When I first started watching True Blood, I found the series entertaining but oftentimes overly dramatic and a bit obvious with all of the sex, violence, and fanginess. It wasn’t until Season 3 that I began to see that True Blood is a show that knows it’s overly dramatic and obvious. Without spoofing the supernatural genre, the series brings Charlaine Harris’ novels to life while indulging in more sex and violence in any given episode than most TV shows will feature over the course of a season. True Blood is over the top, and that’s where it shines.
Season 3 demonstrates this best, thanks in large part to cast additions: most notably, James Frain as the crazy, possessive vampire Franklin Mott, and Denis O’Hare as Russell, the vampire king of Mississippi. While Franklin is just a bag of crazy, Russell is a vampire who appreciates theatrics, which not only makes him a perfect fit for this story, but gives O’Hare an excuse to steal every scene he’s in.
Season 3 picks up immediately after the Season 2 finale. Bon Temps resident mind-reading waitress Sookie (Anna Paquin) starts out trying to track Bill down, which puts her in the path of Alcide (Joe Manganiello), a werewolf with his own problems. Sookie’s brother, Jason (Ryan Kwanten), continues to explore the idea of becoming a full-time hero. Meanwhile, vampire Bill (Stephen Moyer) meets up with Russell and his people in Mississippi and finds himself drawn into their world of blood drinking and mansion socializing.
Sam Merlotte (Sam Trammell) takes time away from managing his bar & grill to track down his family and find his roots. Merlotte’s cook Lafayette finds romance with an employee at the nursing home where his mother lives, and Jesus (Kevin Alejandro) helps Lafayette explore powers he didn’t realize he had. Meanwhile, Tara (Rutina Wesley), who may very well be destined for chronic disappointment, barely has time to grieve the loss of Eggs before she finds herself targeted by Franklin, a vampire who is initially digging for information on Sookie and then takes a liking to Tara, deciding to kidnap her and keep her prisoner.
Jessica (Deborah Ann Woll) spends the early part of the season trying to keep a sort-of-accidental kill a secret, while hoping Bill will return soon. She’s also struggling to get over Hoyt (Jim Parrick), who’s struggling to get over her. Of all the human/vampire romantic relationships, these two are easily the cutest. Meanwhile, Arlene (Carrie Preston) is pregnant and, to put it mildly, she’s less than enthusiastic about the baby.
If ever there were a series that uses HBO’s budget and flexibility with regards to content, it’s True Blood. Season 3 never holds back and the story only gets better as the season progresses. While some may consider the series a guilty pleasure, it’s the soap-opera style that makes it such an enjoyable, addictive mess of drama. With such a huge cast of characters, there’s plenty of story to go around, and the season offers some excellent twists, including the revelation of the source of Sookie’s powers. Season 3 also offers some of the most memorable scenes in the series to date, including a spine-tingling moment involving Russell, and what is likely to be the most bizarre and violent sex scene ever to grace the small screen.
All 12 episodes from Season 3 are spaced out over five disks. I don’t know much about the technical side of DVDs, but I have to wonder if the distributers think more disks is better or if it really is a matter of how much data can fit on each disc. Regardless, when you own a lot of DVDs, I think the less space each set takes up, the better. As the Blu-ray also consists of five disks, those who shell out the extra cash for that set won’t be saving on space.
The bonus features include an "Anatomy of a Scene" featurette, which features series creator Alan Ball, the cast, and crew as they give us a behind-the-scenes look at the making of a werewolf fight scene. The feature includes footage of the wolves used and some interesting insights into working with the animals and how it affects the scene.
The True Blood Minisodes, which aired last spring during the weeks leading up to Season 3’s premiere, are all included and offer some small but interesting tidbits about the character’s interactions. Among them, you’ll to see Eric and Pam auditioning strippers for Fangtasia, Jason praying to every deity he can think of after shooting Eggs, and Jessica being preached at while on the hunt.
The Post Mortems that aired after each episode during the season are also included among the episode options. The Post Mortems vary and might be an additional scene, much like a minisode, a behind-the-scenes look, or a clever bonus video. I think my favorite is the fake commercial for “Digging for the Dirt,” which features the host talking about digging up human remains left behind long ago during Eric’s bloody quest for vengeance.
Finally, there are six audio commentaries, almost all of which include at least one cast member and one writer, which is perfect because it gives us fairly balanced insight on the episode from both sides of the camera. Alan Ball, Anna Paquin, Stephen Moyer, Joe Manganiello, and Alexander Skarsgård are among those featured on the commentaries.
Is Season 3 worth owning on DVD? I’m going with “yes” on this one. While I don’t typically watch bonus features more than once, I will rewatch a show multiple times if I like it enough, which is why True Blood Season 3 is a must-own for me.
Length: 720 min.
Rated: Not rated
Distributor: HBO Home Video
Release Date: 5/31/11
Starring: Anna Paquin, Joe Manganiello, Ryan Kwanten, Stephen Moyer, Sam Trammell, Kevin Alejandro, Rutina Wesley, Deborah Ann Woll, Jim Parrick, Carrie Preston
Directed by: Daniel Minahan, Scott Winant, Michael Lehmann, David Petrarca, John Dahl, Lesli Linka Glatter, Anthony Hemingway
Produced by: Alan Ball, Gregg Fienberg
Written by: Brian Buckner, Raelle Tucker, Alexander Woo, Kate Barnow, Elisabeth R. Finch, Nancy Oliver, Alan Ball
Visit the True Blood Official Website