Blu-ray Review: Dexter: The Complete Series + Dexter: New Blood

Blu-ray Reviews, Reviews, Top Story

Rarely has the revival of a show saves its legacy. Most of the time when they bring a series back either for reunion movie or a series, it’s a not an elevating experience. It’s nice to see most of the cast working again, but the experience is one of nostalgia. When a new Dexter series was announced, there wasn’t exactly fans eager to revisit the cult series. The Showtime series became must see viewing its first four seasons. The last four seasons were enjoyable although nothing truly topped Dexter vs. the Trinity killer season. When the final episode aired with its “what happened to Dexter” reveal was as disappointing as the endings of The Sopranos, M*A*S*H*, Cheers and Sons of Anarchy rolled into one. If this was merely a review of Dexter: The Complete Series, I’d be moaning how the show just went off the rails. But since this is Dexter: The Complete Series + Dexter: New Blood, I’m praising the Blu-ray collection.

Dexter was a complete twist on the police procedurals that dominate television now. We are taken inside the homicide unit of the Miami police where a crack team investigates the murders all over Miami. The Morgan siblings are part of the staff keeping up the legacy of their father Harry (The Warriors’ James Remar). Debra Morgan (The Exorcism of Emily Rose’s Jennifer Carpenter) is newly promoted to the unit. Her brother Dexter (Six Feet Under‘s Michael C. Hall) is the leading blood splatter expert. There are two things that she doesn’t know about her brother. That Harry’s ghost haunts Dexter. Most importantly is she doesn’t have a clue that her brother is a serial killer. Nobody on the homicide unit knows this because Dexter’s got a code. His biggest thing is that his victims are real killers that have found ways to avoid being caught by the police. Dexter doesn’t have to worry about a judge and jury ruining his form of justice. He knows how to dispose of his guilty victims. The only thing that remains of them is a single blood sample kept in Dexter’s treasure chest.

Each season of 12 episodes plays out like a novel which makes sense since the character came from a series of books by Jeff Lindsay. Each season does build on each other. There is always a new serial killing advisory that Dexter has to track down. The first season has the Ice Truck Killer known for keeping his prostitute victims frozen for a while. The Fourth season is the best since The Trinity Killer is played by John Lithgow (Third Rock From The Son). He and Dexter go at it and there’s a lot of damage in the end. The following four seasons get deeper on the character as his layers of protection fumble apart and more people learn his dark secret. The final reveal at the end of the season just fell flat. People complained and it seemed to make people less interested in revisiting or even recommending the show.

The idea of reviving the show with Michael C. Hall as Dexter wasn’t exactly greeted with anticipation. When the Blu-ray boxset arrived in the mail, I wasn’t too pumped up. I reluctantly pressed play on the first episode and nearly 10 hours later, I had serially watched the entire limited series. Dexter: New Blood is addictive.

Dexter is still hiding away in the frozen North. The producers don’t want to take a Mulligan and act like that didn’t happen. Although he’s no longer a lumberjack. He’s using a fake identity to live a simple life in the small town of Iron Lake in upstate New York. He works at a local sporting goods store that does a great business selling hunting rifles to the rich folks who come up for the snow season. It’s a nice simple town where they investigate pies being stolen. Dexter’s new identity has made him a nice addition to the community. He’s even dating Police Chief Angela Bishop (Westworld‘s Julia Jones). It’s a quaint life until it isn’t. Dexter gets stuck dealing with a rich entitled jerk. The guy wants a hunting rifle to outdo his friend’s weaponry. Dexter eventually runs into the guy out in the woods and bad things happen. Dexter finds himself back in his old role. The jerk’s father (Highlander‘s Clancy Brown) is loaded and runs the local truck stop. He doesn’t believe that his son ran away after a hunting incident. He pushes Dexter to do his best to keep his cover from being blown. To add to the intensity, Dexter gets a completely unexpected visit from his son Harrison (Jack Alcott) who has been stuck in Florida foster care since the woman who taking care of him had passed away. The teenager is rebellious and might share a family trauma trait with Dexter. Making thing get messier is that fact that an undetected serial killer is also lurking around Iron Lake. The killer has a thing for abducting hitchhiking girls, trapping them in a room until they’re set free and shot with a rifle during their flight.

