STUDIO: Showtime/Paramount
MSRP: $39.98
RUNNING TIME: 650 Minutes

  • All 12 Episodes from the 2006 Season on 4 Discs
  • The Academy of Blood – A Killer Course!
  • Two Audio Commentaties by the Cast

The Pitch

Dexter is a serial killer. He kills serial killers. He works for the police. He’s got issues. The show is on Showtime, which means violence and vulgarity and nudity are fine.

Screw that. Just watch this show.

The Humans

Michael C. Hall. Jennifer Carpenter. Erik King. Julie Benz. David Zayas. James Remar. Lauren Vélez.

The Laura Mars animated series never caught on.

The Nutshell

The Jeff Lindsay novels featuring serial killer/police blood expert Dexter Morgan serve as the basis for the show, veering in certain areas but mostly adhering to the structure which features the troubled and talented young man dealing with his own impulses as well as a rival whom he both admires and fears. Michael C. Hall, so subdued and convincing as the serious gay son in Six Feet Under is electric here as the oddball. He’s a killer of men, eerily efficient and calculating, but thanks to direction from his late adoptive father (Hollywood heavy James Remar) he channels his rage into deserving targets who kill and ruin lives wantonly. Dexter is surrounded by friends, family, and co-workers who he must wear a facade in front of, leading to plenty of interesting hoops to be jumpted through. The primary arc of the first season involves the "Ice Truck Killer", someone whose work has Dexter in awe of their precision and an adversary with ties to Dexter’s own life. Pretty rich stuff for a non HBO series, no?

The Lowdown

This very well could be the best show on television if the incredible foundation laid here is given room to breathe as the series veers from the novels into its own domain. This blend of creepy character study and police procedural is utterly entertaining from the artful and American Psycho-esque opening credits to the final reveal of each episode. Even though the show loses its footing a little in a manner akin to to how Nip/Tuck handled its Carver reveal [the audience needs to be kept in the dark longer], the lead character of Dexter Morgan is a terrific and darkly rewarding one and alongside Rescue Me‘s Tommy Gavin and The Shield‘s Vic Mackey probably the best available on the tube.

Now that she’d captured Brightpenis, she knew she’d have to kill him.

Judging from the premise of a serial killer who preys on serial killers [and by the way, AVOID the horrible book The Serial Killer’s Club], you’d expect this to be a very internalized and angst ridden show. It could very well have been and maybe there’s room for a show like that, but Dexter has a playful demeanor knowing full and well that the audience may be creeped out by Dex but will always be in his corner. This isn’t a show about a bad man covering his tracks and giving in to his impulses but rather a character study of a troubled man who follows a strict code and in some ways the person we wish we could be. Thankfully, the show doesn’t glamorize what he does but it does present to us an extreme vigilante who happens to have everyday problems as well.

Though the first season’s master arc features a rival serial killer, the real meat of the show involves Dexter living two lives and juggling them messily at times. His sister [The Exorcism of Emily Rose‘s Jennifer Carpenter] is a cop herself, one who has to fight tooth and nail to get opportunities to shine and often relies on Dexter to help push her along. The remaining cops on the force are either trying to hang out with (David Zayas’s Batista), sleep with (Vélez’s Laguerta), or find out what Dexter’s secret is (Erik King’s Doakes)and it’s a joy to watch this eclectic ethnic mixture come to a boil.

"Trust me, EVERYONE’S going to want the Michael Hutchence screensaver."

To say that Michael C. Hall exceeds expectations as Dexter is an understatement of the ‘Monica Bellucci is somewhat attractive’ or ‘Coors Light might be a redneck beacon’ variety. He blows the doors off the character, elevating him to a nerdy, sexy, Machiavellian outcast. He knows his place and allows his supporting cast to have the more eccentric work, which of course further grounds the leading character who just happens to be a murderer.

There’s very little preaching here, the bulk of the moral discussion coming from the excellent flashback sequences featuring James Remar as Dexter’s adoptive father. Here’s a great role and it gives the series the feel of something sort of like a superhero tale. Remar’s Harry Morgan (no relation to M*A*S*H*‘s somehow still alive actor with the same name) is the classic mentor, tireless and taciturn and caring when need be and stern when need be. It’s great to see an actor like Remar in the role because he’s one of the best in the business of being the threatening character. He wears compassion well and it makes the flashbacks (oftentimes a nuisance on shows) something to look forward to.

The ghost of Ryan O’Neal won every staring contest.

There isn’t much mystery here. This isn’t about solving crimes or pulling off great kills (Dexter’s methodical and clinical in his ways and the Ice Cream Truck Killer takes it to another level of anal retentiveness altogether). It’s about the masks we wear and why we wear them, and it’s about finding grace in a whirlwind.

A lot is said about intantgibles in life and that applies to our entertainment. The intangibles of this show elevate it from a very high concept to something truly unique in a clouded medium. Dexter is so much more than the sum of its parts, entertaining, rich, and alluringly toxic. I cannot imagine this show sustaining itself for more than a few seasons but I’ll be there anxiously awaiting each new episode like a hawk.

Fuckin’ classic show. That’s what I’m trying to say here.

The Package

There are two commentary tracks and they’re sadly not all that wonderful. Part of the problem is that I want the show’s lead to be front and center and he’s not even on there. Plus, you really have to root around to find them anyhow. The special features need to be easy to find and these are far from it. Also, one of the great things about the show is that it isn’t about the creator. This isn’t a Milch/Chase/Whedon/Kelley type of joint where the star power comes from the creator but is rather a creative effort from many. There’s also no commentary track from the writers/producers/creators of the show, which would have been a coup. A show like this has so many opportunities to suck, it’d be nice to hear about the process which makes it so graceful at not sucking.

Disappointing tracks. Really.

There’s also a documentary about a real life crime which was solved thanks to a blood spatter expert like Dexter, but it’s tangenital to the show and kind of extraneous.

Season two had better kick our asses with special features. This was really weak.

9.0 out of 10