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True Blood: The Complete Fourth Season(TV) (2011)
In a world where vampires have "come out of the coffin", Sookie Stackhouse, a telepathic waitress, discovers a new world of different creatures when she meets Bill Compton, a vampire.
For more about True Blood: The Complete Fourth Season and the True Blood: The Complete Fourth Season Blu-ray release, see True Blood: The Complete Fourth Season Blu-ray Review published by Kenneth Brown on May 15, 2012 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: Anna Paquin, Stephen Moyer, Sam Trammell, Ryan Kwanten, Alexander Skarsgård, Valentina Cervi
Director: Michael Lehmann
» See full cast & crew
True Blood: The Complete Fourth Season Blu-ray Review
"Fate brought us together to fight evil. Did you really think no one was going to get hurt?"
Reviewed by Kenneth Brown, May 15, 2012
I'm beginning to think True Blood will never completely suck me in. I've tried to see what so many others apparently see in the show -- season after season, for the last four years in fact -- but, even now, with creator Alan Ball's fifth season rapidly approaching, the fan-favorite HBO vampire soap has yet to glamour this horror junkie. While legions of enraptured fangbangers continue to lap up every last drop of blood, sex, and gore the series has to offer, all I really have to show for my time is a morbid curiosity that just won't die, a nice little collection of sick kicks and fearless twists, and one burning question: "is this as good as it gets?" Be that as it may, I keep coming back, willingly I should add, so that says something. I'd even go so far as to say I dig seventy percent of everything Ball and company have up their sleeve. It's that pesky thirty percent, though, that always gives me pause; the backwoods werewolves, brooding brujos, tiresome romantic entanglements, haunted babies, Wiccan henchmen, macabre melodrama, god-awful fairies and, brace yourself True Blooders, Sookie Stackhouse herself, Bon Temps' reigning balmy Bayou drama queen.
If you aren't caught up on True Blood, consider this your obligatory spoiler warning. When last we left feisty lil' Ms. Stackhouse (Anna Paquin, teasing not one, but three supernaturals this season), the powerful human/fairy hybrid had been swept away to her homeland; feuding vamps Bill and Eric (Stephen Moyer and Alexander Skarsgard) had defeated vampire king Russell Edgington (Denis O'Hare), sealing the would-be world conqueror in a tomb of concrete; Sookie's brother Jason (Ryan Kwanten) had saved a commune of shape-shifters, among them his girlfriend Crystal (Lindsay Pulsipher), a were-panther; Tara (Rutina Wesley) had hit the road, searching for a new home with fewer monsters per capita; werewolf Alcide (Joe Manganiello) was having ongoing issues with the wolf packs in the region; Lafayette (Nelsan Ellis) had discovered his new boyfriend Jesús (Kevin Alejandro) was a brujo; shapeshifter Sam (Sam Trammell) was coming undone and resorting to old habits, putting him at further odds with his brother Tommy (Marshall Allman); country boy Hoyt (Jim Parrack) had asked fledgling vampire Jessica (Deborah Ann Woll) to marry him; Terry (Todd Lowe) and Arlene (Carrie Preston) were preparing for the arrival of Rene's baby; and the vampire political arena and power structure were undergoing radical changes.
True Blood has more characters than it knows what to do with, which was all well and good when they were living a few short miles from one another, hanging out at Merlotte's, and dealing with the arrival of a few vampires. Season Four, though, frequently scatters some of the Bon Temps denizens to the winds, goes about isolating most everyone else and, as a result, juggles far too many storylines, all of which compete for attention and screentime. Sookie has to contend with the fairies in Fairyland, a return to the Earthly realm a full year later, the rise of evil witches in Bon Temps, more vampires than she can shake a stake at, a werewolf love triangle, dreams of threesomes with Bill and Eric, and an amnesiac vampire. And who's that amnesiac, you ask? Eric, whose encounter with a witch named Marnie (Fiona Shaw) leaves him childlike and vulnerable. Marnie, as it turns out, is in league with the spirit of a vengeful witch (Paola Turbay) who was burned centuries before. Bill, the new vampire king of Louisiana, is immediately fearful of the havoc a vindictive necromancer could wreak on the undead, and tries to barter a peace between the vamps and Marnie's growing coven. As if that doesn't fill up enough of the season, Jason, now a lawman, is kidnapped, imprisoned and systematically raped by every female in the shifter commune; Bill has to deal with a whole new host of problems managing the PR crisis Russell left in his wake; Alcide gets drawn back into a dangerous werewolf circle; Terry and Arlene's baby starts channeling what Arlene believes in Rene's ghost; Jessica falls for Jason, much to Jason's pleasure and dismay; Pam (Kristin Bauer) begins decaying after Marnie casts a spell on her; Sheriff Andy gets himself addicted to V; and Sam and the Mickens come to terms... if you can call it that. And that's only half of everything that goes down. Suffice it to say, the fourth season is a crowded one.
