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Dexter : Complete Season 1 (DVD)
Member Name: ms_memory
Dexter : Complete Season 1 (DVD)
Date: 25/03/10, updated on 25/03/10 (76 review reads)
Advantages: Engrossing plot, well acted
Disadvantages: Only very minor things e.g. the odd plot hole
** This is a review of Series One rather than the DVD itself **
** Synopsis **
Dexter Morgan, played by the talented Michael C Hall, is a thirty-something forensics expert who works for a Miami police force, where he is able to put his specialisation, blood-spatter profiling, to good use. So far so normal. What makes Dexter a rather unusual character is the fact that, when not helping the police catch murderers, he is a serial killer himself. Rescued from a crime scene at the age of 3 and adopted by a kindly policeman, Harry, Dexter has always known there was something different about him. As a teenager he managed to gain some sort of control over his persistent urges to kill, thanks to Harry's loving advice and commitment to help him. Now Dexter only kills people who deserve it - and thanks to his scientific training, he's able to cover his tracks. When Harry died, Dexter's secret died with him and now there is nobody who is aware of Dexter's double life... or is there?
Season One follows Dexter's journey of discovery as he tries to put together the pieces of his past: what happened to him as a young child to make him a murderer, and why did Harry make it so difficult for him to find out the truth? At the same time, Dexter's colleagues are trying to solve a series of fiendish homicides carried out by a serial killer who is nicknamed "the Ice Truck Killer" due to his predilection for cutting up and freezing his victims' body parts. As Dexter helps the police track down the mystery murderer he begins to think that the Ice Truck Killer is trying to communicate with him and maybe even knows his secret. But what does the mysterious killer want from Dexter, and how can our hero make sure that his colleagues never find out about his own extra-curricular activities?
** My opinion **
This series was absolutely gripping from beginning to end. Each of the 12 one-hour episodes follows a similar pattern, with the police investigating a new murder and Dexter (usually) carrying out his own meticulously-executed murder after a work - a human trafficker here, a hit-and-run driver there. The plot is full of twists and mystery. Although I did work out fairly early on who the Ice Truck Killer was, this didn't prevent me enjoying every episode right up until the end. The mystery of Dexter's background was less obvious and kept me guessing until the final scenes.
This is a violent show, and anyone who doesn't like the sight of blood probably shouldn't bother watching it, but I never found the gory scenes gratuitous - they were all relevant to the plot. If anything, it's the less gory scenes that are more chilling. Dexter carries out his own killings with an almost medical precision, always following the same procedure and using the same highly-tuned instruments. It's easy to feel the terror of his victims and feel sorry for them, no matter how much we might think they deserve their fate.
Probably the most amazing feat that the creators of the programme achieved was to make Dexter a wholly likable and sympathetic character despite the fact that he's also a killer. There is a lot of aside narration by Dexter; he tells us he is something of a misanthrope and doesn't experience feelings and emotions the way 'normal' people do. For example, he specifically seeks out an emotionally damaged girlfriend, Rita, so that he won't have to try and get too close to her but can still appear socially normal by being in a relationship.
The characters are all well-drawn and the dialogue believable; there is chemistry between Hall and Julie Benz, who plays Rita, as well as Jennifer Carpenter, who plays his sister Deb, an up-and-coming homicide detective (and Hall's wife in real life). Dexter's colleagues are also very well portrayed, and their characters are integral to the main plot and the smaller sub-plots revolving around office politics: from the menacing Sergeant Doakes, who seems to know there's something not quite right with Dexter; to the headstrong bully and head of division Maria Laguerta, and the constantly lovelorn detective Angel Batista, who's obsessed with "la pasion", they are all perfectly cast. Even the bit-part actors do a great job.
Quite unbelievably, considering the topic of the series, there is also a strong current of humour running through the episodes. You only need to look at the opening sequence to see the most obvious evidence of this: Dexter prepares his breakfast and gets ready for work, serial (or should that be cereal?) killer-style.
The only negative things I can think to say about Dexter are: 1) The little boy who plays Rita's son Cody is very wooden. I know this makes me sound really picky as he can't be more than five years old, but still, every scene with him reminds me that what I was watching isn't real. 2) There are several scenes where characters speak Spanish, especially the Cuban characters, who often start a sentence in English and finish in Spanish. Apparently this is the way some people talk in Miami, and of course that should be included in the series to make it true to life, but I think there should be English subtitles when the Spanish dialogue lasts for more than a sentence. The accent is very different to European Spanish, so much so that I even know people from Spain who don't always catch what's being said. 3) I don't want to give anything away, so I'll just say there's a twist in the plot near the end involving a shoe that I found very unlikely!
In the grand scheme of things, though, these are minor niggles which didn't really spoil my enjoyment of what is a fast-paced, thrilling and absorbing crime show. Now I'm off to get stuck in to Series 2...
Summary: Why can't all TV be this good?