184 of 191 people found the following review helpful
If you haven't watched seasons 1 - 3 of Dexter yet, you have no idea what you're missing out on. For three days after the season 4 finale of Dexter aired on Showtime, the phrase "Dexter" was constantly in the top ten trends for most searched, most Tweeted, most blogged according to both Google and Twitter. Once you finally see the last episode of season 4, you'll completely understand why.
Season four started in a bit of controversy among Dexter fans when it was announced that John Lithgow was tapped to play the season's arch-villain, the Trinity Killer. For those of us who were used to Lithgow's comedic performances in shows like Third Rock and Harry and the Hendersons, he didn't seem to fit the normal profile of a Dexter guest star. However, like the casting of Jimmy Smits as Miguel Prado, Lithgow pulls off the demeanor of a "Normal, everyday kind of guy" serial killer to a tee.
The show starts up by reminding us that Dexter is now the family man - a brand new baby, a brand new wife, a brand new home in the suburbs, but the same ol' Dark Passenger. The struggle to constantly balance his false family facade with the urges of his darker side is the general theme of the season; and through most of the season it seems as if Dexter is doomed to failure as his family starts to fracture and his kills get sloppier. Enter the Trinity Killer - someone, who in Dexter's eyes is another possible mentor for himself. The Trinity Killer has been an enigma for over thirty years; never caught, never seen, and not even entirely believed to be real. Dexter finds the possibility of learning from the Trinity Killer as an opportunity he cannot let pass by.
As with all of the seasons, there are quite a few subplots involving the other Dexter cast members, but all-in-all, other than the one including Quinn and Debra, they feel somewhat tacked on. However the main plot line this season is such a driving force that the weak subplots are quickly forgotten and forgiven. The subplots are all mostly of an romantic nature, including one between Capt. LaGuerta and Angel Batista, the reappearance of a retired Frank Lundy, and the romance between Quinn and Christine Hill. This season also finds Debra digging into her past and discovering what kind of man Harry Morgan really was - which needless to say, also leads her to learn more about her brother, Dexter.
At the beginning of Season Four, you find Dexter juggling so many faces to figure out who he really is, and who he can be. By the end of Season Four, Dexter learns that the very act of juggling the different personas has changed his life forever. Season five has some big shoes to fill.
Addressing the subject of DVD versus Blu-Ray, having been forced to watch Dexter on standard definition on various occasions when the cable company had some "glitches," I can safely recommend the high def over the standard versions. While you won't really "miss" anything by lacking the sharpness of the HD presentation, the atmosphere just seems much more poignant and dramatic in the high def videos. I should also mention that Dexter does take full advantage of surround sound, and it's pretty creepy when you can hear sounds off and around corners when watching Dexter sneak around to grab his next kill.
111 of 120 people found the following review helpful
on December 16, 2009
Dexter fans are reeling from the shocker of a season finale that aired last Sunday Dec. 13th, and rightly so. Yet for people curious about the show, Season 4 is a great place to start. Season 4 begins with Dexter adjusting to life as a new dad and a married man. As a viewer, I didn't want the show to turn into 'Dexter changes a diaper' or 'Dexter Buys Formula' and the writers exposed Dexter to those things and Dexter reacts to them as best and as humorously as he can. Dexter is still in there, with his Dark Passenger, leading a double life and trying to cope in his own way with new challenges. It seems like Dexter doesn't do a lot of killing in Season 4, it's more of a tense cat and mouse game leading up to the season finale. Season 4 stars John Lithgow as father/deacon/volunteer/serial killer Arthur. A great casting decision as Lithgow can act the gamut of emotions. His portrayal of the character will perhaps go down as one of the most complex and notorious bad guys in TV or movie history, right along side with Hannibal Lecter (Hannibal had many sides, too).
Season 4 has a movie length plot cut into a serial format. It's a great place to start for new fans because in a way, the events of the season are clearing the way for Dexter to decide if he wants to be a family man, a normal guy next door or embrace his Dark Passenger once again and without looking back.
Strong performances (as always) from Jennifer Carpenter as Dexter's sister Deb.
The only negative I can comment on is the subplot of the relationship between La Guerta and Batista. I love Angel but the fling with La Guerta seemed distracting. Liked him better with the vice detective ;)
For fans who didn't like Season 3, Season 4 will bring them back into the Dexter fold certainly. Excellent fiction all around. As Jennifer Carpenter said in an interview w/E Online "I hope you have a good time talking to your therapists about it because it's beyond whatever you may think." Fans of the show are a mix: those who like blood and violence period, those who like the characters and storylines, those who analyze the themes, those who revel in their ability to compartmentalize their reactions and emotions. However, Dexter is a show that makes you think and in the season finale, it's a show that makes you feel things in your gut, things that you forgot a tv show could make you feel, things that you will be forced to feel whether you like it or not...
