Picking up events three weeks after the end of Season 1, the second season of True Blood opens with people trying to get back to normal life in Bon Temps, Louisiana, following the resolution of the serial killer problem. For the staff and regulars at Merlotte's this is complicated by the disappearance of their cook, Lafayette, under strange circumstances. Meanwhile, Jason Stackhouse has found religion and is being drawn into the orbit of the Fellowship of the Sun, an anti-vampire fundamentalist group, whilst Sookie and Bill's relationship continues to develop. The disappearance of Godric, the vampire sherrif of Texas, has Eric calling on Sookie and Bill's aid to help find him, meaning they are out of town when newcomer Maryann begins to have a very odd influence on the people of the town. Oh yes, and Bill also has a freshly-risen vampire protege, Jessica, to deal with.
True Blood's second season hits the ground running with a number of complex storylines in progress or just getting underway. As a result the second season has less of an introductory feel than the first, and cuts to the chase much more quickly. There's less of Sookie changing her mind every five minutes about whether she wants to be with Bill or not and more focus on more dynamic storylines, which is what the series needed after the first season, which got bogged down a few times.
The fact that Sookie and Bill are now together and that's pretty much it (despite a couple of curveballs sent towards the relationship late in the season) results in Anna Paquin raising her game notably. Whilst always decent in the role of Sookie, the character's frequent changes in attitude in Season 1 gave the impression of leaving her unsure about how to play the character. In Season 2 she is visibly more confident about the character and that comes through in a stronger, more interesting performance. Stephen Moyer also has an ability to relax and add a bit more humour to the character of Bill, which mostly comes out in his interactions with Jessica and Eric.
Deborah Ann Woll first appeared at the end of Season 1 as Jessica, but she's a regular in Season 2 and delivers a great performance as the stroppy teenage vampire who isn't initially particularly happy about her lot, but then finds vampirism an excellent way to rebel against her strict Christian upbringing. Her interactions with Moyer and also with Jim Parrack as her love interest Hoyt are very well-written and performed.
Alexander Skarsgard also gives an increasingly excellent performance as Eric. He hits impressive heights towards the end of the season when his carefully-cultivated sense of unflappable stoicism is shattered. We also get to see his life as a human in flashback, adding additional layers to his character.
Most of the rest of the cast are great, particularly Michelle Forbes as Maryann, a seeming hedonist who just wants people to have a good time. The unveiling of her true motives is well-done and Forbes seems to have a ball playing a more overt villain than some of her other roles (such as the much greyer Admiral Caine in BSG).
The season's structure works quite well, with Sookie and Bill's adventures in Texas, Jason's storyline at the nearby Fellowship of the Sun church and events back in Bon Temps unfolding in tandem, allowing the story to skip around to another location whenever one storyline starts running out of steam. However, whilst the Texas storyline is well-developed and resolved fairly quickly (in eight episodes), arguably the Fellowship storyline remains pretty predictable and its depiction as a bunch of fundamentalist whackjobs is too simplistic, given the moral complexities of the story explored elsewhere. Events in Bon Temps also unfold far more quickly than is necessary, meaning that the latter half of the season seems to be almost entirely taken up by disturbing magic-driven orgy rituals and Sam running around with various people chasing him, waiting for Sookie and Bill to get back from their storyline to help resolve things.
Still, the show remains well-written and entertaining, and even if it does lack the depth of a lot of other HBO shows it is also a lot funnier (even if that humour is as black as midnight) than some of them. The final episode also does a good job of setting up Season 3, with the introduction of Evan Rachel Wood as the Vampire Queen of Louisiana (a great performance based on 1950s starlets) and several plot elements that look set to be more thoroughly explored next year.
on 26 October 2009
After the first series of True Blood I was desperate to see what Alan Ball and co would do with the next book. Based loosely on the second "Sookie Stackhouse" novel, this series as compared with the previous is a lot slicker, sexier and character based. The relationship of Sookie and Bill develops, we get glimpses of the vampire world outside of Bon Temps, new characters such as Jessica are developed and old characters such as Tara and Sam are shown in a different light to the first series.
Overall, this is an excellent drama/thriller/horror series which gives a tired format (i.e Vampires in a remote town) a new spin. There are a few mediocre episodes, however, when this series is good, it is good! It does feel like "Buffy" from time to time but True Blood feels like it is more for young adults and adults rather than teens. It will be very interesting to see what happens next series. Definitely worth getting in to.
on 17 January 2010
I think the person who gave this only 1 star is talking out of their hat!! Season 2 has been great, particularly with the characters of Eric and Pam and Jessica getting more screen time. A great 2nd season, my only criticism would be that the Maryann storyline took up too much time and I wanted to see even more Eric!! Looking forward to Season 3!
on 29 October 2011
Even though there have been 4 seasons, I only tend to watch when they're released on box set, so I can watch multiple episodes. I'm so far behind everybody else, but I may as well review this (try to) anyway.
