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Category:    Home > Reviews > Horror > Vampire > Comedy > True Blood – The Complete First Season (2008/HBO DVD)

True Blood – The Complete First Season (2008/HBO DVD)


Picture: B-     Sound: B-     Extras: C+     Episodes: B-



The 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.


Not 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.


The anamorphically 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


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