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Reviews » Blu-ray Reviews » Dexter: The Complete Third Season (Blu-ray)
Dexter: The Complete Third Season (Blu-ray)
Paramount // Unrated // August 18, 2009 // Region A
List Price: $57.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by John Sinnott | posted September 7, 2009 | E-mail the Author
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Highly Recommended
E - M A I L
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The Show:
Warning:  This review contains spoilers for the first two seasons.
Showcase has released the third season of Dexter just in time for viewers who missed it to catch up before season four starts later this month.  If you've enjoyed the first two seasons, you'll definitely want to catch season three also.  While I enjoyed season two just a tad more than three, this was still an excellent series filled with mystery, suspense, surprises and plenty of murder.
Series Background:
Dexter Morgan (Michael C. Hall, Six Feet Under) is a blood splatter analyst for the Miami Police Department.  He examines murder scenes and determines where the victim and perpetrator where standing and their movements based on the drops of blood that are left.  Dexter has a secret though; he's a serial killer. 
Adopted when he was three after he saw his mother butchered with a chainsaw and then left trapped with her body for days, Dexter exhibited all the early signs of a psychopath.  He had trouble relating to other people's feelings or even feeling anything himself, and killed small animals.  His adopted father, Harry (James Remar), was a Miami police officer and recognized what was wrong with Dexter.  Rather than trying to change Dexter's personality, something that probably wasn't possible, Harry decided to channel his son's anti-social (to say the least) tendencies.  He showed him how to blend in with other people, how to fake being normal so that no one would suspect what he really is.  Harry also instilled a moral code in the immoral child.  He convinced him that he has to resist his urges to kill and only let loose on people who deserve it:  murderers who are beyond the law.  Harry also trained Dexter in criminal investigative procedure so that he would know how to kill without leaving evidence and to stay off of the police's radar.
It worked well.  Dexter appears to be a normal, if somewhat quite guy.  Not event those closest to him, his step-sister Debra (Hall's real-life wife Jennifer Carpenter), his girlfriend Rita (Julie Benz), or his co-workers commanding officer Lt. Maria LaGuerta (Lauren Vélez), Detective Angel Batista (David Zayas), and lab tech Vince Masuka (C.S. Lee), suspect that Dexter loves to kill people and cut up their bodies.
The Season:
With everyone thinking that the late Sgt. Doakes was the 'Bay Harbor Butcher' things are still stressful at the Miami PD, but slowly getting back to normal.  Dexter is on the hunt again, and this time he's tapped a low-level drug dealer who is also guilty of murder who goes by the name "Freebo".  Dexter plans out his attack, setting up a kill room as always, but when he arrives at Freebo's house late one night he walks in on a fight.  Someone else is trying to kill  Freebo and they turn their knife on Dexter as soon as he's seen.
During the struggle Dexter kills the unknown man with his own knife and quickly leaves the scene.  He's called to the scene the next day in his role as a blood splatter expert and finds out that his victim is the brother of a very powerful and successful Assistant District Attorney, Miguel Prado (Jimmy Smits) who is not only a smooth politician but also an old flame of Lt. LaGuerta's. 
Dexter is worried that the police will find Freebo before he does and that the criminal will talk.  Using what he knows about Freebo he tracks him down to his girlfriend's house, where he kills him.  End of story?  Not quite because ADA Prado, using his connections in the Sherriff's department, has also tracked down Freebo and arrives on the scene just after Dexter has killed him. 
Miguel isn't horrified to discover a blood-stained Dexter at the home of the man he thinks killed his brother.  Just the opposite, he's excited and happy.  Freebo deserved to die, and Dexter just saved the people of Florida the cost of an expensive trial.  From that point on Miguel decides to become Dexter's best friend; to hang out with him and maybe even learn from him.  Dexter is leery at first, but what would it be like to have a real friend that he could trust with his darkest secrets?
If that's not enough to keep Dexter up nights, he discovers that Rita is pregnant, and he's the father.  Should she have the child?  If she does what sort of father would he be, and would his child turn out to be a monster like he is?
Like the earlier seasons this was a great set of shows, tightly plotted and well executed.  The various plot lines are well thought out and the program is obviously planned out a season at a time.  Nothing feels rushed or half-assed. Everything from Rita's pregnancy to the problems that Debra has with her love life and Maria's feelings for Prado are all developed in an efficient manner and then all come together in unexpected ways.  There are a lot of great shows being broadcast but none are constructed as carefully as this one.
The creators made the right choice in selecting Jimmy Smits to costar in this season.  He's an excellent actor and has done some wonderful work on L.A. Law, NYPD Blue, and (my favorite) West Wing.  He surpasses all those roles in this time.  He portrays Prado with just the right mix of slick politician and caring friend.  You're never sure if he's a villain or a real friend to Dexter through most of the season and that's hard to pull off.  He's also incredibly dynamic and steals many of the scenes that he's in.  A definite asset to this season, he really makes the show better than it would have been with a lesser actor.
The Blu-ray Disc:

The 12 episodes that make up the second season of Dexter come on three Blu-ray discs contained in a single-width case.  A page in the middle holds two discs (one on each side of the page so they aren't overlapping) while the third is attached to the right side.     
Presented with a 1.78:1 1080p AVC MPEG-4 encoded image, this set looks very good, just as good as season one.  There is a lot of detail in the picture, and many times the image just leaps off the screen, especially in the bright exterior scenes.  The acne scars on Jimmy Smits' face are clear and sharp and gives the actor even more character.  The colors are outstanding, reproducing the lush greens of the Miami setting as well as the deep red blood splatters that Dexter analyses with great care.  Some of the darker scenes do have a bit of grain in them, but this was a minor concern.
The show comes with a 5.1 Dolby TrueHD soundtrack that works well for the show.  Being mainly dialog based, there aren't a lot of fancy audio effects but the show does throw some sound to the rears, mainly background music.  There are also some unexpected sound effects positioned nicely around the room a doorbell ringing behind you for example, that are spare but work nicely.
As with the two seasons, fans of the show are going to disappointed with the very, very meager bonuses.  This time all of the extras that are 'included' have to be accessed via Blu-ray Live.  First off the early adopters who don't have a Blu-ray Live enabled player are just plain screwed, as are the people who don't have their house networked.  Also, I have to wonder how long the content will be available.  I have DVDs that are going on ten years old that I still enjoy.  In a decade is Showtime still going to be hosting these on-line extras?  I don't think so.  The Blu-ray Live downloadable features include two episodes of two other Showtime programs, The United States of Tara and The Tudors, a book excerpt, and an interview with Michael C. Hall, Julie Benz, Jennifer Carpenter, Lauren Velez, and David Zayasa.  With a show this good that has a substantial following, there really should be more bonus content.  A real disappointment.
Final Thoughts:
After three seasons Dexter still hasn't jumped the shark and is going strong.  As with the two earlier seasons they tell one whole story with this set of programs, and they do it very well.  The show also sets up plots for the next season, something they hadn't done if the past.  A great program on a great set of Blu-ray discs, this comes Highly Recommended.
Note: The images in this review are not from the Blu-ray disc and do not necessarily represent the image quality on the disc.
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