Dexter: Season 1 Review

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Meet TV's most lovable serial killer...


The mischievous nature of Showtime’s Dexter is perfectly expressed in its inspired title sequence. A jaunty theme bounces happily across scenes of morning ritual - but there’s something just a little bit off about the way he saws the grapefruit amid a spray of red mist. These are grisly, brutal acts masquerading as the mundane, a metaphor for the violence in everyday life and the quintessential essence of a show that explores these themes so well.

Based on Jeff Lindsay’s books, Dexter follows the life of Dexter Morgan, a forensic scientist who moonlights as an enthusiastic serial killer. Taken too seriously, such a premise would grow tedious – but this effort bubbles with sadistic glee as Dexter tracks criminals by day before carving them up after dark. Six Feet Under’s Michael C. Hall plays the title character to perfection, a monster devoid of conscience who nonetheless juggles the usual human neuroses in addition to his penchant for violent homicide.

The story arc here sees the Miami Metro PD on the hunt for the Ice Truck Killer, who leaves his victims dismembered and drained of blood. For Dexter, the pursuit borders on a fetishist obsession, his admiration for the killer’s art conflicting with his belief in ‘Harry’s code’, his (surprisingly understanding) foster father’s imperative against the butchery of innocents that leads Dexter to slaughter only the deserving. It’s this ambivalence that makes the series such so enjoyable. This is a curious chimera that wears humour and menace with equal flourish, without ever needing to sacrifice one to feed the other. That the second season manages to refine the formula still further, surpassing even this dazzling debut, is just one more reason to embrace this wickedly good serial killer thriller.