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DEXTER – The Second Season (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

May 20, 2009 by  



“‘DEXTER – The Second Season’ surpasses the first season in storytelling and performance.  A wild ride from start to finish and refuses to go quietly and literally ends with a bang!  A twisted, dark but yet very compelling series that looks and sounds great on Blu-ray!”

Images courtesy of © 2009 Showtime Networks Inc.  All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Dexter – The Second Season

DURATION: 10 hrs., 36 minutes (12 episodes)

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, English  and Spanish 5.1 Dolby TrueHD,  Subtitles: English SDH

RATED: US NOT RATED

COMPANY: Showtime Networks, Showtime Entertainment, CBS Blu-ray

RELEASE DATE: May 2, 2009

Directed by Marcos Siega, Keith Gordon, Steve Shil, Tony Goldwyn, Nick Gomez, John Dahl

Based on the novel “Darkly Dreaming Dexter” by Jeff Lindsay

Written by Jeff Lindsay, James Manos, Jr., Scott Reynolds, Melissa Rosenberg, Lauren Gussis, Timothy Schlattmann, Scott Buck, Clyde Phillips, Charles H. Eglee

Executive Producer: Sara Colleton, John Goldwyn, Clyde Phillips, Charles H. Eglee

Co-Executive Producer: Melissa Rosenberg, Scott Buck, Michael C. Hall

Producer: Robert Lloyd Lewis, Timothy Schlattmann

Associate Producer: Chad Tomasoski

Consulting Producer: Adam Fierro

Music by Daniel Licht

Director of Photography: Romeo Tirone

Edited by Louis F. Cioffi, Stewart Schill, Matthew Colonna, Rob Seidenglanz

Casting by Shawn Dawson

Series Production Design by Anthony Cowley, Eric Weiler

Art Direction by Ken Watkins

Set Decoration by Bryan Thetford and Linda Spheeris

Costume Design by Abram Waterhouse

Starring:

Michael C. Hall as Dexter Morgan

Julie Benz as Rita Bennett

Jennifer Carpeter as Debra Morgan

Lauren Velez as Lt. Maria Laguerta

David Zayas as Angel Batista

C.S. Lee as Vince Masuka

James Remar as Harry Morgan

Christina Robinson as Astor

Erik King as Sergeant James Doakes

Preston Bailey as Cody

Geoffrey Pierson as Captain Tom Matthews

Keith Carradine as Special Agent Frank Lundy

Jaime Murray as Lila Tournay

DEXTER is back! The critically acclaimed and groundbreaking original series from SHOWTIME starring Michael C. Hall, returns to DVD with all 12 riveting and chilling episodes in DEXTER-THE SECOND SEASON. Although committed to carrying out his twisted brand of vigilante justice-Dexter begins to doubt his murderous capabilities and continues to be haunted by his tortured past. His difficulties multiply when evidence of his deadly after-hours activities begin to surface and the FBI is brought in to investigate the city’s new serial killer dubbed the “Bay Harbor Butcher.” Dexter cant pause for a breathe as the noose tightens and the questions keep mounting. Will he be able to continue his serial-killing ways? Or will Dexter’s dark past finally be uncovered?

In 2006, the American premium channel Showtime unveiled its latest television series “DEXTER”.  The TV series is based on a novel titled “Darkly Dreaming Dexter” by Jeff Lindsay and was adapted into television by Executive Producer James Manos Jr. (“The Shield”, “The Sopranos”, “Apollo 11”, etc.).

The series revolves around the character Dexter Morgan (Michael C. Hall) who is a blood splatter analyst for the Miami Metro PD but also a serial killer.  But thanks to his father Harry Morgan (James Remar) who worked for the police and noticed his son’s sociopathic tendencies, Harry worked with his son on how to channel his thirst for wanting to kill for the thrill into killing people who deserve it, primarily wanted/alleged murderers.

When the series debuted on television, “DEXTER” received critical acclaim for being a unique show and earned actor Michael C. Hall a Golden Glob nomination.  The second season of “DEXTER” was nominated for “Outstanding Drama Series” and was the first time Showtime was nominated for an award and has since become a big ratings magnet for the premium channel.

In the first season of “DEXTER” (which aired on Showtime in Fall/Winter 2006), we learn about how he uses his position at the Miami Metro PD to do his research on the people he kills.  Also, we learn how his father developed a code which Dexter had followed

He has a relationship with Rita Bennett (Julie Benz) who is a mother of two but was also physically and emotionally abused by her husband.  He also has an adoptive sister named Debra (Jennifer Carpenter) who started dating a guy named Rudy.