Keep up the good work writers!
64 of 68 people found the following review helpful
Update: both Michael C. Hall and John Lithgow won the Golden Globe for their performances this season. Michael C. Hall also won the Screen Actor's Guild Award.
The success of this type of show, serial killer crime, is usually dependent on how good the villain is. Dexter is, of course, semi villainous since he is a serial killer himself but he kills bad guys. So the series needs a "real" bad guy as well. John Lithgow is that bad guy this season and quite simply, you couldn't ask for a better one. It is a very complex role of a supposedly ideal father, husband and dedicated volunteer for the homeless who also is the serial killer Trinity. He is a very nuanced and layered character. These two characters are not the whole show but they firmly anchor it and everyone else revolves around them. There are surprising twists this season and none more so than the ending. But this is how Dexter always works as a tv show. All the other characters are quite good again too, especially Dexter's sister, who has a significant role in unmasking Trinity too.
A note of warning: if you are also a reader and want to read the four Dexter novels, it is a somewhat bizarre experience to do it side by side with watching the tv show. This is because the books and tv shows kill off and emphasize different characters. Both are excellent but they are different. Imagine Sherlock Holmes where Moriarty lives in the tv version but dies in the books and then change around Watson, Le Strade and the "The Woman", et al, and you begin to see the difficulty. Dexter is also more villainous yet also more comic in the novels than in the tv show.
Another added note: if you are an audiobook fan, the Dexter audiobooks are some of the very best audiobooks around. The narrator is superb.
Visit my blog with link given on my profile page here or use this phonetically given URL (livingasseniors dot blogspot dot com). Friday's entry will always be weekend entertainment recs from my 5 star Amazon reviews in film, tv, books and music. These are very heavy on buried treasures and hidden gems. My blogspot is published on Monday, Wednesday & Friday.
21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on February 25, 2010
I have watched every episode of this series and I have to admit, season four has been the best. How often do you watch a show in which every, single episode, hell, every single scene has you on the edge of your couch holding your breather? None--with the exception of Dexter.
This season Dexter is juggling a lot--family, a home, work, finding time for his passion, and a new rival. He's got pressure from all sides. Watching him masterfully keep it all together was one of the best acting endeavors only someone as gifted as Michael C. Hall could pull off.
You know, so many people complain about how much crap is on TV. But, by far, Dexter is better than any movie I have seen in years.
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on January 19, 2010
How can you even begin to describe the brilliance, talent and surprises that are Dexter: Season 4?? Mere words do it no justice. You want to run out and tell everyone who isn't watching it to sit down and pull up a chair. Each season has it's own flavor, some a little less palatable than others but I always enjoyed the show. Season 4 is just out of the park good. John Lithgow is so amazing as the Trinity Killer (not a spoiler) but the depth of his madness goes so deep its unlike anything Dexter could even imagine for himself. The interaction with his family and slowly revealing the true story was brilliantly told. The "Hungry Man" episode (also known as the Thanksgiving episode) is hands down the best episode of the entire series. I have never been on the edge of my seat from beginning to end of an episode like I was with that one. Just as you think the finale is going to be a little on the disappointing side, you're hit with the final scene. All Dexter fans know that the lid has been blown off and the rulebook is out the window as far as what kind of man we're going to see coming into season 5. All I know is I can't wait to watch!
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on January 18, 2010
Yet another fantastic season of Dexter ! John Lithgow won a Golden Globe for best supporting actor; well deserved, as he presented a complicated & dark villain this season .
Michael C. Hall scooped best actor in a tv Drama ... a landslide victory, as testament to the calibre of this series.
The writers are brilliant. They keep coming up with fresh new plot lines & leave viewers anxious for more . Dexter is the character you hate to love. Hard to rationalize cheering on a serial killer, but he always has the best of intentions .
The season finale opens the door for new characters .... Will be sitting on the edge of my seat to see where season 5 takes us .
This series is a masterful presentation of humanities darkside, & leaves the viewer pondering the nature of their belief system . This truly is a must own series . I have the first 3 seasons on DVD & have rewatched them 3x, always seeing something new each time . The day of release, I will be purchasing season 4 .
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on January 31, 2010
I knew by the second episode that Lithgow would take top honors and by the third episode that Hall would too. It was hands down for them to both get the Golden Globe award. This season was unbelievably great!
12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on February 5, 2010
I own Seasons 1-3 on DVD and have watched every episode of Dexter to-date.
