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True Blood: The Complete Third Season(TV) (2010)
Season three finds Bill kidnapped and Sookie heading to Mississippi to find him. There she becomes entangled in a world ruled by a powerful Vampire King and the werewolves who do his bidding. Meanwhile, back in Bon Temps, new threats emerge that make previous problems seem tame by comparison.
For more about True Blood: The Complete Third Season and the True Blood: The Complete Third Season Blu-ray release, see True Blood: The Complete Third Season Blu-ray Review published by Kenneth Brown on May 13, 2011 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Director: Michael Lehmann
Writer: Alan Ball
Starring: Anna Paquin, Stephen Moyer, Sam Trammell, Ryan Kwanten, Alexander Skarsgård, Valentina Cervi
» See full cast & crew
True Blood: The Complete Third Season Blu-ray Review
Another season of devilish delights and bloody shortfalls...
Reviewed by Kenneth Brown, May 13, 2011
Sure to elicit an exasperated "she's a what?" from everyone but the most devout True Blood devotees, the third season of showrunner Alan Ball's darkly comic supernatural HBO series answers the burning question that's been on most every viewer's mind since True Blood's debut: who, or rather what, is Sookie Stackhouse? But Ball -- never content, never satisfied -- doesn't stop there. Vampiric civil war, political upheaval, cross-species power plays and game changers, Deep South werewolves, demure Wiccans and religious extremists, rival shapeshifters and, of course, Sookie's progenitors are splayed out in spectacular fashion and to undeniably gory ends. Ball doesn't answer every question, nor does he wrap up every loose end. Far from it. He doesn't even keep as tight a grip on the series' reigns as he should, leaving the entire show feeling as if it could careen off the proverbial road and erupt in flames at any second. Yet by some unholy miracle, True Blood's third season continues to draw series fans deeper and deeper into the strange, savage world of Bill Compton and Sookie Stackhouse, cook up shocking twist after startling turn, and remain atop many a TV junkie's list of must-see shows and favorite guilty pleasures.
Loosely based on author Charlaine Harris' third Southern Vampire Mysteries novel, "Club Dead," True Blood's latest twelve-episode stint picks up right where Ball's second season left off. (Those who have yet to finish The Complete Second Season beware: spoilers lie ahead.) Chivalrous vampire Bill Compton (Stephen Moyer) is captured by mysterious assailants moments after proposing to Sookie (Anna Paquin), shapeshifter and local restaurant owner Sam Merlotte (Sam Trammell) sets out to find his real parents, Sookie's best friend Tara (Rutina Wesley) is overwhelmed with grief after her lover is killed while holding detective Andy Bellefleur (Chris Bauer) at knife-point, and the shooter, Sookie's brother Jason (Ryan Kwanten), is left guilt-stricken and terrified that his role in the man's death will be uncovered in the ensuing investigation. As always though, things unravel quickly for everyone in the not-so-sleepy town of Bon Temps, Louisianna. Lafayette (Nelsan Ellis) finds love and something else entirely in male nurse Jesus (Kevin Alejandro); Arlene (Carrie Preston) learns she's pregnant and realizes the father might not be Terry (Todd Lowe); Hoyt (Jim Parrack) tries to move on with his life after breaking up with Bill's fanged progeny, Jessica (Deborah Ann Woll); and yet another bizarre murder pushes Sheriff Bud Dearborne (William Sanderson) to his breaking point (and one of the series' funniest scenes).
