True Blood (Season 2) a DVD Review

Telepath Sookie Stackhouse and her vampire admirers Bill Compton and Eric Northman are back for another season of sexy Southern supernatural goings-on in season 2 of HBO’s True Blood, a series at once wildly uneven and completely compelling.

Wildly uneven is the furthering of the story of mysterious Maryanne (Michelle Forbes) who is clearly something otherworldly, but what? Completely compelling is the story’s seeming detour  from Bon Temps, Louisiana to Dallas, Texas, where Eric sends Bill, Sookie, and the newly dead (newly born?) teenage vampire Jessica, to find a missing vampire sheriff. Dallas is replete with an airline and a hotel catering specifically to vampires, and is the headquarters of the vampire-hating cult, the Fellowship of the Sun.

The show continues its careening between the ridiculous, the gory (there is a scene here that is one of the grossest I’ve seen on TV), the strange, and the truly touching. We can go in a moment from a scene that seems to be from a Saw movie, to vampire Bill explaining to Jessica how to divide her recycling, to wondering who is responsible for the mutilated corpse whose discovery was the season 1 cliffhanger.

Largely based on the second book in Charlaine Harris’s bestselling Sookie Stackhouse series, Living Dead in Dallas, season 2 furthers the romance of Bill and Sookie (Stephen Moyer and Anna Paquin, who are engaged in real life), but don’t count spoiler Eric (Alexander Skaarsgard) out just yet either. As in the books, vampire political hierarchies are explored, and we learn just to whom the vampire sheriffs and magister are answerable.

Ryan Kwanten continues to shine as Sookie’s dim brother, Jason, who delivers such lines as, “If a tree falls in the woods, it’s still a tree, ain’t it?” Shining more than all the others is guest star Allan Hyde, the twenty-year-old actor who makes 2,000 year old Godric absolutely fascinating to watch. He plays Godric with absolute stillness and imbues him with wisdom. “Let us be honest,” he tells another vampire, when discussing the Fellowship of the Sun’s hatred of vampires, “we are frightening. After thousands of years, we haven’t evolved.” I believed him so completely that he made me cry in one scene, pretty unusual for me. Also worthy of mentioning is Jim Parrack, who makes sweetly earnest Hoyt Fortenberry much more interesting than he might have been.

DVD extras include commentaries on half of the episodes, a half-hour report of vampire-related news, and television advertisements for the Fellowship of the Sun. I particularly enjoyed the commentary by Ryan Kwanten and Sam Trammel, who portrays shapeshifter Sam Merlotte. Ryan Kwanten speaks with his actual Australian accent, calling Trammel “mate” and sounding very unlike his good-old-boy alter ego. However, in a couple of the commentaries head writer Alan Ball mistakenly gets credit for coming up with some of the concepts that originated with book author Charlaine Harris. She must not mind too much as she has done a cameo each season.

by Heather Craig

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