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Dexter: The Second Season (2007)

Paramount Home Entertainment
DVD Released: 8/19/2008

All Ratings out of
Audio: 1/2

Review by Mike Long, Posted on 8/9/2008

It's a statement that I seem to make a lot while watching television series; "Without the drama, there wouldn't be any drama." While that may not make any sense out of context, the thought refers to the fact that many shows put their characters in precarious predicaments or have them make seemingly foolish choices in order to move the story along. The ultimate example of this is probably Sex and the City. If the characters there would have settled down with any of the dozens of men that they met over the years, the show would have been more realistic, but obviously, it would have also been boring. Thus, a ton of drama was brought in to keeps us watching. Something similar occurs in Season Two of Dexter. This smartly written series gets a bit soapy in its second season.

To recap, Dexter is set in Miami and follows the life of Dexter Morgan (Michael C. Hall), who works for the Miami Police Department's Forensics Department analyzing blood splatter patterns at crime scenes. He's very close to his adoptive sister Debra (Jennifer Carpenter) and he dates Rita (Julie Benz). Oh, and Dexter is a serial killer. However, his adoptive father, Harry (James Remar), a police officer, spotted Dexter's homicidal tendencies early on and taught the boy to only prey on those who deserved to be killed. Thus, Dexter only kills other killers.

As Season Two opens, Dexter's life is in an odd place. After surviving the turmoil at the end of Season One (don't worry, no spoilers here), there is some friction between he and Rita, Debra is traumatized and living with him, and, the worst part, he's lost the desire to kill. To make matters worse, Sergeant Doakes (Erik King) has been following Dexter and keeping tabs on him. Things finally come to a head when Dexter's burial ground is discovered and the police and media assume that a violent serial killer has been at work. (They are both right and wrong in their assumptions.) The FBI sends Special Agent Frank Lundy (Keith Carradine) to investigate these crimes. Dexter's world is spinning out of control when he meets Lila (Jaime Murray), a British woman who wants to help Dexter. With Lila's assistance, Dexter becomes more self-confident, and begins to take control. But, what happens when a serial killer begins to act instead of react?

Season One of Dexter revealed a very unique show. The main character is a serial killer who feels no remorse for taking human lives...and he's the hero of the show. Through the writing and the sly performance of Michael C. Hall revealed himself to be a shy and funny person. With his cynical and detached, yet curious, view of human nature, Dexter walks us through his life and we can't help but like him. And we certainly don't want him to get caught. In another interesting twist, the show portrays everyone around Dexter as being far more out of control and hysterical than him.

The show's second season takes this concept and tweaks it somewhat. We still have the droll Dexter wit and the neurotic behavior of those around him. But, the show adds a new level when Dexter's behavior begins to change. As odd as may sound, the serial killer in the show, whom we've liked up until now, suddenly becomes slightly evil -- and this creates a conflict in the viewer. The confident, take charge Dexter suddenly turns his back on everything that he's done to build a "normal" life and his desperation to cover his tracks is a complete opposite to the calm and cool Dexter that we saw in the first season. Despite this, the show continues to not only impress, but to be addictive. Even when Dexter loses his normal appeal, we keep watching to see if he'll return to "normal". (MILD SPOILER ALERT: I did have an issue with Dexter's relationship with Lila. In Season One, he stated that his relationship with Rita helped him to appear normal, so why was he so infatuated with her?)

In our post Silence of the Lambs world, serial killers have been done to death, and we rarely see anything original. Thus, Dexter is a breath of fresh air, as it take the doom and gloom out of the genre, and makes it fun while the blood still flows. I didn't enjoy Season Two of the show as much as Season One, but the show is still one of the best offerings on TV at the moment. Even when he's down a notch, Dexter still slays me.

Dexter: The Second Season kills on DVD courtesy of Paramount Home Entertainment. The four disc set contains all 12 episodes from the show's second season. The shows have been letterboxed at 1.78:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. The image here looks very good and rivals digital broadcast quality. The picture is sharp and clear, showing only trace amounts of grain in some shots and no defects from the source materials. The colors look very good, bringing the bright pastels of Miami to life. The image is never overly dark or bright. Aside from some mild video noise at times, the picture shows no major issues. The DVD carries a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track which provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The track offers some nice stereo effects at times, and the in-show music sounds great. However, the surround effects here are somewhat weak and they only stand out during major music cues and some action scenes. Likewise with the subwoofer effects.

The DVD set contains only two viable extra features -- text BIOGRAPHIES for the cast and crew and a PHOTO GALLERY.


On May 5, 2009, Paramount Home Entertainment released Dexter: The Second Season on Blu-ray Disc.  The show has been letterboxed at 1.78:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 20 Mbps.  The image is very sharp and clear, showing no discernible grain and no defects from the source material.  The colors look very good, most notably the pastels of Miami.  However, the image is a tad dark at times, even in the daytime scenes, and this is somewhat surprising, given that Blu-ray usually looks brighter.  Despite this, the transfer surely rivals, if not surpasses, digital broadcast quality.  The Disc carries a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 audio track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 4.0 Mbps.  The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects.  The stereo effects are notably good, as they are detailed and show good stereo separation.  The surround sound effects are good as well, as evidenced in the opening scene in the bowling alley.  The salsa music used in the show really kicks the speakers into gear, providing throbbing subwoofer action and detailed surround effects.

The Dexter: The Second Season Blu-ray Disc contains only one easily accessible extra, a set-top game called "Tools of the Trade".  For those of you who are BD Live enabled, you will be able to (rather easily) watch "Blood Fountains" (1 minute) a promo piece showing how public fountains were used to promote the show, three "Dark Defender" profiles, which illustrate how Dexter deals with other killers, and six  interviews with cast members.

Review Copyright 2008 by Mike Long