I gave my own opinion on what I believe a true vampire should be in the season one review. So don't need to touch on that, apart from mentioning that this series seems to remain faithful as to the nature of the creatures.
I remember reading the negative reviews from S1 and chuckling at the remarks regarding too much sex. Well I can only assume a portion of those critics, if they persevered, may have had a coronary during this season. Despite Jason Stackhouse getting far less 'action' in that department, it seems everyone else took advantage of that. And how! The majority of the cast at some stage had a great deal of sexy time. This was mainly due to the fleshing out of the maenad plot, played by Michelle Forbes (looking very different from those Kalifornia days), as Maryann Forrester. A maenad being a female worshipper of a chaotic Greek god. Who slowly took advantage of a vulnerable Tera, then ingratiated herself with the rest of the town.
Like season one, there are varying plot arcs that cross paths with one another. The maenad's pursuit of Sam may be considered the main plot line for season 2, as Maryann's orgy-riddled goal of shape-shifter sacrificial tomfoolery plays out. Though I'm guessing, ultimately, it may be the developing triangle between Sookie, Bill and Erik that plays a bigger role in latter seasons.
I felt that the plot was much more focused this time around than in the somewhat meandering first season. I developed far more empathy for the principle 'main' characters; which was strange as they took a step back in some ways, as Sam and Tara stepped forward to become more fleshed out. But, like the first season, if there were characters you disliked you could always concentrate on those you preferred.
Not to say Sookie and Bill took a major step back. They were both ever present and influential. But they had their own 'issues' to deal with, regarding Erik and the Dallas affair. We were introduced to Godric (Erik's maker). This allowed us to see the emotional, very human, side to Erik. A beautifully filmed rooftop scene should cement a place in most of our hearts for Erik.
That brings me to another plot arc. It was the bond between Erik and the very jaded, disillusioned 2000 year old Godric that played a part in the ongoing war between the far right, ultra conservative Christian group, The Soldiers of the Sun, and the vampire community. This plot almost felt like a commentary on the dangers of religious fanaticism, because by mid-season you'd likely be siding with the vampires. Wasn't the whole point of True Blood, initially, a racial commentary on the forties in the American deep south? The vampires being the modern day African American of that time, with the Soldiers of the Sun being the equivalent to the Klu Klux Klan. Complete with burning of the cross at dawn attempt.
The highlight of the first season, for me, was Jason Stackhouse. It felt like watching a totally different series when he was present, that just so happened to take place in the True Blood world. Again, he did his own thing. He was given his own story arc, which crossed at apt (sometimes inapt) times with the overriding plot. He was a more subdued Jason to series one. Following the death of his girlfriend he suffered an identity crisis and sought solace with the Children of the Sun, who adopted him (manipulated really) as one of their own. It served its purpose for Jason because by the end he couldn't really deny the free spirit that he was. He continues to be my favourite character and the shows best laughs seem to revolve around his antics.
All in all, HBO continues to produce shows of the highest order. Along with The Wire, Oz, The Sopranos, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Deadwood and Six Feet Under, True Blood will be remembered for years to come, I think. Though the plots themselves aren't entirely original, the implementation is so well done that it matters little. Fine actors, characters, cinematography, locations and still the best intro around make this my favourite series since Lost.
I have season 3 to watch now. You've all seen season 4. I need to catch up!
on 20 September 2011
Season 2 of True Blood is an improvement, both for the show and for the DVD contents.
Special Features list:
True Blood Season 2 Disc 1
- Audio Commentaries:
Episode 2 - Nelsan Ellis and Michael Lehmann - **** Unquestionably, Nelsan is an amazing actor, and it is very interesting to get his point of view. During this commentary we get a great insight to the relationship between Lafayette and Eric, and how Nelsan acted out the dungeon scenes.
True Blood Season 2 Disc 2
True Blood Season 2 Disc 3
- Audio Commentaries:
Episode 7 - Raelle Tucker and Michael Ruscio - **** Enjoyable commentary throughout. Raelle and Michael make a very good commentating couple.
True Blood Season 2 Disc 4
- Audio Commentaries:
Episode 8 - Stephen Moyer, Alexander Skarsgard and John Dahl - ***** By far the best commentary, in my opinion. Alexander and Stephen make a very funny commentating couple and I am looking forward to more commentaries from these two together! John Dahl complements them perfectly.
Episode 10 - Ryan Kwanten and Sam Trammell - **** First time for me listening to Ryan's real accent, quite a surprise. Ryan and Sam do a great job together.
True Blood Season 2 Disc 5
- The Fellowship of the Sun: Reflections of Light. (Rev. S. Newlin and his wife share their views on marriage, eternal life and more)
- The vampire report: special edition
- Audio Commentaries:
Episode 11 - Rutina Wesley, Alan Ball and Daniel Minahan - **** It is always a pleasure to hear Alan's commentary. Loved the insight on the scenes with Tara and her mother.
