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Dexter: The Second Season(TV) (2007)
Dexter is a crime drama about Dexter Morgan, a man who leads a double life as an incredibly likeable forensics expert for the Miami Police Department and as an emotionless vigilante serial killer. Taught by his foster father to harness his lust for blood and killing, Dexter lives by his own strict moral code - he only kills murderers who can't otherwise be brought to justice. Dexter is a killer who grapples with fitting into society while, at the same time, he struggles with his inability to feel emotion. The irony of Dexter's life is that he works closely as a blood splatter analyst with the very people who hunt his kind - the homicide department.
For more about Dexter: The Second Season and the Dexter: The Second Season Blu-ray release, see Dexter: The Second Season Blu-ray Review published by Kenneth Brown on April 27, 2009 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: Michael C. Hall, Jennifer Carpenter, David Zayas, Julie Benz, James Remar, Yvonne Strahovski
Directors: John Dahl, Steve Shill, Keith Gordon, Marcos Siega, Ernest R. Dickerson, Romeo Tirone
» See full cast & crew
Dexter: The Second Season Blu-ray Review
Miami's darkest guardian earns an exquisite outing on Blu-ray...
Reviewed by Kenneth Brown, April 27, 2009
Never in my wildest imagination did I think a show like Dexter could rise above its gimmicky premise to become one of the first things I pounce on in my TiVo queue. I knew series star Michael C. Hall was an exceedingly talented actor -- his self-loathing portrayal of a man struggling with identity and purpose in Six Feet Under had established that long ago -- but I didn't expect him to transform the weekly misadventures of a narcissistic serial killer into such compelling television. More avenging angel than unbridled monster, more tortured savior than sniveling antagonist, Hall has spent the last three years of his career creating one of the most intriguing, entertaining, and memorable lead characters to grace cable TV in quite some time.
By day, Dexter Morgan (Michael C. Hall) lives a mundane life as a Miami Metro Police Department forensic scientist; a mild-mannered blood spatter analyst more comfortable in a lab than a nightclub. He not only holds a steady job, he spends his evenings with his girlfriend Rita (Julie Benz) and her young children (Christina Robinson and Preston Bailey), helps his sister Debra (Quarantine's Jennifer Carpenter) through a variety of personal crises, and even squeezes in some time to share a few beers with his colleague and recently divorced friend, Sergeant Angel Batista (David Zayas). Everyone likes Dexter... everyone that is except for Sergeant James Doakes (Erik King), a sharp-eyed detective who's longed sensed his friendly-neighborhood-analyst is a different beast altogether. As it turns out, Doakes is closer to the truth than even he realizes. As the rest of the city sleeps, Dexter hits the streets, prowling for murderers who've circumvented the legal system. After rendering his chosen victims unconscious, the devious forensics expert immobilizes them in a plastic-coated "kill room" and forces them to face any past misdeeds before plunging a blade into their chest.
But it's not as simple as it first seems. Orphaned at an early age, Dexter developed a strong bond with his adoptive father Harry (James Remar), a perceptive police officer who recognized the telltale signs of a budding serial killer in his new son. Attempting to hone Dexter's desires, Harry designed a careful set of rules to ensure the guilty were the only ones who would fall prey to the boy's insatiable appetite. For a long time, it worked. Dexter not only tamed his temperament, but continued to uphold his code long after his father's untimely death. By the end of the series' intense first season, our lovable vigilante had managed to reconnect with his dark past, uncover the unsettling truth behind his late father's decisions, and stop a particularly crafty and violent sociopath from killing his sister. But after an all-too-brief respite, the trials and tribulations of season two begin to hit Dexter even harder. Struggling to stay one step ahead of his own capture (after divers discover the bodies of his victims), he has to contend with the arrival of an FBI agent (Keith Carradine) assigned to the aptly-named "Bay Harbor Butcher" case, Doakes' increasing suspicions, accusations made by Rita's ex-husband (Mark Pellegrino), and the allure of a psychotic stalker named Lila (Jaime Murray). Through it all, Dexter works to redefine his father's code, define his true calling, and survive the seemingly endless personal assaults that come from every direction.
What makes Dexter one of the best shows on television today? Simple: no matter where the story goes, its focus stays locked on the characters and their development. Sure, Emmy-award winning creator James Manos Jr. revels in the series' at-times grisly gore and evocatively brutal imagery -- his directors even going so far as to inject episodes with disturbing visions and surreal dream sequences -- but Hall, Benz, Carpenter, and the remaining cast always take precedence over such relatively trivial stylistic trappings. It certainly helps that the actors' ever-evolving performances and the writers' sharp scripts constantly peel back fresh and intriguing layers within each character. Even one-note bit players are eviscerated before our eyes; their souls laid bare as their deepest fears are realized. In that regard, Dexter's second season is far superior to its first: with introductions largely out of the way, the series is able to take advantage of countless opportunities to dissect its mainstays and explore their motivations, reservations, and vulnerabilities. Moreover, while Dexter may have been painted as an emotionless creature of habit in the series' earliest episodes, season two embroils him in so much conflict and paranoia that an authentic emotional core begins to emerge.
