I began watching Dexter earlier this year and watched it in the way only one person can: in day-long binges. Before I knew it I was well into the third season after just a few short days and I was blown away by how quickly I progressed through the series. Although since the first season was so stellar, it’s easy to see why, as the characters were easy to become acquainted with and really sink your teeth into. Of course the second season made things a bit undesirable, but lucky for me the third season was underway already so I was able to jump between the two fairly easy and much to my delight, it seemed that the third season of Dexter was back to its first season greatness with new characters that were genuinely mysterious and interesting and a great big heaping of more murder.
DEXTER is back and more killer than ever. The Emmy-nominated Showtime Original Series (Best Drama Series, Lead Actor in a Drama Series) returns for an all-new season – and this time Dexter’s got a new take on taking life. Having faced some of his darkest demons, Dexter’s ready to put the past behind him. Now, with family life, a day job catching killers and an uncontrollable urge to do away with the ones that get away, Dexter’s got his work cut out for him. And when a high-profile case sides him with powerful Assistant DA Miguel Prado (special guest star JIMMY SMITS), the pressure might be too great for even our beloved Dexter to hack.
What made this season start out so strongly from the gate was the shedding of season two’s baggage. Doakes and Lila were now completely dead and buried and we were able to move on with our old cast as well introduce some new faces into the mix. The most prominent, of course, was Jimmy Smits who was the best addition to this show since the main cast in season one. He played such a simultaneously slimy and genuinely likeable character that he was impossible to peg down. I especially loved all of the twists and turns that his relationship with Dexter took.
In fact it’s the twists in turns this season that stand out to me the most. Looking back they were pretty obvious from the start, but the season was played in such a friendly way that betrayal was never something that crossed your mind. You genuinely thought that Dexter and Miguel were the best of friends and when everything starts to unravel and plot points being to plop down, it’s simply remarkable how things that should be deadly obvious simply don’t ever crop up in your head. As a result of this, the season was able to be played simultaneously close the surface and also work in subtle tricks as well. More than anything I loved the fact I couldn’t predict or tell where this season was going—almost to the point of 24 level speculation where you genuinely didn’t know where the season would end up.
Not everything this season was completely surprising, however. Back in the non-serial killing world we had Dexter’s relationship with Rita advancing to the next level as her pregnancy is revealed and Debra’s career gets held up as she’s paired up with a new partner that annoys her more than anything. If there had to be a weak point in the season, it’d likely be Debra’s side of things simply because it had no other angle other than dwelling on her love life. Granted, Angel Batista’s side stories were of a similar nature, but his were less motivated by what was in his pants and more geared toward what he was feeling with his heart, which made his whole story a lot more enjoyable to watch.
Really the whole season was just a rock solid effort. Every new character and every old character meshed together so well and there wasn’t a weak episode in the bunch. As usual it’s an enormous treat to watch Dexter wiggle his way in and out of situations and deal with moral issues that he hadn’t dealt with previously (including the killing of an innocent…at their request). In addition there was a bit of a change up in regard to the sequences with Dexter’s father, as in previous seasons they were purely flashbacks into his childhood of some sort, whereas here they were actual hypothetical situations, almost hallucinations ala something out of Rescue Me. Despite this change up, the discussions still felt natural and were a way for Dexter to talk to someone about his hobby, even if it was his own subconscious projecting his father.
All in all this is a ridiculously strong season and one that is easily on par with the first. Which is rare for any show, but I’ve the utmost confidence that this show will continue to amaze. After all, John Lithgow is cast as a serial killer in the fourth season…what’s not to love about that? Highly Recommended.
The season, spread across three discs and stuffed inside a single width Elite Blu-ray case comes with nothing more than a firmware upgrade notice and grey washed discs and a plain white backdrop behind the discs with a description of the episodes on each disc as well as their content. Although there is a humorous insert advertising the fourth season, which shows Dexter holding a baby…it really is quite a cute picture, made funnier by the “juice” splattered on Dexter’s face and clothes.
Video arrives in the form of an AVC encoded transfer and, as can be expected from this show, it looks terrific. My comments regarding the previous season can pretty much be transposed over here as well, as if ever there was a sequence to view in high-definition, it’s this series intro sequence. Comprised almost exclusively of extreme close-up shots, the amount of detail present in each of the frames as we see fingers up close, stubble being shaved away and fruit sliced and squeezed is simply breathtaking. I may have a new “show off” piece when it comes to high-definition clarity and what the Blu-ray format is capable of, as the 1080p transfer for every one of these twelve episodes is simply flawless. Beautiful video through and through, we see plenty of gorgeous exterior shots as well as a smattering of gruesome dismemberments. Every frame of the season boasts plenty of detail and you’ll be hard pressed to take issue with any of this season’s video content. The Dolby TrueHD 5.1 mix is slightly less impressive, simply because it’s such a dialogue driven show that there aren’t many opportunities for the surrounds to get worked here, but there were a few instances where they kicked in for some of Dexter’s murder scenes. The only complaints about the transfer is that some of Dexter’s scenes with his “father” are overly soft, but that’s just the way the footage was constructed to begin with and really isn’t a flaw of the transfer as it helps distinguish what we’re seeing (or about to see). Spanish 2.0 Surround and English SDH subtitles are included as well.
Extras? Hah! Nothing. Crap. After the nearly barebones first season and a completely barebones second season, it seems Paramount has decided not to bother with any extras for this Emmy nominated series. There are some BD-Live features that will be available, such as:
Dexter by Design – Book Excerpts
First Two Episodes of United States of Tara, Season 1
First Two Episodes of The Tudors, Season 3
Interviews with Michael C. Hall, Julie Benz, Jennifer Carpenter, Lauren Velez, and David Zayas
There’s an “And More!” blurb attached as well, but seeing as I can’t view any of these by the time this review is run, it’s all kind of moot. It’s also complete bull that the only extras are available by BD-Live and they sound pretty pathetic at that. Seriously, this is one of the best shows on television—how is it that this series gets such a massive shaft in the extras department? Then again, a lot of Showtime shows are like that…I don’t know whether to blame the network or Paramount/CBS.
In any case the season comes Highly Recommended…but this release is quite possibly a Rental only, unless you’re a fan of the show and plan on owning it regardless.
Dexter – The Third Season arrives on DVD and Blu-ray on August 18th.