In its fourth season, DEXTER continued to court controversy with its shocking season finale. In Season 3, Dexter Morgan (Michael C. Hall) became involved with psychopathic killer Lila who threatened his family, especially Rita (Julie Benz ) but clever Dexter manages to escape Lila’s trap, stop Lila, and save his family. In the 4th season, Dexter is not so fortunate.
Showtime’s DEXTER is based on the novel Darkly Dreaming Dexter by Florida writer Jeff Lindsay. Its main character, Dexter Morgan, is a serial killer whose adopted father, a policeman, rescued infant Dexter from a traumatizing crime scene, recognized Dexter’s true nature, and trained him to kill only other killers. Dexter was taught to blend in and appear normal as much as possible, and to that end he chose as a girl friend Rita, a formerly abused woman who had serious intimacy issues. As a sociopath, Dexter lacks real emotions, though he has learned how to fake them, but he has always been fond of and protective of children, so he takes to Rita’s two kids Astor and Cody right away. Gradually, Dexter recognizes how much he needs Rita, marries her, and they have a child together.
As Season 4 opens, that child, Harrison, is being colicky; consequently, Dexter has been losing sleep, his concentration is shot, and he winds up flipping his SUV in an accident shortly after his latest kill, leading him to worry that his victim’s body may be discovered, revealing the dark secret of his true nature. Meanwhile, Special Agent Frank Lundy (Keith Carradine) returns to Miami in search of the biggest serial killer of his career, whom he has dubbed the Trinity Killer. His return brings back the pent-up longings of Debra Morgan (Jennifer Carpenter), just as she thought she was finally happy with her new boy friend Anton (David Ramsey).
The main thrust of this season is Dexter’s relationship with Arthur Mitchell (John Lithgow), who he realizes is the Trinity Killer. Because the Trinity Killer’s victims are spread out over the country, Agent Lundy assumed that Trinity must be a loner, but Dexter is shocked to discover he is actually a family man with a seemingly loving and affectionate wife, son, and daughter. Dexter decides he can learn from this man how to be both a serial killer and a successful family man – something that the voice of Dexter’s late father Harry (James Remar) cautions him against.
Additionally, the recurring motif of this season is the bad choices Dexter makes. His lack of alertness causes him to bring the wrong file to a trial, resulting in a murderer going free. No problem, figures Dexter, planning to kill the man to satisfy his “dark passenger” (i.e. the serial-killer part of his personality), ignoring that his method of disappearing the bodies of his victims ensures that the affected family will never have closure.
In fact, in his selfish need to be the one who kills the killer, Dexter more and more sabotages his own police department’s investigations. Worse, he abandons his stepson to commit a murder of what turns out to be an innocent man. To divert the police from his prey, he frames another man, a trucker who once got away with murder, and murders him as well. When he discovers just how much a monster Arthur is, especially to his own family, he fails to alert the authorities because that would interfere with his own selfish intentions. But, as Robert Louis Stevenson once said, eventually he will sit down to a banquet of the consequences of his actions.
DEXTER remains a strong series because of the sharp writing, performing, and production values, which have been nominated for several Emmys. Michael C. Hall gives a terrific performance as Dexter, who is both diabolically clever and, at times, a clueless screw-up. Julie Benz is also quite good as the long-suffering, frustrated but still loving Rita, who repeatedly uncovers Dexter’s lies and tries to be reassured by his assertions that he simply “didn’t want her to worry.” She uncovers how Dexter has kept his old apartment after their marriage and the couple wind up in counseling this season, though the counselor correctly points out that this is not new behavior for Dexter (who in the past has covered up his nocturnal activities by claiming to have had a drug addiction and an affair).
Lauren Velez and David Zayas remain appealing as the characters Lt. LaGuerta and Det. Angel Batista, who become romantically involved this season; but with so much going on, their affair is mostly shuttled to the sidelines. C.S. Lee perfectly limns Dexter’s creepy Asian cohort Vince Masuka, a forensics expert who has a talent for making anything he says sound perverted (“It’s a gift,” he modestly proclaims in one of the funnier exchanges this season).
