True Blood Season 2 Blu-Ray Review

     February 6, 2015

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The True Blood actors were brilliantly cast and have completely become the characters created in the now-famous Charlaine Harris “Sookie Stackhouse” books. Strangely, some of the actors that embody southerners in the show are from quite different areas of the world.  Bill the vampire (Stephen Moyer) is British, Sookie Stackhouse (Anna Paquin) is from New Zealand, and Jason Stackhouse (Ryan Kwanten) is Australian. The rest of the brilliant cast, including the flighty waitress Arlene, sardonic Pam the vampire, and Eric Northman, the baddest ex-Viking vampire ever are just a few of the excellent characters that make this show absolutely addictive.  More after the jump:

True Blood imageThere are a lot of new duos formed in True Blood’s season two. One romantic pairing consists of Jason Stackhouse’s friend, big loveable oaf Hoyt Fortenberry and vampire Bill’s ward, the new vampire Jessica. The fledgling couple is naïve, sweet and fun to watch, especially when butting heads against the fabulously old-fashioned Bill’s dating style. The unlikely team of the tactless Detective Andy Bellfleur and dim-witted Jason Stackhouse is one of the most fun pairings on the show yet. The much-misunderstood Detective Bellfleur seems to be the only one in town who catches on to the rising power and weirdness of the visiting Maenad, who is wreaking havoc all over Bon Temp’s inhabitants. Jason is Andy’s willing Deputy, and together the two attempt to set the town to rights, with hilarious results.

Another fantastic new pair is Michael McMillian as Reverend Steve Newlin, the founder of the vampire-hating church The Fellowship of the Sun and his wife Sarah, played by Anna Camp. Reverend Steve Newlin is so fantastically smug, so sleazy, that it’s a treat every time he’s on screen. Poor Jason Stackhouse sums up his brainwashing camp experience with Newlin and The Fellowship thusly: “That sombitch is like he sucked my brain out and planted his own babies in there!”

The only character on the show that bores me is Tara, who unfortunately occupies a lot of story line in Season two. Interestingly, she’s a somewhat minor character in the books that spawned the HBO series. Mean, surly and rude, Tara’s horrible childhood is probably written to endear her to viewers, but the only thing that makes her somewhat tolerable is her relation to her fabulous cousin Lafayette.  Lafayette, a smack talking, drug-dealing cross-dresser is notorious to lovers of the Charlaine Harris books for dying at the beginning of book two, Living Dead in Dallas. Luckily for viewers of True Blood season two, it isn’t Lafayette’s body that is found murdered in Andy Bellfleur’s car, but someone else. It seems that he was just too good of a character to dismiss that easily.

true_blood_tv_image_anna_paquin_stephen_moyer_01As for the bonus features, they are slim, but some are really fun to watch. Viewers can set episodes to Enhanced Viewing Character Perspectives to see some of the actors comment on the events of the show while the actor is still in character. For instance, Hoyt pops up on the screen and talks about his confusion regarding his Mother’s strange behavior while under the influence of Maryann Forrester, whom no one knows yet is the evil Maenad ruining the town. He also interjects about how he is able to watch the films Sean of the Dead and Howard the Duck over and over, a funny insight into his character. Vampire Pam also puts her two cents in on episodes, and is always fabulously snarky and deadpan. These Character Perspective moments appear in the right hand corner of the screen while an episode is running, momentarily silencing any dialogue happening on screen. If it grows tiresome, one can always return to normal episodic viewing. Another feature is Flashback / Flash Forward, which reveals the hidden significance of certain scenes. Pro / Anti-Vampire feeds are like commercials, acting as True Blood universe updates on information from both humans and vampire coalitions. After watching these, viewers can guess at which faction they would support, sort of like a political race. Finally, the bonus feature Hints / FYI, gives clues about what’s happening on the episode being viewed currently. FYI and Hints pop up on the bottom third of the screen, and don’t interfere with the episode viewing much. Sometimes the hint is a bit unnecessary, like the one that explains the meaning of the word “smite.” This feature is mostly for repeat viewers of the season, because it would be impossible to follow the show for the first time with such constant interruptions.

True-Blood-imageA couple of uncomfortable moments are revealed by the crystal clarity of Blu-Ray: the Queen of Louisiana’s chin acne, clumsily covered by thick Pan-Cake make up. Flakes of vampire Eric’s blond hair dusting the shoulders of his black t-shirt, a result of a pre-take haircut.  Not to mention feminine facial hair, bad hair highlights, objects in nostrils, you get the picture.

The feature “The Vampire Report: Special Edition” is just OK, but none of the mini-vampire stories coincide with any particular character on the show, making it a bit superfluous. One would think that “The Vampire Report: Special Edition” would have been the most fun, but “Fellowship of the Sun: Reflections of Light with Steve and Sarah Newlin” is the funniest and most irreverent piece of all of the bonus features. This bit of five cheesy Fellowship public service announcements are produced as if they are real anti-vampire propaganda TV spots, created by an actual Fellowship of the Sun. They consist of hysterical life lessons as read by Steve Newlin, the head of the church, and make all sorts of dumb interpretations of the Bible and condemnations against vampires. What at first I believed would be a boring addition to the True Blood season two discs turned out to be one of the best!

True-Blood-imageNext in order of excitement after the Fellowship of the Sun TV spots are the episode commentaries, voiced by the True Blood cast themselves. Episode 8’s commentary features vampire Bill actor Stephen Moyer, Eric Northman actor Alexander Skarsgard, and episode director John Dahl. “Who is that hunk of love?” quips Moyer when Alexander appears on screen. Lots of funny banter passes between Moyer and Skarsgard, which must not be missed by the show’s fans. Some tidbits revealed: Eric’s shoulder-length hair was a wig, Moyer gives Skarsgard tips on how to pronounce “Sookie” properly (say: Suh-kee, not Soo-kee), and Skarsgard suggesting that any scene that he isn’t in should be fast-forwarded. Another great commentary pairing is the actors who play shape shifter Sam Merlotte and dim-bulb Jason Stackhouse, discussing episode 10. Ryan Kwanten, who plays Jason, is practically unidentifiable by voice here, as his Australian accent is so different from his character’s voice that it’s like listening to a stranger. Michelle Forbes, who plays Maryann the Maenad and Anna Paquin who plays Sookie Stackhouse do a really fun commentary over episode 12, the season two finale episode. Listening to these two actresses giggle throughout nearly the whole episode, one gets a sense of the hilarity that must ensue as the show films. The two actresses talk about how difficult it is to focus around Nelsan Ellis, who plays Lafayette, who is a cut up on set. They also discuss how handsome vampire Bill, played by Stephen Moyer, looks in a black leather jacket. This is especially interesting because Paquin and Moyer are engaged in real life. One of the most entertaining commentaries I’ve ever listened to.

Released in the interim between the debut of True Blood season three on HBO early this June, this season two Blu-Ray is the perfect way to brush up on the happenings inside the intricate, sexy and sometimes hilarious world that is True Blood.

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