"I'm a master now, an idea transcended into life."
Most of the crime dramas airing on networks nowadays have deteriorated into malformed and formulaic clones of one another, relying heavily on flashy cinematography and repetitive music montages to cater to the attention spans of their viewers. Everywhere we turn it's the same thing over and over: the initial discovery of a dead body or two; an onslaught of fashion models gathering, analyzing, and posing for the cameras with the evidence; and then finally the often predictable outcome. Rinse, lather, and repeat. Substance takes a backseat to style nearly every time.
Fortunately, this all changed when Showtime launched the series 'Dexter,' inspired by the critically-acclaimed novels by author Jeff Lindsay. At last, here was a show that aimed to be different, inviting viewers deep within the dark and cryptic mind of a disturbed forensics expert who channels his sadistic desires by becoming a vigilante killer. The twist is that the traditional antagonist is transformed into an anti-hero protagonist, and in doing so not only does 'Dexter' shatter the generic cookie cutter mold of these types of programs, it also proves that both style and substance can work together in perfect harmony.
Over the course of the first two seasons, Dexter Morgan (Michael C. Hall) has nearly burned himself out by outplaying the notorious Ice Truck Killer and narrowly outwitting the FBI. Could things finally be cooling down in sunny Miami? His ambitious and foul-mouthed sister Deb (Jennifer Carpenter) is inching her way closer to her prized detective shield and his bond with his girlfriend Rita (Julie Benz) is stronger than ever. Life is good... but you know what they say: there's no rest for the wicked.
Dexter zeroes in on a lowlife drug dealer for his next target and like always, meticulously plans everything out before moving in for the kill. But when an unforeseen variable crashes the party so to speak, for the first time ever Dexter is forced to abandon the precious code of his father, Harry (James Remar). The consequences of his actions attract a hailstorm of fiery wrath in the form of the merciless Assistant District Attorney Miguel Prado (Jimmy Smits). Surprisingly, the encounter somehow kindles the unlikeliest of friendships, but if Dexter happens to let his guard down just for a moment he may still find himself out of the frying pan and into the fire.
The third season features a storyline that introduces a new serial killer who the Miami-Dade Police Department labels the Skinner, but the main story arc this time around focuses on the unique relationship between Dexter and Miguel. Both men are a lot alike, consumed by their passions and out for blood--one metaphorically and one literally, and as their friendship grows, the fine line separating the two begins to blur, until in the end all that's left is a smeared bloody stain. I really have to give some kudos to the writers, because they could have just as easily given us a rehash of what we've seen so far and instead they guide the show into a completely different and thrilling direction.
As always, all of the actors pull their weight, but it's Michael C. Hall who is strapped into the driver's seat the entire way. For an actor to bring a monster like Dexter to the screen while making him likable and a character we can totally sympathize with truly is a masterful feat. Jimmy Smits also deserves some high props for delivering what must be the performance of his career. When the two are together the electricity generated by their presence takes the show to new heights--and that kind of magic just doesn't happen very often.
Now with thirty-six episodes under my belt I thought my interest in 'Dexter' might start to waver a little, but truth be told I'm hooked just as strongly as ever. The cast easily trumps most ensembles out there, and the writing is consistently fresh and exciting. Plus, with the awesome John Lithgow coming aboard and Keith Carradine reprising his role as the now retired Special Agent Frank Lundy for the upcoming season, the future is definitely looking bright for this dark and addictive series that effectively leaves its viewers breathless.
('Dexter: The Complete Third Season' includes all twelve blood-curdling episodes including "Our Father," "Finding Freebo" "The Lion Sleeps Tonight," "All in the Family," "Turning Biminese," "Si Se capital Puede," "Easy as Pie," "The Damages a Man Can Do," "About Last Night," "Go Your Own Way," "I Had a Dream," and "Do You Take Dexter Morgan?")
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
Paramount delivers 'Dexter: The Complete Third Season' on three dual-layered BD-50 Blu-ray discs housed inside a standard blue flipper case. Like the previous seasons, the discs are reported to be region-locked and therefore will only play in Region A compatible PlayStation 3 and standalone players.
If you're a huge fan of 'Dexter' like myself, you don't need me to tell you the series is one of the sharpest-looking programs on television today. The Blu-ray of 'Dexter: The Complete Third Season' delivers yet another strong 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 (1.78:1 aspect ratio) encode that is consistent with the first two seasons already available on the market.
For a show with such dark subject matter, 'Dexter' is surprisingly vibrant. The series is teeming with bright and summery colors accented with deep and rich black levels and searing hot whites. An overblown contrast (similar to 'CSI: Miami' although not quite as extreme) cranks up the intensity for a little extra punch. Delineation and detailing is also superb, and the image has a level of depth that is visually outstanding.
Similar to the previous seasons, there are some instances of mild edge enhancement and the darker scenes tend to have a bit more grain to them, but those are the only real issues that crop up, and even then they're far from hideous. In fact, I'd even be inclined to say there are less noisy areas on this release than the previous ones. Honestly, 'Dexter' makes for one vividly striking experience that's tough to beat.
Stop the presses! It's a TV series on Blu-ray with a lossless audio track! Madness I say, madness! (That's just a little dig at Warner Brothers in case you haven't already figured that out).
Anyways, like the previous releases, 'Dexter: The Complete Third Season' comes with an impressive Dolby TrueHD 5.1 soundtrack. Television shows usually tend to have front-channel heavy mixes, but 'Dexter' offers a highly immersive and spacious track that blows them all away. Vocalizations are crisp, prioritized, and well-balanced with the other sounds in the mix. The musical score soothingly fills the entire soundstage and is the main source of a hard-driving bass that really rocks. The rear channels complete the package with a pleasing array of discreet effects peppered throughout all of the episodes. For a televised drama, 'Dexter' sounds awesome.
While the second season offered an improved lossless Spanish Dolby TrueHD 5.1 mix, in this third season it reverts back to a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack. The discs also include optional English subtitles for the hearing impaired.
None, but see next section.
Bold, compelling, and in a league entirely of its own, 'Dexter' is without a doubt one of the best shows out there and features the most disturbing and fascinating character in television history. Just like the previous installments, 'Dexter: The Complete Third Season' looks and sounds amazing on Blu-ray. Unfortunately, I can't say the same for the supplement package, however, which has hit an all-time low and is a major disappointment to say the least. So far I've "highly recommended" the first two releases, but this is such an embarrassment I have no choice but to withhold the "highly" this time around. If anyone at the studio happens to be reading this and would like it back for the fourth season, then stop doing the fans a huge disservice and come up with a more user-friendly system. Dumping measly scraps and leftovers on BD-Live just ain't cool.
Portions of this review also appear in our coverage of Dunkirk on Blu-ray. This post features unique Vital Disc Stats, Video, and Final Thoughts sections.