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DEXTER: THE SECOND SEASON
Blu-ray Edition

Review by Gordon Justesen

Stars: Michael C. Hall, Julie Benz, Jennifer Carpenter, Erik King, C.S. Lee, Lauren Velez, David Zayas, James Remar
Creator: James Manos, Jr.
Audio: Dolby TrueHD 5.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.78:1
Studio: Paramount
Features: See Review
Length: 636 Minutes
Release Date: May 5, 2009

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

Shows ***1/2

In 2006, television audiences were introduced to one of the most fascinating characters the small screen 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 every day 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 closer 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 ultra 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 ****

For my first stab at reviewing a TV series on Blu-ray, I’ve been given one of the best series to experience in HD. The show carries with it an amazing visual style, and the anamorphic picture on this Paramount takes full advantage of it. 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 in the 1080p.

Audio ****

The Dolby TrueHD mix really adds a lot here, making it far superior to the sound quality of the DVD release. You get some really nice dynamic sound in terms of background sounds and numerous set pieces. The tense moments of suspense really payoff hugely, particularly the scenes where Dexter disposes his victims. The score by Rolfe Kent also sounds more fantastic than it did on the standard DVD.

Features **

The original DVD set didn’t offer much other than bonus episodes of neighboring shows on Showtime, despite the fact that more features were listed on the package. This three disc Blu-ray set claims to have new bonuses but, like the DVD release, there’s way less than what appears on the box. Disc 3 includes an interactive game titled “Tools of the Trade” (which isn’t listed on the package), and additional extras that can be accessed via BD Live, which include two episodes of The United States of Tara and a gallery of video podcast interviews. As for “Blood Fountain” featurette, that is nowhere to be found.

Summary:

Despite a misleading list of extras, Season Two of Dexter is a most exciting continuation of one of television’s most original characters. And it’s even more exciting when viewed on Blu-ray! 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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