TV & Video Review: ‘True Blood’ (Season One) (Blu-ray)

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Television has brought us a lot of bad vampire-based shows — but HBO isn't regular television.

In the world of True Blood, vampires revealed themselves two years ago and a drop of their blood is an unmatchable high for humans. The narrative follows Bill Compton (Stephen Moyer), a 173-year-old vampire that recently returned to Bon Temps, the small town of his birth, and Sookie Stackhouse (Anna Paquin), a waitress that can hear people's thoughts. However, Sookie is drawn to Bill not only because of his nature but because she can let her guard down around him because she can't hear what Bill is thinking. In the meantime, someone is murdering women that have had sex with vampires, a.k.a. "fangbangers," and Sookie is next on the list even though her brother Jason (Ryan Kwanten) is the prime suspect.

The vampires are a mix of peaceful, gothic romantics and viciousness fuelled by a superior entitlement. Bill usually represents the former, but is not immune to exhibiting the latter. One of the interesting aspects of True Blood is the other characters get roughly equal screen time. We know almost as much about Bill and Sookie as we do about Jason, Sookie's boss Sam Merlotte (Sam Trammell), and her best friend Tara Thornton (Rutina Wesley). Not putting the primary focus on the star-crossed lovers allows for several different story arcs and developments.

Another element that keeps viewers coming back every week is each episode ends with an intense cliff hanger, which is usually reserved for a TV series’ season finale. The series instantly transforms viewers into loyal fans because it seamlessly draws you into its world so you must know what happens next.

Each episode has the option of enhanced viewing. If turned on, windows pop up in the corners of the screen during the episode revealing hints to the characters’ development, helpful facts, the origins of individual vampires and animated maps of Bon Temps. It also allows the viewer to break off from the show to watch a vampire documentary, commercials for synthetic blood, and vampire rights public service announcements. The best element of this feature is Lafayette Reynolds (Nelsan Ellis), Tara's amusing gay cousin that knows a little about everybody and isn't shy about sharing. There are also six audio commentaries with the cast and crew, including Paquin, Moyer and creator Alan Ball, who persistently and somewhat maddeningly points to future plot points without actually revealing anything.

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