Episode 12 - Anna Paquin and Michelle Forbes - ***** So much fun listening to these two ladies!
Episode 12 - Alexander Woo and Michael Cuesta - **** Enjoyable commentary from Alexander and Michael.
I loved that, for episode 12, we have two separate commentary files. Generally, I find myself enjoying more the commentary when there are two actors together or the writer and director together. (Or, of course, Alan Ball. I always enjoy listening to his comments!) Having two separate audio files is a great way to give us a taste of both points of view.
Well, it's marvellous and it's bloody. My wife is slightly more of an enthusiast than I am, but keeps wincing during the title sequence whenever there is anything that looks like blood, and hides behind her hands whenever anyone's neck is penetrated messily by vampire fangs. I have to say I prefer "Six Feet Under" from the same director, because True Blood doesn't really contain any profound insights into human relationships or the meaning of our existence. It's mainly sex and nudity and rattling good yarns. Humans who sample vampire blood acquire a huge sexual energy. Vampires who sample human blood look sort of post-coital. There's a lot of comedy, characters who say and do daft things. You don't worry about anyone really getting hurt and once you're used to all that blood you enjoy the voyeurism. Okay, I said no profound insights, but yes, there are playful parallels between vampires as an oppressed minority in contemporary America and black people or homosexuals, and we see the vampires on TV pleading for tolerance and understanding and civil rights while in the next scene someone might be in a vampire dungeon surrounded with severed limbs. I just hope it doesn't lead to copycat vampirism among the young people of today...!
I've been dodging spoilers since this was shown on FX and with no sign of a freeview or terrestrial showing decided to get the boxed set since Series 1 was a compulsive watch.
If you liked Series 1, you'll love series 2. Its much pacier and unlike the first series there are no dud storylines. All of the different story threads are interesting - Jason's involvement with the Church, Bill and Sookie's trip to Dallas, Jessica's romance, Eric's backstory and MaryAnn's dastardly plans for Tara and Sam. The characters of Bill and Sookie are developing, some of the old world charm has gone but life is sure getting interesting and Bill's nasty maker and their shared history pops up again..
The music wasn't as good as the first series and the rollicking trollope of a vampire queen was sadly nothing like I'd imagined (I had Isabelle Adjani in mind). But hey, this is a TV series, no one said it had to faithfully copy the books and I do like the fact that I don't know what is coming next. This series had a lot of good surprises to compensate for the occasional disappointment. And acres of sex (although Jason for once pretty much keeps his clothes on), gore, nudity and dark, dark humour. Loved it.
on 7 March 2010
True Blood just keeps getting better and better. Awesome storyline running through the entire series that intertwines with others. new and fascinating light shed on all the existing characters while introducing other intriguing characters to the plot.
Watched the entire season 2 online (i know that's naughty) in two days and I am so pre-ordering the DVDs as could watch it again and again.
TV show of the decade.
on 7 December 2010
I absolutely adored the first series of True Blood. It was officially my New Favourite US Import, and while I was waiting for the second series I went out and read all nine True Blood novels by Charlaine Harris. Maybe that was where things started to go wrong. I thought the structure of the books was excellent: basically a series of supernatural detective novels, Sookie Stackhouse is firmly at the centre of each story, with boyfriends coming and going, and Sookie's subjective experience of events providing a moral heart. Leaving aside the fact that the second series departs significantly from the books (and of course it can't be expected to slavishly follow the novels' plot lines), the split storyline feels jumbled and disconnected. There seemed to be a need to give everyone in the large ensemble cast something to "do". Most significantly for me, as much as I love Bill Compton as a character, the this series seems to need him to be a "hero", perhaps because a female heroine isn't considered enough to carry the show - unlike the books. This also compromises his cool, detached (and very sexy) character, and Stephen Moyer's performances in the this second series are often very human (stressed, love-sick, anxious, vulnerable). Bring back the aloof and mysterious vampire of the first season!
Having said all this, the series is very entertaining and blackly funny, with high production values and engaging characters. If you enjoyed the first season you will enjoy the second, but I just wish I could say to the programme-makers: don't try to work out what you think people want from this show, but rather stick to the core ideas of the books, with Sookie Stackhouse at the heart of things.
on 15 October 2011
this is truly addictive watching. You MUST watch from the very begining or you will be totally lost and will not appreciate how fangtastic it is.. Bill is totally sex on legs, Id concider changing to a vampire if he was the one doing the biting. Its tongue in cheek, black humour, sexy and riviting. I watched the season one box set back to back, even my hubby it addicted. We just had to find out what happens next as the cliff hangers at the end of each story were too much to wait for. I cant wait to see the other seasons and how its going to develop, Just close the curtains, unplug the phone, and ignor the door bell, lights out and enjoy.(possible a bottle of red wine)then off to bed to dream of Bill, or even Sam. mmmmm