“ Genre: Television - Dexter / Director: Ernest R. Dickerson, John Dahl, Keith Gordon, Marcos Siega, Steve Shill / Actors: Michael C. Hall, Julie Benz, Jennifer Carpenter, C.S. Lee, Lauren Vélez ... / DVD released 2009-08-18 at Showtime / Features of the DVD: AC-3, Box set, Colour, Dolby, Dubbed, DVD-Video, Widescreen, NTSC „
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The third season of Dexter aired in the United States in 2008 and is currently available in the UK only as a Region 1 import from Amazon, PlayUSA or EBay, it does however have a Region 2 release date of August this year but this is still subject to change as it was originally due to be released this month (June). Being a huge fan and a recent newcomer to the world of Dexter and becoming fed up with the shifting release date I obtained my Region 1 copy from PlayUSA.com and while the extras on the discs may vary from region to region the episodes will be the same whichever format you go for.
In this, the third series we pick up from where series 2 ended and life has pretty much returned to normal for Dexter now that Sgt Doakes is out of the picture. He is free to carry out his murderous sideline which satisfies his darker urges whilst continuing his normal, everyday life at work and at home with his girlfriend Rita and her two children. Debra (Dexter's sister) is still after her detectives badge and is her usual, foul mouthed, impetuous self and is teamed up with a new detective to work with, there is another change within the Miami homicide department too with a familiar face being promoted to fill the sergeant's position but other than that it is business as usual.
When Dexter has a new target to go after - a murdering drug dealer- he gets caught up in a fight and ends up killing the wrong man, a huge mistake by Dexter and a costly one too compounded by the fact that he has actually killed the brother of the states Assistant District Attorney Miguel Prado. Prado is a high profile man with connections to Dexter's Boss and of course is grief stricken by the death of his brother. Vowing to find who was responsible and gaining full the support of the Miami Police Department investigations begin to find the person responsible and so Dexter has to try and cover his tracks and shift the blame onto someone else...
To complicate matters further Miguel seems to have taken a shine to Dexter and wants to befriend him, never having a real friend before this confuses Dexter and he doesn't know what to do or how to act. Has Dexter found someone he can trust? He has killed Miguel's brother yet he recognises a familiar darkness in Miguel and he is reminded of himself, will he be able to share his darkest secrets with his new friend and even impart and teach his father's code to someone new?
This series focuses on the developing friendship between the pair as well as changes in Dexter's own personal life with Rita. Throw in a new serial killer who meticulously skins his victims and manages to interfere with Debars professional and personal life and threatens her chance for promotion and you have the makings for another twisty, suspense filled run of episodes that are, for the most part, exciting to watch and provide another satisfying fix of our favourite blood splatter analyst.
As fans of the show are already familiar with the back story and history of Dexter this allows the latest season the chance to develop the other characters in the show and a good deal of time is spent concentrated on Dexter's colleagues and those connected to him. We follow Angel and Debra as they embark on new relationships (although not with each other I hasten to add) Rita as she is making plans for the future and Lieutenant La Guerta as she gains a new (and important in later episodes) acquaintance. All these threads are relevant to the season as a whole but for me took the edge and attention away from Dexter himself and meant that some episodes were not quite as exciting or thrilling as previous ones.
Having multiple story lines running at the same time seemed to decrease the intenseness that was there in the first two seasons as each separate story has to be given time to be told and for all the elements to come together. Saying that though, for me Dexter is never bad and even the slower episodes were still good and Michael C Hall as Dexter is still at the top of his game throughout this whole season.
By giving Dexter a like-minded friend this time round allows us the chance to see him struggle with the concept of trust and how much of himself he is willing to give away to other people. Jimmy Smits as Miguel Prado is superb and very convincing in the role of the grief stricken yet determined district attorney and as the season goes on we see the pair grow closer before a power struggle takes place. Dexter thinks he may be creating a monster in Miguel but what he doesn't realise is that the monster was already there from the start and there are plenty of bluffs and double bluffs that make for absolutely compelling viewing as you genuinely don't know what is going to happen next. When Dexter (the show, not the character) is on form it has a must-see fascination to it and some episodes in this run are definitely amongst the best that I have seen in the whole of the 3 seasons that I have watched.
