When a movie or TV show makes the jump from the screen to disc format, the transfer can have both positive and negative effects. A mediocre film can seem that much better when it comes packaged with plenty of deleted scenes, commentary and other extras. In that same vein, an excellent feature like Dexter: The Fifth Season can be diminished by a lack of these bells and whistles.

The life of Dexter Morgan (Michael C. Hall) changed dearly with the death of his wife (Julie Benz). With the role of single parenthood thrust upon him, the Miami blood spatter expert has enough to worry about, in addition to the burden of keeping his secret life as a serial killer hidden from his friends and family. While Dexter copes with his new situation by day, his moonlighting gig is keeping him as busy as ever, as he tracks down the evil-doers of Florida’s crime world. When he comes across a frightened young woman named Lumen (Julia Stiles) in his dealings, he also gets involved in a disturbing series of slayings that even he may not be able to stop. Meanwhile, Dexter’s adoptive detective sister (Jennifer Carpenter) and the rest of his police coworkers are getting closer and closer to finding out his true identity.

Hall’s cool, collected demeanor gets shaken up in this most recent season, as Dexter finally starts to suffer major repercussions of his chosen lifestyle. After the fourth season cliffhanger that capped the show’s strongest year yet, it looked like Dexter would either go soft or come back with a vengeance. Hall somehow manages to do both as his character ponders the idea of raising three kids by himself while still juggling a “hobby” of stalking, and doing away with the worst of the worst of criminal offenders.

His real-life wife, Carpenter, also makes strides throughout the season as devoted and foul-mouthed sister, Debra, who’s got her own headaches in both the love and career departments, tied together by her romantic involvement with partner Joey Quinn (Desmond Harrington), whose suspicion of Dexter is greater than ever. Stiles’ season-long engagement as traumatized victim Lumen lets us see the nurturing side of the titular murderer, though it’s impossible to top John Lithgow’s stint as the Trinity Killer, whose work still lingers. Also making their mark with multiple episode appearances are Peter Weller, Shawn Hatosy and Jonny Lee Miller as Jordan Chase, a motivational speaker with a dark past.

A show about a guy who kills out of uncontrollable compulsion is bound to be morbid, and the Showtime series’ gruesome material and snappy humor still hasn’t declined after five seasons. The quality has yet to dip as the number of blood slides in Dexter’s little memento box gets higher and higher. Unfortunately, the better the show gets, the thirstier the audience gets for more and supplementary content on the side. And, just as occurred with the fourth season DVD, the fifth contains a severe lack of the extra Dexter substances we crave so much.

Instead of the abundant bonus features from the first three seasons’ DVDs and Blu-rays, the majority of the additional materials here are new segments from shows like Californication, Episodes, and The Borgias. Though these are solid Showtime series in their own right, shouldn’t we just focus on one thing at a time? A few interviews with Hall, Carpenter, Stiles and company provide some nice insights, but it’s just not enough.

What Dexter: The Fifth Season lacks in DVD extras, it makes up for in whetting our appetites for more of our favorite knife-wielding good guy. With the sixth season premiere scheduled for Oct. 2, complete with confirmed guest stars like Colin Hanks, Edward James Olmos and Mos Def, start unfurling the plastic wrap!

Show rating: 3.5 out of 4 stars
DVD rating: 2.5 out of 4 stars

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