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Dexter: The Third Season(TV) (2008)
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 Third Season and the Dexter: The Third Season Blu-ray release, see Dexter: The Third Season Blu-ray Review published by Kenneth Brown on August 12, 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 Third Season Blu-ray Review
Mesmerizing and intense, this acclaimed Showtime stunner doesn't disappoint...
Reviewed by Kenneth Brown, August 12, 2009
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, officer Debra Morgan (Jennifer Carpenter), through a variety of personal crises, and even squeezes in some time to share a few beers with his colleague, Sergeant Angel Batista (David Zayas). But unbeknownst to his friends and family, Dexter isn't everything he appears to be. As the rest of the city sleeps, the calculating forensics expert hits the streets, prowling for murderers who've circumvented the legal system. After rendering his chosen victims unconscious, Dexter immobilizes them in a plastic-coated "kill room" and forces them to face their past misdeeds before plunging a blade into their chest.
Avenging angel? Hardly. Orphaned at an early age, Dexter developed a strong bond with his father Harry (James Remar), a perceptive police officer who recognized the telltale signs of a budding serial killer in his adopted son. Working to hone Dexter's desires, Harry designed a 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 Harry's code long after his father's untimely death. By the end of the series' intense first season, our lovable vigilante had managed to dig into his origins, uncover the truth about his late father's intentions, and prevent a particularly crafty sociopath from killing his sister. But after an all-too-brief respite, the trials and tribulations of season two hit Dexter even harder, forcing him to chose between his darkest desires -- personified by an unhinged soulmate of sorts (Jaime Murray) competing for his affections -- and his own fledgling humanity.
In season three, Dexter is given the unique opportunity to educate an eager apprentice -- Miguel Prado (Jimmy Smits), a vindictive Assistant District Attorney determined to catch and punish his brother's killer (surprise, surprise... it's our dearly devoted Dexter). But teaching his first student the tools of the trade isn't the only challenge in Dexter's life. Rita delivers the news that she's pregnant, Debra inadvertently comes closer than ever to connecting several crimes to her brother, and wedding bells begin to chime on the horizon. Upping Dexter's blood pressure even further is the emergence of a deadly new serial killer (dubbed "The Skinner," for obvious reasons), the terminal illness of an old family friend (Margo Martindale), Miguel's unhealthy obsession with a persistent defense attorney (Anne Ramsay), and the interference of Miguel's grieving, hot-tempered brother, Ramon (Jason Manuel Olazabal). By the time the third season reaches its nerve-racking conclusion, Dexter's world is changed forever, fatherhood threatens to alter it even farther, and our antihero's future is more uncertain than it's ever been.
No matter how much I adore each season of Dexter, its creators continue to find new and interesting ways to up the ante and knock the wind out of my lungs. The Complete Third Season is somehow even stronger than its magnificent predecessors, unraveling Dexter's every thought and deed, confronting him with decisions he's never had to face, and challenging him with moral conundrums he doesn't have the capacity or experience to fully comprehend. To that end, Hall and his castmates are as commanding as ever, weaving a tale as dense and complex as a Shakespearean tragedy; creating a group of memorable men and women who ignite the screen with passion and presence. 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 uncover raw meat within each character. Even one-note bit players are eviscerated before our eyes; their souls laid bare as their deepest fears are realized.
But more than anything, the third season surpasses the first two by finally giving its conflicted protagonist an intriguing, mysterious, volatile, and dangerous foil: Miguel Prado. Jimmy Smits delivers a career-crystallizing performance as a mangled lawman who embodies Dexter's unchecked id; a contemptible manchild who shows Dexter what he might have become had Harry not intervened so many years ago. Their at-times amiable, at-times tenuous encounters pressure Dexter to confront his father's code, come to terms with the bitterness boiling within his soul, and ask himself if he can ever truly reveal his innermost secrets to anyone (at least without looking over his shoulder for the rest of his life). Miguel becomes both welcome counsel and unwanted menace; a rebellious apprentice that puts his vulnerable master's patience and philosophies to the test on more than one occasion. But as much as I credit the screenwriters' involvement in the character, its Smits' explosive, unstable portrayal of a civil servant gone mad makes Miguel the effective addition to the show that he is. His performance not only deserves all the Emmy attention it's earned, it redefines aspects of the series that I considered sacrosanct until Miguel roared into town. He effortlessly fills the roles of Dexter's friend, enemy, apprentice, and son... a man as hungry for Dexter's every lesson as the child growing in Rita's belly will one day be.