What I also enjoyed about this season was the continuing changes to Dexter's personal life, an announcement by Rita completely alters Dexter's outlook on things and adds a nice twist to the relationship they share. Julie Benz as Rita has certainly grown as a character from the withdrawn and frightened little woman she was in the first season and now shines as the confident and beautiful mother of two she has become. The relationship may be built on mutual trust but Rita is also hiding a secret of her own and that is revealed in this season and even catches Dexter unawares. I liked this revelation about her (which of course I will not reveal here), it gave a nice insight to her past and adds another dimension to her character - I wonder if it will be explored in season 4?
The strength of this show though for me ultimately comes down to the acting from all concerned and I can quite confidently say that there is not one character who is not believable or doesn't add to the story. Over the three seasons now they have become familiar faces and even a new character who is introduced fits in perfectly well and provides a new interest with his own back story and character traits. Even Jennifer Carpenter as Dexter's brash, loud sister is played with a little more sensitivity this time and evolves into a much more likeable character, her desperation to be promoted to detective is well played out this season and to say that Carpenter is married to Michael C Hall in real life you wouldn't think for a second that they weren't really brother and sister. They make for a great couple onscreen as siblings and play off one another really well although there are seeds planted towards the end of the run that may have implications to how their relationship continues next time which should make for an interesting development.
All in all then this is a fine third series of Dexter but is perhaps not as good as the previous two. I do think that too much was crammed into the 12 episode run and some of the subplots were unnecessary and whilst I understand why they were included they didn't really add that much to the story as a whole. The acting is as good as ever so no complaints there and the main 'Dexter and his friend' story made for an interesting premise which was well thought through and perfectly executed onscreen. There is much to love about this series and for me still rates as my favourite American import, I hope that season 4 picks up some of the threads that were left dangling at the end of this run and uses them to develop Dexter even further, there are obvious plotlines that have to continue on and it will certainly be interesting to see how Dexter reacts and adapts to the changes that are inevitably going to happen.
**Release date, Price and Rating**
The Region 2 release of this season will carry a UK certificate 18 rating as the subject matter and plot lines explored are very dark. Nudity and bad language feature heavily in the episodes and there are violent scenes that will not be to everyone's taste. I paid £17.99 for my region 1 import and at the moment Amazon have their August listed release priced at £24.91 - personally I would recommend going for the Region 2 copy rather than an import as I found my set to be quite pixelated in places despite being a genuine CBS DVD release and there were no English subtitles which I usually have on to make sure I don't miss anything. My impatience and frustration at the changing release date meant that I bought what I did but if you are not quite as desperate as I was to see what happened next then do wait until August. For me knowing that season 4 has already aired in America and that 5 is due to begin September this year means that I am just as anxious as ever to see what's in store for Dexter and even though I know there are episode summaries available online I am determined not to read anything that could be considered a spoiler.
Dexter season 3 comes out with a very good 4/5 dooyoo rating from me, not quite a 5 star rating this time even though the other two were in my opinion. The devil is in the detail and Dexter manages to provide a devilishly delicious dose of dramatic delight every time I watch it - try and beat that for a coherent sentence featuring as many 'd' words as you can!
Thanks for reading my review, please note that a different version of this review appears on ciao under my username.
After framing Doakes last season alls well with Dexter he's happy with girlfriend Rita and the kids and doing well at work. But when he resumes his other work (killing) he accidentally reveals his inner monster to another. Enter ADA Miguel Prado could this be the friend Dexter has been looking for? Well for a time yes, but in the end he can't share his hobby with anyone.
The series is held together by the brilliant writing which adds the perfect comedy touches to a dark storyline. I did feel that Miguel Prado was miscast with the actor portraying him became a grating annoyance at times. Although this was a minor aesthetic problem it make me feel this series wasn't as strong as 1 and 2. But elsewhere learning more about Dexter's past is always a treat so the series is still awesome.
All episodes are on 4 discs with extras including a photo gallery a few interviews and commentaries and featurettes about the writers and victims. Roll on season 4 DVD!
** Disclaimer: in general I don't include spoilers in reviews. But please be aware that this one contains details of Dexter Seasons One and Two, so I wouldn't recommend reading on if you haven't seen them yet and want to! Oh, and this is a series-only review i.e. not including the DVD extras **
*** Plot ***
Season Three of Dexter sees Miami's special 'waste disposal' expert, the Robin Hood of murderers, back doing what he does best. Dexter is a Miami Metro Police homicide division blood-spatter analyst by day, and a cold-blooded serial killer of serial killers by night. When the first episode of this season opens, the Miami Metro Police are still coming to terms with the Bay Harbor Butcher case; Lieutenant Laguerta, in particular, is still greatly upset by the "Butcher's" death. Suddenly the precinct is rocked again by the murder of Oscar Prado, who is the brother of the Assistant District Attorney, Miguel Prado. Despite some suspicion about the character of the deceased, Laguerta and her team promise Miguel that they will do all they can to find Oscar's killer. But the case soon becomes more complicated when it seems that another murderer, nicknamed 'The Skinner', is after Oscar's assailant.
