'True Blood: The Complete First Season'
(Anna Paquin, Lois Smith, Ryan Kwanten, Stephen Moyer, Sam Trammell, et al / 5-Disc DVD / NR / 2009 / HBO Home Video)
Overview: For the first time ever, HBO Home Entertainment® simultaneously released a DVD and Blu-ray version of an HBO® original series when 'True Blood: The Complete First Season' hit stores this past May 19th, 2009 – just weeks before the second, highly-anticipated season of the show premiered on the network.
DVD Verdict: The setting for the series is the town of Bon Temps, Louisiana - vampires have only been "out" in mainstream society for a short time and there are many mortals who would rather see them gone, especially the Christian right-wing, some politicians, and also the anti-vampire movement.
At the Merlotte Bar and Grill, comely young waitress Sookie Stackhouse [Anna Paquin] is trying very hard to tune out other people's thoughts, for Sookie is blessed [or cursed] with the gift of being able to listen in on other people's thoughts. She feels uncomfortable around men, possibly because she can read their true intentions towards her, and this includes bar owner Sam [Sam Trammell] who really has a thing for her. The other important people in Sookie's life are Gran, best friend with an acerbic tongue Tara [Rutina Wesley], and Lothario brother Jason [Ryan Kwanten].
One night, a stranger walks into the bar and Sookie is immediately drawn to him, mainly because she can't read his mind. Turns out, Bill Compton [Stephen Moyer] is a vampire who has moved into the old Compton homestead after the death of the last heir. The bond between the two is sealed when Sookie rescues Bill from a mercenary pair of criminals specializing in draining vampires of their much treasured blood [which has a potent, drug-like effect] and selling it on the market [as "V"].
Besides the love triangle, there are other underlying themes explored in this series - bigotry [against vampires, gays etc], murder, alcoholism, etc. As Sookie and Bill get closer, their budding romance is threatened by a series of murders around town, the victims apparently being "fangbangers", women and men who sleep with vampires. Sookie's brother Jason initially finds himself being the prime suspect as he is seen with two of the victims before their deaths.
The theme of addiction is also prominent in this show - Jason is addicted to sex and being 'high' on drugs like "V", Tara's mother is a long-suffering alcoholic etc. The ensemble cast do a great job in carrying the stories in each episode, even the minor characters like the flamboyantly gay Lafayette [Nelsan Ellis] who also happens to be Tara's cousin.
But the two leads truly shine in their roles - both Anna Paquin and Stephen Moyer share a strong and credible on-screen chemistry. Of the two, Stephen has a more commanding presence on-screen, with his brooding good looks, and tortured expressions. He is a quintessential Southern gentleman with a delightful accent to boot, and oozes vampire charm and sex appeal by the bucketloads without ever being over-the-top.
His character also allows viewers to sympathize with him, as Bill hopes to bridge the chasm between mortals and vampires, truly believing the two can co-exist in peace. Sookie as portrayed by Paquin is cute, but can be annoying at times, though like I mentioned, the great chemistry between her and Bill compensates for any other deficiencies in the portrayal of her character.
The sex scenes are very graphic, but as the show progresses in Season One, it did appear that the more gratutious sex scenes eventually got toned down in favor of more sensual scenes, like the intense lovemaking scene between Sookie and Bill.
On the whole, I found my attention engaged throughout the series in Season One and look forward with great anticipation to Season Two! [ZH] This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the following Special Features:
In Focus: Vampires in America: A Mock-u-mentary about vampires in America
Tru Blood Beverage Ads: French and American "Tru Blood" beverage ads
Vampire Service Ads: Ads for vampire dating, vampire hotels and lawyers that service vampires
Public Service Announcement: Both pro- and anti-vampire rights
Six audio commentaries with the cast and crew.
'True Blood - First Season' Trailer