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DEXTER
Season One

Review by Gordon Justesen

Stars: Michael C. Hall, Julie Benz, Jennifer Carpenter, Erik King, Lauren Valez, David Zayas, James Remar
Creator: James Manos Jr.
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.78:1
Studio: Paramount
Features: See Review
Length: 650 Minutes
Release Date: August 28, 2007

“I don’t know what made me the way I am, but whatever it was left a hollow place inside.”

Shows ****

In the history of television, there has never been a character like Dexter Morgan. He is quite a mixed bag, this guy. He is not exactly normal in behavior, but a likeable enough guy and a dedicated forensics expert for the Miami Metro Police Department.

He also happens to specialize in serial killing. Who would’ve guessed?

The character of Dexter existed already on page in the form of the novel “Darkly Dreaming Dexter”. But as far as television was concerned, there had never been a series where the hero harbored such an incredible dark side, at least no to this extent. Of course, the material would be too extreme for normal TV, leaving cable to allow it certain freedom.

Thus became the Showtime series Dexter, and I am pleased to report that this one of a kind series has made it to my short list of TV favorites. The bold enough premise helps in delivering one surprise after another in its first season. I might end up becoming a Showtime subscriber, as I’m already hooked on the show.

Dexter (played brilliantly by Michael C. Hall), is about the best forensics expert any police department could have on its team. If you think the guys on CSI are good at what they do, you should see this guy work a crime scene. Though great at his job, his behavior and fascination with his job makes him something of an outcast amongst the police department.

That’s his day job. Dexter’s identity at night is a whole other story, as he preys on the criminals that the law can’t seem to touch. This is where he puts his serial killer technique to use, and he is so great and skilled in doing so, that for a while you feel dirty for rooting for this guy.

But Dexter isn’t an all around evil guy, as he knows exactly when to turn his dark side on and off. He will only do harm on the guilty. He could never harm an innocent soul.

How did Dexter become such a complex individual? Throughout the season, it is revealed in numerous flashbacks to his childhood. His foster father (James Remar), a cop, saw what Dexter was capable of at a young age, and was able to teach him how to use his killer instincts when it was absolutely necessary.

And if you thought that rooting for Dexter was enough to make you feel dirty, the show incorporates chilling voice-over narration from the character in every episode. Never before, in any film or show dealing with a serial killer, have we’ve been put so uncomfortably in the shoes of a serial killer. And let it be said, every minute in Dexter’s shoes is riveting.

At the core of the first season is Dexter’s hunt for the seemingly elusive Ice Truck Killer. And this manhunt offers many surprises down the road. And the chase leads to a season finale that will definitely leave you in a state of nail-biting tension!

Even if you’re someone who’s had it up to here with serial killer lore, and I was for a while, the lure of Dexter is indeed impossible to resist. This show takes everything about the serial killer genre and turns it on its head to deliver something incredibly fresh. Again, this may have something to do with the fact that a season of television can do more with a subject matter than a two-hour film can on a particular plot line.

To simply put it, Dexter is one of the most amazing and original television shows I’ve ever come across. As hooked as I am already, here’s hoping that it serves a long run on the air. Killing the show would be inhuman!

Video ****

Paramount has served this series quite right in the video department. The anamorphic widescreen picture is thoroughly bright and crisp in episode after episode. No image flaws detected at any point.

Audio ***

The 5.1 mix provides some nice sound power here and there. Every episode is mostly dialogue driven, with at least one scene of suspense or bloody execution to juice up the scenery. Music playback and dialogue delivery are terrifically delivered.

Features **1/2

The features are included on the fourth and final disc in this 4-disc set. Included are two commentary tracks on two episodes, “Return to Sender” and “Born Free”, which features cast members Jennifer Carpenter, David Zayas, Lauren Velez and Erik King on the first episode, and producers Sara Colleton, Clyde Phillips and Daniel Cerone on the second. Also featured are two featurettes, “Witnessed in Blood-A True Murder Investigation” and “The Academy of Blood-A Killer Course”.

The remainder of the extras include two episodes of the Showtime series Brotherhood, a free download of an episode of The Tudors, another Showtime series, and the first two chapters of “Dexter in the Dark”, the newest Dexter crime novel.

Summary:

Dexter is truly a one of a kind series. It’s a truly daring concept that delivers excellently in a knockout first season. The cast, led by the phenomenal Michael C. Hall, elevate the material even further, making this a must see for anyone in search of some exciting and original TV.

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