In Lindsay’s books, Deborah knows just who Dexter is and comes to accept him, but in the series Debra is still putting together just who Dexter is, and she remains more of an innocent, though she does have a traumatic time this season. Carpenter once more delivers a strong performance throughout, correctly noting how Dexter has given her confidence, but she is still clueless about the ways he has undercut her investigation for his own selfish ends.
John Lithgow does a superb job as the conflicted Arthur: at times hard and ruthless and, at other times, vulnerable and human, Lithgow lets the audience see the wounded boy inside, who is compelled to re-enact the core traumas of his past; he is the ultimate control freak – who is out of control.
Desmond Harrington plays Quinn, Debra’s partner, whom Dexter sees raking off some cash from a crime scene. Consequently, Quinn alternates between trying to appease and make friends with Dexter and accusing him of stepping out on Rita. Additionally, he has a sexual relationship with reporter Christine Hill (Courtney Ford) who milks him for information about ongoing investigations in order to grab headlines. Christine proves a master manipulator who sets no boundaries when it comes to getting what she wants, and the media pressure her reporting represents certainly has an affect on the police, though as the season goes on, we discover that Christine has her own history to complicate things.
Though set in Florida, DEXTER makes canny use of West Coast locations, especially around Long Beach and Redondo Beach, to substitute for Miami. The series has a slick look, and depends on several talented directors including Ernest Dickerson, Tim Hunter, John Dahl, Keith Gordon, and Romero Tirone, the last having often served as the series cinematographer, though Martin Layton assumes that duty for some of this season.
The Blu-ray disc of DEXTER: THE FOURTH SEASON includes sample episodes of CALIFORNICATION, THE TUDORS (one of Showtime’s greatest series), and a new reality series set in a gun shop & firing range called LOCK AND LOAD. There are not many DEXTER-related extras however, apart from brief interviews with Michael C. Hall, Clyde Phillips, David Zayas, John Lithgow, C.S. Lee, Julie Benz, Lauren Velez, Jennifer Carpenter, and James Remar.
Mixing ethical quandaries with the simple demands that family and work place on us, DEXTER: THE FOURTH SEASON is compellingly watchable television, with a finale that reminds us just how much we care about these characters; as things horribly unravel, the message seems to be that, sometimes in our obsessions, we overlook the things in life that are actually most important to us.
Laserblast, August 17: Dexter Season Four, Furry Vengeance, Roger Corman Collections
Tuesday, August 17 sees the arrival on home video of a handful of horror, fantasy, and science fiction titles. DEXTER: SEASON FOUR, which reported represents a return to form for America’s favorite serial killer, becomes available on DVD and Blu-ray; plus, there is a box set featuring all four seasons of the Showtime series. FURRY VENGEANCE, the painfully unfunny comedy about forest animals protecting their environment from being developed by Brendan Fraser, can be rented or purchased via Video on Demand; it is also available on DVD and as part of a Blu-ray and DVD combo set. THE LOST SKELETON RETURNS AGAIN is the second sequel to THE LOST SKELETON OF CADAVRA – an attempt to make a deliberately bad movie a la PLAN NINE FROM OUTER SPACE. As if that were not enough, the SKELETON folks offer up DARK AND STORY NIGHT, a spoof of old dark house movies.
So much for new titles. For the budget-minded among us, there are four DVD sets offering older titles compiled together.
- The Roger Corman Creature Collection is a two-disc set including such titles as CREATURE FROM THE HAUNTED SEA, THE WASP WOMAN, LAST WOMAN ON EARTH, and BUCKET OF BLOOD (neither of the later include a creatre, by the way).
- The Roger Corman Horror Collection, another two disc set, features THE LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS, THE TERROR, DEMENTIA 13, SWAMP WOMEN, and SHE GODS OF SHARK REEF (neither SWAMP WOMEN nor SHE GODS is a horror film, but oh well…)
- The Drive-in Cult Classics 32-Film Collection offers such gems as LAND OF THE MINOTAUR and THEY SAVED HITLER’S BRAIN in a 12-disc box set.
