Dexter: Complete Season 1 [DVD]
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The Emmy award-winning and Golden Globe nominated TV series Dexter is based on the story of Dexter Morgan. Orphaned at the age of four and harbouring a traumatic secret, Dexter (played by Emmy and Golden Globe nominated actor Michael C. Hall of Six Feet Under fame) is adopted by a police officer who recognises Dexter's homicidal tendencies and guides his son to channel his gruesome passion for human vivisection in a constructive way working for the Miami Police Department as a blood spatter analyst, visiting crime scenes and helping to solve murders. However, during out of hours (and with the support of his father), Dexter focuses on capturing the heinous perpetrators (including a child molesting-murderer and a drunk driver with a trail of bodies in his wake), and dispatches them with clinical precision, thus making him a serial killer who murders serial killers. By his own admission, Dexter is "a monster", an empty shell who fakes all human interactions and admits to no real feelings for anything or anyone, including his foster sister (Jennifer Carpenter, The Exorcism Of Emily Rose) and his nominal girlfriend (Julie Benz, Rambo), a former crack addict and battered spouse who's as disinterested in sex as he is. There's an explanation for Dexter's weirdness, of course, one so deep and traumatic that even he isn't aware of it. It's gradually revealed over the course of the season as he and the cops track down another fellow monster whose grisly motives both fascinate and taunt our hero, leading to a genuinely shocking and squirm-inducing finale. This box set features all 12 episodes from the show's first season. Extras include audio commentary on two episodes, a featurette about real-life blood spatter analysis, and a variety of DVD-ROM items.
An interesting and original idea that's very skillfully executed, Dexter is never less than watchable, often quite compelling and sometimes thoroughly riveting. As the 12 episodes from the show's first season reveal, it's also the epitome of "high concept," a kind of Silence of the Lambs for the C.S.I. generation. Creator-executive producer James Manos Jr.'s title character, one Dexter Morgan (played by Michael C. Hall of Six Feet Under renown), works for the Miami Police Department as a blood spatter analyst, visiting crime scenes and helping figure out what happened. He has an avocation, too: during his off hours, he tracks down some very, very bad people who for various reasons have eluded the proper authorities. Seems his adoptive father, a cop himself, taught the kid how to channel his dark side in a 'positive' direction and so, having captured these evil doers (including a child molester-murderer and a recidivist drunk driver with a trail of bodies in his wake), Dex dispatches them with clinical precision, thus making him a serial killer who snuffs serial killers.
But there's more--much more, as it turns out. By his own description, Dexter is 'a monster,' an empty shell who fakes all human interactions and admits to no real feelings for anything or anyone, including his foster sister (Jennifer Carter) and his nominal girlfriend (Julie Benz), a former crack addict and battered spouse who's as uninterested in sex as he is. There's an explanation for Dexter's weirdness, of course, one so deep and traumatic that even he isn't aware of it. It's gradually revealed over the course of the season as he and the cops (who include Erik King, Lauren Velez, and David Zayas, all first-rate) track down the so-called 'Ice Truck Killer,' a fellow monster whose grisly m.o. both fascinates and taunts our hero, leading to a genuinely shocking and squirm-inducing finale. Dexter can be a bit arch, with an ironic, too-hip-for-the-room tone that get a little old. Still, it's a safe bet that anyone who views this first season will be salivating for the second. --Sam Graham
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Dexter, a forensic `blood splatter analyst' for the Miami Police, is a secret `controlled sociopath'.
A sociopath is a person with a currently untreatable mental condition whereby they have no conscience, remorse or sympathy to restrain selfish, destructive or violent impulses.
It is easy for someone like that to become a criminal and many do. However, many others, the controlled sociopaths like Dexter, while realising they are different, learn to live mostly unnoticed among us, mimicking our behaviour so as not to stand out. Such people are restrained in their conduct not by any solid sense of morality or sympathy for others, but by learning that life is easier if they work within society's laws and morality; or at least, to seem to do so enough not to be caught.
