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Blu-ray Review: 'Dexter: The Complete Series Collection'

November 15th, 2013 9:20am EST

Dexter For those who are newbies (like me!) or those who simply wish to enjoy the kills and thrills all over again we’re checking out the massive, cool and highly collectable whopping 25-Disc Blu-ray Showtime series set "Dexter: The Complete Series Collection," out now on both DVD and Blu-ray from Paramount and CBS Home Entertainment. Seeing as this set is uber-long so is our coverage for your convenience. So we’re examining the blood spatters here in sections that include capsulated reviews of all eight seasons, a looks at the extras and even dissection the packaging to see if this puppy is worth your hard earned dollars – open the blood slide box as the review of the contents within are about to begin!


Title: "Dexter: The Complete Series Collection"

Cast: Michael C. Hall, Jennifer Carpenter, James Remar
Grade: 4
Director: Various
Rating: Not Rated
Release Company: CBS/Paramount Home Entertainment
Website: www.sho.com/sho/dexter/home


THE SERIES
As a series "Dexter" is without a doubt riveting original work. To utilize the character of a serial killer as your show lead is tough enough, but making the audience then feel empathy and support for said killer is truly audacious. But Michael C. Hall, who both acts and appears just a bit off center, is the right man for the job and like Kiefer Sutherland in "24" holds attention when story elements get off track. (Plus the Dexter voice over normally used as a crutch device works in perfect harmony with a character that shows little emotion.) The other major memorable staple of the show is James Remar as Dexter’s code creating pop, who through both flashbacks and then as a mirage in the mind of Dexter, helps keep the show grounded. As far as side characters go both C.S. Lee as man whore tech Vince Masuka as well as Jennifer Carpenter as foul mouthed sis Deb Morgan (though they screwed the pooch on her character going into Season 7!) are stand outs for sure. The rest are safe filler, but it’s frankly the father/son team dynamic of Hall and Remar that makes "Dexter" so deadly – the ying and the yang indeed - keep going for dissection of each Season!

SEASON 1
Overview: An interesting first season that certainly sets a morbid and comical tone. (The scenes between Dexter and suspecting cop James Doakes are funny as hell!) Of all the seasons this one shows Dexter in the most skilled, professional and relaxed state of both killing and detecting. Plus the brownie for this season is the pure concentration of flashback scenes between a young Dexter and the ever-engaging James Remar playing his late father, which sets up the father/son relationship nicely through the entire show. The ice truck killer storyline has some great twists and turns for sure – a good start.
Best Kill: The husband and wife Castillo killing in "Love American Style" is heightened love and death.
Best Moment: Episode 8 titled "Shrink Wrap" not only features some great mano-a-mano dialogue between Dexter and shrink Dr. Emmett Merdian (played by Tony Goldwyn), but this well crafted episode is also directed by Goldwyn too.


SEASON 2
Overview: The relationship factor gets a serious squeeze of juice here (and not from the mundane one with Julie Benz!) with Dexter coming in contact with British gal pal and addict recovery sponsor Lila played with relish by actress Jaime Murray. Plus we get some cool hand luke tough guy action via FBI guy Keith Carradine playing a no-nonsense serial killer profiler. (And yes his relationship with the crass and completely opposite Deb Morgan is interesting for sure!)
Best Kill: Used car salesman Roger Hicks trying to lie his way out of being murdered in "An Inconvenient Lie."
Best Moment: Love seeing Jonathan Banks playing a mean, angry and peeved FBI boss – it’s like "Wiseguy" all over again!


SEASON 3
Overview: Season 3 sees Dexter teaming up with a thrill kill seeking Jimmy Smits and the result is pretty interesting. Loved seeing Smits go from caring friend to cold-blooded psycho with a grudge, especially with the normally closed off Dexter and their eventual cat and mouse game adds a fire for sure. Plus have to give props to "Christine" actor Keith Gordon turned director as the most of the fantastic episodes this season were helmed by him.
Best Kill: The bittersweet, touching and endlessly sad death of family friend Camilla Figg by the perfect poison-laced key lime pie in episode "Easy As Pie."
Best Moment: In "Do You Take Dexter Morgan?" when a captive Dexter finds himself in the same spot as his own victims tied up and being watched by The Skinner (the underrated Jesse Borrego) and he still stays clam and cold as ice – so cool.


