Skip to main content

Pilot Inspektor: Showtime's "Dexter"

One of the perks of working in the television business is that you occasionally (or during the summer months frequently) get to see pilots before they air on television... in most cases, many months before they premiere. So yesterday I was therefore fortunate to view the pilot for Showtime's new drama series, Dexter, based on the novels by Jeff Lindsay.

Dexter stars Michael C. Hall, whom most viewers will remember from Six Feet Under. Here, Hall portrays the title character who is vastly different from David Fisher, the character he played for several years on Six Feet Under...well, except for the connection to death. For one thing, Dexter is a forensic investigator--his specialty is blood splatter--and for another, he's a serial killer.

But before you get all uptight about it, he's a serial killer who only kills other serial killers. Gruesomely. Brutally. He stalks them, captures them, and kills them, chopping up their bodies and disposing of them while holding onto a keepsake--a bit of their blood preserved in scientific glass slides--for a trophy? Research? His modus operandi is explained in a nifty bit of flashback as we see Dexter as a child, caught by his police officer father killing animals. We know that something traumatic happened to Dexter before he was taken in by this family and Dad knows that Dexter will kill again. He can't change his nature. But if he can teach him who to kill, and how, and how not to get caught... It's a secret that only they can share.

Now, many years later, Dexter works as a forensic expert with the same Miami police force that his dad--now long dead; same with mom--worked on, the same force that his foul-mouthed adopted sister Debra (The Exorcism of Emily Rose's Jennifer Carpenter) works as a vice cop. Sis wants to get transfered off of vice and onto the homicide division and often uses Dexter's insight into bizarre murders to attempt to advance her career. In fact, she calls him in on a really bizarre case, in which a someone is murdering women, chopping them up without, wrapping the parts up like gifts, and reassembling them at a scene... all without any blood. Dexter immediately knows it's a serial killer and he begins to become drawn into the killer's mind, as the two play a twisted cat-and-mouse game that's not resolved in the pilot.

Everyone on the police force loves Dexter--he's charming, erudite, and polite--but there's one particularly gruff cop (OZ's Eric King) who for some reason senses that Dexter is not what he appears to be. Completely taken in, however, is Dexter's single mom girlfriend Rita (Buffy's Julie Benz), who is almost as messed up as Dexter is. After her rape by her philandering husband, Rita contracted some nasty venereal disease, which means she is not into sex at all. Which is fine with Dexter, because he finds the very idea of sex to be discomforting. So they're the perfect match for one another and Dexter is so good with her kids. Little does she know that she's invited one of the deadliest killers into her heart and home...

And remember that serial killer that Dexter is stalking? Turns out he's one step ahead of Dex.

Dexter's cast is first rate. Hall is simply amazing as Dexter; he can be completely charming and wittily funny one second and then icy and deadly the next. Hall completely embodies the character of Dexter without making any judgement calls about this moral ambiguous character, which is a very difficult feat to pull off. Benz is beautifully fragile and vulnerable as Rita, demonstrating a real change from the tough and/or deadly characters she usually plays (Darla on Buffy and Angel, an FBI agent on Roswell). Carpenter's police officer both grounds Dexter and gives him someone to almost care about (if he were capable of real emotion) and injects some humor with her temper and sailor's mouth. Setting the story in Miami provides a sweltering background as well as a never-ending supply of crimes (which helps Dexter get away with his own).

My only problem with the show in fact is that I've heard that writer Jim Manos (writer previously on The Shield and The Sopranos) has been removed from the show because the network wants to play up the comedy angle more. Um, hello? It's a show about a serial killer who gruesomely does away with other serial killers while solving truly heinous crimes for the police. How light and fluffy can this concept be? I thought that Manos totally nailed the dark humor and morbid curiosity of Dexter's character and created a taut, compelling crime drama that me on the edge of my seat.

Ultimately, killing the tone that Manos deftly created is a crime that even Dexter would take issue with.

"Dexter" is expected to air on Showtime beginning in November.