As season three hurtles along, Bill escapes his captors somewhere in Mississippi, faces a pack of werewolves, gets drawn into the messy world of Vampire politics, contends with ex-lover Lorena (Mariana Klaveno), and is invited to sit at the right hand of Russell Edgington (a perfectly cast Denis O'Hare), Mississippi's reigning vampire king. Meanwhile, Sookie runs into were-trouble of her own and seeks help from icy vamp Eric Northman (Alexander Skarsgård) and wolf-with-a-heart-of-gold Alcide (Joe Manganiello). Sam tracks down his family, but isn't prepared for the kind of people he finds. Tara, distraught and suicidal, attracts the unwanted advances of an insane British vampire by the name of Franklin Mott (James Frain). Jason falls for an enigma named Crystal (Lindsay Pulsipher), lands a job on the police force and tries to wash away his guilt any way he can. And the residents of Bon Temps, greater Louisiana and, eventually, the world bear witness to Russell's madness, unrest in the vampire ranks and the emergence of new breeds, beasties and things that go bump in the night. It's dizzying, honestly. Exhausting even. But Ball and his writers manage to keep their heads on straight, hold the series' course and prevent the storylines from growing too unwieldy for their own good.
It's the injection of fresh blood though that makes True Blood's third season so delicious. O'Hare brandishes his best Al Pacino hoo-ah and steals the entire show, cooing, conning, plotting, barking, threatening and eviscerating with the unkempt glee of an increasingly unhinged madman. His sudden and unexpected appearance on a nightly news program is, without a doubt, the season's best scene; my jaw dropped, my eyes bulged and my inexplicable affection for the series, if only for an all-too-brief scene, was nearly uncontainable. It might just be the series' finest moment. Others step into the spotlight as well. Manganiello does the impossible and actually makes you root for someone other than Bill in the tussle for Sookie's love. His smooth Southern schtick is a bit too Josh Holloway at times, but he makes the most of his screentime with Paquin, the tension between Alcide and Eric, and the dust-ups between Alcide and his fellow werewolves. Frain is nothing less than a bolt of lightning in a bottle; scary, hilarious, disturbing, witty and creepy, all wrapped in one mentally unstable package. And Klaveno exudes raw, primal evil like no other, striking an unforgettably depraved balance between Lorena's broken, lovelorn spirit and cutthroat nature. It's no wonder True Blood drums up an outpouring of critical acclaim; if nothing else, the series' new characters keep the show's lifeblood pumping through its veins and make it all but impossible to figure out where Ball and his creative team will go next.
But for every stunning development and breath of brilliance, True Blood fumbles a surefire scene or promising idea. Ball's werewolves are, sorry to say, a bore. If it weren't for Manganiello's Alcide, I would cry foul altogether. The influx of werepanthers, Wiccans, Argentinian male witches and other newcomers are fun but largely wasted as well, and too many plot points are left for dead. Worse, many of the series' mainstays are overshadowed by the aforementioned fresh blood. Paquin is given little to do aside from shouting, panicking, crying and whining (at least in the episodes leading up to the discovery of why she has the supernatural powers she does), Moyer's performance (or rather Compton's character) is infuriating at times, Kwanten's dim-witted country boy isn't as magnetic as he once was, Trammell's road trip doesn't lead anywhere intriguing, Ellis ricochets from scene to scene, and many of the townspeople bake in the sun without a sense of prevailing purpose. Don't get me wrong, the drama is absorbing and the actors are terrific, exhibiting the same talent and tenacity that makes them such a standout ensemble. (To their great credit, Wesley, Woll, Skarsgård and Kristin Bauer turn in their strongest performances to date.) No, the blame falls squarely on Ball and his showrunners. With so many characters, subplots, sub-subplots, overarching conflicts and rival factions, the things that really matter -- Sookie and her Bon Temps cohorts -- get lost in the mix, even if only a bit.
The result is an admittedly infectious season that takes the series to new heights, but fails to make every second, every shot and every scene count as much as it could and should. True Blood continues to surprise, and that shouldn't be taken lightly. To be clear: few series are as bold, brazen and addicting as Alan Ball's supernatural showstopper. But it could be so much more. The cast deserves more sharply penned subplots, werewolves deserve more than genre convention, vampires deserve more than life in the shadows, Bon Temps deserves more than another parade of the latest-n-greatest freaks, and Sookie -- dear, dear Sookie -- deserves more than her divisive heritage affords her. When Sookie, having finally learned who she is, chirps, "How f***ing lame," she isn't kidding. Ah well, if you made it this far with True Blood, nothing in season three is going to make you turn back now. Here's hoping Ball's fourth season is the one many have been waiting for.
