Well, the fairy has been let out of the bag. Season four starts with the storyline that many people were already wary of when it was revealed at the end of season three. Sookie is a fairy, and last we saw of her she was whisked away to fairyland. I'm sad to say, that after the fourth season premiere I've just about given up on the show. It's gone so far downhill it's hard to know where to start.
I've stuck with the show this long. Season one and two enthralled me. Season three started slipping, but still felt pretty taught in places. Season four… well, season four feels like 'The Vampire Diaries' with more swearing and sex.
It's just that the premiere episode is so bad. Awful in fact. Sookie finds herself in fairyland as people surround her and eat glowing fruit. There she sees her long-lost grandfather (Gary Cole) who swears he's only been there a few hours, but he soon realizes that he's lost 20 years of his life eating glowing fruit. Sookie quickly learns that where they are might look good, but it most certainly isn't. She's only spent a few minutes there, or so it seems to her. Sookie grabs her grandfather and they try to escape. The resulting chase from the evil fairies feels like something ripped straight from a bad made-for-SyFy movie. There are times when 'True Blood' becomes pretty self-aware and subtly pokes fun at itself and its vampire subjects, but this is not one of those times. The only thing the fairy bombardment elicits is groans and whispered mutterings of, "What the hell?" The rest of the episode didn't get much better as it had to haphazardly discuss what everyone has been up to since Sookie left. To her it's been a couple minutes; to them it's been a year.
After the cringe-worthy season premiere it was hard to get that taste out of my mouth. I cared little about what was going on with characters like Tara (Rutina Wesley), Lafayette (Nelsan Ellis), Hoyt (Jim Parrack), Jessica (Deborah Ann Woll), and the new sheriff Andy Bellefleur (Chris Bauer). I suddenly felt the weight of all these characters who were dragging on a plot that seemed to already be dragged a fair distance in the first place.
Yes, the revelation that Bill (Stephen Moyer) is the vampire king was slightly interesting, but it didn't hold enough of a wow-factor to keep me engaged over the season's long-haul.
The show seemed like it was teetering on the edge of shark territory when the third season ended. With one fell swoop the shark has officially been jumped. I understand that there are still fans of this show out there and I wish you all the best. The fourth season did have a few good episodes peppered in throughout the season, however none of them could wash away the stench of that first episode. I kept reliving it in my mind like a bad dream, hoping that it didn't actually happen, but it did.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
This box set from HBO is huge. It comes as a 5-Disc set in the standard, bulky cardboard fold-out which has an individual hub for each disc. There are 12 episodes in season four. Disc one contains two episodes, discs two through four contain three episodes each, while disc five contains the season finale plus the set's bonus features. It also comes with a separate cardboard folder that has two double-sided DVDs which contain the season, plus a code to get a Digital Copy of all 12 episodes. The cardboard fold-out and the DVD folder fit snugly into an outer cardboard box that matches the other seasons that have been released. The back of the case indicates a Region A release.
Like always, HBO has released another stellar looking season of 'True Blood.' Shining and shimmering in 1080p the shadow-cast show features some wonderfully refined detail, inky shadows, and technically proficient visuals.
Colors pop as always whether it is crimson red pouring out of some poor soul's neck or the springtime colors of Sookie's many sun dresses. Blacks are dark and foreboding, but never crushing. That seems to always be the hallmark of this series on Blu-ray. Since much of the show is bathed in darkness it's imperative that the blacks are resolutely resolved and don't appear flat or dimensionless at any time. I'm glad to say that just like the seasons before it, season four features great blacks which produce detail-aiding shadows which add great depth and dimension to the overall picture.
Even though the journey into the land of the fairies is corny, the contrast of the bright whites found there perfectly counteract the rather dark, brooding nature of the rest of the series. It was nice to see a well-lit set during this series and it's presented near perfection in high-def.
I didn't notice any technical anomalies, which for HBO is par for the course. They, like Disney, are stalwarts of remarkable Blu-ray presentations, this one is no exception.
Like the video, the audio presentation also impresses. On down through the seasons, HBO has mixed wonderfully sounding DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 tracks. This season is no different. Everything about this mix screams demo quality. The fairy chase in the opening episode may be one of the most cringe-inducing things you've watched in a long time, but the LFE produced by their fairy fireballs (yes, you read that correctly) does indeed give the sub-woofer a lot to do. Surrounds are full of all sorts of sounds, from echoing voices spewing out of a possessed witch's mouth, to the screams and howls of fairies as Sookie runs for her life.
The whoosh sound as vampires appear and disappear after moving at break-neck speed fills the front and center channels. It smoothly transitions from one edge of the soundfield to the other depending on where the fast-moving vampire is traveling relative to the frame they're in.
Dialogue is always clear, and even with some of the thicker Southern accents on the show, everyone's voice is intelligible. Surrounds are full of action. The subtle chirping of crickets and other nighttime bugs fills the rear speakers during some of the more subdued outdoor scenes, while many of the action scenes are riddled with crashing glass and breaking objects as vampires, and other supernatural beasts, struggle and fight. It's just another demo-quality track provided by HBO. Fans of the series will be just as happy this time around as they were with the other seasons.
I think this is where the residents of Bon Temps and I part ways. It was a fun ride, but this season showed that the storyline seems to be mired, moving at the speed of semi-coagulated blood. Its season premiere was some of the cheesiest television I've ever watched and it affected every bit of the rest of the season. What was once great television has turned into nothing but a silly soap opera with fangs. Its audio and video presentations, as expected, are fantastic. The actual content? Not so much. I truly hope that die-hard fans of the show continue to like it, but it's just gotten too ridiculous and watered down for me. Even though the end score for the set is high, renting it seems like the best option.