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True Blood: Season 4

by on May 29, 2012
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At its core, “True Blood” is a soap opera. Sure, werewolves and shapeshifters and vampires (oh my) populate Bon Temps, Louisiana with a vengeance. But there’s no shortage of love triangles, political missteps and identity crises. Otherworldly beings: They’re just like us. Or, at least, the “Days of Our Lives” version.

Season four of the HBO hit based on Charlaine Harris’ series of paranormal novels begins with psychic waitress Sookie Stackhouse (Anna Paquin) in the land of the faeries. She’s only there a few minutes but upon her return to Bon Temps finds a year has passed. Her former lover Bill (Stephen Moyer) is now Vampire King, restauranteur Sam Merlotte (Sam Trammell) is in a shapeshifter support group, brother Jason (Ryan Kwanten) has joined the police force, and Sookie’s beloved home has been repossessed — by none other than Eric (Alexander Skarsgard). Also, there’s a coven of witches led by necromancer Marnie (Fiona Shaw).

In its fourth season, “True Blood” feels almost bloated with too many characters and storylines. Some are more entertaining than others: Arlene and Terry’s parenting struggles and Andy Bellefleur’s new V addiction are darkly humorous, where Jason’s tangle with werepanthers is just boring (like virtually every other Jason storyline apart from season two). While always a pleasure to look at, werewolf Alcide (Joe Manganiello) seems a little lost in the shuffle, as does Sam’s long lost brother Tommy (Marshall Allman).

However, there are many rewards to be had: “True Blood” has always been more progressive than most when it comes to showcasing healthy LGBT relationships, such as those of flamboyant Lafayette (Nelsan Ellis) and his combative cousin Tara (Rutina Wesley). Kristin Bauer van Straten chews scenery with nasty glee as vain vampire Pam, who undergoes an ugly transformation, fighting all the way. And Skarsgard showcases doe-eyed charm and surprising comic timing when Eric undergoes a massive personality transplant due to an encounter with the wrong witch.

There’s a reason “True Blood” is a summer series. It’s sultry fun, dripping with blood and sweat, and delivering tongue-in-cheek humor and thrills of the comic-violence and trashy-sex variety. Though some moments and storylines are slow, “True Blood” delivers the fun where it counts: right to the jugular. Get your fangs ready.

Blu-ray/DVD combo special features include writer interviews, audio commentaries, a rare  glimpse into post-production and a fully interactive guide and archive.

Season: 3 Yaps
Extras: 3 Yaps