SEASON 4
Overview: By far my favorite of all the seasons as this one features an inspired turn by John Lithgow channeling his "Ricochet" bad guy mode as Arthur Mitchell, the Trinity Killer, a family man who’s also one creepy serial killer. (aka Dexter meets his match!) From ominous Thanksgiving dinners with his scared family to eerie conversations with children he kidnaps, Lithgow injects some serious scare into the show and it brings out the best in everyone involved. (Plus the season end is a true punch in the gut!) Twists, turns, and cool kills galore, it doesn’t get any better than this!
Best Kill: In episode "Dex Takes A Holiday" the stalk, hunt and kill of tough female cop Zoey Kruger (the feisty and fetching Christina Cox!) – and there’s no rape involved!
Best Moment: Not the best, but certainly the most disturbing is in "Hungry Man" when Dexter is having a conversation with Lithgow’s young trapped 15-year old daughter who comes onto him claiming she would do “anything” to escape – chilling right to the bone.


SEASON 5
Overview: Decent follow up to the Lithgow work with Dexter finding solace and possible companionship in recent kidnap and torture victim Lumen Pierce (played wonderfully by Julia Stiles) by helping her hunt down the men who brutalized her. Yes, the intensity is there, but so is an air of romance – go figure! Plus we get a ton of great side characters like Peter Weller’s slimy ex-cop, Angela Bettis’s Stockholm Syndrome victim and Jonny Lee Miller’s self-help guru to make this a fine follow up to the previous home run season.
Best Kill: The escape of Lance Robinson running in plastic that Dexter is then forced to mix with the kill of Dan “the dentist” Mendell in "Circle Us" – tense stuff.
Best Moment: Love the progression of the relationship between Lumen and Dexter that goes from killer/victim to lovers from different sides of the tracks – very skillfully done!


SEASON 6
Overview: This is by contrast the weakest of the seasons most notably due to the total and utter miscasting of Tom Hanks kid Colin Hanks as a killer – didn’t buy it for a minute. It’s a shame too as the killings, done in end of day’s religious acts, and his partner, a salty and seasoned Edward James Olmos are unfortunately dragged down too. Add to that some horrible Vince Masuka interns (a thieving big breasted gal and angry toy collecting guy – yeah, great foils for the intricate Dexter!), Deb realizing she may be in love with her own brother (eeee...!) and side stories that suck and it’s a total season downer. (Props to crotchety old man Ronny Cox playing a bitter old serial killer in episode "Smokey and the Bandit" though!)
Best Kill: Certainly the killing of Nick on the beach at the end of "Just Let Go" which has emotion, shocks and pure raw Dexter killing for anger.
Best Moment: The only saving grace of this season involves the thoughtful relationship between reformed criminal Brother Sam (a pitch perfect Mos Def) and Dexter. Spiritual and gives the non-emotional killer some food for thought.



SEASON 7
Overview: Things do get back on track with two very engaging and mesmerizing characters going head-to-head with Dexter this season – Ray Stevenson’s bitter yet broken hitman Isaak Sirko and Yvonne Strahovski’s captivating Hannah McKay. Both manage to get even more human qualities out of monster Dexter, Sirko as a killing kindred spirit and Hannah as a murderous companion. It does seem odd that a closed off serial killer like Dexter would keep attracting women upon women season after season, but his relationship with Hannah has so many sparks and so much palpable chemistry it’s frankly forgivable. Problem I had with the season is the lackluster response by sister Deb to finding out the truth about her brutal bro. (Move in with me...so I can watch you!) Feels like a device to drag things along for another season more than a real character response – shame on you writers!
Best Kill: After running through his funhouse of madness, love the eventual murder of psycho Ray Speltzer by Dex in one rage filled kill session for episode "Run."
Best Moment: In "Do The Wrong Thing" during the killing session on the table that then turns into animal sex between Dexter and Hannah all under a dome with a Christmas theme and snow falling – hot, hot, hot.


