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DVD: True Blood | reviews, news & interviews

DVD: True Blood

DVD: True Blood

HBO’s darkly comic vampire drama has lascivious thrills and plenty of bite

'Night of the living dead': The cast of 'True Blood'

With more claret than a blood bank and more skin than a nudist colony, True Blood is HBO at its most gleefully provocative. Unencumbered by the cerebral depth of The Sopranos, the social conscience of The Wire, or the historical obligations of Deadwood, it’s a two-backed beast of a TV show. That’s not to say it’s not smart or satirical, but from its opening credits it announces its dishonourable intentions as a gravelly voiced stranger croons, “I wanna do bad things with you.”

Based on the novels by Charlaine Harris, True Blood is the televisual brainchild of Six Feet Under’s Alan Ball. It imagines a world where vampires are “out of the coffin” and takes its name from the synthetic blood beverage (spelt Tru Blood) which provides the undead with a respectable alternative to blood-sucking.

The first season gives us star-crossed lovers and a whodunnit. It’s set in the fictional town of Bon Temps, Louisiana which has just acquired its first vampire - the prosaically monikered Bill Compton (Stephen Moyer). Bill quickly draws the eye of waitress, psychic and ballbusting heroine Sookie Stackhouse (a hilariously matter-of-fact Anna Paquin). It’s a heady and impressive introduction.

Appropriately enough, each season bleeds into the next: season two belongs to statuesque vampire sheriff Eric Northman (Alexander Skarsgård), who emerges as a sizzling rival for Sookie’s affections, and to its “Big Bad” (to borrow a Buffyism) Maryann Forrester (Michelle Forbes). Relocating the action to Dallas for part of its duration, the second outing ups the ante in every possible respect - evil orgies, violent fanatics, gods and (more) monsters. In fact, it’s so absurdly exciting and energised that it reaches a crescendo several episodes shy of the end.

Season three doesn’t quite jump the shark but it's something of a come-down. Ubervamp Russell Edgington (Denis O’Hare), Vampire King of Mississippi, is a nefarious enough bastard and another preposterously proportioned hunk o’ love interest emerges in werewolf Alcide Herveaux (Joe Manganiello). It’s terrific fun but with too many characters to juggle and revelations to explore it loses its edge. Happily, its wicked sense of humour remains reassuringly intact.

True Blood is an obscene, obscenely enjoyable show, which deserves more than simply being branded a guilty pleasure. So block out a weekend, crack open a bottle of blood, ahem, wine and enjoy. The substantial extras include a number of audio commentaries and featurettes across all three series.

  • True Blood: The Complete Third Season and the Complete Seasons One-Three are available on DVD and Blu-ray on Monday, 23 May
  • amazon_logoFind True Blood on Amazon

Watch the trailer for True Blood

True Blood is an obscene, obscenely enjoyable show, which deserves more than simply being branded a guilty pleasure

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