True Blood – The Complete First Season (2008/HBO DVD)
Picture: B- Sound: B- Extras: C+ Episodes: B-
Horror genre may be a wreck at this point in time, but there have been a few
exceptions and I must admit that Alan Ball (Six Feet Under, American
Beauty) has come up with one of the few ideas that makes sense and knows
what to do with it in his hit HBO series True
Blood. In the alternate world of the
show, vampires exist and have emerged from hiding like some minority group
oppressed for too long. The consumer
culture angle alone will remind you of John Carpenter’s They Live (1988), but The
Complete First Season is something different still and surprisingly
consistent over its twelve hour-long shows.
letting the joke go too far, the madness is happening in a Southern Louisiana
town and Ball (who also directs and takes the material and audience seriously)
really has thought all of this through.
While most such shows in the genre are outright stupid or really, really
bad attempts to be X-Files or Kolchak: The Night Stalker, True Blood goes for a unique take (I
also thought of The Invaders with
Roy Thinnes from the 1960s) that is playing with the idea of sexuality that is
not conventional and typical of the genre.
It is not playing on the sexy-attractive/ugly-diseased vampire dichotomy
but blurs that line as it does between vampire and human. As long as Ball can run with this, he can
build a show that is what the hit series version of Buffy The Vampire Slayer would have been if it were for a very
mature adult audience: a vampire world unleashed that is not unintentionally
funny or redundant.
enhanced 1.78 X 1 image is impressive and one of the few impressive recent
productions of many we have seen on DVD, with good color, depth and even
detail. This is also available on
Blu-ray and should look better there. The
Dolby Digital 5.1 mixes on the episodes are pretty consistent and better than
we are getting for most TV series today.
Wish this were DTS, but the soundfields are not bad, though not
stunning, effective enough. Extras include
a mock-u-mentary about vampires openly living in the U.S., Tru Blood TV ads,
Vampire Service Ads, pro & con public service announcements on vampires and
six audio commentaries for six of the twelve shows by Ball, co-stars Anna
Paquin and Steven Moyer.
- Nicholas Sheffo