Saturday, March 3, 2007

DEXTER Season 1

Dexter Morgan is a forensics expert who specializes in blood spatter analysis. He’s also a serial killer. And he is one of the most fascinating characters on television at the moment.
Though I’ve not actually seen it thus described, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if some critic out there labeled Dexter as “C.S.I. meets Silence of the Lambs.” And in a manner of speaking, I suppose it is, but to glibly describe it that way is ultimately reductionist and unfair.
Yes, Dexter capitalizes on the public’s fascination with forensics procedurals and serial killers, but it is also a show that explores the dense and complex psychology of sociopaths.* Based on the novel Darkly Dreaming Dexter by Jeff Lindsay, Dexter is one of those riveting shows that is pushing the boundaries of the television medium. It is a show that is dark and darkly humorous, with scalpel-sharp writing that cuts all the way to the bone.
It’s fascinatingly subversive the way the show gets you to actually root for a serial killer, for a self-confessed monster who has the greatest difficulty fathoming human emotions and interactions, and emulating them so as to appear “normal.” We actually sympathize and care whether Dexter’s mask is slipping, whether there are cracks in the façade he presents to the world.
And not only does Dexter succeed in delving into how love (which can take very bizarre forms) helps stem the tides of violence that surge within a cold and calculating killer, it also features a title character who is the darkest logical endpoint for all those socially maladjusted TV forensics experts (such as the ones in Bones) on display week in, week out. I mean, those guys are weird, right? You’re thinking no one normal could have a job like they do. Well, Dexter’s the King of Weird. Dexter is what each and every one of those labrats could very well be behind closed doors.
Having mentioned love, it’s interesting to note that love and betrayal are two themes that intertwine around each other and through season 1 like its genetic code, and there’s a wealth of secrets and lies planted through its dozen episodes for many a future season to come.
Aside from all of this, Dexter has also helped me formulate a theory that Miami is one seriously effed-up city. I thought all those psychologically damaged people who float through McNamara/Troy were bad, but Dexter trumps them all. Even Ava Moore and the Carver have to bow down to King Dexter. And please keep in mind, though Dexter is an excellent piece of evidence to support my theory, there is one irrefutable bit no one can argue with: David Caruso.
What did I say? Miami? Effed-up.

* Most forensics procedurals are so caught up in the how, they merely skim over the why (as if motive were purely incidental).

Parting shot: Dexter has the most strangely hypnotic (and unsettling) opening title sequence I have ever come across in a weekly TV series, which is notable considering all we’re really seeing is Dexter going through his morning rituals as he prepares for a new day…

Parting shot 2: I came to Dexter because I missed Six Feet Under and wanted to see Michael C. Hall in his new gig. He does not disappoint. (Another Six Feet Under alum on Dexter’s payroll is Michael Cuesta, who directed a handful of episodes of Dexter, as he did on Six Feet Under, and whose feature films include the caustic and moving coming-of-age tale, Twelve and Holding.)

(Originally posted 012807)

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