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Friday, July 29, 2011

DEXTER: THE FIFTH SEASON -- DVD review by porfle


As I may have mentioned before, I'm one of those neanderthals who not only don't have cable-TV, but don't get TV of any kind.  So I've missed out on seasons 1, 2, and 4 of one of my favorite shows, "Dexter."  While other fans argue the comparative merits of each season, I can only say that I thought the season three DVD set was pretty awesome, and now that I've watched DEXTER: THE FIFTH SEASON (which I scarfed down in a single day) I like it even more.

Apparently I missed some big events in Dexter's personal life during the previous season, chief among them being a drastic change in his marital status.  Now our favorite well-meaning serial killer is struggling with the problems of being a single dad dealing with stepkids Astor and Cody and baby Harrison (whom he fears may turn out like him) while trying to maintain his secret lifestyle. 

Twelve-year-old Astor (Christina Robinson) deeply resents him for not being there for his new family when they needed him, and their relationship undergoes some interesting changes.  Likewise with Harrison's kindly new nanny Sonya (Maria Doyle Kennedy), whose saintly demeanor helps to spark Dexter's capacity for fatherly love.



As always, Dexter only kills people who deserve it, thus quenching his dark impulses in a positive way as taught to him by his stepdad Harry (James Remar), a former cop who recognized the potential monster within him and sought to control it.  Michael C. Hall manages to attract and repel at the same time as Dexter, whose victims are such scum that it's hard not to feel the same satisfaction he gets when stalking and killing them. 

This time his job as a blood splatter analyst for the Miami police force (where he works alongside his sister Debra, a homicide detective) involves him in the case of a group of sexual deviants who have kidnapped, tortured, and murdered a dozen women over the years.  While eliminating one of them in his usual ritualistic manner, Dexter stumbles across the thirteenth victim still alive and desperate for revenge.

Julia Stiles gives a moving performance as the physically and emotionally scarred Lumen, who becomes Dexter's new partner in crime.  As the season progresses they form a fascinating bond which both empowers her and gives Dexter his first truly sympathetic soulmate.  Their ongoing story gains increasing momentum as the two race to track down and eliminate each of the killers before Dexter's coworkers beat them to it. 

The chief suspect, a popular self-help guru named Jordan Chase, is played with sinister smarm by British actor Jonny Lee Miller (DEAD MAN'S WALK, PRIME SUSPECT).  Harvey Keitel-lookalike Chris Vance ("Mental") plays his bodyguard Cole, another suspect in the heinous crimes, and fan fave Angela Bettis (MAY, CARRIE) turns up along the way as a mousy woman who may be the secret link between all of the culprits.



There's character conflict galore back at the station as the fiery on-again off-again romance between Dexter's sister Debra (Hall's real-life wife Jennifer Carpenter) and her partner Quinn (Desmond Harrington, WRONG TURN) is further complicated when Quinn begins to suspect Dexter and hires crusty ex-cop Liddy (Peter Weller, aging into a terrific character actor) to spy on him. 

Meanwhile, the marriage of their boss Lt. Maria LaGuerta (Lauren Vélez) and Sgt. Angel Batista (David Zayas) gets pretty rocky when they lock horns over her questionable handling of some current cases.  Sexy Latina actress April Hernandez Castillo (who looks fetish-tastic in uniform) stirs up trouble of her own as an ambitious young policewoman who helps solve a gruesome murder case and ends up trying to squeeze Debra out of her job. 

The four-disc, 12-episode DVD set from Showtime and CBS DVD is in 16:9 widescreen with Dolby Digital sound (English 5.1 surround, English and French 2.0 stereo, Spanish mono) and closed-captions.  Extras include cast biographies, a photo gallery, and sample episodes of other Showtime series.

DEXTER: THE FIFTH SEASON finds the strangely-heroic Dexter searching for his soul as he tries, like so many characters before him, to learn how to become human.  But more than ever, having to juggle the various elements of his persona--family man, respected co-worker, bloodthirsty creature of the night--keeps him up to his neck in precarious, suspenseful, and highly entertaining predicaments in which, lucky for us, everything seems to go wrong.


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