Meanwhile it's all change for Dexter: his private life becomes a lot more complicated than it has been so far, with a possible commitment to his girlfriend Rita in the offing and a new friend who seems to share some of Dexter's 'darker' urges. But can Dexter really afford to allow people to get close to him? And what will happen if he starts to abandon his father Harry's strict code? Dexter should think more about protecting himself!
*** My opinion ***
After the spectacular end to Season Two I was sceptical about how exciting Season Three would be, but also curious to see what path the scriptwriters would embark on this time. I couldn't see how Season Two's amazing dramatic tension could be replicated without the new storyline seeming samey and contrived. Fortunately the writers decided on a more low-key plot this time around, focusing more on relationships and character development and less on the 'will-he-or-won't-he-get-caught?' question.
At the beginning I found the storyline a little formulaic - Dexter killing, Rita not suspecting a thing and Dexter's sister Deb worrying about her career and love life, all against the backdrop of the usual police-station banter and politics between Dexter's regular colleagues Lieutenant Maria Laguerta, Sergeant Angel Batista and the lab geek Vince Mazuka. Yes after a while Season Three finds its feet and, although it is slower paced than the seasons that came before it, it is still a gripping and very well-written crime drama. This is partly due to the addition of several new characters to keep things fresh: there is Deb's new colleague Quinn, a competent detective with a seemingly shady past; Quinn's laid-back confidential informer Anton and the remaining Prado brothers - the thuggish Ramon and the charming Miguel.
The acting is almost faultless, with Michael C Hall as Dexter continuing to keep his character likeable despite his dark side. Jennifer Carpenter continues to shine as Deb (she is particularly adept at scenes of high emotion and tears) and Lauren Velez and David Zayas seem to have really grown into their roles as Laguerta and Batista; they are completely natural and convincing. Jimmy Smits is fantastic as Miguel Prado, bringing both demonic and vulnerable elements to the role and providing some balance to Dexter's character. Unfortunately Julie Benz (Rita) lets the side down somewhat by simpering her way through all twelve episodes (as much as is possible with what looks like a heavily botoxed face), employing her preferred 'little-girl' whisper mode of delivering her lines. I often had to go back and listen to her dialogue again as I couldn't understand her muttering, and in some cases even this didn't help and I never did find out what exactly she was supposed to be saying.
There is less emphasis on Dexter's past in this season, possibly since it would be too far-fetched if he discovered even more dreadful family secrets each episode; however, Deb does start to take an interest in it herself, which sets up possible problems in Season 4 if and when she does discover more about Dexter's real family. There are hardly any more flashbacks to Dexter's past in Season Three, but he continues to be heavily influenced by dream sequences in which his adoptive father Harry guides and warns him, with the occasional appearance of Dexter's birth mother too. I found that the writers relied too heavily on these scenes. Some of them were quite silly; they cropped up in every episode and became tiresome. After a while seemed a rather lazy device for communicating Dexter's thoughts.
There was some inconsistency regarding Dexter's emotions too - he is supposed to be someone who generally doesn't feel normal human emotions and has to fake them e.g. at funerals, but in this season it seemed that he did experience emotions when it suited the plot, and didn't when it didn't. A further point which really annoyed me was the complete lack of security with which Miami Metro Police operates - anyone can walk into the police station/labs/lieutenant's office at any time and cause trouble; high-level meetings are held in rooms with the doors open and personnel seem to leave computers unlocked and displaying highly confidential information without so much as a by or leave.
Yet despite its few weaknesses and the fact that it wasn't as absorbing as the previous high-octane seasons, Dexter Season Three is still a highly entertaining, funny, (mostly) brilliantly-acted, crime drama. A few clever hints at the end suggest that Season Four will bring more nail-biting plot lines.
The region 2 DVD is currently available for pre-order from Amazon for £24.91; release date is 16th August 2010. Alternatively you can buy the region 1 DVD from Amazon UK Marketplace too; prices start at £19.00 too.