Thursday, January 22, 2015

Supernatural Soap Opera That Outlived Its Substance: True Blood The Complete Series!

The Good: Moments of performance, Moments of character, Moments of plot, Themes
The Bad: Unfortunate descent into soap operatic plot developments, Loses decent performances, Initially intriguing characters get buried amid a bloated cast!
The Basics: A series that loses its initial spark and substance, True Blood The Complete Series is not worth picking up!

2014 saw the end of several long-running television series’ and many of them had, unfortunately, not been cancelled in their prime. One of the shows that had long outlived its coolness and quality was True Blood. The seventh season of True Blood aired in 2014 and shortly after it came to an end, HBO released True Blood The Complete Series on DVD and Blu-Ray, which tried to capitalize on the few people who still were enamored with the show.

True Blood The Complete Series is the study of a show that illustrates well diminishing returns. The series began with a great deal of potential and a thematic sensibility that made it must-watch television. But, as the series belabored explaining its own universe, it became diluted – from a cast that grew to an unwieldy size to storylines that hinged more and more on reversals that were more at home at a daytime soap opera than on HBO. True Blood was a supernatural drama series and True Blood The Complete Series is comprised of all seven seasons and includes the DVDs that were previously released as:
True Blood Season 1
True Blood Season 2
True Blood Season 3
True Blood Season 4
True Blood Season 5
True Blood Season 6
True Blood Season 7

Set in Bon Temps, Louisiana, True Blood is largely centered around Sookie Stackhouse. Sookie is a waitress at a local bar and grill, Merlotte’s, where she has been working for years, a fixture in the small town. Unbeknownst to almost everyone in town, Sookie has the ability to read minds and her telepathy has made her feel somewhat isolated in her hometown. One day, a vampire comes to Bon Temps and Sookie realizes she cannot read his mind. The vampire is Bill Compton, a former soldier in the Civil War, who has a mansion near Sookie’s house.

But the relationship that Bill and Sookie begin soon attracts the attention of the locals and makes Sookie a target of those who fear vampires integrating with humans. As Sookie and Bill defend one another and their romance, they find themselves at the mercy of psychopaths, orthodox vampires and supernatural beings like werewolves. Their relationship is put to the test as powerful vampires and human politicians clash and devious humans fight to remain in control of the world by setting plagues against the vampire population!

True Blood starts with initially intriguing characters and the series includes:

Sookie Stackhouse – The telepathic waitress who falls in love with Bill Compton, she is protective of her brother Jason after their Gran is killed and they inherit her home. Despite being romantically involved with Bill, she gets into relationships with Eric Northman, Alcide Herveaux, and she learns that her boss has a long-running crush on her. But her love for Bill experiences torsion when she is continually put in danger by being associated with him and the unnatural attraction other vampires have to her cause a truth about her heritage to be revealed that leaves her and Bon Temps shocked,

Jason Stackhouse – The dimwitted brother of Sookie, he gets into every stupid situation imaginable. From drug addiction (vampire blood being a powerful hallucinogen) to affairs with married women and religious zealots, Jason slowly grows to become the sheriff deputy of Bon Temps,

Tara Thornton – Sookie’s best friend for decades, she is a human who has an alcoholic, Evangelical, mother who has been abusive. Unnerved by how life in Bon Temps is changing, she runs away and ends up in the company of an evil witch. She returns to Bon Temps and her life falls apart,

Lafayette Reynolds – The bisexual cook at Merlotte’s, he is the local drug runner. But dealing in vampire blood is exceptionally dangerous and he soon draws the ire of Eric Northman. When his life is saved, he gets shellshocked for a while, but slowly comes out of his shell when he gets involved with a practitioner of voodoo,

Arlene Fowler – Another waitress at Merlotte’s, she has terrible luck with men. But after she has one supremely disastrous relationship, she finds love and redemption in the form of Terry. She is reticent to accepting supernatural beings in her life, though the more she is surrounded by them, the more she accepts them,

Terry Bellefleur – An Iraq War vet, he is shellshocked and works as a cook at Merlotte’s. He tries to rebuild his life and he does it successfully with Arlene,

Hoyt Fortenberry – Jason’s best friend, he has an overbearing mother. After a relationship with a human woman his mother approves of goes bad, he develops a love for Jessica. That relationship, though, is threatened by Jason and his raging hormones,

Steve Newlin – A religious zealot who organizes a war against vampires,

Sam Merlotte – The owner of Merlotte’s, he has managed to hide the fact that he is a shapeshifter from everyone for years. He falls in love with a werewolf and then a pro-supernatural activist,

Holly Cleary – A local witch who pops up,

Alcide Herveaux – A werewolf who rejects the violent nature of the pack mentality of the local pack. He works for Eric Northman and does favors for the vampire sheriff. He and Sookie become involved the more Sookie falls out of favor with Bill and Eric,

Pam De Beaufort – Eric Northman’s progeny, she is a deeply sarcastic former prostitute who reluctantly assists Eric in rescuing Sookie and getting involved in whatever danger she puts Eric in,

Jessica Hamby – A human girl who comes from a very conservative family and sheltered household, she is turned by Bill as punishment against Bill when he kills another vampire. Suddenly reckless, empowered, and vampire, she takes time to calm down and become a useful member of vampire society. Groomed by Bill to be a smarter, more human-considerate, vampire, she develops relationships with Hoyt and Jason,

Eric Northman – The vampire sheriff of the Louisiana Territory, he has long enjoyed being an elite life form, with little consideration for humans. When Sookie comes into his life via Bill, he has to turn against some of the most powerful, genocidal vampires on Earth. In the process, he develops a romance with Sookie,

and Bill Compton – The relatively young vampire intrigues Sookie and he becomes protective of her when an anti-vampire zealot threatens him and Sookie. Forced to do things he disagrees with, like turning Jessica, he argues in favor of peace between humans and vampires. His love for Sookie puts him in constant danger and puts him in the crosshairs of the Vampire Authority at a time when religious fundamentalists take it over!

True Blood stars Anna Paquin and Stephen Moyer and their initial on-screen chemistry made their off-camera relationship entirely viable. Performances by people like Ryan Kwanten (who should be able to play George W. Bush for the rest of his career), Nelsan Ellis (who plays Lafayette as an utterly convincing chameleon who adapts to every situation and relationship), and Rutina Wesley (Tara), start out wonderful before the plot turns their characters into filler. Ellis, especially, starts with a wonderful part in True Blood before the series loses focus for the character and he is eventually relegated to such a minor part that it’s almost forced keeping him around.

Such is the bane of True Blood The Complete Series; so much of the potential that it began with is diluted and lost as the series progresses.

For other works that are or were on HBO, please be sure to check out my reviews of:
Game Change
Veep - Season 1
Game Of Thrones - Season 4
Girls - Season 1
Six Feet Under
Sex & The City - Season Three
Da Ali G Show
Jim Henson's The Storyteller


For other television episode, season and series reviews, please visit my Television Review Index Page!

© 2015 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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