Friday, May 21, 2010

True Blood: The Complete Second Season Blu-ray Review

Disc 1 Size: 28.1 GB
Disc 2 Size: 38.6 GB
Disc 3 Size: 38.2 GB
Disc 4 Size: 39.1 GB
Disc 5 Size: 37.2 GB
TV Rating: TV-MA
Region: ABCThe Video
True Blood: The Complete Second Season brings all 12 episodes to Blu-ray with 1080p AVC/MPEG-4 video presentations. Like the previous season on Blu-ray, the high-def image is stunning. Each episode features an extremely impressive level of detail and clarity throughout, the upgrade is just amazing.

Colors are extremely rich and fit nicely among the inky black levels. There is a thin layer of film grain present throughout the episodes, which is very welcome and actually adds to the look of the show. Everything about the video presentation is impressive and I definitely think it is one of the best looking shows on Blu-ray.

Those planning on going the DVD route should be warned, there really is no comparison to the Blu-ray release. The Blu-ray release easily improves upon the good looking DVD release, but once you see the Blu-ray release it will be impossible to go back. The video presentation is truly shocking at times, sometimes it looks like you are looking through a window and not a television screen as the amount of detail can be profound. I’m very impressed by the high-def quality of True Blood: The Complete Second Season. 10/10.

The Audio
An English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track is the lossless option provided for all twelve episodes. Other audio options include a French 5.1 DTS Digital Surround track and a Spanish 2.0 DTS Digital Surround track. Optional subtitles include English SDH, English, French, Spanish, Portuguese and Nederlands.

The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track included for each episode is fantastic and perhaps even more impressive than the first season on Blu-ray. Surround use is very active and definitely helps immerse one into the show. Dialogue is generally crisp and clear, but there are a few moments in which dialogue cracks ever so lightly, likely due to the way it was recorded.

True Blood is a very intense show and I actually enjoyed it even more with the lossless mixes included. The mixes can be creepy and downright chilling. The mix also features fantastic direction as we hear effects travel throughout the surround speakers. I’m very impressed, although it does fall a bit short of reference level. 9/10.

The Extras

On All 5 Discs:

Enhanced Viewing (Available on all 12 episodes)
An in-episode viewing mode which includes the following features for all 12 episodes:
Character Perspectives – Learn more about what’s going on straight from the mouths of Hoyt, Pam, Karl and Steve Newlin.

Flashback / Flash Forward – Move through time in the world of Bon Temps. Flashback to relive pivotal moments or Flash Forward to reveal the significance of a certain scene.

Pro / Anti-Vampire Feeds – Receive news updates and information from both organizations throughout the episode and decide which camp you support.

Hints/FY – Don’t miss a beat with these FYI trivia facts and show hints and clues.

Disc 1:

Commentary on Episode 2 “Keep This Party Going”
By Nelsan Ellis (Lafayette) and Michael Lehmann (Director).

Disc 2:

No audio commentaries included.

Disc 3:

Commentary on Episode 7 “Release Me”
By Raelle Tucker (Writer) and Michael Ruscio (Director).

Commentary on Episode 8 “Timebomb”
By Stephen Moyer (Bill), Alexander Skarsgard (Eric) and John Dahl (Director).

Disc 4:

Commentary on Episode 10 “New World In My View”
By Ryan Kwanten (Jason) and Sam Trammell (Sam).

Commentary on Episode 11 “Frenzy”
By Rutina Wesley (Tara), Alan Ball (Writer) and Daniel Minahan (Director).

Disc 5:

Commentary on Episode 12 “Beyond Here Lies Nothin’”
By Anna Paquin and Michelle Forbes (Maryann).

Commentary on Episode 12 “Beyond Here Lies Nothin’”
By Alexander Woo (Writer) and Michael Cuesta (Director).

Fellowship of the Sun: Reflections of Light (12:15) (HD)
These were available online at the Fellowship of the Sun website, but are included in high-definition on this Blu-ray release.

The Vampire Report: Special Edition (23:50) (HD)
I believe these were available online while the show aired as well; it’s an entertaining fake news report regarding vampires.

The extras on this release are certainly great and I love that more work went into the bonus features this season than last season. Fans of the show will have plenty to sink their fangs into, but I do wish more behind-the-scenes footage was included. Overall though, the features are terrific. 8/10.

The Season
I loved season one of True Blood, I loved the cast, the story, everything about it. It is safe to assume that I was extremely excited for season two to debut on HBO. The season starts off directly after the end of the first season where we see what appears to be a dead body in a vehicle.

Many of the mysteries from Season 1 are now known and with season 2 we learn even more about the background of the characters as well as meet new characters in the Human/Vamp world of Bon Temps. This season we also learn more about the ‘Fellowship of the Sun’ church, which takes a stand against vampires.

Another welcome character this season is Maryann Forrester, played by actress Michelle Forbes. We quickly realize not everything is right with this woman and we learn about her past relationship with another True Blood character favorite.

When the season finale aired on HBO I have to admit I was slightly disappointed by how underwhelming it felt, really wrapping up in the first half of the episode. Now that I have revisited the season several times already on Blu-ray, I have to say the finale works much better when watching the last couple of episodes back to back (which most will due to the anticipation of what is going to happen next).

I can’t say much else as I don’t want to spoil it for those who have yet to see this season. All I can say is that the season is definitely great and some may enjoy it even more than season one. Those who have yet to see either season, pick them up on Blu-ray now. Please be aware that the show is rated TV-Ma and features graphic nudity (season 1 especially), but perhaps that will be even more reason to pick up the show.

True Blood is one of my favorite shows and I didn’t expect it to be at first, however after just one episode you will find yourself hooked, wanting to know what happens next. The characters (and the actors who play them) are all fantastic and the story is well-written. True Blood makes for must-see television that is actually better on Blu-ray. 10/10.

The Blu-news Summary
True Blood: The Complete Second Season features a fantastic video and audio presentation. Extras are also fantastic, just leaving a bit to be desired. Overall the Blu-ray release is a ‘Must Own’ for fans and ‘Highly Recommended’ to all others.

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