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DEXTER
The Second Season

Review by Gordon Justesen

Stars: Michael C. Hall, Julie Benz, Jennifer Carpenter, Erik King, C.S. Lee, Lauren Valez, David Zalas, James Remar
Creator: James Manos, Jr.
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, Dolby Surround
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.78:1
Studio: Paramount
Features: See Review
Length: 636 Minutes
Release Date: August 19, 2008

“Am I evil? Am I good? I’m done asking those questions. I don’t have the answers. Does anyone?”

Shows ***1/2

Last year, I was introduced to one of the most fascinating characters television has ever created, Dexter Morgan. A forensics expert for the Miami PD by day and a serial killer by night, he’s a true one-of-a-kind individual. It’s not everyday you meet a good-hearted person who possesses a hunger for killing in a most heinous fashion…and better yet, is able to control the urge and use it on the people who deserve to be killed.

The first season of Dexter was one of the most riveting season openers I had ever experienced. I was hooked right in from the first episode and couldn’t wait to see where it would go from then. I also remember zipping through that Season One package quicker than any series that had been out on DVD.

With that said, Season Two of Dexter continues the increasingly tension filled storyline, while at the same time not coming off quite as exhilarating. Still, that means that Season Two is still a breathtaking piece of television. It’s easy for any following Season to slightly pale in comparison to Season One, where we were introduced to everything and didn’t know what to expect.

The first season ended on a bang. Dexter (Michael C. Hall), having found a new lease on life after entering a serious relationship with Rita (Julie Benz), had ridden Miami of the deadly Ice Truck Killer. It just so happens that the killer was not only in love with Dexter’s sister, Deb (Jennifer Carpenter), but also turned out to be his own brother.

But Dexter did what he felt was just in the end, and is looking to move on with his life. He’s not only becoming more close to his girlfriend, but is also becoming a father figure to her two kids. But as Season Two progresses, Dexter will have a new set of problems to deal with.

The core of Season Two’s storyline deals with the fact that Dexter’s own co-workers are not too far away from discovering his secret identity. It turns out the bodies he’s dispatched have been popping up all over the Miami Bay area. As a result, Dexter secretly finds himself dubbed, The Bay Harbor Butcher.

And if that wasn’t enough, Dexter also a huge thorn in his side in the form of fellow cop Doakes (Erik King), who has never liked him and seems to grow more and more suspicious of him. With Doakes following his every move out of the office, Dexter seems to realize that the only way of cover is to join and AA group. That may help in the end, since Dexter does have something of an addiction.

Things aren’t going so great for sister cop Deb, either. Having just been traumatized by the notion of her last boyfriend being a serial killer, it starts to take an effect on both her personal and professional life. But she soon finds a romantic interest in an unlikely figure, veteran FBI agent Lundy (Keith Carradine), who joins the Miami PD in hopes of bringing down the Bay Harbor Butcher.

And, perhaps in the season’s most nasty development, Dexter finds an unexpected terror in his AA sponsor, Lila (Jaime Murray). She latches onto him, and Dexter is unable to shake her off. They do have a brief affair, but once Dexter aims to straighten things out with Rita, Lila unleashes a devilish side that was even enough to make me cringe.

As you can tell from the description, Season Two of Dexter is quite the chilling thrill ride fans of the show expect. It just has the misfortune of following up an amazing first season, where we were introduced to this world and this original character that inhabits it. Then again, not many shows have been able to pull off a fantastic, superior second season after a monumental introduction…unless your show’s name happens to be 24.

The superb Michael C. Hall, who received a number of Best Actor nominations for the role, is once again dead-on in his portrayal of the morally conflicted title character. The rest of the cast is top notch as well, most notably Jennifer Carpenter as Dexter’s uber feisty sister. The cast, the strong writing and the undying level of tension blend to make this series the one of a kind experience that it is.

Video ****

The wonderful anamorphic picture on this Paramount release illustrates how tremendous television shows look in today’s market. The Miami setting looks and feels as authentic as it can be, as you can feel the bake of the blazing sun. Both night and day shots appear in top-notch form, and episodes are consistent with marvelous detail and all around high image quality.

Audio ***1/2

The 5.1 mix does this series quite nicely, though I should inform you that to hear it in that mix you will have to switch to it on the menus, which have them set at Dolby 2.0. You get some really nice dynamic sound in terms of background sounds and numerous set pieces. The score by Rolfe Kent is also a bonus!

Features *

Ok, this has to be something of a letdown. First off, the listed extras on the package aren’t much, but it turns out that a few of the mentioned extras aren’t even featured in the Bonus Features Menu. Here’s what’s listed on the package, so you know I’m not making this up: 2 episodes from the second season of the show Brotherhood, as well as 2 episodes from Season Two of The Tudors and 2 episodes from Season One of Californication (which I was looking forward to). We’re also supposed to get a Michael C. Hall interview and podcast.

Here’s what we actually get: the mentioned episodes of Brotherhood, actor biographies, a Photo Gallery, and a “sneak peek” at Season 3 of Dexter, which when you click that reads “Watch the first episode of Dexter: Season 3, available on Brotherhood: Season 2 in October”. What gives???? And as for those bonus episodes of Californication and The Tudors, they’re supposed to be accessible through a PC, though I was unsuccessful in coming across those when I placed the disc in my computer. UGGH!

Summary:

Despite a misleading list of extras, Season Two of Dexter is a most exciting continuation of one of television’s most original characters. I’m already pumped for Season Three, as I’m curious to see what will happen next for America’s favorite serial killer.

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