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Dexter: The Seventh Season
Paramount Home Entertainment
Blu-ray Disc Released: 5/14/2013
All Ratings out of
Extras: No Extras
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 5/2/2013
Today's television landscape is incredibly diverse and if we were going to discuss all of the show's available today, that conversation would be very lengthy indeed. Instead, we are going to focus on two kinds of shows; episodic ones and those with a story arc. Most sitcoms fall into the episodic category and each episode contains a self-contained story in which everything is explained and resolved within that particular time-period. In contrast, many dramas offer story arc which take place over several episodes, or even an entire season. The story unfolds at a slower pace and new pieces are added in the various episodes. The point of this is that the style of show can affect one's enjoyment of a season. If an episodic show has one bad episode, that's excusable. But, if the story arc of a show doesn't grab you, the entire season could be lost. That was the dilemma facing the seventh season of Dexter.
(Editor's Note -- It's impossible to discuss Season Seven of Dexter without revealing things from Season Six. So, if you're new to the series, read with caution.) Dexter focuses on Dexter Morgan (Michael C. Hall), a forensics crime scene investigator with the Miami Police Department. He also happens to be a serial killer who preys on criminals who slipped through the legal system. His sister, Debra (Jennifer Carpenter), is now a lieutenant on the force and she and Dexter work side-by-side on cases. Despite the fact that their siblings and that they've worked together for years, Dexter has always been able to keep his secret from Debra. That is, until the finale ofSeason Six, when she walked in on one of his murders.
As Season Seven opens, Dexter convinces Debra to help him cover up the crime. She's now burdened with the knowledge of Dexter's other life and she must decide what she wants to do with this information. Meanwhile, a member of their team is shot and killed. Debra, along with Sergeant Angel Batista (David Zayas) and Detective Joseph Quinn (Desmond Harrington), investigate this incident, but Dexter quickly learns the murderers identity and kills the man. What Dexter doesn't know is that the shooter has ties to the Russian mob in Miami and the Koshka Brotherhood is now after Dexter. At this same time, the crimes of an incarcerated killer are re-opened and Dexter helps to investigate Hannah McKay (Yvonne Strahovski), who, as a teen, was an accomplice in the murders. At first, Dexter feels that the woman should be one of his victims, but he also finds himself drawn to her. Captain Laguerta (Lauren Velez) begins to suspect that the "Bay Harbor Butcher" case isn't closed and some of her clues point to Dexter.
As Dexter enters its seventh season, we find that the show is stuck in a rut and that it's also simultaneously trying to get itself out of said rut. Dexter is a very dense show and each season is packed with primary and secondary plots. And at least one, if not more, of these storylines deal with someone almost learning Dexter's secret. And, of course, we get this in Season Seven. But, it's gotten to the point where this feels very old and hackneyed and it simply doesn't hold the same amount of suspense as it used to. The show attempts to combat this somewhat in this latest season by having no less than three characters learn that Dexter is a killer. This is refreshing in a way and it also opens up the possibility that anyone of these people could turn Dexter over to the authorities.
Similarly, Dexter has had a series of female companions over the years. Despite the fact that he was once convinced that he was incapable of love, Dexter attempts to look "normal" to the outside world and he knows that having a girlfriend or wife is a part of this. The females in Dexter's life have run the gamut from annoying to pleasant, and Hannah is another interesting addition to that list. As she has a dark criminal past herself, she doesn't fear Dexter, and like him, she also craves normalcy. This makes for an interesting dynamic between them. Yvonne Strahovski shows a side of her which didn't emerge during her time onChuck in this role.
Speaking of female dynamics, having Debra discover that Dexter's a killer is something which fans have waited for since the beginning and it made for a great cliff-hanger for Season Six. But, the plotline never took off the way that I wanted it to. Sure, this puts Debra in a tough position and the show explores her emotional journey, but she never seems to ask the right questions or react to it as I thought she would. Late in Season Seven, there is a nice twist involved with her final decision on the subject.
So, Season Seven of Dexter has its ups and downs, but the big flaw comes with the stories involving the Koshka Brotherhood. Is there a large presence of mobsters from Eastern Europe in Miami? I have no idea, but the reality of this plotline has no bearing on how dull it is. These criminals seems like such stereotypes compared to the killers Dexter usually stalks. The primary character, Isaak Sirko (Ray Stevenson) eventually breaks out of the cliched mold, but otherwise, this story arc, which spans 10 of the season's 12 episodes, feels like something which should be in a more straightforward show, not something as unusual and clever as Dexter.
The seventh season of Dexter isn't necessarily bad, it just doesn't live up to the promise of it's lead in cliffhanger. (And it's certainly nothing like Season Two, the show's low point.) It's clear that those behind the show were trying something different and it definitely got away from its "Dexter kills someone new every week" formula. While some things worked (Hanna), others didn't (Kiev mob). However, the season does go out on a high note, as the last two episodes are gripping. Dexter has proven to be one of the best shows on TV, which means that we are going to be harder on it when it's anything less than perfect.
Dexter: The Seventh Season made me wonder how much a nanny gets paid on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Paramount Home Entertainment. The season's 12 episodes are contained on three Blu-ray Discs. The shows have been letterboxed at 1.78:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 21 Mbps. The image is very sharp and clear, showing no distracting grain and no defects from the source material. The colors look very good (most notably the pastels of Miami) and the image is never overly dark or bright. The level of detail is good (we can see blemishes on the actors' faces), and the depth is about what we would expect for a TV show. This transfer rivals HD broadcast quality. The Disc carries a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 audio track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 2.0 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. For lack of a better word, the track is loud -- I had the volume on my receiver set about 15% lower than usual. The stereo and surround effects are good during crowd and street scenes -- we really get sense of a lot of different noises happening. A chase through a maze (you'll see) offers the mix a chance to show off, as we hear noises coming from the front and rear channels.
The Dexter: The Seventh Season Blu-ray Disc contain no extra features.
Review by Mike Long. Copyright 2013.