I must say that this show is THE most entertaining hour on television, period. Extremely well-written, with top notch performances by Michael C. Hall - and, this season, John Lithgow. Their cat and mouse game was riveting. The season finale was a shocker - but, it was perfect. The writers didn't cop out.
I think in terms of favorite seasons of Dexter, here's where this one sits relative to all:
#1 - Trinity (Season 4)
#2 - Ice Truck Killer (Season 1)
#3 - Miguel Prado (Season 3)
#4 - Doakes (Season 2)
I cannot WAIT for Season 5 to start.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Dexter Season 4 Review
For the most part, the Dexter series is perfect television that displays a perfect balance between quality and technique: at times, season four makes you wonder if all of that has changed.
On the plus side of things, John Lithgow is a great actor who gives a seamlessly creepy and pleasantly nuanced performance as Dexter's opponent. Some of his scenes (especially the ones in which Lithgow reveals his character's meticulously concealed insanity) are amazing to watch: scenes so good that they remind you that acting is a craft and that it is possible for an actor to be amazing at it.
In a strong departure from the earlier seasons, season four sees the writers trying to establish a longer-term change in the love-lives of a couple of the characters instead of the previous season's twelve-episodes-and-out shacking up. Unfortunately, this doesn't make up for all the things in season four that make you roll your eyes.
On the minus side, the complications that arise from Dexter's family life stretch credulity to the breaking point and beyond--a situation that is made obvious when several different characters call attention to how much time Dexter, the family man with an office job, spends in places where no one can find him day or night.
Dexter's wife, Rita, whom the writers have made a fiercely independent woman who puts great energy into her children and her marriage, becomes unsupportably unpleasant at times--at times almost shrewish--when she reacts to Dexter's unavoidable furtiveness and need for evasion. Unfortunately, this removes much of the emotional value from one element of season four's resolution.
Dexter worked in those first three seasons. Despite its dependence on a formula as contrived as a television sitcom's, Dexter has been bullet proof entertainment until now and it makes you wonder if the it's the writers who have run out of steam or if the original idea is just too thin to allow for stronger and more nuanced writing.
Watching the first three seasons of Dexter, things never became so strange that you threw your hands in the air and walked away regardless of how contrived the scripts were, or how much yoga the writers had to do to fit a compelling resolution into the show's formulas. It was what was good about the series's writing: its technique was never so bad that you saw that it was technique; nor was it so bad that you saw that the technique was missing. In season four, with it reliance on melodrama and increasingly wild coincidence, both those problems are present and noticeable.
One of the great things about the Dexter TV series is that even when the season's resolution is as strange as this season's is, you still want more of it, Dexter is an engaging character as are the people around him, but season four leaves you with a strange taste in your mouth--like weak tea and Tequila: at best the result is an acquired taste--one that makes you wonder if you will like the next season.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on August 25, 2010
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
MAJOR SPOILERS ALERT! BE WARNED!
I don't subscribe to Showtime, so I always look forward to a new season of "Dexter" on DVD, and this, the fourth, didn't disappoint (although I did have a few issues that I'll mention in a moment).
First off, the good: John Lithgow. Believe the hype (and the Golden Globes and Emmy win); he's amazing as the Trinity killer, a 3-plus-decades-long murder machine. The scenes with his family are beyond creepy. Other reviewers have mentioned the Thanksgiving episode, and I agree that it was the best of the season. When things start to go awry at the dinner table and Lithgow suddenly blurts out to his wife, "Shut up, c*nt," my mouth fell open. Although his story arc ends, he was vital to this season's excellence.
More good: Dexter's foul-mouthed sister Deb, who really came into her own this season; the romance between Batista and LaGuerta; the adorable baby they used as Dexter's new son.
And for the not-so-good: the writers really need to work on the domestic scenes. Dexter's wife Rita has become a one-note character, expressing frustration in almost every scene with Dexter's inability to open up to her. Everytime we see her, she is either driving somewhere, holding a baby, or pushing a stroller. So, whereas I wasn't exactly thrilled she ended up dead in a bathtub at the end, I will be interested in seeing where the story goes next season without her presence.
One last not-so-good: I notice that "Dexter" tends to drag just a little bit in the middle of each season. If you don't believe me, compare the last two or three episodes with, for example, the fifth or sixth. The same thing happened last year with the Jimmy Smits storyline. I suppose it's just the nature of the storytelling, but some tighter writing might liven things up a bit.
All in all, time well spent. The new season starts in September, and while I won't see it until it arrives on DVD, sometime next year I suppose, I can't wait to see what they have in store!