- The Pure Terror 50 Movie Pack provides even more blood-curdling horror, squeezing 50 titles onto twelve discs: THE AMAZING TRANSPARENT MAN, DR. JEKYLL AND THE WEREWOLF, THE DEVIL’S NIGHTMARE, FANGS OF THE LIVING DEAD, GRAVE OF THE VAMPIRE, HOUSE BY THE CEMETERY, MANOS: THE HANDS OF FATE, TERROR CREATURES FROM THE GRAVE, and THEY SAVED HITLER’S BRAIN (again!).
Dexter: The Third Season – Blu-ray Review
Though controversial among fans, Season Three once again demonstrates the writers’ tight control of the subject matter.
WARNING: The following contains Season 2 spoilers.
When last we left Dexter Morgan, not only had he narrowly escaped being exposed as the Bay Harbor Butcher (after his long-time dump site was discovered by divers), but he managed to set up the very officer that suspected him, Detective Sergeant Doakes, to take the fall. Dexter’s brief affair with the psychopathic Lila, his Narcotics Anonymous sponsor with a soul almost as dark as Dexter’s, intensified once she got wind of his nocturnal activities. Planning on framing Doakes, Dexter imprisons him in a remote cabin, only to have Lila find her way there using Dexter’s GPS. She walks in on a caged Doakes and kills him, thinking that she’d be helping to set Dexter free. Realizing that he never really knew just how dangerous Lila was, Dexter decides to make her the Butcher’s next victim. Lila discovers his plan, however, and traps him in her burning apartment while she goes after Dexter’s girlfriend Rita and her two children. Of course the ever-resourceful Dexter manages to save the day (eventually catching up with Lila in Paris to finish the job), and with the authorities satisfied that the Bay Harbor Butcher’s reign of terror has come to an end with the death of Doakes, Dexter is free to indulge his Dark Passenger once again.
Season 3 of Showtime’s Dexter begins with a slate clean enough for microchip-manufacturing for its titular character; thankfully, it’s a temporary situation. In the premiere episode, “Our Father”, Dexter (Michael C Hall) targets Freebo, a neighborhood drug dealer sidelining in murder. Walking in on a struggle between Freebo and a second man, Dexter startles the pair, allowing Freebo to escape while the unknown assailant lunges for Dexter – forcing Dexter’s hand (the one holding the knife) and breaking his foster father Harry (the great James Remar)’s cherished code of only murdering those who kill the innocent. Dexter’s problems intensify when his latest victim turns out to be the younger brother of Miami’s hotshot Assistant D.A. Miguel Prado (Season 3’s guest star, Jimmy Smits) who will stop at nothing to bring the killer to justice. Dexter remains hot on Freebo’s trail, which is noticed by Prado, forcing Dexter to feign a real, human interest in catching the youngest Prado’s killer to justify his interest. With Prado and Dexter both desperately searching for Freebo for decidedly different reasons, it’s only a matter of time (the second episode to be exact) before they’re fated to collide; Dexter gets to him first, and after dispatching him in the usual manner almost collides with Prado outside of the room containing Freebo’s still-warm body. Thinking that his run has finally come to an end, Dexter starts fumbling for an excuse, and just after managing to stammer out, “It..it was self defense,” Prado embraces him and tearfully says, “Thank you.”
Thus begins the wonderfully twisted relationship that forms the core of Dexter’s third season. The first half carefully builds the cautious relationship between Dexter and Prado, with Hall turning in fantastic work (as usual) while Dexter slowly and believably becomes enamored of having a friend with whom he can share his secrets, even as the spirit of his father warns him against violating one of the pillars of the all important code. These “chats” with Harry represent another major change over previous seasons, which had Dexter remembering Harry only via flashback. While this generally worked, it allowed the actors to share only a few brief scenes (in which Hall had to wear a pretty unconvincing teenage wig – c’mon guys, this would have been the ‘90s and I don’t think Dex was in The Beatles), and if the idea of a long-dead character discussing plot points with the living sounds like a writer’s get-out-of-jail-free card, it also allows longtime fans of the show to see Hall and Remar act together on a consistent basis.
