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HTF DVD REVIEW: Dexter: The Second Season

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#1 of 3 Matt Hough

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Posted August 07 2008 - 03:17 PM


Dexter: The Second Season
Directed by Tony Goldwyn et al

Studio: Paramount/Showtime
Year: 2007
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 anamorphic
Running Time: 636 minutes
Rating: NR
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, 2.0 stereo English, 2.0 mono Spanish
Subtitles: CC
MSRP: $ 42.99

Release Date: August 19, 2008
Review Date: August 7, 2008


The Series

4.5/5

Everyone’s favorite next door neighbor serial killer Dexter Morgan returns in the second season of Showtime’s hit series Dexter. The Peabody Award-winning and Emmy-nominated series has only gotten better in its second season as tension is ratcheted up to the maximum in twelve episodes that display a surprising amount of heart (not just eviscerated ones) and which bring viewers to the edges of their seats. This is one show that definitely did not fall victim to the dreaded sophomore slump.

At the end of season one, vigilante killer Dexter Morgan (Michael C. Hall) has saved his sister (Jennifer Carpenter) by killing her boy friend who turned out to be another serial murderer known as the Ice Truck Killer. We also learn that Dexter and the killer were in actuality brothers which makes shedding memories of him and his crimes a little harder on Dexter than he might have thought, hard enough that as season two starts, Dexter has something of a mental block against continuing his one man war against criminals who get away with murder. On other fronts, things seem equally grim. Girl friend Rita (Julie Benz) mistakenly believes Dexter is a drug addict and insists he enroll in a drug program, and Rita‘s mother (JoBeth Williams) is also disapproving of their relationship. He joins a program to placate her, but his sponsor turns out to be a somewhat desperate woman herself, Lila (Jaime Murray), who causes many tempests during the season. And as if things couldn’t get any worse for Dexter, some treasure hunters stumble on his packaged corpses on the ocean floor thus bringing in the FBI’s top serial killer specialist, Agent Lundy (Keith Carradine), to hunt for the newly named Bay Harbor Butcher. Even in his own department, Sergeant Doakes (Erik King), who’s never liked him, begins his own campaign to get to the bottom of who this weirdo Dexter is.

With so many nemeses to contend with this season, it’s a wonder Dexter gets any killing done at all, but for those who are concerned that his scalpels and blades will be rusting away, fear not. There’s plenty of murder and mayhem to satisfy fans of the original season’s bloodlust. The plots of the second season take so many unexpected turns, however, that the serial killing is almost an afterthought in the wake of Dexter’s continual struggle to stay a step or two ahead of the people tracking him, all for their own various reasons. It’s an amazing season of thrills and surprises that even those who might have been on the fence about continuing with the show after season one owe themselves to check out. The second season is one of the wildest rides ever on a paycable drama series.

Michael C. Hall is giving a career-defining performance as Dexter Morgan. As wonderful as he was as David Fisher on HBO’s Six Feet Under, he far surpasses that performance here with its shadings and complexity. His on-screen charisma blazes to the fore in every episode, and one literally can’t take his eyes off him even while Dexter is doing the most ghastly things. Dexter’s friend at work Angel Batista is also given a wonderfully ingratiating portrayal by David Zayas, and all of the scenes in which they perform together are gems. Jennifer Carpenter as Dexter’s sister Deb was rather a foul-mouthed pill in season one, but she’s a bit easier to take in season two. Perhaps the pairing with Keith Carradine was all it took to tone down some of her more annoying mannerisms, but the two of them this season make for an interesting personal and professional team. Lauren Velez brings solidarity and understanding to the role of the demoted Lieutenant LaGuerta while Jaime Murray’s expert psycho Lila makes her the woman you love to hate. Julie Benz’s Rita occupies the fringes of the show rather nicely until she‘s needed as a major target. Erik King makes a terrific thorn in Hall’s side as the pesky Sgt. Doakes.

Here is the rundown of the season’s twelve superlative episodes:

1 - It’s Alive!
2 - Waiting to Exhale
3 - An Inconvenient Life
4 - See-Through
5 - The Dark Defender
6 - Dex, Lies, and Videotape
7 - That Night, a Forest Grew
8 - Morning Comes
9 - Resistance Is Futile
10 - There’s Something About Harry
11 - Left Turn Ahead
12 - The British Invasion


Video Quality

3.5/5

The anamorphically enhanced 1.78:1 transfers have been down converted from the 1080i broadcasts on Showtime. They are uneven in picture quality sometimes displaying crisp images and more than adequate dimensionality and other times looking soft and nondescript. Color is similarly irregular often looking lackluster but occasionally showing a pleasing level of saturation. There is occasional moiré exhibited, but it doesn’t crop up very often. Each episode has been divided into 7 chapters.

Audio Quality

4/5

The Dolby Digital 5.1 track is the one I utilized for the purposes of this review (if you don‘t select it, the disc will default to the 2.0 stereo track), and it matches the nicely delivered ambiance of the Showtime broadcasts. There is a goodly amount of discreet sound fed to the surrounds in addition to the music of Daniel Licht, and infrequent but effective use of the LFE channel where appropriate. Voices are well recorded and come through well in the center channel though there is occasional directionalized dialog.

Special Features

1/5

The disc offers 11 text-based biographies of the primary cast from Season 2.

A photo gallery holds 11 stills from Season 2 episodes.

DVD-ROM offerings include two Michael C. Hall interviews along with two episodes from the second season of The Tudors and two episodes from the first season of Californication.

2 episodes from Season 2 of Brotherhood are offered on the disc without having to load the DVD into the computer.


In Conclusion

4.5/5 (not an average)

One of the best produced dramatic thrillers currently on television, Dexter had a magnificent second season, and this box set even without a sterling set of bonus features brings the thrills and surprises into the homes of those who haven’t yet seen it or who want to relive it again.


Matt Hough
Charlotte, NC

#2 of 3 Lou Sytsma

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Posted August 07 2008 - 11:16 PM

Season Two was just as good as Season One. Great series and thanks for the review.
Every man is my superior, in that I may learn from him.

#3 of 3 Dave Scarpa

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Posted August 16 2008 - 06:40 AM

I bought the First season on DVD and it looked ok Upconverted, but I might just hold out hope that CBS/Paramount will bring some of their newer TV Shows to Blu Ray at some point.
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