Criminally, I'm late to the "Dexter" train, but quickly have discovered that few television shows are as deliciously addictive. The Showtime series revolves around a novel high concept: Dexter Morgan is a crime analyst who moonlights as a serial killer "¦ but only of bad people who really, really deserve it.
Dexter (Michael C. Hall) dispenses with ne'er-do-wells left and right, but the third season's overall story arc has him hunting a slice-and-dice evildoer dubbed "The Skinner." Dexter finds an unlikely ally "? at least initially "? in assistant DA Miguel Prado (Jimmy Smits, who's never been better), despite having offed Prado's brother.
Off the job, Dexter also deals with the news that his fragile girlfriend, Rita (Julie Benz), is pregnant; he 's rightly worried about spreading his killer genes.
This series succeeds because of Hall. It's to his credit he can make a mass murderer not only wholly sympathetic to viewers, but have him be the hero, too. Hall is uniformly excellent and overdue for an Emmy. As Dexter's socially awkward detective sister, Jennifer Carpenter also deserves plaudits, as does Benz, who bravely plays down her beauty.
The four-disc collection boasts one of the best special features I've ever seen: the first two episodes of "The United States of Tara," featuring a bravura performance "? four of them, actually "? by Toni Collette. I wish more DVD sets followed suit in introducing you to other quality cable series.