SEASON 8
Overview: Raw human emotion seems to take over the final season with Dexter becoming more human and vulnerable. Partially thanks to Dr. Evelyn Vogel, someone Harry confided in and actually created the code with and the other half due to return of the lovely Hannah McKay. There are certainly some great highlights within (the scene with three killers and the doctor sitting down for dinner is a fascinating watch!), but emotion wins over reason by the end and it’s not fitting. (*Spoilers here – do not read if you have not seen!*) What I loved about the ending of one of my favorites shows of all time "The Shield" was how it knew its audience, its characters and the fate that can and must follow such people was true to form. "Dexter" by contrast faces consequences via his own doing, but never faces the true burden of his acts. So in not giving the audience their due (aka killing the serial killer), in not staying true to the characters (aka Dexter gets caught due to impulsiveness, over emotion and not following the code) and not having a fitting fate (Dexter both wins and loses - whatever that may be) the series finale implodes on itself and becomes a passive device with one goal...more "Dexter" in the future. (Now in lumberjack mode no less!) In the end commerce wins out over character – not exactly ideal for a show that prided itself on being the outsider. Look, it’s not that the series doesn’t have an ending, it’s just not a satisfying one. "Dexter," like his victims, deserved a much more orchestrated and elaborate goodbye. (Incidently I read a fabulous ending conceived by former Dexter Prooducer Clyde Phillips that would have kicked ass - check it out by clicking HERE!)
Best Kill: The rage filled jail cell pen in neck kill of Oliver Saxon in episode Remember The Monsters.
Best Moment: Deb watching the final DVD of her now weary and scared Dad talking with Dr. Vogel about what Dexter has become – Remar is so good here.


THE EXTRAS

There are of course various extras on each separate Season, but there’s also a special bonus disc with some tasty extras for fans to enjoy – check out the below:
Best Feature: I dig the two docs 'The Code' and 'The Code of Harry' as they explore the rules via Remar that trusty papa Harry gave to his son. It’s a real tribute to the work of Remar and Hall together.
Most Honest: The 'Audio Commentary By Jennifer Carpenter' on select scenes in the Season 7 finale is not only candid, but at one point Carpenter becomes so overwrought with emotion that she breaks down and cries. (Can you say best commentary track...EVER?!)
Most Revealing: The featurette for Season 1 entitled 'Exploring Dexter: A Look Inside' features early interviews with the cast that really show the pride, potential and unguarded joyous infancy of the show – wish later seasons had more like this.
Most Engaging: The chat 'Sitdown with Michael C. Hall and John Lithgow' is captivating as hell, with both revealing character details and working with each other. (Plus Michael seems to have a hard time looking John in the eye – telling!)
Most Creepy: The 'Rubin Museum of Art Special Presentation' chat sees Hall and psychologist Kevin Dutton in full oddball modes with both acting a tad weird and uncomfortable, answering strange questions and being just plain off. (It’s like the bizzaro interview to the one given by Hall in the Season 1 featurette!)


THE PACKAGING
This set comes complete in a replica of the box that Dexter uses to collect his various blood slide trophies. The box itself is an impressive display item with a wood like design (come on folks – real wood would have weighed a ton!) and inside features numbered spaces for each of the eight seasons plus extras disc. What is equally attractive is that each of the discs not only comes on a clear holder that slides easily into each slot, but each case has its own blood circle on the back to mirror Dexter’s collection. Plus as an added bonus there are dividers included for each season and finally a cool separate clear marker with various quotes and Dexter sayings for each season. There’s also an exclusive Grafix book featuring artwork and photography from all eight seasons of the show, plus cool fan artwork that covers everything from characters to kills. For those interested there is a White Mannequin Gift Set Head available too, but for my money I think any fan would like the design of the slide box collectable – it’s much more cool and Dexter-esk. (Just hide it well!)
WORTH THE MOOLA
If you’re even considering this as a purchase you’re obviously a Dexter fan. Good news is there is far more good seasons then bad here and the slide case that houses the Blu-ray’s is highly collectable and cool – definitely Dexter approved.

Related: Dexter, James Remar, Jennifer Carpenter, Michael C. Hall, New TV Shows On Blu-ray & DVD, Starpulse Exclusives, TV Networks, Showtime, Blu-ray & DVD Reviews

Photo Credits: Photos Courtesy of Paramount Home Entertainment

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