HBO’s True Blood has a strange effect on me. It’s a boxset only affair and while it’s on I get caught up in the shenanigans down in Bon Temps and then as soon as the series finishes I forget every single plotline, love triangle and supernatural endowment of the assorted cast.

I carry the world-weary cloud of Nucky Thompson with me, the wit and wildness of Winterfell occurs to me often and yet there’s something intensely forgettable about this particular HBO show, now in its fourth season, with a fifth about to start.

The fourth season picks up right where we left off with Sookie Stackhouse lifted up to the realm of fairies, where both she and we have no idea what’s going on. When we begin the fourth season old alliances and relationships are broken and to the show’s detriment none of the new links forged have the same bite and relevance of the show’s initial hurrah. The triangle between Sookie, Bill (now Vamp King of Lousiana) and Eric is given a limp kick in the pants as a spell turns Eric into a puppy dog with fangs, one whom Sookie falls for. Shapeshifter Sam has his own plotline involving a biker gang of Werewolves and a woman who turns into a horse a lot and with whom he falls in love. And then there’s Fiona Shaw’s Wiccan club and Lafayette’s new found psychic abilities to contend with.

In truth so much is introduced that it becomes an almost Herculean task to wrap everything up in time for the finale and there’s a number of plotlines which peter out (Jason Stackhouse’s character gets short changed repeatedly here) and there’s a genuine lack of spectacle as the show seems keen to dial back on the happenings in this small town. Crucially the central relationship between Sookie and Bill Compton falls flat despite the supposed distance between them creating an air of expectation. Nothing of the sort happens to engage on the scale of the show’s previous seasons and regrettably the show is becoming more like a supernatural Sunset Beach than ever.

What is a lot of fun is the power struggle for control of in the Vampire world as it gives Stephen Moyer something to do other than moon over his lost Sookie, but these moments are few and far between. The neutered Eric is initially an interesting twist for the show but there’s something far less interesting about the character when you realise he’s not going to feast on a passer by for no reason. The leads are less engaging this time around only because they are given much less to do and the side plots, while wrapped up nicely, amount to not very much.

The extras on the disc are up to the usual HBO standard with character recaps and commentaries which serve fans of the series well, but don’t offer the rest of us all that much. It’s a very polished package and fans of the series will enjoy the changes made, in many ways the show is evolving and finding its feet again, it just hasn’t happened yet.