Dexter Morgan is good at his day job, that of a blood spatter analyst in Miami PD's forensics unit. But he's bloody brilliant at his other job, the one where he gets to murder. Whatever effed up sitch it was that caused Dexter's amnesia regarding his early childhood, it's left him dead inside, an empty shell, a calculating cold fish. He co-exists with something he calls a "Dark Passenger," essentially this urge that compels him to kill and kill. Recognizing the predatory beast inside Dex, his ex-cop foster father, Harry (James Remar), took the boy under his wing, reoriented his twisted appetites to a more productive cause. He instilled in Dex an elaborate code of ethics, taught him to target only other serial killers. He taught Dexter how not to get caught, how to blend in. Dads are awesome. And Dexter has steadfastly abided by the Code of Harry. His kills have been righteous kills.
This Showtime adaptation is based on Jeff Lindsay's riveting series of books, and if you haven't read them, well, what's the hold up? Dexter Morgan is so emotionally detached he makes Dr. Temperance Brennan seem positively warm and cuddly. Social cues to which we effortlessly respond are baffling puzzles for him. Perversely, there is something innately likable about Dexter. Michael C. Hall plays him with stunning complexity. It helps that, like in BURN NOTICE, we're privy to his inner musings. Dexter is often humorous and whimsical. The girlfriend (Julie Benz) he pretends to care for doesn't suspect a thing. Even Dexter's jittery, potty-mouthed cop sister, Deb (Jennifer Carpenter), doesn't have an inkling.
DEXTER THE FIRST SEASON hooks you in straight away as Dexter finds his bragging rights as Miami's resident monster challenged by an innovative fellow serial killer whom the press eventually dubs the Ice Truck Killer. It's an edgy cat-and-mouse game that would span the entire season and cause Dexter to ask serious questions of himself. The lovely twist is that Dexter accepts the Ice Truck Killer's tauntings with glee, perhaps like calling to like. For Dexter, it's an opportunity to play with someone just like him. Never mind that it's readily apparent that this rival knows everything about Dexter Morgan. Dexter shrugs this off. He's having fun.
The Ice Truck Killer's modus operandi is eye-catching. He drains his victims completely of their blood and he freezes the corpses, amputates their limbs to a precise measurement. It's fun - and creepy - watching Dexter try to contain his excitement as each perfect frozen body part surfaces, each bit a gauntlet thrown in Dexter's mug.
Most each episode also features a "serial killer of the week" motif, some heinous repeat murderer targeted and eventually carved up by Dexter, and these lesser villains are required so that we don't lose faith in Dex as a badasss dude, given his inability to track down the elusive Ice Truck Killer. It's a pretty good supporting cast, too. It wasn't long before I was keen into what these other characters were up to. Jennifer Carpenter is my second favorite actor on this show. She is one sexy, combustible, never-stop-cussing cop chick. But I do question her instincts. She's Miami PD - an ex-Vice, newly minted Homicide Detective - and yet in all these years she hasn't caught a whiff of her adopted brother's true nature? And then she does something else which ends up absolutely mortifying. And then there's Erik King whose angry, loose cannon character, Sgt. Doakes, is the only one who gets the heebie jeebies from Dexter. Doakes bullies Dexter so much, I sort of wish Dexter would just disregard the Code of Harry for once. Except that Dexter remains as cool as the other side of the pillow. He's a monster who's got his priorities straight. You need to not miss this show. It's wicked funny, cleverly written, and terrifically acted (especially by Michael C. Hall). Rife with moral ambivalence, DEXTER rewards its audience with unexpected - and frequently unsettling - moments. And you're hooked before you know it.
The DVD set's bonus features:
- 2 Audio Commentaries by the Cast & Producers: "Return to Sender" (with Jennifer Carpenter, David Zayas, Lauren Velez, and Erik King) and "Born Free" (with producers Sara Coleton, Clyde Philips, & Daniel Cerone)
- "The Academy of Blood - A Killer Course"
- "Witnessed in Blood - A True Murder Investigation" - feature on a real-life police investigation in 2001 with particulars on blood spatter analysis
- 2 Free Episodes of Showtime's Hit series BROTHERHOOD
- A computer-compatible function which allows you to stream two episodes of THE TUDORS, to read the First 2 Chapters of Jeff Lindsay's newest novel DEXTER IN THE DARK, and play the newest CSI Video Game "CSI: HARD EVIDENCE"
- Cast Biographies