Dexter: The First Season

Dexter: The First Season

Forensic investigation has become must-see TV since CSI hit the air but the never-ending barrage of specialist programs are making each new series less and less engaging. Dexter’s specialty though is restricted to blood spatter, a forensic science that’s unique, much like lead Dexter Morgan. Let’s just say Dexter isn’t exactly Gil Grissom. Following the demise of HBO’s beloved Six Feet Under, Michael C. Hall slipped perfectly into this well suited role where he not only gets to break away from past character David’s anal retentive conservatism but also gets to play a vigilante serial killer. That’s the twist to Dexter and it’s definitely the reason to watch. Based on Jeff Lindsay’s Darkly Dreaming Dexter graphic novel, this Showtime series is a devilishly clever one that introduces its arc in the opening minutes via a dead prostitute drained of blood and sliced into pieces. It sounds gruesome, and it is, but the black comic edge, racy script, nonchalant voiceover narration and bubbly music make it strangely inviting even for the queasiest of stomachs. While Dexter helps with the investigation and becomes obsessed and excited by "the Ice Truck Killer,” who includes Dexter in his games, our hero is also on the prowl to feed his own appetite. However cold Dexter may be — we learn in flashbacks with his father (played by James Remar) that he is tenderly trained to use his "hunger” only against evildoers — we’re led to believe he’s always in the right. And rarely does he feel wrong — even druing his grisly surgical executions we cheer on this friendly monster despite his inability to repent. It’s held together by a magical performance by Hall and a strong team of writers but Dexter isn’t without its flaws, which come via just about every other member of the histrionic cast (Erik King’s turn as the cantankerous Sgt. Doakes is particularly dire). There’s not much to be said about the extras. Aside from two commentaries (sans Hall) and the first couple chapters of Dexter in the Dark, there’s one featurette called "Witnessed in Blood” that tries to demonstrate the factual side to Dexter’s job, giving a detailed rundown of an investigation that occurred in Anaheim where blood spatter was the key to solving the crime. It’s a substandard attempt at tying the show to real life homicide cases but the half-assed American Justice approach is basically unwatchable. Plus: free episodes of Brotherhood and The Tudors. (Paramount)