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Blu-ray Review: Dexter – The First Season

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Move over, Hannibal Lecter, because Dexter Morgan (Michael C. Hall) has become all the rage when it comes to fictional serial killers. Since 2006, when Showtime first began airing Dexter, the series has been frequently mentioned among the best that television has to offer.

Based on Jeff Lindsay’s novel, Darkly Dreaming Dexter, and developed for television by James Manos, Jr (whose impressive resume includes being a writer/producer on the first season of The Sopranos, where his writing earned him an Emmy, and the first two seasons of The Shield), Dexter has a very intriguing concept as our “hero” uses his homicidal tendencies for good.

As a young boy Dexter was adopted by a police officer, Harry Morgan (James Remar), who became aware of Dexter’s issues when he started killing animals. Rather than seek help, Harry decided to right wrongs he saw within the justice system by turning Dexter into a vigilante who would kill people guilty of murder that went unpunished. This allows Dexter to fulfill his pathology.

Dexter’s life is consumed with murder. He works as a blood-splatter expert for the Homicide division of the Miami Police Department. Not only is it the department his father worked in, but his adoptive sister Debra (Jennifer Carpenter) is a police officer there as well. Lt. Maria LaGuerta (Lauren Vélez) heads the division and Dexter works under her, which she wishes was a literal statement considering how strong she comes on. Sgt. James Doakes (Erik King) is the only police officer who senses there’s something not right about Dexter.

Dexter has a girlfriend, but he just uses her as a beard to fit within society because he’s not into sex. Rita’s (Julie Benz) marriage was very abusive, so she has intimacy issues, which works well for Dexter and makes him look very sweet and understanding in her eyes. She also has two young kids, Astor and Cody.

The First Season is comprised of 12 episodes and has a story arc that deals with the Ice Truck Killer, a serial killer who not only neatly chops bodies into pieces, but also removes their blood. Dexter is awed by his peer’s skills and ingenuity and gets pulled into The Ice Truck Killer’s grand scheme when clues are left in Dexter’s home and pictures from Dexter’s past are left at crime scenes.

The series grips you from the very first episode with its compelling premise. Michael C. Hall is captivating on screen and the combination of his acting skills and the series’ writing makes a viewer forget his previous memorable role as David Fisher on HBO’s Six Feet Under. It is rare for an actor to bring two vastly different characters to life and to do each so well in such a short time span. He is also joined onscreen by a talented cast. Even though the show is about killing and murder, the show is very light on gore.

The series is a feast for the eyes on Blu-ray with the video presented in 1080p and an aspect ratio of 1.78:1. Miami, Florida is such a vibrant and colorful city; it’s a natural for the format and looks fantastic – from the sunny outdoor scenes at the beaches to the many lavish interiors, red being particularly rich. The skin tones look natural and stay consistent throughout episodes. There is a lot of fine texture and detail except when the scenes appear to be purposely lacking, for example through use of atmosphere.

The audio is presented in English 5.1 Dolby TrueHD and mainly makes use of the front speaker. For the most part, the surround presents ambiance but it’s very soft, although there are occasions when it’s put to use well in a scene. The subwoofer also gets little use.

The only Special Features available on the discs are two audio tracks, one with a quartet of supporting cast members from the police force: Carpenter, King, Vélez, and David Zayas, who plays Dexter’s fellow crime-scene investigator, Angel Batista. It’s odd that Hall didn’t take part. The other featured producers are Sara Colleton, Clyde Phillip, and Daniel Cerone.

The remaining special features can only be accessed through BD-Live, which is absolutely foolish on Showtime’s part. They are listed as “The Academy of Blood – A Killer Course,” “Witnessed In Blood – A True Murder Investigation,” a Michael C. Hall Podcast, and the first episode of Dexter – Season 3.

The Season 3 episode seems like an odd choice since new viewers are just as likely to try this set as fans of the series, fans who likely already bought it previously on DVD, so why would anyone who discovered Dexter through Blu-ray want to skip Season 2? There has to be important developments over the next set of 12 episodes. There is also access to the first two episodes of United States of Tara, but that’s marketing, not a special feature.

Those new to Dexter should find the series well worth investigating, and those who are already fans will enjoy the Blu-ray presentation.

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About Gordon S. Miller

Gordon S. Miller is the artist formerly known as El Bicho, the nom de plume he used when he first began reviewing movies online for The Masked Movie Snobs in 2003. Before the year was out, he became that site's publisher. Over the years, he has also contributed to a number of other sites as a writer and editor, such as FilmRadar, Film School Rejects, High Def Digest, and Blogcritics. He is the Publisher of Cinema Sentries. Some of his random thoughts can be found at twitter.com/ElBicho_CS
  • Aaron

    Seriously! What is up with Showtime and their extremely sub-par offerings in the extras department?

    But, you’re right the show looks fantastic in HD.

  • http://www.maskedmoviesnobs.com El Bicho

    Don’t know. It’s not like there’s not enough space on the discs

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