Thursday, November 1, 2007
TV Review: Dexter season one
Dexter is the latest American TV import that has caught my attention, no less due to the inclusion of Michael C. Hall as the title character. The format is of police forensics kind but unlike oh-so-boring C.S.I. or Bones, Hall's character is an anti-hero - whose lust for blood is the centre theme to this series.
Dexter Morgan is a clever and calculated Miami based blood splatter expert working for the Miami police. He also happens to moonlight as a serial killer with an unruly sense of justice and articulate form of applying his form of justice. His skills that allows him to adept well to both his day and night 'jobs'. Night is certainly when he hones his morbid 'craft' as he picks his victims and 'plays' with them.
Dexter's killing urge begins at a young age from the moment he was taken in by his foster parents. But rather than shunning and locking the devil up, his father who happens to be a police detective, actually encourages him to 'channel' his morbid curiosity on people who really deserves it. He holds a unique position where he is able to play two roles, using his insider knowledge to cover his tracks and to hunt down new victims. Sort of like Death Note, but even more compelling.
Despite his morally ambiguous role, you will find yourself rooting for Dexter, partly because he is equally as brilliant as our most beloved fictional serial killer Hannibal Lecter and because he is sort of likeable, in a creepy sort of way. Ultimately he is sort of the lesser of two evils. For a serial killer Dexter understands that he has a hollow soul and is adamant that nothing could stop or change him. Dexter's acceptance that he is a monster is unique within fictional psychopathic characters where many are in denial to whom they are. He kills not for justice, because of his desire to play with blood. Justice is just a bonus outcome of his actions, most of is based on the "code of conduct" devised by his father.
Hall's performance as Dexter has been brilliant so far. It is complete opposite to his last major TV role as the embattled gay undertaker David Fisher in Six Feet Under, but certainly no less memorable as the emotionally challenged Dexter. Joining Dexter is a small cast of misfits whom are not as memorable (but still unique and developed). Like Dexter, most are crazies in their own little world. There is an obnoxious sergeant who picks and cuss at Dexter the whole time. His sister is unable to think for herself and constantly being struck down by her superior (who is an outright bitch). The only other likeable character happens to be Dexter's girlfriend Rita - whom he dates because she is as 'damaged as him'.
The series concept is original (for TV) and right of the bat the pilot episode introduced us to a major serial killer rival (the ice truck killer - who happens to be one of the more interesting villains on TV) to our new favourite serial killer where he attempts to capture him, and yet at the same time could not help admiring his work. While this is ongoing smaller plot lines are introduced like his ongoing relationship with Rita, the dilemma facing the police on seeking vengeance or justice and office politics. But the first season never strays too far from its centre goal of establishes Dexter's identity. My understanding is the second season will explore Dexter's morality further and him dealing with the consequences of his actions during season one's finale showdown with the ice truck killer.
Dexter combines the surgical glamour of Nip/Tuck, the visceral art of Six Feet Under and visual style of film noire. It isn't grotesque and isn't as gruesome as initially thought, but stylistically Dexter is a visualfest. Dialogues are well written with humour thrown in where needed and not unnecessarily almost on par with American Psycho. It is a subtly funny series that also happens to questions society's reaction to vigilante murders. Here we are rooting for someone who is doing something we think is despicable but deep down I am sure many of you agrees with.
Dexter season one is currently airing here Sundays 10pm on FX UK.