Case Number 21481


HBO // 2010 // 720 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Brett Cullum // June 5th, 2011

The Charge

"What would we be if we were normal? I can't even picture it." -- Sookie

Opening Statement

True Blood is Twilight for adults with far more kink and kook than would be appropriate in any tween vampire tale. The original books consist of quirky romance melodramas done in a Southern gothic tone with almost a dime store love story quality. The HBO series is more slickly sophisticated in its allegorical leanings, and adds many more perspectives to the narratives beyond lead character Sookie Stackhouse, who is always the center of the written incarnation and often its sole voice. The show opens up the world of Bon Temps quite a bit, allowing us to see far more about the residents and supernatural beings that seem to thrive there. Season Three of the series is where creator Alan Ball went the furthest "off book" creating his own spin on events from Charlaine Harris's third novel Club Dead with his team of writers. The basic story idea does stay the same, but things play out quite a bit differently with a climactic revelation that comes much later in the novels about why Sookie is the way that she is.

Facts of the Case

Spoiler Warning -- This review contains minor spoilers about Season Three plot points.

The main arc deals with vampire Bill (Stephen Moyer, Priest) being kidnapped by the vampire king of Mississippi (Denis O'Hare, Milk), and reveals a nefarious plot by the royal baddie to disrupt any hope of peaceful coexistence between vamps and humans. Last year we got the religious human zealots out to get the vampires, and now we see an inner look at the tainted blood that is vampire politics and society.

true blood season 3

Sookie (Anna Paquin, The Romantics) spends the season looking for Bill with the help of a pack of sexy werewolves. It seems that the show is hellbent on staying away from the Sookie/Bill romance this year, and instead they give viewers much more of everything else. Key to this was the introduction of the werewolf Alcide Herveaux (Joe Manganiello, Spider-Man) who quickly became a fan favorite for spending most of his time scantily clad.

Sam Merlotte (Sam Trammell, Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem) has a subplot where he meets his real parents, and he's not too thrilled about what he finds. They represent the key to where he has come from and why he can shape shift, but they also bring in a lot of baggage about his white trash roots.

Jason Stackhouse (Ryan Kwanten, Dead Silence) becomes obsessed with growing up into a law enforcement official, and meets a striking werepanther (Lindsay Pulsipher, The Oregonian) along the way who makes his life extremely difficult.

Tara (Rutina Wesley, How She Move) meets up with a seductive sociopathic vampire (James Frain, TRON: Legacy) who proves to be just what she doesn't need right after the death of Eggs from last season.

Lafayette (Nelsan Ellis, Secretariat) takes a new boyfriend (Kevin Alejandro, Strange Wilderness) who is descended from some black magic roots.

Eric (Alexander Skarsgård, Straw Dogs) and Pam (Kristin Bauer van Straten, Romy and Michele's High School Reunion) get involved in a V dealing debacle which puts them in the crosshairs of the vampire queen of Louisiana.

And the big love affair of Season Three? That would be Jessica (Deborah Ann Woll, Highland Park) and Hoyt (Jim Parrack, Battle: Los Angeles), who figure out that mixed marriages are rough.

The Evidence

Season Three of True Blood juggled a ton of characters and introduced a chaotic feel to the proceedings that lacked the intense focus of the previous two years. Still, there were a lot of things to love about it all. They pulled off the werewolf plots pretty well, and their addition felt natural and organic to the show. One thing I really admired about the killer wolves in this third year was that the producers decided to avoid CGI creatures (like the fluffy things in Twilight) and instead chose to go with real animals. It is explained well during the extra features with a director saying they want the supernatural beings in True Blood to be as close to nature as they can make them. They worked better than expected for being true animals. Well, that and it gave the show a chance to show a lot of well-built naked men, which seems to be another agenda for the sexy show. You have to notice that all these werewolves and shape shifters often strip before changing.

The introduction of the vampire king of Mississippi also worked quite well to expand the show's cast, and actor Denis O'Hare filled the role deliciously with the right amount of joy and menace. He makes the most of a spectacular guest villain role, and steals any scene he is in throughout the run. Bill's maker Lorena (Mariana Klaveno, While the Children Sleep) gets a fun return arc as well, and we get several new vampires that make the whole season more fun.

True Blood seasons run twelve each, and Season Three is spread out over five discs. The transfers look great with amazing clarity and really strong colors and black levels. I'm sure the Blu-rays looks a bit crisper, but nothing wrong with the DVDs technically. Packaging is great as well with a very elaborate cardboard fold out sleeve with plenty of artwork for fans to enjoy.

Disc One:
* Commentary on episode two by actor Alexander Skarsgård and director Scott Winant.
* "Anatomy of a Scene" -- A look at the very first fight between vampires and werewolves on the show.
* "Postmortems" -- Small segments that show you the making of the series are included for the two episodes.

Disc Two:
* Commentary on episode three by writer Alexander Woo and director Michael Lehmann
* Commentary on episode four by actress Kistin Bauer Van Straten and director David Petrarca
* "Postmortems" -- Three more small segments behind the scenes and extended backstories.

Disc Three:
* Commentary on episode six by actor Denis O'Hare and creator Alan Ball
* Commentary on episode seven by actress Anna Paquin, actor Joe Manganiello, and writer Brian Buckner
* "Postmortems" -- Three that include ads for the spoof series "Digging for the Dirt," the extended vampire news interview about the Vampire Rights Amendment, and a lingering look at Bill's romantic relations with his maker Lorena.

Disc Four:
* "Postmortems" -- Three that include a look at how to survive a werewolf attack if you are a vampire, the death of a journalist by vampires, and the return of reverend Steve Newlin.

Disc Five:
* Commentary on the finale by actor Stephen Moyer and director Anthony Hemingway
* "Postmortems" -- One for the finale in which Sookie's origins are discussed and Alan Ball thanks the fans.
* Snoop Dogg's "Oh Sookie" Music Video
* Minisodes which occur before the season's first episode

Closing Statement

True Blood: The Complete Third Season gives fans of the show more of what they hunger for, a serious dose of sex and violence all wrapped around a kinky love story or six. It relishes being an "oh so mature" vampire soap opera which camps it up as much as takes it all seriously. The whole show felt amped up with so much going on, but it paid off nicely thanks to bravura performances by the big bads of this year. The DVD set contains great transfers and a nice number of extras that should give viewers plenty of reason to sink their teeth into it.

The Verdict

Guilty of being a grown up and sexy supernatural soap.

Review content copyright © 2011 Brett Cullum; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2016 HipClick Designs LLC

Scales of Justice
Video: 96
Audio: 96
Extras: 96
Acting: 96
Story: 89
Judgment: 94

Perp Profile
Studio: HBO
Video Formats:
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (French)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (Spanish)

* English (SDH)
* French
* Portuguese
* Spanish

Running Time: 720 Minutes
Release Year: 2010
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Distinguishing Marks
* Episode Commentaries
* Featurette
* Minisodes
* Postmortems
* Music Video

* IMDb

* Official Site