What’s On Tonight

8 pm: Ghost Whisperer (CBS); Tim McGraw: Reflected (NBC); Survival of the Richest (WB); America’s Funniest Home Videos (ABC); The Bernie Mac Show/The Bernie Mac Show (FOX); WWE Friday Night SmackDown! (UPN)

9 pm: Close to Home (CBS); Las Vegas (NBC); Reba/Modern Men (WB); America's Funniest Home Videos (ABC); Trading Spouses: Meet Your New Mommy (FOX)

10 pm: NUMB3RS (CBS); Conviction (NBC); 20/20 (ABC)

What I’ll Be Watching

6-8 pm: High Spirits with Shirley Ghostman/Little Britain/Creature Comforts.

My new Friday night routine: the psychic parody High Spirits with Shirley Ghostman (whose fake Spirit Academy competition has reached new lows), outrageous sketch comedy Little Britain (home to Lou, Andy, Vicky Pollard, and the rest of the gang), and documentary series Creature Comforts.

9 pm: Doctor Who.

Otherwise known as Part Two of last week's two-part episode. On tonight's installment ("World War Three"), the Doctor and Rose attempt to escape 10 Downing Street as the world heads towards an interplanetary war with the creepy Slitheen. And what's up with that "Bad Wolf" graffiti and the little pig?


Anonymous said…
my name is Sam and my daddy works on Dexter. My daddy likes the show.
Anonymous said…
One of the best shows i've ever seen but i didn't like the drama in the last doesen of episoeds :(

Popular posts from this blog

Have a Burning Question for Team Darlton, Matthew Fox, Evangeline Lilly, or Michael Emerson?

Lost fans: you don't have to make your way to the island via Ajira Airways in order to ask a question of the creative team or the series' stars. Televisionary is taking questions from fans to put to Lost 's executive producers/showrunners Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse and stars Matthew Fox ("Jack Shephard"), Evangeline Lilly ("Kate Austen"), and Michael Emerson ("Benjamin Linus") for a series of on-camera interviews taking place this weekend. If you have a specific question for any of the above producers or actors from Lost , please leave it in the comments section below . I'll be accepting questions until midnight PT tonight and, while I can't promise I'll be able to ask any specific inquiry due to the brevity of these on-camera interviews, I am looking for some insightful and thought-provoking questions to add to the mix. So who knows: your burning question might get asked after all.

What's Done is Done: The Eternal Struggle Between Good and Evil on the Season Finale of "Lost"

Every story begins with thread. It's up to the storyteller to determine just how much they need to parcel out, what pattern they're making, and when to cut it short and tie it off. With last night's penultimate season finale of Lost ("The Incident, Parts One and Two"), written by Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse, we began to see the pattern that Lindelof and Cuse have been designing towards the last five seasons of this serpentine series. And it was only fitting that the two-hour finale, which pushes us on the road to the final season of Lost , should begin with thread, a loom, and a tapestry. Would Jack follow through on his plan to detonate the island and therefore reset their lives aboard Oceanic Flight 815 ? Why did Locke want to kill Jacob? What caused The Incident? What was in the box and just what lies in the shadow of the statue? We got the answers to these in a two-hour season finale that didn't quite pack the same emotional wallop of previous season

Pilot Inspektor: CBS' "Smith"

I may just have to change my original "What I'll Be Watching This Fall" post, as I sat down and finally watched CBS' new crime drama Smith this weekend. (What? It's taken me a long time to make my way through the stack of pilot DVDs.) While it's on following Gilmore Girls and Veronica Mars on Tuesday nights (10 pm ET/PT, to be exact), I'm going to be sure to leave enough room on my TiVo to make sure that I catch this compelling, amoral drama. While one can't help but be impressed by what might just be the most marquee-friendly cast in primetime--Ray Liotta, Virginia Madsen, Jonny Lee Miller, Amy Smart, Simon Baker, and Franky G all star and Shohreh Aghdashloo has a recurring role--the pilot's premise alone earned major points in my book: it's a crime drama from the point of view of the criminals, who engage in high-stakes heists. But don't be alarmed; it's nothing like NBC's short-lived Heist . Instead, think of it as The Italian