Now its sixth unforgettable season, True Blood is HBO's sexy, scary, wildly entertaining series from Oscar- and Emmy-winner Alan Ball (Six Feet Under) and based on the Sookie Stackhouse novels by Charlaine Harris. In addition to returning TB favorites - led by human/faerie hybrid Sookie (Anna Paquin), her unlikely vampire ally Eric (Alexander Skarsgård), and newly reconstituted supervamp Bill (Stephen Moyer) - Season 6 introduces several jarring storylines that threaten what little sense of normalcy remains in and around Bon Temps. As "Billith" comes to terms with his newfound powers after emerging from a pool of blood at the end of Season 5, Louisiana Governor Truman Burrell (new cast member Arliss Howard) declares open season on vampires, replete with novel anti-vamp weapons and a high-tech internment camp. Meanwhile, Sookie and Jason steel themselves for an encounter with the killer of their parents: the mysterious and ancient Warlow, whose identity remains a troubling mystery as the season unfolds.
Even at its worse, I am, by and large, grateful we have the 'True Blood' series to quench our thirst for all things vampire related. The modern bloodsucker, thanks of course to one absurdly popular books series which shall remain nameless, has been, for the most part, neutered of its most base instincts. All folklore, mythology and fiction as it may be, it’s the nature of the beast which has attracted people from around the world for about a millennia now, especially in the last three centuries. The creature of the night is — and should be — an ungodly being with an insatiable, unrestrained lust for life, rebelliously defying cultural norms personified through its appetite for emotional indulgence and wild sexual passions.
This is what the current tween phenomena has taken away from the traditional vampire, which is understandable to some degree given the particular age group that swoons over this new, self-restrained and mostly fangless vamp. 'True Blood,' on the other hand, remains strictly adult-oriented, not only because of the healthy amount of nudity but also because it celebrates and indulges in what is expected from these highly-sexualized, ironically-animated monsters. The undead, here, love showing their fangs and sometimes have trouble controlling their instinctual urges, epitomized in the fourth episode where ginger-beauty Jessica (Deborah Ann Woll) hosts a private get-together for Andy Bellefleur's (Chris Bauer) four fairy daughters and ends in a shocking, unforeseen party foul.
One of the aspects I genuinely enjoyed from the series' sixth season is that it managed to effectively surprise me with various twists and unexpected turns. Granted, some were better than others, but it's a marked improvement over the last two seasons where the melodrama and supernatural fantasy were pushed to the point of being intolerable and painfully dull. Thankfully, producers return to the violence, gore, sex, death and politics that made the show such a joy to watch in the first place. Not only do we have vamps talking and battling over their base inclinations, but the season also explores the dark side of humanity. Growing from fear and intolerance due to events from the fifth season, the government of Louisiana takes some disturbingly extreme measures in order to combat the undead with ideologies that border on the fascist. Humanity's troublingly morbid gut reaction makes for an interesting comparison to the vampire's darkly natural desires — exaggerated by the presence of fairies.
Picking up immediately where the episode finale ended the previous season, the reincarnated Bill Compton (Stephen Moyer) has developed god-like powers, making him invulnerable to the typical stake through the heart and the most powerful vamp in the world. Bordering on the edge of histrionic, however, an unmatched Bill still requires the help of Eric (Alexander Skarsgård), Pam (Kristin Bauer van Straten), Nora (Lucy Griffiths), Tara (Lucy Griffiths), Jason (Ryan Kwanten) and of course, Jessica in his fight against Governor Truman Burrell's (Arliss Howard) unjust laws. One nice turn is that although Bill and Sookie (Anna Paquin) are permanently done, her subplot battle, with the help of grandpa fairy king Rutger Hauer, against the oldest known vampire Warlow (Rob Kazinsky) has them depending upon one another for a while longer.
These two storylines bouncing off each other is largely what makes the sixth season of 'True Blood' entertaining rather than needlessly complicated or ruining the show in any significant way. That's not to say a few episodes didn't suffer from a few unsatisfyingly boring moments. Andy's (Bauer) growing family offers a few laughs, but mostly functions as plot device when convenient. As packmaster of some unruly wolves, Alcide's (Joe Manganiello) leadership is tediously tested when Sam Merlotte (Sam Trammell) decides to hide Emma (Chloe Noelle) from her grandma. As in the previous two seasons, the least interesting subplot involves Arlene (Carrie Preston) and Terry Bellefleur (Todd Lowe), leading a rather frustratingly tiresome ninth episode. Nevertheless, the season finishes on a fascinating note that will hopefully bring the whole show to an explosive finish in the seventh and final season of the series.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
HBO Home Entertainment brings 'True Blood: The Complete Sixth Season' to Blu-ray as a four-disc cardboard fold-out with individual plastic hubs for each Region Free, BD50 disc. The package includes a code for Digital Copies of all 10 episodes. The folder fits snugly into a sturdy and attractive red cardboard box.
The sixth season of 'True Blood' takes a vicious, angry bite out of Blu-ray with a first-rate 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 encode that shines like the dazzling, glowing orbs from Sookie's hands. Presented in its original 1.78:1 aspect ratio, each episode comes with crisp, brilliant contrast levels, providing excellent visibility of background information and showing clean, bright whites throughout. The presentation also displays inky rich blacks with deep, penetrating shadows that never ruin gradational details but give the presentation appreciable dimensionality. Several episodes are shot with an interesting metallic-chrome palette that favors lots of yellows and blues, yet colors remain vibrant and are accurately rendered. Tiny fine lines in trees and leaves are distinct while facial complexions reveal every pore, wrinkle and scar in the cast.
Complementing the video is an equally impressive and fantastical DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack that doesn't shy away from using the entire soundscape. Although a majority of the design in each episode is focused on the fronts, several effects bleed into the surrounds with discrete directionality and amusing effectiveness. The music and score do much of the work, but action sequences display flawless panning and subtle ambient sounds which nicely enhance the soundfield. The mid-range is distinct and crystal-clear with excellent pitch in the upper frequencies and pleasing acoustical details. Low bass delivers strong, impactful weight to scenes that require them with great response and appreciable depth. All the while, vocals are well-prioritized and intelligible in the center.
Considering our current selection of quality vampire fiction, the 'True Blood' series is there to quench our thirst for all things bloodsucker related. Despite still featuring subplots about fairies, the show's sixth season is one of the strongest yet with interesting sociopolitical elements mixed with a healthy amount of gory horror, undead action and oozing with sexuality. The Blu-ray arrives with an excellent audio and video presentation, but the supplements are on the slightly disappointing side. Nonetheless, loyal, devoted fans of the series will be more than happy with the overall package.