This past season also gave Hall another great partner in Jimmy Smits, an actor too often find floundering in TV dreck who is capable of great things when given a chance (the few folks who saw John Schlesinger’s criminally unloved The Believers will remember his brilliant, tortured performance). Watching his believable navigation of Prado from an upstanding ADA to a serial killer in training is a rare treat. His scenes with Hall have a complex emotional agenda (Dexter actually gains humanity through their association, while Prado slowly loses his own), yet somehow they manage to play utterly naturally and crackle with chemistry.
While Dexter keeps busy with ADA Prado, there’s another serial killer loose in Miami, the Skinner, whose method is self explanatory, but whose past is tied into the Freebo-Prado case. Over at Miami Metro, the Skinner case is being headed up by newly minted Detective Sergeant Angel Batista (David Zayas), along with Dexter’s sister Debra (Jennifer Carpenter) and the ribald forensics expert Masuka (C S Lee). Watching over all is Lt. Maria LaGuerta (Lauren Velez), whose budding friendship with crusading attorney Ellen Wolf places her in an awkward position with old flame Miguel Prado over the handling of the Skinner case. Dexter’s family life is also moving rapidly forward, as girlfriend Rita (Julie Benz) discovers that there’s a little serial killer on the way – how will a man incapable of genuine human emotion handle the notion of fatherhood?
Dexter’s third season was somewhat controversial among the show’s fans, with many not cozying up to the supposed domesticating of their favorite serial killer. But for us, the season demonstrated once again just how tight a hold the writers and directors (a group that includes Ernest Dickerson and Keith Gordon) have on the show’s reigns. They’ve dangled the titular character over the precipice of human feeling for 36 episodes without violating his core sociopathic nature (and Dexter’s internal monologs remain the funniest deadpan comic dialog on television). It was inevitable that the show’s horizons would widen, lest it begin to repeat itself – in content if not form – and while some rejected the third season’s formula change-up, we found it necessary to Dexter’s longevity. And anyone not looking forward to seeing Dexter as a daddy in a few weeks is simply crazy.
Paramount’s Blu-Ray set (under the Showtime branding) offers all 12 episodes spread out evenly over 3 discs. Dexter is shot on location in Miami with digital cameras, making for bright, crisp daytime images and gorgeous nighttime photography without having to over-light the area. This provides the show with freedom to be more adventurous with their night shooting, while always allowing the Miami cityscape to play a large background role (much as it did with Michael Mann’s shot-on-digital Miami Vice in 2006); as with the previous seasons, the city itself is one of Dexter’s most vibrant characters. The striking 1080p Blu-Ray image accurately represents the show’s sumptuous visual palate. There is a slight layer of grain – particularly with the night shots – that some have commented on, but this is a direct result of the digital cameras and not an imperfection with the disc itself (and lets all be thankful that Paramount made no attempt to digitally ‘smooth out’ the image). The Dolby TrueHD soundtrack is also unusually active for a television show.
Our only disappointment are in the lack of extras present on the set. Glancing at the back cover, one sees interviews, book excerpts, and bonus episodes of The United States of Tara and The Tudors, but the catch is that everything is available only through BD Live, requiring an internet connection and compatible player. We have no problem with studios offering a few extras in this manner to hype their service, but putting all extras online and none on the disc itself is a terrible notion, instantly leaving out a good chunk of purchasers who just don’t feel like connecting their player to the Internet and going through the laborious process of creating an account. For the purposes of these reviews, we have gone through those steps only to be unable to connect to the service half the time. We attempted twice to preview the supporting materials and were vexed each time.
