True Blood- season 3 (a DVD review)

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It’s back to Bon Temps, Louisiana for another season of sexy, soapy, cheesy, fun, supernatural mayhem in the bayou. Telepathic waitress Sookie Stackhouse and her two vampiric admirers, Bill Compton and Eric Northman, are back, and this year we add werewolves to the mix. The action picks up immediately where the season 2 cliffhanger left us (spoiler alert), with Bill’s disappearance immediately after proposing to Sookie. Sookie is determined to find her vampire love, no matter what obstacles may crop up.

Anna Paquin’s Sookie continues to have a lot of choices in extremely good looking men, and this year we add a sweet, protective 6’5” werewolf, Alcide Herveaux (Joe Manganiello), to the queue forming. I was glad to see that a character so important in the books actually looks something close to what I imagined, but not even I could have imagined such a defined upper body. I have to compliment Paquin’s ability to have chemistry with absolutely any actor she plays opposite, be it her real life husband Stephen Moyer who plays Bill, uber-tall Alexander Skarsgaard who plays Viking vampire Eric, Manganiello’s bearded bodyguard, or Ryan Kwanten, who plays her clueless brother Jason.

Season 3 is loosely based on book 3, Club Dead, in Charlaine Harris’ wildly popular Sookie Stackhouse book series.  However, the delving into Sookie’s genetic origins that occurs this season has not happened yet through book 5 (as far as I have read).

The season’s main problem is that there is actually so much going on, so many characters with stories, so many new characters of which to track (22 new actors, according to one commentary), that it is all a bit too much. None of the main stories get the attention they truly deserve, and there is a frenetic, disjointed feel to a few of the episodes. And even the heretofore completely rootable Sookie gets pretty shrill in a few episodes. Would a woman really routinely, confidently threaten beings who could kill her so easily?

That is not to say that this supernatural stew isn’t a lot of fun, and strangely addictive to watch. The stories continue to be different enough from the books to keep those who know the book series guessing about what is going to happen, something that has bad and good qualities to it. The acting is largely top quality, and the gross factor continues to be very high.

The CGI effects are a bit low-tech but effective, especially the morphing of wolf (no strange, wolf-human hybrids here) to human.

Special mention must be made of James Frain’s psychotic vampire in love, Franklin Mott. His vascillating between threatening to rip out the throat of his beloved and duct-taping daisies into her hands in his version of courtship may be dark, but it is very very entertaining. Also Denis O’Hare is obviously having the time of his life playing the 3,000 year old vampire king of Mississippi, Russell Edgington, and his monologue about what the air smelled like and blood tasted like before the Industrial Revolution is particularly good.

Special features include a “post mortem” on each episode, including anything from a news report on the Vampire Rights Amendment (the VRA), to a behind the scenes look at what it is like for the actors to work with actual wolves. There are also several episode commentaries, and the one done by series creator Alan Ball with Denis O’Hare is especially entertaining. True Blood season 3 is available for purchase and at Netflix.

by Heather Craig

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