Dark, daring, dangerous and utterly delightful, Dexter is probably the best US drama to come along since The Sopranos. It's the absorbing tale of your friendly neighbourhood serial killer. Who just happens to have a day job as a blood spatter analyst in the forensics department of the Miami police force. And if you like your humour blacker-than-black, then you've come to the right place.
Of course, Dexter Morgan (perfectly portrayed by Six Feet Under's Hall) doesn't just kill anyone, Oh no, he was raised properly by his policeman foster father Harry (Remar). To quiet the bloodlust within (which Dexter refers to as his "dark passenger") our hero only slaughters those who deserve to die — murderers, paedophiles and other scum who fall between the cracks of the justice system. The rest of his colleagues, including police officer foster sister Debra (Carpenter), have no inkling of Dexter's night-time hobby — except perhaps for Sergeant James Doakes (King), who considers Dexter to be a "fucking weirdo". As Dexter himself informs us in the show's signature voiceover: "I don't know what made me the way I am, but whatever it was left a hollow place inside. People fake a lot of human interactions, but I feel like I fake them all. And I fake them very well. And that's my burden, I guess." Dexter has a girlfriend, Rita (Benz), another damaged soul who's as disinterested in intimacy as he is. Which suits Dexter just fine, because it helps him to keep his mask in place. Based on the novel Darkly Dreaming Dexter by Jeff Lindsay, Season 1 of Dexter deals mainly with the hunt for another serial killer, dubbed the Ice Truck Killer, whom Dex admires because he leaves his neatly-disected bodies totally drained of blood. Does Dex respect, even admire, this guy? You bet he does. We also gradually learn the true reason why Dexter is the way he is, of course — and it's so horrible and traumatic that he's kept it buried deep inside since he was a little boy.
Dexter is further proof that television is now miles ahead of the movies. Hollywood keeps regurgitating the same old shit: sequel after sequel; remake after unnecessary remake; ripoffs of foreign films; and pointless big-screen versions of old TV shows. Whereas TV now seems to welcome, with open arms, anyone with an original idea. TV, too, just keeps taking bigger and bigger risks — just check out The Sopranos, Oz, The Wire, Curb Your Enthusiasm or Weeds, for example. Clever, smart and edgy, the lot of them. And Dexter is one of the best of the bunch — thanks mainly to the casting of Hall in the title role. Best known as funeral director David Fischer in Six Feet Under, Hall is just stunning, bringing a warmth to this monster that few actors would be able to pull off. Here's a man with a deep, dark secret he can share with no one. A man who can't connect with other human beings. Who's devoid of a soul, and has to battle constantly with his desire to kill. Who every day has to wear a mask of normality and try to fit in as best he can. Dexter is television at its best — gripping, thrilling, atmospheric stuff that is never less than watchable thanks to brilliant acting, writing and production values. And topping it off is probably one of the best opening credit sequences ever. Whichever way you cut it, Dexter is simply bloody good television.
EXTRAS ★★ Just commentaries on two of the 12 episodes — the first, on episode 6, is with cast members Jennifer Carpenter (Debra Morgan), Erik King (Sgt Doakes), Lauren Vélez (Lt Laguerta) and David Zayas (Angel Batista). The second, on the season finale, is with executive producers Daniel Cerone, Sara Colleton and Clyde Phillips. It's a shame Hall and writer Lindsay don't get involved. Also missing is a featurette on blood spatter analysis that appeared on the R1 version.