By Ken Tucker
Updated May 21, 2009 at 03:40 PM EDT

When True Blood premiered last season, I watched the first few episodes and gave it what amounted to a shrug of a review. The Alan Ball series about Southern vampires, based on Charlaine Harris’ bestselling novels, didn’t seem all that original to me, and I wrote that the two main stars, Anna Paquin and Stephen Moyer, “frequently get lost in a series in which they’re the central couple.”

Well, thanks to the new first-season DVD compilation, I just finished watching the entire season and I now write as a convert: True Blood just kept getting better and better, and I’m officially eager to see Season Two when it starts June 14.

Why did my opinion change? Because Paquin’s Sookie and Moyer’s vampire Bill did indeed move to the center of the saga as the season progressed, and became rich, complex characters. Even better, so did some of the supporting players, such as Sookie’s boss, Sam, initially a nice but kind of bland sort, who was revealed to be a “shape-shifter” and a sensitive and anguished soul.

I also liked the way the series upped the stakes, so to speak, on most of the key players, including Sookie’s friend Tara, who really went through hell with her alcoholic mom. The show revealed the source of what seemed, in the beginning, merely like perpetual grumpiness. No: Tara was suffering on a deeper level.

But beyond filling in the chartacters’ backstories, True Blood improved as an exciting vampire tale, with lots of suspenseful, startling moments.

How about you? Are you looking forward to True Blood‘s second season?