If you are a regular Blu-ray or DVD purchaser, you’ve probably been saving your monies for at least one of this week’s big releases. From True Blood putting out its fifth season to National Lampoon’s Vacation 30th anniversary, there are a ton of releases to choose from this week, and most of them come stacked with bonus features (and even some pretty sweet packaging). Read on to learn about some of May 21st's best releases, and maybe even a few that may have slipped under your radar.
If you are looking for our coverage of the National Lampoon’s Vacation 30th Anniversary Blu-ray, please head here.
True Blood: The Complete Fifth Season Blu-ray
After an explosive Season 4 finale, True Blood kicked off its fifth season right where the show left off: with a couple of dead bodies and a resurrection plan. Various storylines swell from this initial plot following Sookie Stackhouse (Anna Paquin), Tara (Rutina Wesley), Pam (Kristin Bauer Van Straten), and a very dead Debbie. True Blood has always been a show that deftly switches between plotlines focusing on characters of different ages and species and in Season 5, the show grows even more expansive.
The Authority, a group of religious and very powerful vampires with sway throughout the globe, comes into major prominence during Season 5, even as their numbers dwindle. Both Bill and Eric are tied up with The Authority for most of the season, which leads to plenty of vampire religion lore regarding a goddess named Lilith and also plenty of rambunctious sex scenes. More importantly, Bill Compton (Stephen Moyer) has been a reasonable vampire—excepting his occasional possessiveness towards Sookie—throughout the series and his transformation during the fifth season into a Lilith believer is fascinating and a little frightening.
As usual, some of the plotlines on True Blood fare better than others. Great examples of these include fire monsters and the Jessica, Hoyt, and Jason love triangle that is still playing out well into the season despite being redundant early on. If you can manage to get through the slow plots, you’ll find a season that offers viewers plenty of suspenseful moments and ties up plenty of characters' arcs while still leaving us with a cliffhanger of an ending. If you missed the episodes during Season 5’s first run on the subscription cable station, catching them on Blu-ray is a worthwhile experience, especially since True Blood is a show that runs a little on the dark side, due to plenty of scenes occurring during vampire hours. Any chance to catch this series in HD is always a better option.
HBO is gearing up for a sixth season of True Blood, which will begin airing on June 16, sans showrunner Alan Ball.
Nab a copy of True Blood: The Complete Fifth Season over at Amazon.
Best Special Feature: HBO’s sets have always been pretty great, but the packaging and menus have steadily grown better. Blu-ray copies now come with nifty inserts offering fans DVD and digital options and the ugly blue Blu-ray headings on most DVDs are easily removeable within the True Blood Blu-ray set. It looks so good on my shelf, I feel like I can almost count the packaging as a bonus feature, but since there’s some pretty great segments with the set, I’ll count those, too.
The “Inside the Episodes” segments are always worth a watch, but I especially liked “True Blood Episode Six: ‘Autopsy’” Behind the Scenes. Through use of multiple camera screens, “Episode Six” is actually available in full, with interview segments and behind-the-scenes shots explaining how ideas came about and then came into fruition onscreen. If you like that sort of thing, it’s actually a really fun way to watch an episode, with fun facts abounding, including the insane asylum in the episode being the same place Ball shot parts of Six Feet Under.
Other Special Features:
Flashbacks and Flashforwards
“True Blood Lines”
“Inside The Episodes”