Dexter: The Second Season
R1 - America - Paramount Home Entertainment
Review written by and copyright: Jeremiah Chin (22nd September 2008).
The Show

“Dexter” has had me intrigued from the beginning with it’s premise, but unfortunately it’s broadcast on the Showtime network in the United States, a premium network which means that it’s a little above my budget to subscribe to and I missed out on it. However thanks to DVD it also means its premium network broadcasting is a blessing in terms of allowing it to take it’s content to a full, controversial and bloody, conclusion.

For those who missed out on the first season, like me, Dexter Morgan (Michael C. Hall) is a serial killer, a sociopath devoid of emotions who puts on a mask and fakes his day to day life, channeling his urge to kill by using his position as a forensic scientist to investigate murderers and kill them on his own time. In this second season however, Dexter finds some reservations after his last murder at the end of the first season that hit a little too close to home for him. He tries to get back into his serial-killing-for-the-greater-good form. Unluckily, once Dexter gets his groove back, the police department he works for uncovers his dumping grounds in the Miami Bay area, placing his coworkers unknowingly on his trail as they try to hunt him down.

As I’ve already said, the premise is really intriguing, a serial killer focused on killing killers. In the second season, the series attempts to go through the big overwhelming question: how does killing the killers make Dexter any more justified. At first blush it seems the series is content to leave it at the idea that he’s the anti-hero protagonist and follows a set of his own rules in murdering the murderers. At times it seems that the series seems to delve into the idea behind capital punishment or how much more justified is the state in killing people than some vigilante name Dexter. However it feels as if there’s no real definitive tone between taking joy in Dexter’s justice with clever dialogue and a larger conversation around the idea of justice, social construction and sociopaths, but that kind of ambiguity can help to keep a show interesting

There’s also some interesting conflict in terms of personal drama and Julie Benz has some great character drama and conflict with Dexter as the love interest of a man who can’t feel love. It’s nice to see her back working in TV again and getting a solid job after her fairly frequent guest spots in “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” (1997-2003)) and “Angel” (1999-2004). The rest of the supporting cast builds up a great ensemble, for all my fellow “Oz” (1997-2003) fans, a relatively large portion of the cast is represented with Erik King, Lauren Vélez, and David Zayas all playing cops and doing some great acting on par with their performances in “Oz.”

The show is fairly solid, it has some momentary drags in some of the episodes, but they are fairly intermittent and are looked over quickly. “Dexter” is in many ways a further example of how the restraints of television can be hindering on the premises of some shows, “Dexter” could never really work on network TV, even though CBS has bought the rights and edited down the show it waters down and overlooks how the gore (which what’s there is good) and language make the show feel more natural in the context of a show about a serial killer. It would be cheating to try and overlook the brutality or gore of the crimes that would make Dexter seem more heroic than sociopathic. That said, the directing and production of the show is really well done, the production values match up to the writing and directing between a ‘well above average’ to ‘excellent’ level.

Overall, “Dexter: The Second Season” is a good follow-up to the first, it runs a little to slow to start out with and has some rough spots, but Hall and the supporting cast, especially Benz, are incredibly strong and make the show watchable and likeable. The Second season didn’t quite blow me away as I expected, but is good, watchable television that deserves praise.

Here’s a quick rundown of the episodes of the second season:

– "It’s Alive!"
- "Waiting to Exhale"
- "An Inconvenient Lie"
- "See-Through"
- "The Dark Defender"
- "Dex, Lies and Videotape"
- "That Night, A Forest Grew"
- "Morning Comes"
- "Resistance is Futile"
- "There’s Something About Harry"
- "Left Turn Ahead"
- "The British Invasion"

Video

The video transfer on “Dexter” preserves the original 1.85:1 widescreen aspect ratio as it aired on Showtime and the rest of the transfer keeps a fairly high standard as well. The quality of the video is clean and the lighting looks really good. The colors are allowed to pop or seem normal when necessary. In terms of film quality it feels somewhere between a regular TV show and a film which helps to add to the tone of the show itself.

Audio

“Dexter” is presented with an English Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound track, English Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo or Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 mono. The English 5.1 sounds really good. The scoring for the show is pleasantly subtle but interesting, while the levels and other technical aspects are well balanced with the rest of the show. The show uses a heavy amount of voiceover which is kept well in balance with the rest of the audio and keeps the show’s quality standards high.
There are no optional subtitles available on these episodes.

Extras

Sadly the 4-disc set from Paramount is fairly bare of real special features related to “Dexter” though the set includes bonus episodes of other Showtime shows, biographies, a photo gallery, Bonus trailers and DVD-ROM content accessible from a computer DVD player. Below is a closer look at these supplements.

DISC ONE:

This disc features a startup bonus trailer for "Showtime" network’s original programming spot which runs for 1 minute and 6 seconds.

DISC TWO:

This disc features a startup bonus trailer for "Showtime" network’s original programming spot which runs for 1 minute and 6 seconds.

DISC THREE:

This disc features a startup bonus trailer for "Showtime" network’s original programming spot which runs for 1 minute and 6 seconds.

DISC FOUR:

The 4th disc only has a handful of extras, first there are two bonus episodes of “The Brotherhood” season 2. Episode 1 runs for 56 minutes and 33 seconds, while the second runs for 53 minutes and 21 seconds. An intriguing idea that could be given credit, if these two hours of programming weren’t taking up space that should be used for "Dexter" related special features like commentary on episodes, which appeared in the first season’s DVD set, but for some reason not this time around.

Next are biographies for the cast of “Dexter” which are just menu accessible text, a little frustrating and seemingly not so important with the internet being more detailed and easier to use. Cast members featured are:

- Michael C. Hall
- Julie Benz
- Jennifer Carpenter
- Erik King
- C.S. Lee
- Lauren Vélez
- David Zayas
- James Remar
- JoBeth Williams
- Jaime Murray
- Keith Carradine

There’s a photo gallery which includes 11 stills from the show.

When put into a computer you get access to some DVD-ROM content, disc 4 runs a startup window that requires an internet connection, I would recommend a high speed one. These extras include:

- The “Dexter Featurettes” link, which links into a pair of interviews with Michael C. Hall in a streaming player that has no times listed. The video is low quality and if you have any internet connection problems it can short out. The interview itself is interesting Hall goes into the character and his drama over the course of the second season, but the fact that this couldn’t have been included on the disc over two episodes of an entirely unrelated TV show is abysmal.

- Next is are complete bonus episodes of “The Tudors” Season 2 Episodes 1 and 2, which also plays in the same streaming player with low video quality. This is a much better place for these bonus episodes of unrelated shows.

- Finally there are 2 complete bonus episodes of “Californication” Season 1 Episodes 1 and 2, again played in the same streaming player with low video quality. Nice of Showtime to include these bonus episodes online, I just wish they would have taken the ones from the disc accessible from a DVD player and put them online and taken the actual special features and put them on the disc.

Finally there's a startup bonus trailer for "Showtime" network’s original programming which runs for 1 minute and 6 seconds.

Packaging

“Dexter: The Second Season” is packaged in 2 double sided slim amray keep cases housed inside a cardboard sleeve.

Overall

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

 


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