Is Miguel simply a precarious preview of fatherhood designed to test Dexter's will? A warning that his own flesh and blood might present challenges he's unprepared and ill-equipped to handle? Whatever the case, the series' third season holds an unblemished mirror to Dexter's face and asks the calculating analyst to contemplate what he actually sees. In many ways, Dexter is a warped coming-of-age story about a middle-aged serial killer learning to become a human being. As he grows closer to Rita, begins to raise children of his own, and continues to develop his code (one that now involves life as much as it involves death), he's asked to consider the possibility that he isn't what he always thought he was; that his role as demonic crusader and vengeful hand of justice isn't as predetermined as once thought. In that regard, Dexter is as much a study of man's dual-natured existence as it is an exploration of our most depraved wants and needs; a study and exploration I can't wait to follow this September when the series' fourth season makes its much-anticipated debut.
Dexter: The Third Season Blu-ray, Video Quality
Dexter: The Complete Third Season features a bold and striking 1080p/AVC-encoded transfer that faithfully retains Manos' every aesthetic intention, and every detail of the series' unsettling imagery. While it will come as little surprise to anyone familiar with Romeo Tirone's simmering photography, contrast is overblown, skintones swelter with summery hues, and Miami's eccentric palette is given free reign over every frame. However, it all works wonderfully within the context of Dexter's devilish design. Absorbing blacks set an ominous tone, crisp whites peel back the layers of its characters' psyches, and crystal clear fine detail deftly renders every leering face and shocking revelation that graces the screen. Moreover, close-ups are populated with refined textures and carefully defined edges, and establishing shots are peppered with cracking paint, flecks of blood, and dilapidated brickwork. Even nighttime sequences, as oppressive and noisy as they sometimes are, suit Dexter's dark deeds nicely, and draw viewers deeper and deeper into his nightmarish dreamscape. Better still, artifacting, banding, crush, unintentional noise, and aliasing are kept to an absolute minimum, and edge enhancement (while present to some degree) never becomes a distraction.
I'm sure there are some people who will balk at the series' overheated visuals and searing contrast levels -- as well as the soft and hazy appearance of Dexter's surreal encounters with his dead father -- but, in my humble opinion, it all comes together to create something beautiful; something Paramount's technical transfer handles in effortless stride. Fans and videophiles alike will be thrilled by the results.
Dexter: The Third Season Blu-ray, Audio Quality
The Complete Third Season delivers a sonic experience comparable to its previously released Dexter brethren with a solid, at-times engrossing Dolby TrueHD 5.1 surround track; one that catches every slash, splash, and smash the narration-heavy episodes throw its way. First and foremost, the delicate siren-song of Hall's serial-sermons is hypnotic. Set to hauntingly ethereal piano music, his every predatory word and twisted justification is warm, intelligible, and perfectly prioritized in the soundscape. The series' standard dialogue is just as strong, following the laws of vocal weight and convincing interior acoustics to the letter. Granted, LFE output isn't as punchy as newcomers might expect, but it lets loose anytime Dexter or Miguel indulge in their darkest urges. Likewise, rear speaker activity isn't aggressive in every scene, but makes its presence known throughout season three, enhancing every Miami locale, expanding every interior space, and supporting every eruption of violence with tenacity and precision. That being said, I do have two legitimate (albeit admittedly negligible) complaints -- normalization and pan transparency are a bit inconsistent from time to time, and may occasionally distract the most stringent audiophiles among you.
Regardless, Dexter: The Complete Third Season sounds great, and should easily satisfy fans of the show. I couldn't ask for much more.
Dexter: The Third Season Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Unfortunately, Season Three's supplemental content -- excerpts from the novel Dexter by Design, interviews with series stars Michael C. Hall, Julie Benz, Jennifer Carpenter and others, two episodes of The United States of Tera, and two episodes of The Tudors -- is only available via BD-Live. No special features are included on the discs themselves.
Dexter: The Third Season Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
With each passing season, Dexter continues to get better and better. Where it will go from here is beyond me, but if the series' latest outing is any indication, it's a frightening and fascinating place I can't wait to visit. Thankfully, Paramount has granted The Complete Third Season an impressive AV presentation; one that features a stunning video transfer (faithful to James Manos Jr's every intention) and a compelling TrueHD audio track. I'm still miffed that there aren't any significant special features to be had (as well as the fact that what is available can only be found online), but it shouldn't prevent fans or newcomers from gravitating to this excellent Blu-ray release. It not only offers every episode of Dexter's phenomenal third season (at a generous price point to boot), it blows the standard DVD edition out of the water. Mediocre supplemental package aside, I'm one very happy man.
Dexter: Other Seasons
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