This is much better than the final season of the original run. Part of it is Clancy Brown bringing both his charm and menace to the screen, He’s the most intimidating character since John Lithgow’s Trinity Killer. They bring back Deb (Jennifer Carpenter) as Dexter’s new conscious since Harry’s not around anymore. Even though the show features a true crime podcaster that feels natural since a character like Dexter would attract a good audience for his deeds. The new episodes tie back to when Dexter had to deal with Harrison as a newborn baby. Now he’s having to cope with a teenager and bond with the kid in their own special way.

Dexter New Blood is a limited series that doesn’t hold back. The show effectively works off the bitter after taste of the original series ending. The ending is intense. They got it right this time.

Dexter: The Complete Series + Dexter: New Blood is the perfect way to get into the show since it no longer ends with a “why?” moment. Instead you’re given the complete story that doesn’t feel like a cheat in the final shot of the series.

Dexter bonus features:

The video is 1.78:1 anamorphic. The 1080p transfers bring out the glow of the faux Southern Florida production. The colors are vivid and the sweat glistens on the screen. The audio is TrueHD 5.1 that brings out the crunches during fights. French listeners get a 5.1 mix. There’s Spanish and English 2.0 Stereo Surround mixes. The episodes are subtitled.

Audio commentaries on “Return to Sender,” with Jennifer Carpenter, David Zayas, Lauren Velez and Erik King and “Born Free,” With Series Executive Producers Sara Colleton, Clyde Phillips, and Daniel Cerrone. These are both first season episodes.

From Cop to Killer (3:15) goes into how Deb has to go from a good cop to a figure as dark as Dexter.

Dexter – The End Begins (3:07) goes into how the production approached wrapping up the series after eight seasons.

Dexter with Scott Buck Executive Producer Episode 801 (2:07) has him discuss how things become darker as Deb can’t deal with everything happening at once.

Episode 802 Directed by Michael C. Hall (2:17) has him enjoy doing the dual role of leading actor and director. He praises working with Charlotte Rampling.

Dissecting Episode 803 Scene 30 (1:37) has Jennifer Carpenter going into her emotional confession moment.

Scott Buck on Episode 804 (2:17) has him talk about Deb hitting her bottom and Dexter realizing how much damage he’s done to his sister.

Ray Donavan Episodes includes the first two of what would be Showtime’s next big series.

BD Live bonus features don’t seem to hook up anymore. It has been almost 14 years since these discs were released.

Dexter: New Blood bonus features:

The Video is 2.35:1 anamorphic. The 1080p transfer brings out the beauty of the snowy locations. The quint Iron Lake is really Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts. The Audio is Dolby True HD 5.1 Surround. You’ll hear crunching footsteps in the snow. The episodes are subtitled.

Why Now? (2:13) has Michael C. Hall excited to answer what happened to Dexter. They brought back the old Florida crew to the cold weather world.

Dissecting Dexter: The New Blood – Deb Is Back (1:58) has Jennifer Carpenter mention that Hall pitched the show to her over coffee in New York City. They discuss how she’s working in her new role.

The Kill Room (1:58) talks about Dexter relapsing into his old ways. It has outtakes of Hall working in the plastic covered space.

All Out On the Table (30:04) is a discussion with cast and crew including a major surprise guest star. Do not watch this before you see all the episodes.

CBS DVD presents Dexter: New Blood. Starring Michael C. Hall, James Remar, John Lithgow, David Zayas, Julie Benz, C.S. Lee, Lauren Velez, Jennifer Carpenter & Clancy Brown. Boxset Contents: 106 episodes on 32 Blu-ray discs. Release Date: October 4, 2022.

Joe Corey is the writer and director of "Danger! Health Films" currently streaming on Night Flight and Amazon Prime. He's the author of "The Seven Secrets of Great Walmart People Greeters." This is the last how to get a job book you'll ever need. He was Associate Producer of the documentary "Moving Midway." He's worked as local crew on several reality shows including Candid Camera, American's Most Wanted, Extreme Makeover Home Edition and ESPN's Gaters. He's been featured on The Today Show and CBS's 48 Hours. Dom DeLuise once said, "Joe, you look like an axe murderer." He was in charge of research and programming at the Moving Image Archive.