Dexter: The Third Season [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray A - America - Paramount Home Entertainment
Review written by and copyright: Jeremiah Chin (28th August 2009).
The Show

In 2007 there was no show I wanted cancelled more than “Cane” (2007). I never watched a single episode and have absolutely nothing against the show, other than the fact that it monopolized some of the best Latina/o actors working today, most notably keeping Richard ‘pretty eyes’ Alpert, a.k.a. Nestor Carbonell, from being able to commit further to the fourth season of “Lost” (2004-2010). But with the fourth and fifth seasons of “Lost” in the books, I can remove the blinders for the offseason and get back to another great show that benefited from the demise of “Cane” as “Dexter” (2006-Present) managed to pick up Jimmy Smits who has made some great television as Congressman Matt Santos in “West Wing” (1999-2006). Sure he was Senator Bail Organa, but Organa had no chance to defeat Senator Palpatine like Santos did Vinick. What a terrible movie. But with Smits back on television in another cop/politican style role, he ups the ante on an already great cast.

Smits joins the season as Assistant District Attorney Miguel Prado, a super popular and known figure in Miami whose younger brother gets killed at the beginning of the season. Unfortunately the killer is none other than Dexter (Michael C. Hall), but this time it was an accident in the middle of trying to track down a drug dealer. As the police department searches for the killer Miguel and Dexter become friends, and even after the wrong is righted, Miguel and Dexter continue to be close friends, leading Dexter to bring Miguel in on his alternative sociopathic-killer-for-justice lifestyle. In the personal department Dexter and Rita (Julie Benz) have become closer since the ending of the last season. Unfortunately the magic juices have been flowing too well for Dexter and Rita as Rita discovers she’s pregnant, leaving Dexter with the larger question of how to deal with the potential of bringing a kid of his own into the world.

More so than last season, “Dexter” brings the plot and the acting necessary to make it one of the better shows airing on television today. It doesn’t match the peaks of mystery and character drama achieved by “Lost” or “Mad Men” (2006-Present), but at core the show is solidly entertaining and engaging enough to keep me watching a full season’s worth of episodes in a short amount of time. Hall, Benz and Smits form an acting "Big Three" that pull the show together incredibly well, especially with greater focus on the more complex Dexter/Rita relationship that develops since it’s more about getting deeper into the commitment rather than some affairs with weird British sounding people like in the second season.

The show keeps it’s same visual touches and flares that draw you in, but without trying to be overly flashy and ruin the substance of the show itself. There are a lot of vision/hallucination/conversations with dead people between Dexter and his father in this season and they’re pulled off effectively without pushing the ‘this isn’t real’ boundary that can get annoying when they are as frequent as they are within the show.

Plot-wise the show elevates itself and keeps it going with good characters and another scenario that follows Dexter while the police investigate another serial killer. Dexter’s development as a sociopath is similarly simultaneous with his development of more normal relationships with Rita. Dexter’s code gets solidified and explored in his interactions with Miguel and it provides for some interesting plot and character developments in the show that keeps it enaging to watch.

Overall, "Dexter" is a solid, quality show that knows how to effectively create a cop/forensic show, without falling into the boring, repetitive procedural formula. Quality actors, good writing, cool characters; basically everything neccisary for a quality show with a good amount of the weird to make it memorable and keeps me returning with each season. I still think the show could complicate everything a bit more, since Dexter’s mostly straightforward approach seems to encounter mostly straightforward problems, but the relative uniqueness of the show makes most of these issues seem far less significant than just watching the show itself. It has it’s hokey and more generic moments, but the good stuff again tends to outweigh.

The Episodes of the Season are:

“Our Father”
“Finding Freebo”
“The Lion Sleeps Tonight”
“All in the Family”
“Turning Biminese”
“Sí Se Puede”
“Easy as Pie”
“The Damage a Man Can Do”
“About Last Night”
“Go Your Own Way”
“I Had a Dream”
“Do You Take Dexter Morgan?”

Video

Presented in 1080p 24/fps with a 1.78:1 aspect ratio and AVC MPEG-4 encoding that keeps the show looking crisp without any real problems from grain or interference, which is impressive considering the amount of weird lighting situations Dexter gets into between following people at night and precision murder in brightly lit rooms. Overall it’s a quality transfer on a show that was filmed in high-definition and looks good in the format, I can even notice some distinct improvements in colors and clarity from the second season’s transfer.

Audio

Simlarly, the English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 track mixed at 48/kHz/16-bit makes a good transfer to Blu-ray with great clarity and movement in the sound for a television show. It doesn’t have theatrical quality sound, but it doesn’t quite need it as the ambient noises are executed well in the dreamy scenes and the proper noises of the stabs, choking and other brutal moments come through well to give the proper effect in each scene. The music to the show suits the tone well and comes in effectively, balancing with the entirety of the show to make for an effective presentation and an effective use of the 5.1 space, but it doesn’t excel above and beyond to make the tracks blend in and stay memorable simultaneously. But hey, Michael Giacchino can’t score every show.
There’s also an optional Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo track and English for the hearing impaired subtitles.

Extras

Paramount has released this show with only some bonus trailers and BD-Live access features. Below is a closer look.

DISC ONE:

Nothing but a start-up bonus trailer for “Showtime HD” which runs for 1 minute and 12 seconds.

DISC TWO:

Again, nothing but a start-up bonus trailer for “Showtime HD” which runs for 1 minute and 12 seconds.

DISC THREE:

The only feature actually on the disc is the same star-up bonus trailer, “Showtime HD” 1 minute 12 seconds.

Much like the “Dexter: The Second Season" set, the bulk of the special features are frustratingly only available with internet access through BD-Live. It’s a lazy and roundabout way of loading a disc with special features that are potentially inaccessible to those who haven’t wired their Blu-ray players for BD-Live which is a slap in the face for some early adopters of the format whose players aren’t upgradable to BD-Live. Extra BD-Live content, sure. All BD-Live, exclusively? You’re hurting the advantage of a great format that allows space for incredible amount of special features, they may as well just include an ‘online only secret membership club card’ with each season set to let people do it convienently from their computers as well. The box says there are mostly interviews/featurettes with a few episode previews, but this sort of content I wouldn’t consider special features for the disc since it’s not accessible for all viewers and will disreguard it and give the special features, which have a lot of potential for a good quality show, a failing grade based on what I consider very poor production standards for a Blu-ray. This honestly taints the overall grade of the season about as much as the quality of the show itself did to help the set. In the interest of full disclosure I didn’t review any of these extra BD-Live features, partially out of outrage, but mostly because my router, internet connection and Blu-ray player don’t get along well, fueling the outrage. I’d like to watch the features, but with this sort of hassle, it becomes less and less worth it with each try. The Packaging lists: Interviews with Michael C. Hall, Julie Benz, Jennifer Carpenter, Lauren Vélez, and David Zayas. "Dexter By Design" book excerpts, The first two episodes of "The United States of Tara" and two episodes from "The Tudors: Season Three".

Overall

The Show: B+ Video: A Audio: A- Extras: F- Overall: C

 


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