In Dexter's case his adoptive father, a policeman, recognised early on that Dexter was a sociopath, but instead of disowning him taught him to direct his more violent and destructive impulses in a way that is, arguably, better both for Dexter and for society than if he had become a straight criminal. By night he secretly tracks down and eliminates murderers, rapists and such like he encounters in his day job as a scientist with the Miami Police Department who are clearly guilty but who cannot be convicted under the law with all its procedural safeguards.
I know that probably sounds terrible, but, as I have said, it will sound worse than it is so please do not be put off from trying Dexter. You may well find you like him; indeed while you might not expect to like a serial killer, Dexter is actually easier to like than the hero of `Breaking Bad' with which this series is often compared.
Particularly good among the cast, in this first Season, are Julie Benz (here playing a very different character from her other best known role as Darla the vampire in Buffy the Vampire Slayer & Angel) as Dexter's shy, vulnerable girlfriend Rita and Jennifer Carpenter as Dexter's policewoman sister Debra [wrong spelling of the name in my opinion but let that pass]. Both are attached to Dexter but neither knows about his darker, secret life. Like many sociopaths, knowing most people could not take the truth about him, hiding in plain sight has become second nature to Dexter.
Anyone who becomes interested in the subject of controlled sociopaths may want to check out Confessions of a Sociopath: A Life Spent Hiding In Plain Sight by ME Thomas (a pseudonym) and her blog 'Sociopath World'. She is a former assistant professor of law who is a diagnosed sociopath herself. She said that this first Season of Dexter while not quite 100% accurate is was so close she suspected there was a sociopath among the script writers (she suggested if one of the writers had a CV that looked 'too perfect' it would probably be them). She thought later Seasons became somewhat less accurate as a portrayal of a sociopath but that it was still a good programme.
The novel on which this series is based, Jeff Lindsay's 'Darkly Dreaming Dexter' is also really good.
PS While standing by my above comments about Season 1 and the first book 'Darkly Dreaming Dexter', I found the second book too gory for me, although cleverly written, and by Season 3 of the TV programme I was beginning to tire of Dexter's girlfriend Rita as the character did not seem to develop. I am not sure I shall watch all 8 Seasons of this programme that were eventually made, although they all do seem to have mostly favourable reviews on Amazon.
Wow! And I do mean WOW!! What a fantastic first season. I've seen a great many tv series in my time and I don't think I've ever seen a better first season than this one. Everything works - straight from the get go. The acting by all concerned is phenomenal, the script is razor sharp (pun intended), the music is brilliant - especially the main and end titles.
Michael C Hall was born to play Miami's finest forensic 'blood spatter' analyst Dexter Morgan who, in his spare time (which appears to be unlimited), also moonlights as a vigilante serial killer. I don't think any other actor in the world could have played such a contentious role as well as he did. A serial killer you actually like and with whom you can even, to a degree, empathize. His performance is utterly compelling. Jennifer Carpenter as Debra Morgan is fantastic in the role of Dexter's potty mouthed cop sister. She starts the season working in vice, but with the help of Dexter she manages to finagle her way into the department which is her heart's desire - homicide!
This first season sees Miami Metro Homicide detectives trying to solve the murder of a number of prostitutes who have all been drained of blood, skillfully dissected and artfully arranged. The killer has been using a refrigerated truck to transport and dump the bodies and so he is (surprise, surprise) dubbed "The Ice Truck Killer". There are also a number of interesting side stories. If all of this sounds a little too dark or depressing there's no need to worry, as there is a large pulsing vein of gallows humour running throughout.
Film ratio is 1.78:1. Audio is DD 5.1. Both are extremely good. Languages - English, French. Subtitles - English, French, Dutch, Danish, Norwegian, Swedish, Finnish.
Extras - commentaries.
I gather many people were repulsed by the notion of a serial killer as the hero of a tv show and decided not to watch it. This was a grave mistake on their part. As this turned out to be one of the most consistently entertaining tv shows ever made!
Myself I watched this whole Dexter series in two sittings one today within a long weekend, even suffering the horrible foul mouthed thing, who plays his half sister to follow the story! It may not grab you like this but can guarantee an origina theme and compulsive viewing.
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Not bitter as I could watch this show over and over!