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True Blood: The Complete First Season (HBO Series) [Blu-ray] by Created by Alan Ball
Review by Charles Mohapel
HBO Home Video Blu-ray  ISBN/ITEM#: B001FB4W16
Date: 27 June 2009 List Price $79.98 Amazon US / Amazon UK

Links: HBO.com - True Blood, Season 2 / IMDB.com - True Blood / Charlaine Harris Official Website / Charlaine Harris Bibliography / Show Official Info /

When I first heard about True Blood and its subject matter, namely Vampires, I was curious as to what differentiated it from other recent vampire movies and TV shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Blood Ties, Twilight, Blade, and Underworld.

What I found was "very interesting", as I found that these vampires had their similarities and their differences from their counterparts in these other genre pieces. In some ways the vampires in True Blood are less scary, but in other ways the True Blood vampires are more scary, particularly regarding their weaknesses (or lack thereof) to the traditional vampire banes like crosses, garlic, silver, and sunlight.

[Editor's Note: While True Blood follows, in the first episodes, the plot line of the first novel in the series, Dead Until Dark, the series is basically telling new stories that may meander around the main plot of the books. Viewers may gain more background information on the location and world of the Southern Vampire series. While Sookie, Bill, Sam, and Eric are main characters, nothing in the series changes or deviates from the books, since the stories take place with the spaces where the book reader has not been taken on an adventure.]

True Blood: The Complete First Season (HBO Series) [Blu-ray]

Disc 1:
Episode 1: Strange Love (58:32)
Commentary by Alan Ball, Executive Producer and Creator of True Blood
Episode 2: The First Taste (54:14)
Commentary by Anna Paquin (Sookie Stackhouse) and Scott Winant, Director of Episode 2

Disc 2:
Episode 3: Mine (52:18)
Episode 4: Escape from Dragon House (50:14)
Commentary by Writer Brian "Bucky" Buckner and Director Michael "Two-Shoe" Lehman

Disc 3:
Episode 5: Sparks Fly Out (55:14)
Commentary by Director Dan Minahan and Stephen Moyer (Bill Compton)
Episode 6: Cold Ground (52:28)
Episode 7: Burning House of Love (53:25)
Commentary by Director Marcos Siega

Disc 4:
Episode 8: The Fourth Man in the Fire (56:04)
Episode 9: Plaisir d'amour (53:19)
Episode 10: I Don't Wanna Know (50:23)

Disc 5:
Episode 11: To Love Is to Bury (53:35)
Commentary by Nancy Oliver, Writer and Director of Episode 11
Episode 12: You'll Be the Death of Me (53:18)

Based on the Sookie Stackhouse aka Southern Vampire series of novels by Charlaine Harris, True Blood was the subject of competition, but Alan Ball succeeded in convincing her that her books would be treated with great respect.

All twelve episodes of Season 1 of True Blood can be enjoyed in their full splendor or with the Blu-ray special feature that HBO Home Video calls True Blood Enhanced Viewing which provides the viewer with a treasure trove of pop-up windows. These appear at the bottom of the screen and are full of hints and fascinating tidbits of information giving clues into the background of the characters on the screen.

Other Blu-ray exclusive bonuses include animated maps of some of the more exotic locales in and around Bons Temps, commercials for True Blood, vampire documentaries, and even vampire PSAs (Public Service Announcements).

In addition, six of the twelve episodes come with a third option, namely Audio Commentary by Executive Producer and Creator Alan Ball, Anna Paquin (Sookie Stackhouse), and Stephen Moyer (Bill Compton) among others.

Episode 1: Commentary by Alan Ball
I admit that the first time I listened to Alan Ball talking I found him to be very laidback and softspoken, meaning the commentary was not the most exciting. But when I took the time to listen to it a second and third time, I kept on catching little tidbits that I had missed by focusing on presentation over content. Ball says that for all intents and purposes, Season 1 covers the material in Dead Until Dark, the first novel. Since all the books tell the story from Sookie's viewpoint, this leaves him lots of room to fill in the blanks on all the other characters, with the approval of Charlaine Harris. Don't miss out on the goodies!

Episode 2: Commentary by Anna Paquin (Sookie Stackhouse) and Scott Winant, Director of Episode 2
Given that their conversation took place with Paquin in London, England and Winant in Los Angeles, the easy banter between actress and director sounded like they were sitting in easy chairs in the same room and was delightful to listen to.

Episode 4: Commentary by Writer Brian "Bucky" Buckner and Director Michael "Two-Shoe" Lehman
Probably the most interesting fact that I gleaned from this commentary was that this was the first episode shot following the Writers Strike.

Episode 5: Commentary by Director Dan Minahan and Stephen Moyer (Bill Compton)
This was another easygoing dialogue full of banter between director and actor, though it felt a little bit strange hearing Stephen Moyer speaking in his normal voice and with his English accent instead of a Southern one.

Episode 7: Commentary by Director Marcos Siega
This was a reasonably interesting monologue though nothing made me want to grab a pen and put my thoughts on paper.

Episode 11: Commentary by Nancy Oliver, Writer and Director of Episode 11
Not only was Nancy Oliver one of the many crew who worked closely with Executive Producer and Creator Alan Ball on Six Feet Under, their relationship predates that show, going back to their days at Florida State University.

From "Bad Things", the haunting main theme performed by Jace Everett to the opening sequence which changes slightly from week to week, the True Blood: The Complete First Season (HBO Series) on Blu-ray is an unquestioned winner in my books.

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