With the passing of The Sopranos, The Wire, Deadwood and other acclaimed series in recent years, HBO was surely pleased to see that audiences welcomed Alan Ball’s True Blood with open arms, tilted necks and gushing veins. The series was an instant audience and critical favorite, striking the right balance between seriousness and humor while still offering plenty of blood, guts, gore, sex, nudity and violence.
The third season of True Blood came perilously close to jumping the shark, however. While I’m pretty sure I’ll watch the fourth season – which debuts soon on HBO – I’m debating whether it’s worth it. While the third season continued to expand and develop its rich array of characters, it didn’t do so in a good way.
Season 3 comes to DVD today, which gives me the opportunity to reevaluate if need be. Even though I question whether it’s worth watching all over again, there were plenty of highlights from the show, including (SPOILERS):
- Bill having some head-twisting angry sex with Lorena
- The King’s nationally broadcast spine removal of a news anchor
- Bill’s attempted betrayal of Eric, and a revelation by Eric towards Bill’s initial motivations with Sookie
Still, there were parts that bothered me about the season, which is roughly based on the book “Club Dead.” I liked the first couple seasons where vampires were relatively new and the characters were still finding their way around; now, nearly every character on the show has special powers, which makes the dynamic between them much less interesting.
I’ve never been a fan of Sam’s shape shifting abilities and this season introduces even more of his family. The expansion of Sookie’s powers are also eye-rolling; she’s a great character because her mind is strong but physically she’s weak, but all that is changing and will likely be a key focus in season four. Sookie has also become one of the least interesting characters on the show, despite these new revelations. Finally, after a very solid season two, the third season felt very disjointed as it attempted to take on way too many things simultaneously.
Nevertheless, “jumping the shark” is a strong term to use. Even when not as good as its previous seasons, True Blood is still much better than most of the shows on television.
Unfortunately, the DVD set doesn’t come with many extras. Aside from an “Anatomy of a Scene” feature, which looks at the filming of the werewolf fight scene in the beginning of the season, the set only includes the True Blood minisodes and post mortems, neither of which are new. The package also comes with six audio commentaries.
Die hard fans of True Blood will appreciate the third season, but as it becomes more complicated and the filmmakers introduce more and more characters, it’s beginning to lose its focus. It’s not a terrible season, but it’s not a great one.