's young, but has a great moral compass...and a gift: she's a psychic who's able to read peoples' thoughts. Working at the bar is her best friend, Tara (played by the gorgeous Rutina Wesley), who's embroiled in a steamy relationship with the bar's owner and proprietor Sam Merlotte (Sam Trammell)--who's got a few secrets of his own as well as a burning desire for Sookie.

The restaurant's cook is probably my favorite character on the whole show: the flamboyantly honest, cool, and good-looking Lafayette Reynolds (Nelsan Ellis). His character is so full of life and so fun to watch onscreen, but he also happens to be a drug dealer, as a subplot in the show has him getting Sookie's brother addicted to a substance known as "V" (more on that later). He who captures the true essence of Greek-God-looking-masculinity-and-prettiness is Ryan Kwanten who plays Jason Stackhouse, Sookie's brother. He's sort of a fool hick sort of guy who sleeps around with a lot of women...which gets him in a lot of trouble as the main plot of the season is how all of the women he's been with keep mysteriously being murdered. The big mystery of it all is: who's killing everyone? And why is Jason at the center of it?

Which gets me to the main point of the show: vampirism. Stephen Moyer plays Bill Compton, the romantic and interesting main character opposite Sookie. He happens to be a mainstream vampire, who's given up killing people for their blood as vampirism is well-known (just not culturally accepted) and artificial blood can be found everywhere--the brand: True Blood. He comes into the restaurant to get a hot bottle of it and falls in love with Sookie, which is another huge plot point for the first season as you are swept up in their avid romance as they get to know each other (and you get to know their back stories, which are both quite sad). What I really dig about this vampire concept and how it's implemented into this show is that it's actually really cool and it's a huge metaphor to real life issues in the society we live in today. Case in point: homosexuality, which is what True Blood is trying to break the taboos and social prejudices for--righteously so.

If you haven't guessed it by now, True Blood is ripe with rich characters and intricate plots, which make the viewing experience a complete pleasure. Each episode runs about an hour long and the first season boasts twelve wonderful episodes that are honestly impossible to watch all in a row. I virtually watched my life pass away as I glued myself to the television to finish the series. It's been a while since I've found a show that is so addictive that I literally became attached to the characters and the situations. True Blood is smart. The concept of vampirism is done in a very original way--fashioned after a series of books by Charlaine Harris (though the show is a major departure from what I've heard) and each episode is paced in an extraordinary way to keep you on your toes as it continues to ramp up the excitement.

I love the southern tinge to the show and how folksy it is mixed with the atmospheric and horrific nature of vampirism. It's all done in a really classy way and the art direction bursts with value to give you a ton of really cool stuff to look at within each episode as well as a ton of realism to a premise that may be a little hard to swallow for some. Being that the show is made for HBO, you can expect the typical quota of sex, violence, and more sex. There's a lot of sexuality in the show (probably one or two scenes each episode) and while they shift from graphic to brief to very adult at times, there's nothing too bad. This definitely isn't a show for kids. The violence included isn't like an action/adventure movie like Blade and the show itself isn't comic book like in its intentions. There's some pretty heavy stuff at play with tons of gore and all of that jazz, so you should be aware that aside from the good stories True Blood contains...there's a lot of darker material that some may not dig.

I myself love this show tremendously. As soon as school gets a bit more forgiving I intend to check out the second season, which should promise to be very good due to the cliffhanger ending of this season (introductions of crazy plot threads and all). The only thing that may hold some audiences back is the fact that it's a vampire show. All of my friends have made fun of me that I love this show so much and I've had the hardest time convincing my girlfriend to give it a go. You have to look past all of the glitter of vampirism in the current context and see that this show has brought them back to the precipice of scariness and sexuality. The social commentary behind the series is valid and isn't there to push any buttons with anyone, but show perhaps a side to a topic that some may not see--and I think the ideas are phenomenally executed and quite smart. I, for one, had a blast with the first season of True Blood and you need to check this out as soon as you get the chance.

© Jason Haskins, 2010

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