Showtime’s Dexter premier season completed at the end of 2006 and was likely that year’s best new television series. It stars Michael C. Hall, best known for previously playing David Fischer on HBO’s Six Feet Under. Some of Dexter’s vibe is similar, in the style of dark humour and high-quality cinematography. The almost two minute intro credits sequence matches most HBO series with playful plucked strings juxtaposed with interesting visuals rather than the usual weekly reintroduction of character faces that television follows. The credits also contain one of the most disturbing visual match cuts in my recent memory, with an extreme close-up of Dexter’s scruffy human neck being shaved transitioning into a boneless piece of rare cooked meat efficiently sliced by a steak knife. Meat is murder! Meat is murder! But rather delicious.
I took an initial interest in the show after taking a sociology course on serial murder at a university level and I wanted to see how this show plays out the stereotypes people usually assign to serial killers. Of course, the main character is an anomaly compared to the real world of criminals, to the point where you actually begin to agree with his heinous actions and show empathy. Based on a series of books by Jeff Lindsay, the story follows a Miami forensics investigator specializing in blood splatter that moonlights as a serial killer of criminals that believe they have beat the legal system. So rapists, murderers, molesters, and other serial killers get the surgical treatment. He’s a kind of avenger that at points you can agree with, skipping bureaucracy to make evil individuals realize the consequences of their deeds. It’s also funny to see these dark themes soundtracked to Latin and salsa music. This is not CSI.
The best part about the series is the character development, which is a cut above anything on television (yes, even Lost.) Through the first season, the main character is searching for a serial killer of prostitutes who is also playing games with Dexter, sending messages that other members of the police department cannot interpret, except for one cop that is always suspicious of Dexter’s behaviour. Dexter’s sister Deb is also a member of the police force, but I’ll just gloss that over because her character’s much too annoying (needy women, who needs them? Nooooobody!) Dexter’s inner monologues and childhood flashbacks focused on the relationship to his foster father, who was aware of his adopted son’s true nature, characterize why Dexter developed into his sociopath state. The build up to the season finale is also mad awesome.