True Blood: Season 2
True Blood Season 2
True Blood first hit our TV screens in the UK last year, an HBO production based on the Sookie Stackhouse novels by Charlaine Harris. Set in the deep South of the US, the story is based around the coming out from the underground of Vampires as a race and their attempt at assimilation into the world of humans. Despite traditionally feeding on humans, still a controversy, many vampires are trying to go straight by drinking a synthetic blood drink called Tru Blood. From a human perspective, the acquisition of real vampire blood, called V, is an intoxicating drug albeit with remarkable healing properties.
The focus of the first series was the courting of telepathic waitress Sookie (Anna Pquin) by vampire Bill Compton (Stephen Moyer) with the backdrop of a series of murders and sex in the Southern town of Bon Temps. Despite some intriguing clues as the existence of other species, series one sensibly stuck with humans and vampires.
With the success of the first series, this is now opened up for a much richer story that could have been overwhelming in the first series. Sookie and Bill finally got it on and almost died for each other whilst exploring vampire politics, so it's time for something slightly different now.
Bill and Sookie have to both make adjustments after the previous seasons event where Bill was forced to turn Jessica (Deborah Ann Woll) into a vampire, which would be difficult enough under ordinary circumstances but Jessica is a teenager and that complicates things. Luckily it seems as if town nice guy Hoyt (Jim Parrack) has made an impression on Jessica and they will become the new couple, but nature has a bit of a shock in store for both of them.
Bill and Sookie are also coerced into helping vampire sheriff Eric (Alexander Skarsgård) investigate the disappearance of his maker and sheriff of Texas Godric (Allan Hyde), who it turns out has been kidnapped by religious anti-vampire group Fellowship of the Sun run by Steve and Sarah Newlin. Which coincidentally is where Bon Temps resident sex machine Jason Stackhouse (Ryan Kwanten) finds himself after the rather tragic events of the previous season. Eric is also keeping the flamboyant Lafayette (Nelsan Ellis) prisoner as punishment for his dealing in V.
One of the glimpses we got last season was the exposure of Sam Merlotte (Sam Trammel) as a shapeshifter and here he meets an equal in new incompetent waitress Daphne (Ashley Jones). Meanwhile Sookie's troubled friend Tara (Rutina Wesley) has been adopted by social worker Maryann (Michelle Forbes) and is attracted to another of her adoptees Eggs (Mehcad Brooks), but there is more to Maryann than anyone realises.
Before long, it appears that many of the town are partying a little too often and too hard, indulging in lots of sex and violence, much to the amusement of Maryann who also appears to feed off it. Who or what is she?
Rather splendid and detailed picture on blu-ray, much sharper than originally seen via normal SD broadcast. I have to admit that I still find part of the title sequence a little disturbing…
Commentaries - commentaries on some of the episodes. I only dipped into the one on the final episode by Anna Paquin and Michelle Forbes, which disappointingly was taken up the majority of the time I listened with them both laughing hysterically. I'm sure some of the others are better but didn't have time to look at them.
Enhanced viewing - this is a mode that allows you to explore four different features during each episode (to be honest, I'm not quite sure if I like this kind of feature as I do find it intrusive and distracting during first viewing and find it unlikely that I'd rewatch the entire series in this mode):
Character perspectives - actors in character give you their take on various events, sadly I couldn't get these to work on my Sony player as you need to use the < and > buttons to flip between this feature when it crops up.
Flashback/flashforward - reveals the significance of a particular scene
Pro/Anti Vampire Feeds - news updates and info from both the American Vampire League and Fellowship of the Sun to allow you to decide which camp you would prefer to sit in.
Hints/FYI - trivia facts plus hints and clues.
Character Perspectives - all of the character perspectives mentioned in the enhanced viewing mode are collated on the final disc, provided by Hoyt, Karl, Pam and Steve Newlin. Only problem with this is that you're now watching them out of context and they can go on for some time.
Fellowship of the Sun: Reflections of Light - four mini mock religious TV segments by both Steve and Sarah Newlin.
Vampire Report: Special Edition - mock news programme bringing collation of news items on Vampires, both serious and quirky.
True Blood is a rather fine sex and fangs adaptation from a set of books that I haven't read in same way I probably won't read the books upon which Dexter is set. Still, the first series promised much with its combination of rednecks, sex and vampires. The producers kept it simple in the first series, despite quick glimpses or hints of that to come, by focussing purely on the politics of vampires coming out into mainstream society and the impact on mortal humans. That simplicity and the success that followed has had the effect that season 2 is bar far a much slicker and confident beast with multiple storylines that add complex layers to the Bon Temps environment, evading the semi-tiresome will they/won't they core of season 1.
It's quite a rich and sometimes sleazy world as well, with illicit trade in vampire blood called V for that ultimate high and stamina enhancement, but with the sleazier side explored with the siphoning of blood from a live vampire, who is rather quite a gentle soul. On the other side we see vampire groupies, generally women but also men, who long to be bitten whilst having sex with vampires.
This season opens things up with the realisation that other species also exist in this world, with Sam Merlotte's shapeshifting ability not necessarily being unique and the realisation that Maryann may not quite be human. There's really a dual focus storywise this season, with an exploration of the anti-vampire religious group Fellowship of the Sun and the increasing influence that Maryann has over Bon Temps whilst Bill, Sookie and Jason are off doing their thing. Also whilst Bill and Sookie are now an established couple that get it on on a regular basis, it's a nice touch to have a new budding romance building in the shape of newly turned Jessica and town nice guy Hoyt, although it doesn't quite go as planned. The other good thing about this series is that it doesn't appear to take itself too seriously with some great one liners and a couple of fine comedic performances from Ryan Kwanten as the quite simple Jason Stackhouse and Chris Bauer as Detective Andy Bellefleur.
I do like True Blood and whilst it's not quite your usual vampire-type series, at least the writers have kept to vampire folk-lore regarding sunlight, silver, stakes, etc rather than throwing them away like the Twilight series which is really just Dawson's Creek for pale people. True Blood has a rich vein of plot lines and is a rewarding viewing, just looking that much better on blu-ray and I can't wait for series 3 and where that may take us.