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Dexter: The Third Season (2008)

Paramount Home Entertainment
Blu-ray Disc Released: 8/18/2009

All Ratings out of:
Show: 1/2
Extras: No Extras

Review by Mike Long, Posted on 8/9/2009

It may seem redundant to refer to a show about a serial killer cum vigilante as dark, but Season 2 of Dexter was way too dark. There was the whole "Bay Harbor Butcher" thing which had Dexter convinced that he was going to be caught. Then, there was the annoying and crazy Lila, who was trying to destroy Dexter's life. Then, there was the fact that Dexter had to feign addiction to continue fooling Rita. Then, there was Debra's affair with an older man. All of these things drove the show to a dark place where it became more tedious than fun. Fortunately, things lighten up a bit in Dexter: The Third Season, which is coming to Blu-ray Disc.

As Season 3 of Dexter opens, Dexter (Michael C. Hall), the serial killer who hunts down and kills murderers who have escaped from justice, is feeling pretty good about himself. He loves his job as a blood splatter analyst for the Miami Police. He is closer than ever to his girlfriend, Rita (Julie Benz) and her two children. All of his recent problems have been eradicated. Dexter feels that it's now safe to resume his passion -- hunting killers. Dexter learns of a man named Freebo (Mike Erwin), a drug-dealer who was tried for murder but got off, despite the fact that the evidence was solid. Dexter goes to Freebo's house to kill him, but instead stabs Oscar Prado (Nick Hermz). Dexter learns the identity of his victim the next day and then quickly learns that he's killed the brother of Assistant District Attorney Miguel Prado (Jimmy Smits). Knowing that Freebo saw his face, Dexter returns to his house to "clean up the mess". He's surprised to run into Miguel while leaving, and must confess to what he has done. Miguel misunderstands, thinking that Dexter was there to avenge his brother's death. Feeling indebted to Dexter, Miguel makes him a part of his life. But, while Dexter admires the man's passion, he's not sure how close he should get. Meanwhile, there is an unexpected development in Dexter's relationship with Rita which could have the two heading down the aisle. Can a serial killer become a family man?

The thing that made Season 1 of Dexter great was the way that it mixed genres. The show had mystery, drama, violence, and comedy. It did a fantastic job of deftly mixing all of these things together. Dexter could do or see something incredibly repulsive and then say something hilarious. The other amazing thing about the show was that it made us cheer for a killer. Despite the fact that what Dexter is doing is morally questionable (or flat-out wrong in most cases), we don't want him to get caught. Season 2 lost a lot of this. The whole "Bay Harbor Butcher" thing offered some suspense in the sense that Dexter could be caught, but that quickly dissolved, and the whole relationship thing get tedious. Yes, the show was better than most on TV, but it was a disappointment.

Season 3 rectifies a lot of those problems. I don't know if this was a conscious decision on the part of the powers-that-be at Dexter, but the show is back to form. From the very first episode where Dexter accidentally kills the wrong person, the season is full of twists and turns. All that I knew about this season was the Jimmy Smits was on the show. I assumed that like so many other guest stars, he would be playing Dexter's nemesis. I was surprised that it didn't necessarily go in this direction. Also, the focus of Dexter's love-life is squarely back on Rita. In the beginning, Dexter used Rita as a way to appear normal, but he's now enmeshed with her and her children and the familiarity with these characters makes their screen-time more enjoyable. Even Debra's storylines, which can get annoying, was pretty good this season.

The show also does some exploring of Dexter's psyche and motivation...but not enough -- and this is the one major flaw with Season 3. In the past, we learned that Dexter learned a "code" from his father, Harry (James Remar) -- it was from this code that Dexter's proclivity towards killing was channeled into being a vigilante. In this season, Dexter begins to question Harry's code. What he needs to question is the fact that Harry convinced Dexter that he was emotionless and couldn't love. This idea has played itself out on the show and some of the best moments in Season 3 come when Dexter does display emotion, most notably the episode where he protects the children was a child molester. The show is at its best when Dexter is trying to juggle a "normal" life with his dark mission -- the whole "I'm a monster" thing has gotten old. The season also contains some loose ends, the most notable being that Dexter swore to looking into Oscar Prado's life to see if the man deserved to die and this never really happens.

Following Season 2, I had some misgivings about Dexter, but they have been assuaged. Season 3 presents the show as it should be -- violent, funny, suspenseful and dramatic. If nothing else, hearing Dexter say "hobag" makes it worth checking out.

Dexter: The Third Season finds an open grave on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Paramount Home Entertainment. This 3-disc set contains all 12 episodes from the shows third season. The episodes have been letterboxed at 1.78:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 23 Mbps. The image is incredibly sharp and clear, showing only minor grain and no defects from the source material. The colors look fantastic, as the show once again portrays the pastels of Miami. The image is never overly dark or bright. The level of detail is fantastic -- although it allows us to see every blemish on the actors. In short, this surpasses digital cable broadcast quality. The Discs contains a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 audio track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 1.5 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The stereo effects are very good, most notably during street and crowd scenes. The action scenes provide nice surround sound effects, and we also get good rear speaker action from the musical cues. This same music offers notable subwoofer presence.

The only extras on the Dexter: The Third Season Blu-ray Disc are available through BD-Live and at the time of this writing, they were not available for review.

Review Copyright 2009 by Mike Long