It doesn't necessarily make for a better season, though. Yes, Marnie is a devilishly devious villain that poses a genuine threat to Bill and his immortals. She isn't the pure evil that is Russell Edgington (who's set to return in Season Five), but she's far more menacing and malicious than Maryanne, the roadhouse werewolves, the craggy cheeked fairies, or the other monstrosities who've tried taking a stab at Sookie and her fanged friends. Unfortunately, Ball and his writers surround Marnie with a band of irritating disciples-turned-prisoners-turned-warriors, Tara included, and Marnie's quest for vengeance ultimately fizzles. It doesn't help that, of all the True Blood regulars, Tara has been shoved into the deepest, darkest corner. Her death would have a much greater impact on the series than her presence at this point, which is a real shame considering Wesley is a stronger actress than even Paquin. Sam is squandered too, with little to show for all of the family drama and shifter dust-ups he's been forced to endure for two seasons now. It doesn't end with Sam and Tara either. Terry and Arlene have been reduced to dueling comic relief, Jason's rape-y captivity is a tonal and thematic mess, Eric's amnesia is drawn out and redundant, Sookie's love life is nothing more than a time sink, and Alcide and his werewolf brethren are, once again, toothless bores. And as much as Ball enjoys incorporating pagan deities, spirits, werewolves, witches, brujos, fairies, shifters, religious extremists and other Halloween haunts into the series, the vampires are apparently the only creatures capable of sustaining four seasons of interest. Marnie and her militant witches only work because they represent such a danger to the entire vampire race. And the wolves, shifters and fairies? Same thing. Take away the bloodsuckers and you're left with a cauldron of half-baked baddies.
But oh, how wicked and wonderful the vampires are. Everything from the fangers' culture to their politics, hierarchies, histories, powers, squabbles, battles and gruesome, splattery deaths are the series' lifeblood. Four seasons in, I almost wish Ball would kill off Sookie and her neighbors and just follow Bill and Eric's rise to power. I'm sure there are thousands of devoted True Blood fans who would disagree -- vehemently -- but, for me, the humans are rapidly wearing out their welcome. Maybe Russell had it right all along. Maybe the vampires should corral the sheep and embrace their place at the top of the food chain. It would certainly make for more indispensable TV. How many times will Sookie bound from one bloodied bed to the next? How many furry flings will she have? How many vampires and werewolves can she cast her spell on before it all becomes tedious? I've continued to come back, season after season, I have. And I'll be the first to admit I'll be watching Season Five this summer. But True Blood is operating with diminishing returns. As the vampires become more and more intriguing, the humans, werewolves and other creatures continue to flounder. I know, I know... tastes vary. True Blood addicts will continue to demand their fix and Ball will continue to deliver it. Drastic change would no doubt spell doom for a series that knows its fans, understands exactly what they want, and gives it to them season in and season out. Much as I love the show's take on vampires, it's probably time I accept that the series will probably never give me what I'm looking for. It's too uneven, too unwieldy, too crowded, and too hit or miss. If you've been glamoured by the first three seasons, though, I'm sure you'll eagerly invite Season Four into your home. If you haven't, the series' latest twelve episodes aren't going to make it past the door.
True Blood: The Complete Fourth Season Blu-ray, Video Quality
True Blood draws blood yet again with another sharp and serrated 1080p/AVC-encoded video presentation. Gritty and grainy as it may be at times, the fourth season looks exactly as it should, with inviting, hearthside fairy-realm colors one minute, earthy browns and greens the next, and stark shadows and visceral reds after that. Primaries are bold and suitably violent, with searing summer skies and splashy blood-n-gore; skintones are relatively natural, warm and healthy for humans and pale and milky for vampires; and contrast is strong and virile, with striking whites and deep, inky blacks. Yes, the series' palette and lighting continually shifts from one extreme to the other, and yes, delineation isn't at all what anyone could call revealing, but the image remains consistent throughout, even when darkness descends and a good bit of shadow detail is blotted out. The fine textures that survive the shadows, though, are refined and nicely resolved, edges are fairly crisp and clean, and spatters of blood, battle scars, misplaced hairs, scraggly bits of stubble, scraps of decaying flesh, chipped nails, pores and wrinkles are intact. The encode is in excellent working order too, as there isn't any significant artifacting, banding, aliasing or other unsightly beast to contend with. (Some inherent crush, spiking noise and exceedingly minor ringing are present, but none of it proves to be a distraction.) All in all, The Complete Fourth Season looks every bit as good as previous season releases.
True Blood: The Complete Fourth Season Blu-ray, Audio Quality
HBO's DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track is a bloody bayou treat too, dragging listeners, kicking and screaming if need be, into True Blood's steamy shifter swamps, rowdy werewolf bars, dusty Wiccan shops, underground vampire clubs, and serene fairy fantasy worlds. Rear speaker activity is aggressive and engaging, nurturing the series' eerie atmosphere, bolstering its already enveloping soundfield, and creating convincing environment after convincing environment. Directional effects are involving and precise as well (particularly when Bill or Eric hurtle from one spot to another), cross-channel pans are smooth (just listen to the wind rise and whip when Marnie casts a spell), and dynamics are dead on. LFE output doesn't waste a second either, and this season has more gristly vampire deaths, explosions, gunfire, black magic, conjured entities and general chaos than most. The heavy thunk of a makeshift stake, the messy thoomp of a popping vamp, the wince-inducing shruk of splitting bone... it all hits as hard as it should. And yet dialogue remains clean, clear and perfectly intelligible no matter how violent or outrageous an episode becomes. So sink your teeth in, audiophiles. True Blood's lossless track doesn't disappoint.
True Blood: The Complete Fourth Season Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
True Blood: The Complete Fourth Season Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
True Blood just doesn't do it for me. It's addicting, in a guilty pleasure sort of way, but its vicious vamps can only do so much. So until Sookie gives up the ghost or Alcide and his werewolves bear some real teeth, I'll be waiting to see what Season Five and, perhaps more importantly, Season Six -- the first without current showrunner Alan Ball at the helm -- have in store. Fortunately, you don't have to be in love with the show to get the most out of the fourth season's 5-disc Blu-ray release. With a striking video transfer, a terrificly terrifying DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track, a small coven of special features, and both DVD and digital copies of the full season, True Blood: The Complete Fourth Season will give casual and diehard fans their money's worth.
True Blood: Other Seasons
True Blood: The Complete Fourth Season Blu-ray, News and Updates
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