Newest Review: ... 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 seri... more
Dexter: The Third Season (DVD)
Member Name: ms_memory
Dexter: The Third Season (DVD)
Advantages: A (mainly) five-star cast; funny and exciting
Disadvantages: Not as fast-paced as the other seasons; Julie Benz's acting, some plot inconsistency
** 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.
Summary: A bit more low-key than the other Seasons, but it still leaves you wanting more!
More reviews in the field of TV Series
- Breaking Bad: The Complete Series (Blu-ray)
- Breaking Bad: The Complete Series (DVD)
- Dallas - Season 2 (DVD)
- Castle - Season 5 (DVD)
- Doctor Who - New Beginnings (The Keeper of Traken / Logopolis / Castrovalva (DVD ...
- Catherine Cookson - Tilly Trotter (DVD)
- The Worst Witch (DVD)
- The Detectives - Series 4 (DVD)