Arriving on DVD on Tuesday (Aug. 21), "Dexter" is fine opposing evidence in case you ever find yourself in one of those pesky "The book is always better than the movie/TV show" arguments.
Jeff Lindsay's "Darkly Dreaming Dexter," which gave the show's first season its structure if not its substance, drew compulsive readability and little depth out of the central irony of its central character. Dexter Morgan (Hall) is a blood spatter expert with the Miami police department, helping catch killers, but he's also a serial murderer in his free time, relying on a very strict moral code in selecting his victims.
The contradictions of this Monster With a Cause are made human by Hall, who brings diabolical humor to the main character, while also locating the strained attempts at conventional behavior in his relationship with his adopted sister (Jennifer Carpenter) and his emotionally fragile girlfriend (Julie Benz).
As was the case with Lindsay's first book, the opening season of "Dexter" was based around our antihero's search for the Ice Truck Killer, an equally precise and equally sanguine antagonist with direct personal ties to Dexter's mystery shrouded past. It's a self-contained narrative that will still set new viewers up perfectly for the show's second season premiere this fall.
Unfortunately, the character of Dexter would probably be a little disappointed in the DVD package for "Dexter: Season One." Dexter, you see, is a meticulous man who can't be bothered with sloppiness of any kind, but his level of OCD wasn't applied to the DVD.
A quick glance at the DVD case suggests a wealth of bonus features, but most of it is just filler and cross-promotion for other Showtime and Viacom properties. The 12 episodes are spread onto four discs, but the fourth disc contains more episodes of "Brotherhood" (two) than "Dexter" (only the finale). That fourth disc also includes links to two chapters of Lindsay's "Dexter in the Dark," downloads of "The Tudors" and a sample of a "CSI" game.
Although the box claimed a pair of featurettes, I was only able to find "Witnessed in Blood -- A True Murder Investigation," a dry, by-the-numbers true crime documentary in which real blood spatter experts discuss how blood was used to sol ve a murder in Anaheim. The only mention of "Dexter" comes in framing voice over.
Two episodes contain commentary tracks, though the disc packaging doesn't indicate which episodes those are. It turns out that cast members Jennifer Carpenter, David Zayas, Lauren Velez and Erik King (but no Michael C. Hall) yak over the fifth episode, "Return to Sender," while the finale gets far more insightful treatment courtesy of producers Sara Colleton, Clyde Phillips and Daniel Cerone.