Friday, April 04, 2008

Dexter Season 1 - Disturbingly Delicious Debut

I'm a little late to the Dexter party, as the show is about to move into season three, but...better late than never.

For those of you that don't know, Showtime's "Dexter" is a drama about a serial killer (based on a book by Jeff Lindssy called "Dexter Darkly Dreaming"). But he's a serial killer with a conscience and only kills the really bad guys. Dexter himself is painted as a sympathetic character and is most definitely the 'hero' of this show. The debate over making a serial killer the main character is certainly a worthy one, and should be lively, but that won't be taking place here today. Suffice it to say that Dexter is one of the most intriguing and unique characters ever seen on TV.

The short review for season one is that it was fantastic. Through the first six episodes, I was sure I was witnessing a modern-day classic. The writing was sharp, the directing inventive, the cinematography stunning, and the acting top-notch. We were learning about these characters, their world and the 'rules' of this show. Everything was clicking.

But then episode 7 came along and we had our first filler episode. Not a lot of relevant stuff in it. Things looked a little cheaper and less creative than in the batch right before it, etc. It was distinct and had me a BIT worried. But it picked back up over the remainder of the season and while the last three episodes weren't as great as the first six, the whole thing wrapped up pretty nicely.

An observation I made (that would be borne out literally in season two) is that at its core, Dexter is just a superhero TV show. He only fights/kills the bad guys. He has a secret identity/life. He has a mentor. He has a special set of tools. A secret origin. And finally, he has an arch-enemy that is (almost) his equal, and in fact shares his origin. It's all there, if a trifle bloodier than most comic books.

In the rush to the climax, the show really starts to get sloppy with believability and logic, but not to the point where it spoils anything (heads up: I can't say the same for season two).

The season finale does a great job in tying all the plot threads of the entire season together and provides a few surprises (which shouldn't have come as surprises after my mid-season epiphany that this show is really about a superhero).

I hungrily watched each episode and had the whole first season finished in three days (which is quite an accomplishment considering my usual hectic schedule.) Using a secret source (okay, it's my brother), I obtained copies of season two that he had recorded off of Showtime, and couldn't have been more eager to dive in...

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