Laserblast DVD & Blu-ray: Benjamin Button, Dexter, Twilight, Dr. Who
Today is the sort of day when fans looking for science fiction, fantasy, and horror films on home video must be content with borderline releases. THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON is based around a fanciful conceit, but the film uses it as a means of getting a new perspective on the same old human condition. Showtime’s DEXTER, being about the exploits of somewhat sympathetic serial killer, is part drama and part crime drama, but it traffics in horrific details. And TWILIGHT – coming out on Blu-ray after a previous DVD release – uses its vampires not for horror but teen romance.
THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON is such obvious Oscar-bait (it earned a ton of nominations) that it is tempting to reject it in a knee-jerk fashion, and the temptation is increased by a weakness in the screenplay, which overemphasizes the appearance of age rather than the fact of it: the title character (Brad Pitt) grows young instead of old, but the effect is seen mostly in his face, not in his behavior, so the film seems to be saying that, no matter how much he has in common with the woman he loves (who is in fact only a few years younger than he), a relationship is unsustainable because they don’t look the same age. In spite of this, Eric Roth’s screenplay must be described as “rich” – rich in character, events, and dialogue that convey the sweep and breadth of life. Ultimately, one should read Benjamin’s condition not as something literal, but as a dramatic device that provides a different perspective, allowing us to look at ordinary events – events that might even be typical and common – and see them in a new light, with renewed warmth and appreciation. This film succeeds so well at this that one is forced to forgive it for not dealing with Benjamin’s condition in a more sophisticated manner; you simply have to accept that he is our eye upon the world – not a real character or a believable one but a fictional construct who serves his purpose well. The film is being released in three versions: single-disc DVD, double-disc DVD, and Blu-ray disc.
DEXTER is an excellent series about an unlikely subject: a serial killer working as a blood specialist for a police forensics unit. The title character has been taught by his late father to channel his homicidal urges into tracking down killers who escape the legal system, making him a sort of vigilante – which helps make him sympathetic to the audience. The first two seasons are already available on DVD, and Season One came out on Blu-ray earlier this year. Today sees the release of the Complete Second Season on Blu-ray, which is reviewed here.
TWILIGHT was the big sleeper success last year, even though it was mediocre film-making at best. It reached DVD on March 17, and now it is out on Blu-ray in four variations: a single disc, a double disc, and alimited edition Ultimate Collector’s Gift Set (which, like the previous DVD Ultimate Collector’s set, includes a soundtrack CD, a jewelry box, a watch, a charm bracelet, six glossy photo cards, a bookmark, and a certificate of authenticity. The Blu-ray disc is in widescreen, with audio commentary by Catherine Hardwicke, Kristen Stewart, and Robert Pattinson. Bonus features include three music videos, five extended scenes with director introductions, five deleted scenes with director introductions, a seven-part documentary, a Comic-Con fandom piece, a Comic-Con NY “sizzle reel,” three trailers, and a “New Moon” teaser.
The week’s other science fiction, fantasy, and horror home video releases include Season 1 of Gene Roddenberry’s EARTH: FINAL CONFLICT and two DR. WHO titles: BATTLEFIELD EARTH (Episode 156) with Sylvester McCoy as the Time Lord, and a set containing the “E-Space Trilogy” (FULL CIRCLE, STATE OF DECAY, and WARRIORS GATE – Episodes 112-114), starring Tom Baker in the title role.
One final title worth mentioning is ENCHANTED APRIL. It’s not really fantasy, although one character appears to be psychic (judging from a few fairly accurate premonitions); rather, as the title implies, the film maintains a wonderfully enchanted tone that conveys the feeling of a charming fairy tale, even though the story is actually a realistic romantic comedy-drama.
Dexter: The Complete Second Season – Blu-ray Review
Here I sit, trying to imagine the pitch meeting for Dexter…
“We’ve got this cop, working for the forensics department of the Miami Police Dept.”
“Go on, I’m loving it…”
“His specialty is hunting serial killers that he feels are especially deserving.”
