True Blood Season Five [Blu-Ray]

True Blood Season Five [Blu-Ray]
5
Having a ridiculous need to out-camp itself each season, Alan Ball's sexy vampire saga hasn't been what one could comfortably call a "good" show for a long time now. But by golly is it hard to look away from this gleefully soapy mess. Season four almost capsized the already shaky party boat with a self-conscious need to give every character supernatural abilities and a silly central plotline about a witch cult that bent the boundaries of reason, even for this series. With that threat ended, the vampire-friendly world of True Blood continues to heap on the lore, but this season the writers wisely refrain from introducing a bunch of new mythical creature types, successfully holding off any further fantasy fatigue. Instead, the storylines are primarily focused on character growth — none of them become richer, per se, but most of them certainly change or at least go through some weird shit. Of course, some characters are thrust into more interesting situations than others. It starts with the weakest thread in the weave, with Terry Bellefleur (Todd Lowe) literally facing his demons (well, one specific demon: an Ifrit) acquired during his tour of duty in Iraq. It is the stupidest idea in the history of a series that has had many. Luckily, almost everything else is an improvement over what's happened since the oldest known vampire (charismatic psychopath Russell Edgington) was dropped into a concrete coffin at the end of season three. As teased in last season's cliffhanger, Russell is back and his presence is a welcome one. Given life by Denis O'Hare's inspired performance, his scenes crackle with a sense of irreverent chaos that encourages his co-stars to take a nip at the scenery as well. Bill and Eric take centre stage this season with the big reveal of the Vampire Authority and a vicious religious awakening that finally gives the two pieces of undead eye candy something to do other than pine over Sookie. On the Stackhouse front, Sookie bounces around the sidelines, flirting a bit with beefy werewolf Alcide (Joe Manganiello), frolicking with a tent full of faeries in an invisible nightclub and making a little time to help out Jason (the hardest working actor on the show, Ryan Kwanten) with his most recent identity crisis. There simply isn't enough screen time for Jessica (Deborah Ann Woll) this season and the brief appearances of her pathetic ex, Hoyt, represent one of the season's most embarrassing low points, but at least the writers finally figured out a way to kick Tara out of her insufferable rut of whiny victimhood. One of the more unexpectedly enjoyable developments is the ludicrous pairing of shape-shifter Sam Merlot with oafish deputy Andy Bellefleur. They appear to be in their own little show-within-a-show, as an odd-couple crime fighting team. True Blood is always at its best when fully embracing its inherent silliness. The special features are typical of HBO's former flagship fantasy show on home video: an "Enhanced Viewing Mode," which inserts factoids and cheesy in-character asides from the actors into the show; "Behind the Episode" segments, which usually consist of a bit of on-set footage and interviews with the cast and crew; "True Bloodlines," an increasingly convoluted web of character bios broken down by species; and an assortment of commentary tracks. Alan Ball is very generous with his time, handling the bulk of the interviews and laying down the most entertaining commentary of the bunch, with assistance from Anna Paquin and director Michael Lehmann. "Authority Confessionals" can be found scattered through the enhanced viewing mode, but the short clips of elderly vampires doing WWE-style, faux-confidential interviews are also collected on the fifth disc of this Blu-Ray collection. Most of them are completely superfluous and boring, but Russell's are worth a peek. It hasn't fallen as far as the likes of Dexter and it's showing more promise than it has in years, but True Blood still firmly qualifies as a guilty pleasure. (Warner)