Throughout the first season, Dexter is going after a serial killer dubbed as “The Ice Truck Killer” and is revealed to be someone that Dexter knows.  Meanwhile, Sgt. James Doakes (Erik King) senses something odd with Dexter and has a feeling there may be a connection between Dexter and the killer.

For “DEXTER: THE SECOND SEASON” (which aired on Showtime back in Fall/Winter 2007), the Blu-ray splits all 12 episodes into three discs.  Here is a brief synopsis minus spoilers:

DISC 1:

  • EPISODE 13 – IT’S ALIVE! – After the events of the first season, Dexter goes after a dangerous murderer named Little Chino.  But because not having enough tape to keep the victim down, Little Chino escapes.  Meanwhile, Debra returns to work at the Miami Metro PD but may not be quite as ready as she thinks.
  • EPISODE 14 – WAITING TO EXHALE – Dexter goes after Little Chino, meanwhile bags of body parts have been found underwater. Meanwhile Agent Lundy (Keith Carradine) comes to help the Miami Metro PD on their new case, to catch the new serial killer “The Bay Harbor Butcher”.
  • EPISODE 15 – AN INCONVENIENT LIE – Dexter goes after his next victim, while Rita thinks that Dexter may be a drug addict.
  • EPISODE 16 – SEE-THROUGH – In order to please Rita, Dexter gets a Narcotics Anonymous sponsor but unfortunately for Rita, she is not happy that the sponsor is the beautiful Lila (Jaime Murray).

DISC 2:

  • EPISODE 17 – THE DARK DEFENDER – Dexter finds out that the man who killed his mother is still alive.
  • EPISODE 18 – DEX, LIES, AND VIDEOTAPE – Dexter is not thrilled that there is a copycat serial murderer in Miami.  Meanwhile, Dexter and Lila grow closer.
  • EPISODE 19 – THAT NIGHT, A FOREST GREW – The “Bay Harbor Butcher” sends a written manifesto to the Special Task Frce.  Meanwhile, Lila’s involvement with him starts to hurt his personal life.
  • EPISODE 20 – MORNING COMES – Dexter is becoming uncomfortable with how Lila has been getting closer to him. Meanwhile, Debra and Lundy find clues about the “Bay Harbor Butcher”.

DISC 3:

  • EPISODE 21: RESISTANCE IS FUTILE – As Dexter tries to distance himself from Lila, he realizes that she is not one to let go.  Meanwhile, Dexter worries that Lundy may getting close to finding out that he is the serial killer.
  • EPISODE 22: THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT HARRY – Doakes tracks Dexter while he is about to make a kill and Doakes reveals a secret about Harry.
  • EPISODE 23: LEFT TURN AHEAD – Dexter realizes that Lundy is getting closer to discovering who the murder is and thus Dexter thinks carefully of how he should turn himself in.  Meanwhile, Lila blackmails Dexter into loving her.
  • EPISODE 24: THE BRITISH INVASION – The final episode and Lila discovers the truth about Dexter but also her obsessive of being with Dexter makes her cross him and Rita’s family.

VIDEO & AUDIO:

“DEXTER – The Second Season” is presented in 1080p High Definition (aspect ratio of 1:78:1).  The series is actually quite colorful and a variety of colors utilized for its palette.

Outdoor scenes are really nice and vibrant.  Warm colors showcasing that the series takes place in Miami.

The  Blacks are a nice and clean black showing no major compression artificats.  Color pallets showcase reds and amber colors come out vibrantly and for a television series, picture quality is very nice. Of course, when it comes to “Dexter – The Second Season”, you will see more attention to blacks, blues, reds and amber hues.  The colors fits just right with the dark nature of the series.

If there is one thing that many television series suffer is a lot of noise during low-light scenes and there are some scenes on “DEXTER” that exhibit high-level noise.  “DEXTER – The Second Season” does feature a good amount of digital noise during those scenes (for example, in the final episode where Dexter is racing back in his car to the lakehouse, the noise surrounding the outdoor scene gets a bit ugly but fortunately those scenes are very short)  and that is due to the original source.

Again, many television series tends to get a lot of noise during low light scenes and by no means does it detract.  The picture quality for “DEXTER- The Second Season” on HD is actually quite nice.

