"Dexter - The Complete Second Season" Blu-ray Review
May 05, 2009 by Zach Demeter
One of Showtime’s breakout hits, Dexter helped propel the network into more homes and put it on the map as a premium cable network that had plenty of great content to offer. With recent offerings like Californication and past hits like Weeds and The L Word, Showtime has long since proved its worth as something worth the attention of those seeking quality and smartly written television. So why is it I’m just now getting around to watching the network? After delving fully into Californication (both seasons), Paramount and Showtime saw fit to re-release their other breakout hit, Dexter on Blu-ray, with the first season hitting in January and now the second season for May.
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 can’t 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?
So…I loved the first season of the show (perhaps too much) and I almost immediately delved into season two. A bit of a mistake, perhaps, as this second season suffered a bit in terms of wrapping the viewer up in the show; while it played off of the greatness that was season one, season two felt like a letdown purely because it was just entirely predictable and filled with rather annoying characters. Still, even while it was definitely the weakest of the three seasons thus far, it wasn’t all bad,—it gave us a further understanding of Dexter’s character and his supporting cast, but the new characters that were introduced just didn’t have the same excitement as the first season.
Granted, with the serial killer this season that’s being hunted actually being Dexter, it had a load of potential. Unfortunately that potential was flushed down the toilet by Sergeant James Doakes (played by Erik King) who always felt decidedly B-roll actory to me, with his over-the-top facial expressions and constant lumbering around like some muscular wrestler hopped up on steroids. Sure, that’s his character (an ex-marine, after all, would be a bad ass), but the continued surveillance of Dexter and his constant butting in on his life grew more tiresome than it did suspenseful. On top of that the eventual twist of the finale (which I won’t ruin in case some of you have yet to see it) felt very shoe-horned in to me…but, it did get rid of the unnecessary debris that cluttered the season and would eventually make way for a much stronger third.
Doakes wasn’t the only downer this season, however. Jaime Murray as Lila, who would later console Dexter through his “drug addiction” and show more bare flesh than we saw in all of the first season, simply drug the show down as well. Between her and Doakes the season was just flat-out annoying for characters that were sticking close to Dexter and I took very little pleasure from Lila’s character, especially once she went loopy-loo crazy and started setting stuff on fire like the little pyro she is.
Everything else, however, really was solid. Dexter’s sister, Deborah (Jennifer Carpenter), shows continued reliance upon him as well as interest in the older FBI agent who comes into oversee the “Bay Harbor Butcher” case. Throughout all of this Dexter’s killings slow to a crawl as the heat is put on him and in their place we get more exposition on Dexter’s father and the things that he went through and did because of his son’s twisted desires to kill.
Its odd how closely one can relate to a serial killer like Dexter, but the show rarely makes you feel bad for rooting for the guy who cuts people up. He had a disturbing childhood and kills only those who deserve it (which would later be tested in season three…my favorite of the seasons so far, I think) and because of this there are some morals you can grasp onto that are similar to your own. Still, Dexter is obviously heightened reality…but damn if it isn’t a fantastic show. While this second season leaves you with little to desire (and honestly quelled my desire to watch the third season, although not enough to actually keep me from jumping into it a day later), it does wrap up in a satisfactory way so it’s not a total bust.
Overall the least exciting of the seasons so far, but still not shabby at all. If you have yet to check the show out, I’d pick up the first season before you give the second one a spin—but there’s still plenty of goodness to enjoy here (including some hilarious sequences between Dexter and Rita’s [Julie Benz] mother, played by JoBeth Williams). Recommended.
So what kind of goodies did Paramount bring with this Blu-ray release of Dexter’s second season? Well aside from the season itself…nothing, really. The season, spread across three discs and stuffed inside a single width case comes with nothing more than a firmware upgrade notice and grey washed discs and a plain white backdrop behind the discs with a description of the episodes on each disc as well as their content. Sadly there’s nothing new here and the disappointing extras from the DVD release have nothing added to them.
If ever there was a sequence to view in high-definition, it’s this series intro sequence. Comprised almost exclusively of extreme close-up shots, the amount of detail present in each of the frames as we see fingers up close, stubble being shaved away and fruit sliced and squeezed is simply breathtaking. I may have a new “show off” piece when it comes to high-definition clarity and what the Blu-ray format is capable of, as the 1080p AVC encoded video transfer for every one of these twelve episodes is simply flawless. Beautiful video through and through, we see plenty of gorgeous exterior shots as well as a smattering of gruesome dismemberments. Every frame of the season boasts plenty of detail and you’ll be hard pressed to take issue with any of this season’s video content. The Dolby TrueHD 5.1 mix is slightly less impressive, simply because it’s such a dialogue driven show that there aren’t many opportunities for the surrounds to get worked here, but there were a few instances where they kicked in for some of Dexter’s murder scenes. English, English SDH, and Spanish subtitles are included.
And now…the extras! And…crap there isn’t much here. In fact if you don’t have a BD-Live enabled player, you will get nothing as there is nothing on the discs themselves. Available via the BD-Live features, however, are the first two episodes of United States of Tara, a ”Blood Fountains” Featurette, Dark Defender Series (you know, the comic book based on The Bay Harbor Butcher), some Podcasts, and some other trailers. Certainly better than strictly barebones, but why they couldn’t just drop it on the disc I have no idea.
Overall the extras are still a bit disappointing if only because they’re forced to be BD-Live, but it’s still better than the strictly barebones DVD release. If you enjoy the show at all, this one comes Recommended. Seasons a bit weak and so is the overall package, but Dexter is still a highly addictive and engaging show from start to finish.
Dexter – The Complete Second Season is now available on Blu-ray.