Dexter: The Fifth Season (Blu-ray)
Directed by Steve Shill et al
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 1080p AVC codec
Running Time: 618 minutes
Audio: Dolby TrueHD 5.1 English; Dolby Digital 5.1 French, 2.0 Spanish
Region: no designation
MSRP: $ 67.99
Release Date: August 16, 2011
Review Date: August 10, 2011
The end of season four found Dexter Morgan (Michael C. Hall) eliminating one of the show’s most vicious serial murderers, The Trinity Killer, but finding that before he himself was murdered, the Trinity Killer had paid Dexter’s wife (Julie Benz) a visit and murdered her. Thus, Dexter’s fifth season has him grappling with his enormous sense of loss, shouldering the burden of his ten-month old infant while at the same time enveloping him in a complex search for a nest of serial rapists and murderers who ditch their dead prey in oil barrels in the Miami swamps. Unwittingly saving the life of a girl near death, the vulnerable Lumen Pierce (Julia Stiles), Dexter grudgingly allows Lumen to exorcise her demons by assisting him hunt down the killer tribe, a journey that leads him to millionaire motivational guru Jordan Chase (Jonny Lee Miller).
But there are other problems brewing in Dexter’s life. His sister’s (Jennifer Carpenter) detective boy friend Quinn (Desmond Harrington), suspicious that Dexter might have murdered his own wife, first begins investigating the crime and then hires an ex-cop (Peter Weller) to continue the job. The squad room is also busy with a series of beheading murders that brings the newly married Sergeant Batista (David Zayas) and Lieutenant LaGuerta (Lauren Velez) to disruptions in both the office and at home.
Having won both the Golden Globe and the SAG Award for Best Actor for his work during the fourth season, Michael C. Hall finds himself once again Emmy-nominated for this career-defining performance as Dexter Morgan. His on-screen charisma blazes to the fore in every episode, and one literally can’t take his eyes off him even while the character is doing the most ghastly things. Coping with Rita’s shocking death has also brought the role an additional set of emotions that Dexter must plumb giving the actor even more of a field day than ever before. Jennifer Carpenter as Dexter’s sister Deb continues her über-foul-mouthed ways this season as she gets drawn into all of the cases swirling around her brother. Lauren Velez and David Zayas, both great assets in previous seasons, become a trifle more irritating this session as their tiresome marital squabbles intensify as the season progresses. Julia Stiles, herself Emmy nominated for her superb performance as a woman brought back from the edge of death with only revenge uppermost in her thoughts. The always outstanding Jonny Lee Miller scores strongly as the nefarious motivational shyster, and Peter Weller, his social antithesis as a scumbag informant, also makes a dastardly impression.
Here are the twelve episodes contained on the three discs in this Blu-ray set:
1 – My Bad
2 – Hello Bandit
3 – Practically Perfect
4 – Beauty and the Beast
5 – First Blood
6 – Everything Is Illumenated
7 – Circle Us
8 – Take It!
9 – Teenage Wasteland
10 – In the Beginning
11 – Hop a Freighter
12 – The Big One
The series is broadcast on Showtime in 1080i, and these 1080p transfers (AVC codec) constitute a significant upgrade in image quality from their cable television airings. Color timing has been adjusted to eliminate the hot, oversaturated colors of the Showtime broadcasts, and we’re given instead a crisp, inviting picture with superb sharpness and color saturation levels that are much more pleasing to the eye. Flesh tones are much more inviting and believable. Black levels are very good throughout. Only a slight lack of detail in the darker night scenes prevent this from reaching reference levels of clarity and effectiveness. Each episode has been divided into 7 chapters.
The Dolby TrueHD 5.1 sound mix is very strong for a television audio track. Care has been taken to add significant but appropriate ambient effects (a nightclub, ocean sounds, police station noises) in available channels. The music, a mixture of salsa and hip-hop, envelopes the soundstage effectively. Dexter’s voiceover narration is pitched at perhaps too loud a volume level for pleasant listening without some adjustments to the center channel, but dialogue otherwise has been excellently recorded and resides in the center channel. The LFE channel doesn’t get a great workout, but there are significant moments when its use is most effectual.
The discs themselves do not contain any bonus features. The press notes indicate that the BD-Live portal will offer interviews with Michael C. Hall, Julia Stiles, Jennifer Carpenter, C. S. Lee, Lauren Velez, James Remar, Desmond Harrington, David Zayas, and writer/producer Chip Johannessen along with an interview with Julia Stiles reflecting on the season along with the first two episodes from the most recent seasons of The Borgias, Californication, and Episodes.
However, BD-Live had not been turned on during the review period, so it was impossible to check out the substance of these bonus features. BD-Live also assists in the use of Movie IQ which can be turned on for each episode once BD-Live is operational.
4/5 (not an average)
Dexter had another very strong and effective season of thrills and drama in this its fifth season. The Blu-ray release offers tremendous video and audio quality that surpasses the network broadcasts, but the lack of bonus features on the discs themselves is something of a liability for fans of the show.