While watching the series, I didn’t detect any scratches, dust, white speckles or any major compression artifacts.  In a way, I was happy to see four episodes per disc instead of trying to put all 12 episodes on to two discs.  Thus giving more space for each episode.  Overall, I felt the picture quality was very good, not great but very good.

As for audio, “DEXTER – The Second Season” is presented in English and Spanish Dolby TrueHD 5.1.  The series is of course more dialogue and thus more front channel driven.  The dialogue is quite crisp and clear and there is very good utilization of crowd ambiance and also rear surround usage.  I also detected several scenes that key into the low frequencies for the subwoofer which was nice to hear.

Music is utilized well in creating a sense of doom or fear.  Audio quality for this television series was good.  It’s not a series that utilizes a whole lot of action but with clear dialogue and a musical score that really sets up the scenes quite well, I was pretty satisfied with the soundtrack.  The final episode of “DEXTER” is where you will find a good utilization of sound with explosions and burning flames.

As for subtitles, “DEXTER – The Second Season” features English SDH subtitles.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“DEXTER – The Second Series” is actually quite interesting as a few of the special features included on this Blu-ray disc are only for those who have  BD-Live enabled Blu-ray players.

With most consumers purchasing budget priced Blu-ray players (that are not BD-Live enabled) at this time, to not include any major special features on the disc was bad planning.  There is no reason why a popular show such as “DEXTER” doesn’t have a commentary or any special feature but only a remote control  game.   So, that was a bit disappointing.

But if you do own a BD-Live enabled Blu-ray player, well the good news is that you can access several Showtime features.  Included on this disc are:

  • Dexter: Tools of the Trade – A video game utilizing your Blu-ray remote control.
  • * The first 2 episodes of “UNITED STATES OF TARA” – For those with BD-Live enabled.
  • * “Blood Fountains” Featurette – For those with BD-Live enabled.
  • * Dark Defender Series – For those with BD-Live enabled.
  • * Podcasts – For those with BD-Live enabled.

“DEXTER” really shined in its second season.  Where many popular shows that gain critical acclaim during their first year and then faced sophomore slumps, “DEXTER” was a series that actually gained more critical praise for its second year.

In 2007, where many shows were shortened due to the WGA strike, “DEXTER” was fortunately completed and had its full 12-episode run on Showtime.

I personally felt that “DEXTER” was much better with its second season compared to the original first season and definitely featured a more in depth, well-written plot and good utilization of all characters who did a great job with their characters.  And Michael C. Hall definitely gave a magnificent performance.

But what is more interesting is how the second series really explores the psyche of Dexter and how his relationship with Rita and eventually his turbulent relationship with Lila becomes a threat.  Most of all, how Doakes and Lundy start to set him off on a path of paranoia and the impact his family or memories of his family have an impact on him.  Season 2 gives us an even greater opportunity to see things through Dexter’s mind.

“DEXTER – THE SECOND SEASON” looks very good on Blu-ray and absolutely sounds great with its Dolby TrueHD lossless 5.1 audio track but where the Blu-ray suffers is in the extras department.  Why they chose to focus on BD-Live extras  and not include any commentary, featurettes, interviews, etc. is actually surprising and what could have been a magnificent release, gets docked a grade/point especially since many people who are taking advantage of Blu-ray are buying players that are budget friendly and are not BD-Live enabled.  That is the primary disappointment with this Blu-ray release.

Despite the lack of any special features, I still give a thumbs up to “DEXTER – The Second Season”.  “DEXTER” is an enjoyable, dark, compelling, well-written and well-acted series.  The second season takes the series to new heights and from episode 13 to the final episode 24, “DEXTER” was like a wild ride that refused to end quietly and ended quite literally with a bang.

Granted, because of the subject matter of the show, this is not a type of show that is going to attract many viewers.  Watching a serial killer who gains pleasure over his victims by taping them to a gurney, knocks them out with a chemical but once they wake up, Dexter goes for the kill and makes sure they feel the pain.  And all the while he’s doing it, with a smile in his face with enjoyment.  It is a sadistic series but its smartly written.  But it makes you wonder how many seasons of “DEXTER” can their be and how much longer can he get away with it?

If you enjoyed the first season and have it on Blu-ray, there is no reason not to own the second season.  For those who have never seen the first season, the beginning episode (Episode 13) sets up the first season quite nicely.

Overall, “DEXTER – The Second Season” is highly recommended!






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