“Serial killers, too?!? That’s fantastic, I think we’re gold. What about babes?”
“Well, he’s a sociopath, so he really doesn’t like girls all that much. Plus, being a serial killer himself, there isn’t much time for dating. Hello? Hello?”
Dexter is certainly the best television show to ever celebrate murderous anti-social behavior. With HBO still paying off karmic debt for pulling the plug on Rome and Deadwood, Dexter has dramatically raised Showtime’s decidedly sketchy history in the world of premium cable original series. We rolled our eyes back in 2006 at the thought of yet another serial killer-themed entertainment clogging the cultural zeitgeist, but Dexter is a very different animal indeed, and makes us think that network television may have forever given up the quality program mantle to cable. Dexter is based on a series of books by Jeff Lindsay dealing with the most prolific serial killer in Miami – who also happens to be the police forensics expert – and was brought to Showtime as a series in October 2006. It’s been one of the few times we can recall a film or television show feel somehow truer than the source material on which it was based. We started reading Lindsay’s “Darkly Dreaming Dexter” after first being immersed in the show, and were amazed to find that the series actually had more depth than the books. What seemed too much like a cold, dramatic invention on the page is made into a fully-formed, flesh and blood character on television thanks to excellent writing, slick location photography, and a truly amazing lead performance.
Dexter (Michael C Hall) was adopted as a small child by patrolman Harry Morgan (James Remar) after finding him in the midst of a brutal crime scene – literally bathed in the blood of his deceased mother – who was dismembered by a chainsaw in front of his eyes. After catching Dexter killing small animals, Harry soon realizes that his son was exhibiting the textbook early warning signs of Antisocial Personality Disorder. Realizing that there’s little that he can do to prevent Dexter from becoming a killer, he instead trains him in police methods so that he’ll never leave a trace; but more importantly, Harry imparts a code in Dexter to only kill people who are murderers themselves and may otherwise escape justice.
As Season One began, both Dexter and adoptive sister Debra (Jennifer Carpenter) had joined the Miami Police Force, with Dexter’s deadly talents having helped him excel at his work in blood spatter analysis. Dexter still feels disconnected to the people around him, but his father’s advice about “fitting in and looking normal” convinces him to date Rita (Julie Benz), a victim of domestic abuse with two children and a threatening ex-husband, Paul (Mark Pellegrino) looking for more time with the children. At first, Rita seems like the perfect girl for Dexter, as her pervious relationship has left her distrustful of men and unable to be physically intimate. But things change when another serial killer begins stalking Miami’s sun-bleached streets, a cold, methodical murderer dubbed the ‘Ice Truck Killer’ for his preferred method of transporting the bodies of his victims. Dexter marvels at the cleanliness of the crime scenes, with the victim’s bodies neatly wrapped and tied and not a drop of blood to be found (forcing the ‘blood spatter’ expert to come up with increasingly flimsy excuses for being at the scenes.) Dexter’s relationship with the Ice Truck Killer takes an unusual turn when he begins to leave messages for Dexter in his own apartment, suggesting a connection between them. Dexter’s familiarity with the Ice Truck Killer creates suspicion on the part of lead detective Doakes (Erik King), who regards Dexter as a freak and suspects that he knows quite a bit more about serial killing than he lets on. Meanwhile, Debra begins dating Rudy (Christian Camargo) a designer of prosthetic limbs who also happens to have a dark secret of his own.
