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Home Theater Movie Renter's Guide - September, 2010

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"Dexter Season 4" (Blu-ray) - Reviewed by Chris Eberle

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Synopsis

Dexter Morgan (Hall) is a serial killer living in Miami, Florida.  He’s a bit different than your average monster though as he works as a blood spatter expert for the Miami Metro Police.  He also only kills those who truly deserve it.  As a child he was adopted by a policeman who recognized his need to kill.  Harry (Remar) decided to channel Dexter’s need by teaching him “the code.”  Dexter would only kill people who had murdered innocents and gotten away with it.  You can imagine the obstacles someone with this kind of life must face.

In Season 4, Dexter is now married with a new baby, a new home and a crazy life spent juggling his need to kill with his family’s demands.  A new adversary comes to town in the form of the Trinity killer (Lithgow).  Rather than kill Trinity right away, Dexter wants to learn from him so they become friends.  He soon discovers Trinity is not the perfect blend of serial killer and normal man he seems to be.  Once they both discover the truth, the showdown is intense and bloody and the viewer is left with a surprising cliffhanger.

 

Specifications

  • Showtime/Paramount
  • 2009, Color, Not Rated, 10 Hrs 32 min
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • 1080p
  • Codec: Not Specified
  • English 5.1 Dolby TrueHD
  • Starring: Michael C. Hall, Julie Benz, Jennifer Carpenter, Desmond Harrington, C.S. Lee, Lauren Velez, David Zayas, James Remar and John Lithgow
  • Directed by Various Directors
    Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: Yes
  • Sex: Yes
  • Language: Yes

Commentary

In my opinion this is one of the best shows on television.  I am not a subscriber to Showtime so I’ve only watched Dexter on disc.  When a new season comes out, my wife and I can’t resist watching all 12 episodes in just a few days; it’s that addictive.  Michael C. Hall is a terrific actor playing the many facets of a man dealing with intense conflicts and trying not to upset the delicate balance of his life.  He desperately wants to be normal but his “dark passenger” is always there.  John Lithgow who plays Dexter’s adversary this season is masterful as always.  I’ve never seen him play such a dark role before but he does a superb job.  The other characters like Dexter’s sister Debra (Carpenter) and the various detectives in the police department provide a perfect backdrop for our hero.  A serial killer a hero?  If you’ve watched the show, you’ll understand.  Even though he is a monster (by his own admission), you can’t help but root for him as he takes over where the justice system falls short.  His victims are truly the scum of the earth.  Compared to past seasons, Dexter’s family plays a much larger role.  With three kids and a demanding wife (Benz) to support, keeping his second life secret has become harder than ever.

If you haven’t watched Dexter before, a heads-up; it is on Showtime so sex, violence and language are R-rated.  This is a show to watch after the kids have gone to bed.  I never found anything to be inappropriate given the subject matter.  Watering it down would spoil the fun for sure.  I highly recommend giving Dexter a try and if you’re already a fan, adding Season 4 to your collection is a no-brainer.

Technical

The image is among the best I’ve seen from any TV show.  Color is always bright and vivid; perfectly depicting the city of Miami.  Detail is sharp and clear with no obvious edge enhancement.  Nighttime scenes exhibit a touch of grain but it’s not distracting.  Since most of the violent stuff happens at night, the grain adds an appropriate level of grittiness.  Contrast is also excellent with a wide dynamic range and a lot of punch in bright scenes.  While the picture is not quite reference-level, it comes closer than any other TV show I’ve seen.

The sound track is always clean and clear but not tremendously dynamic.  The surrounds and sub are used sparingly.  Dialog is mixed well with proper placement and good clarity.  The best part though is the music.  Much of the transitional material is done in a Cuban salsa style that you can’t help but dance to.  Added to the excellent visuals, the score, penned by Daniel Licht, elevates the show to a level of high quality.

Extras

Bonus features can only be accessed via BD-Live.  There are no featurettes or commentary tracks on the discs.  Available content includes two episodes each from The Tudors and Californication, and interviews with all the principal actors including John Lithgow.  Why this content (at least the interviews) wasn’t included on disc is a mystery.  Downloading video from Showtime’s servers is painfully slow and of poor quality.  A show this good deserves better treatment.

Extras

None.