True Blood: The Complete Third Season Blu-ray, Video Quality
If you've drooled over True Blood's previous Blu-ray releases, you know exactly what to expect from the 1080p/AVC-encoded presentation that makes HBO's Complete Third Season such a Bon Temps beaut. Darkness may hang heavy over many a scene, but it rarely hinders the proceedings. Fierce reds, rich earthtones, lush greens and incredibly inky blacks bolster each episode, and stark contrast and a lovely array of lifelike fleshtones (or corpselike, as it were) are nothing short of gorgeous. Delineation, though fairly impenetrable, reveals everything Ball wishes to reveal, and clarity, though sometimes dependent on several problematic light sources, doesn't disappoint. Detail is excellent as well. Fine textures are wonderfully refined and resolved, object definition is razor sharp, and the series' perfectly preserved grainy facade lends the show a gritty, grisly quality whenever called upon. Moreover, the encode itself deserves praise all its own. The image isn't entirely free of artifacting, banding or ringing, I'll admit, but the insignificant, altogether negligible issues that arise are so slight, infrequent and fleeting that they're easy to miss and even easier to dismiss. Macroblocking, aliasing, smearing and other significant anomalies are nowhere to be seen, and the crush that rears its head traces back to Ball's intentions, nothing more. Love it or hate it, True Blood earns yet another striking high definition presentation worthy of any accolades it receives.
True Blood: The Complete Third Season Blu-ray, Audio Quality
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track featured on the Blu-ray edition of True Blood: The Complete Third Season is also comparable to the series' previous lossless mixes, which is to say flawless, forceful and utterly, unabashedly fantastic. The LFE channel guts anything and everything it lays its hands on, lending power to the powerful, ferocity to the ferocious, and weight to the weighty. The rear speakers attack as well, creating a truly immersive experience sure to raise hairs and raise the dead. Directionality is unsettlingly precise, pans are phantom-smooth, and the whole of the soundfield is as engaging and enveloping as television series soundfields come. And despite all the madness that ensues, all the chaos that erupts, dialogue never falters. Voices are clean and clear, prioritization is impeccable and effects, both startling and subdued, strike with prowess and precision. As it stands, I don't have a single complaint. True Blood-bathers will be thrilled with the results.
True Blood: The Complete Third Season Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The 5-disc Blu-ray edition of True Blood: The Complete Third Season has plenty of content to offer, just not of the caliber HBO regulars have become accustomed to. The set's six audio commentaries are easily the highlight of the release; the discs' enhanced Picture-in-Picture viewing mode, interactive guides to character connections and limited behind-the-scenes materials are welcome but don't add nearly as much value as their collective runtime and high-quality presentations might suggest.
True Blood: The Complete Third Season Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
True Blood always leaves me thirsty; thirsty for more and thirsty for a more satisfying season. For all Ball and his showrunners have accomplished, they have yet to deliver the goods in their entirety. I'll keep watching, but I'm still waiting to be blown away by every episode as much as I've been blown away by the series' best entries. HBO's Blu-ray release isn't going to disappoint anyone though. Sure, it's supplemental package leaves something to be desired, but its AV presentation is so impressive that it hardly matters. In the end, The Complete Third Season joins its high definition predecessors as yet another strong Blu-ray release from HBO.
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True Blood: The Complete Third Season Blu-ray, News and Updates
• This Week on Blu-ray - May 31-June 6 - May 31, 2011
In preparation for the upcoming premiere of its fourth season, HBO is releasing True Blood: The Complete Third Season on Blu-ray today. The show, which is the most watch series on the premium channel since The Sopranos, continues to amass new viewers with every ...
• True Blood Season 3 Blu-ray Announced - March 3, 2011
HBO Home Entertainment, in conjunction with Warner Home Video, has announced True Blood: The Complete Third Season for Blu-ray release on May 31. In the third season of this acclaimed HBO series, Sookie Stackhouse desperately tries to locate her fiancé, ending ...
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