In deference to those not yet familiar with events of Dexter‘s first season, we’ll end the discussion there. Suffices to say that the show manages to miraculously tie up the various plot threads without compromising the dark side of its lead character’s nature. Season 2 opens with Doakes more convinced than ever that Dexter is hiding a more lethal side. He tails Dexter everywhere while off-duty, making it impossible for Dexter to apply his trade. Adding to Dexter’s stress on the home front is his distraught sister’s decision to move in with him following her entanglement with the Ice Truck Killer. Rita’s ex (set up by Dexter and returned to jail on a drug charge in the previous season) is killed in prison, but not before planting the seeds of doubt in Rita, repeatedly telling her that Dexter planted the heroin on him that got him locked away. Rita confronts Dexter, but instead of guessing at his true nature, she mistakenly assumes him to be a drug addict, and tells him to get help or get out. But rehab isn’t all bad as Doakes tails him to a Narcotics Anonymous meeting and assumes that Dexter had been merely hiding a drug addiction from his fellow officers. It’s at a NA meeting that Dexter hooks up with a sponsor, the raven-haired Lila (Jamie Murray), a metal sculptor, recovering meth addict, and sometime pyromaniac. Lila thinks she’s found a kindred spirit in Dexter’s dark side, and even Dexter thinks that he may have found a soul mate, but his attentions have turned to a new serial killer gripping the Miami area – dubbed the Bay Harbor Butcher by the newspapers. The area in the bay where the Butcher had been dumping his victims has been discovered by divers; the neatly wrapped parts of dozens and dozens of victims cause a ripple of fear to run throughout the city in everyone but Dexter – because those pieces happen to belong to his victims! The FBI bring in Special Agent Lundy (Keith Carradine) to catch the Butcher, who promptly recruits Debra for his joint task force.
The above events compromise roughly the first half of the season, and once again, we’re loath to discuss anymore because of the large number of people without Showtime that catch up with the show on video. As with the first season, Dexter continues the difficult juggling act of keeping the main character psychologically true while maintaining audience sympathy. Credit for that goes largely to Michael C. Hall, whose wickedly smart portrayal is simply astonishing.
For three seasons Hall has successfully played a character who has to fake connections to the people and world around him and all the while wearing a thin, occasionally shaky mask of sanity that hides a ruthless killer. Whatever else the show is, it would have failed utterly had the central performance leaned too far into the overly campy, Hannibal Lecktor territory, or simply uninteresting; but after watching our first episode of Dexter last year, it was instantly unimaginable to have anyone else in the title role. The second season gives Hall much more to play off of, having to deal with issues of paternal betrayal that force him to question his cherished “Harry’s code” imparted to him by his father.
The second season also gave supporting cast member Erik King more to chew on as well; Doakes’ hatred and suspicion of Dexter was the only through line in the first season that we found ourselves losing patience with, but that obsession reached a necessarily brutal conclusion here that we found very satisfying. Jennifer Carpenter’s Debra is also put to more interesting use here, her close call with the Ice Truck Killer driving her deeper into Dexter’s life. She also begins an unlikely romance with guest star Carradine, in magnificent form as the dedicated FBI agent. Their April-October romance seems unusually organic, and Carpenter’s game is raised considerably when she shares the screen with him.
Miami, too, plays a distinctive role in Dexter, as much a part of the fiber of the show as New York is to Law & Order. It will be interesting in later years to compare Dexter with Miami Viceto chart the changes that the city has gone through. The show is shot on digital video, but the vagaries of cable broadcast mean that the show is invariably compressed to a degree (at least as it flows into our house), so the Blu-Ray release gives us the opportunity to see the show as it was originally shot. There are some occasionally heavy filtering effects used, but this does appear to be an accurate representation of the filmmaker’s intent. Even those accustomed to Showtime’s HD broadcast will be wowed by the 1080p picture here, wringing out heretofore unseen details. We only hope that Showtime/CBS see fit to release the 3rd season Blu-Ray day-and-date with the SD-DVD; for a show as visually stimulating as Dexter, it’s frustrating to have to wait this long for the HD version.
Extras are as follows:
- Tools of the Trade video game
- Blood Fountains Featurette
- Dark Defender – Season 2 Short Films
- Michael C. Hall Podcasts
- First 2 Episodes of United States of Tara
While this looks impressive, be warned that with the exception of the silly trivia game and the trailers, the rest of the bonus features have to be downloaded via the BD Live service (a process that our PS3 doesn’t seem to like at all).