Article first published as Blu-ray Review True Blood: The Complete Fifth Season on Blogcritics.
The final book in Charlaine Harris’ The Southern Vampire Mysteries or The Sookie Stackhouse Novels has made its way into stores just before, HBO begins airing the sixth season of True Blood. Though the series is loosely based on the novels, there is certainly no need to attach any time table based on the number books. As a matter of fact, the television show almost shuns its origins in its variance to the source material. What season six beginning does mean, is that the previous season is now available on DVD and Blu-ray. HBO’s True Blood: The Complete Fifth Season on Blu-ray with HBO Select, DVD and Digital Download has pretty much all of your media needs covered.
The very busy fifth season of True Blood picks up right where season four ended. If you need a refresher, Debbie broke into Sookie’s house and tried to kill her for stealing her were-man. Sookies’s friend Tara then ends up in the middle of the fight and mortally shot for her effort. Sookie managed to wrestle the shotgun away from Debbie and executed her. First, Tara’s cousin Lafayette shows up and soon after so does Eric’s progeny Pam. After some pleading, arguing, and deal making Pam decides to help “save” Tara. Pam’s version of saving of course means turning Tara into a vampire, as if Tara wasn’t ill-tempered enough.
Of course that’s not quite enough drama for an entire season of True Blood. The main story line is a result of the trouble Eric and Bill had with the witches and the resulting confrontation with vampire spokesperson, Nan Flanagan. Though Eric and Bill are set to be executed after their interrogations, they offer to solve the new Russell Edington issue in exchange for their lives. These two storylines are probably enough for most series to run with, but True Blood isn’t like most series. There is an Alcide storyline along with one for Sam and Luna. Jason’s adventures pull in Jessica and Hoyt. The largest subplot though, is about Merlotte’s employees Arlene and Terry. They have both a human and a supernatural problem, and even the bumbling sheriff Andy Balfour has his own story arc.
It’s this type of busy narrative that has led many to openly wonder if the over the top series has lost its way. The fifth season of True Blood was actually the first to show a ratings decline, though many state the series’ apex was either season two or three. Granted, there are a number of great characters in Bon Temps, but they probably don’t all need a story arc each season. Considering the books are all written as if from Sookie’s perspective, the show’s multiple points of view is a pretty considerable deviation. The upcoming sixth season might show some formulaic changes with Alan Ball giving up his day to day supervision.
HBO is offering True Blood: The Complete Fifth Season in a fairly robust Blu-ray edition. The package includes the five Blu-ray discs, a separate fold-out with the episodes on two double sided DVDs, and a code for downloadable digital episodes. The digital copy is redeemable through, iTunes, Vudu, or
Amazon, as well as an UltraViolet copy through supporting providers. There are of course a wealth of extras here, including what may be the last episode commentary with show runner Alan Ball. At the risk of sounding ungrateful, the only thing missing is a copy, digital or otherwise, of the soundtrack which is always brilliant.
HBO has earned a reputation of putting out quality products and this True Blood volume is no exception. The video is offered in an almost too detailed 1080p in a 16:9 1.78 format that approaches the line of breaking the illusion. That is a much sharper version than is broadcast on cable and satellite. The contrast is well maintained and the colors are dead-on authentic. The English language audio is offered in the lossless DTS-HD Master Audio format with impeccable surround transitions and precise LFE thumps. Even the French language offering is in Dolby Digital 5.1, though the Spanish language is given the stereo DTS treatment. For the majority of the 720 minutes of content English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, Danish, Finnish, Swedish, and Norwegian subtitles are available.
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