The series' second season also deviates further from author Jeff Lindsay's corresponding novels (Darkly Dreaming Dexter and Dearly Devoted Dexter among them), infusing his title character with an even greater sense of drive and purpose. His confident musings are rife with contradictions and revelations -- none of which perfectly define the man we see on screen -- while sudden bouts of hesitance and unsuredness give viewers hope that there really is something brewing beneath his ruffled exterior. For all intents and purposes, Dexter's every action should damn him to the cruelest fate his writers can conceive, yet it's all too easy to root for him to evade capture and live to kill another day. It's a testament to each intricately constructed episode that Sergeant Doakes, a man clearly standing on the righteous highground, is the one we want to see undone. God forbid someone interfere with the work of our dearly devoted Dexter. There isn't a subplot or whispered exchange that goes by in which the series doesn't toy with traditional concepts of good and evil, right and wrong, truth and deception. Watching a show like Dexter is as much a cerebral experience as it is visceral; it asks questions with no clear-cut answers, makes proclamations it soon recants, and devises scenarios without any ideal solutions in sight.
If you haven't seen Dexter: The Complete First Season, track down a copy and take it through the paces. Once you're as curious as the next fan as to what its writers have in store for our favorite serial killer, dive into Dexter: The Complete Second Season and reap the rewards. It reaches loftier heights than its predecessor, delivers more complex character interactions, and builds towards a far more satisfying conclusion. Make no mistake, Dexter is one of the most smartly-written, fiercely-acted shows on television today. Give it a spin and witness how quickly the series circumvents what could have been a tiresome gimmick and converts you into the fold.
Dexter: The Second Season Blu-ray, Video Quality
Serving up a slick-n-savvy 1080p/AVC-encoded transfer, Dexter: The Complete Second Season stays oh-so-true to the show's unconventional tone with a polished presentation that's sure to please series fans and newcomers alike. Miami's lush primaries and warm skintones are on full display, relishing in a vibrant palette drenched in thick, bottomless shadows. Reds are particularly vivid, giving Dexter's dark deeds enough visceral impact to match their thematic power. While contrast is intentionally overblown on occasion, black levels remain rich and inky, depth is consistently convincing, and detail rarely suffers. More importantly, refined textures and sharp edges create an attractive, three-dimensional image in which individual flecks of stubble, scattered paperwork, and the smallest piece of trash are all given their own fifteen-frames-of-fame. Yes, nighttime sequences fall prey to some elevated digital noise, but videophiles will quickly and rightfully attribute it to the series' original source rather than Paramount's technical transfer. In fact, aside from a bit of infrequent artifacting, I didn't detect any significant video anomalies; at least none that weren't intentionally incorporated into the at-times surreal and oft-times stylized presentation.
All things considered, I couldn't ask for much more from Paramount's high definition efforts. Dexter looks fantastic in every way and should easily satisfy its series' most faithful followers.
Dexter: The Second Season Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Paramount ups the sonic ante this season with an involving Dolby TrueHD 5.1 surround track that delivers the soothing lull of Dexter's twisted narration and the hollow thunk of his most violent kills with equal resolve. Dialogue is crisp and keenly prioritized, keeping its head above water even when sharing a crowded soundscape with chaotic effects, pulsing music, and sudden gunfire. Moreover, interior acoustics are eerily realistic, ambience is persistent and pressing, and directionality is precise. Taken as a whole, these attributes lend an appropriately creepy atmosphere to Dexter's midnight hunts and effectively enhance the series' on-screen tension. It's also worth noting that dynamics seem bolder and more robust than they did on the first season's TrueHD track, offering weightier LFE support, more aggressive rear channel activity, and a more stable and immersive soundfield. Chalk it up to the second season's brisker pace and more frenetic, action-oriented scenarios, but I found myself noting more positives this time around than I did while watching Paramount's first Dexter Blu-ray release.
Even though Dexter: The Complete Second Season doesn't deliver the most remarkable television audio track I've reviewed -- normalization is slightly unreliable, pans are occasionally a bit stocky, and a handful of quiet conversations suffer from minor background noise -- Paramount's lossless offering is nevertheless an impressive effort that will help viewers step inside the strange labyrinth of Dexter's mind.
Dexter: The Second Season Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
In a decision I simply cannot wrap my head around, Paramount has only included a single special feature on the Blu-ray edition of Dexter's second season (well, two if you include its collection of episode trailers): a bland interactive trivia game of sorts called Tools of the Trade. That's right... you won't find any audio commentaries, documentaries, or deleted scenes on any of this release's three BD-50 discs. Instead, BD-Live users are given the option to download a Blood Fountains featurette, several Michael C. Hall podcasts previously featured on the standard DVD, season two's Dark Defender online shorts, and bonus episodes from other Showtime series like The United States of Tara. I'll give the studio some credit for at least providing access to further supplemental material, but the anemic nature of the package -- not to mention its limited accessibility and ease of use -- is a resounding disappointment.
Dexter: The Second Season Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Putting aside Paramount's lackluster supplemental package, the Blu-ray edition of Dexter: The Complete Second Season is an absolute treat. It not only includes some of the series most deliciously devilish episodes, it features a gorgeous video transfer and a thoroughly proficient TrueHD audio track. Better still, a comparison to the standard DVD instantly demonstrates just how much of an AV upgrade fans will encounter when they pop in each disc. Make no mistake, this excellent Blu-ray release is well worth your time and money.
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Dexter: The Second Season Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Season Two of Dexter Coming This May - February 6, 2009
Paramount Home Entertainment has revealed that they will bring 'Dexter: The Complete Second Season' to Blu-ray on May 5th. The set will feature all 12 episodes in 1080p AVC accompanied by a 5.1 Dolby TrueHD soundtrack. The release will be BD-Live enhanced, giving ...
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