Dexter: Season 1 (2006)
Genre: Crime Drama Series
Created By: James Manos Jr. ("The Shield")
Overview: Sociopath, blood fetishist, serial killer. Who'd be a better edition to the Miami P.D. crime lab?
Acting: Michael C. Hall is a very convincing homosexual, so much so that I was surprised to discover he's straight, he understands sociopathic behaviour well enough to make ME understand sociopathic behaviour, and does such a great job as would carry the show all by his lonesome. What truly makes this series a treasure is that he carries no one. All the characters are well-rooted in their motivations to the point that we hate everyone for the right reasons, except for Angel, who everyone seems to know is just a loveable guy. Deep characters make for great stories.
Cinematography: The curse of television is the Lowest Common Denominator Factor, or pleasing all of the people some of the time, rather than some of the people all of the time. I'll give it this though, as it was with "Six Feet Under", they use unique angles and lenses, well-planned colour co-ordination, sets and lighting effects that prove this show to be quite stylized, not to mention the occasional wicked GCI. I'd even go as far as saying 'Artsy'.
Script: I can't remember a TV show that had the main character as a serial killer, but I would hazard that if "Dexter" was not handled this sensitively, it wouldn't have succeeded as well as it did, much less have been picked up by a network, progressive as it may be. The season's opening episode shows Dexter at his bleakest, more a killer than a cop, and I'll admit that for as much as I was sold enough to try a couple more episodes, Girlfriend of Squish was concerned that it would stay too rooted in the darkness of this man. What happens instead is a rich back-story where Dexter's foster father, knowing that he's sick and different, decides to teach him a code of survival. This code and Dexter's witty and often double-entendre inner and outer monologues are what make this show intelligent. Besides that there's tons of humour and a few inspirational speeches, all bases covered. This is some of the best television out there.
Plot: And what else do we have besides a killer who works as a CSI? We have the primary plot of Miami PD chasing down another serial killer, The Ice-Truck Killer, who leaves NO blood at the scene, who bundles up the dismembered pieces all nice and in interesting locales. As it is with a TV series we also have all the secondary character subplots, and of course Dexter's new relationship and an exploration of his past tie up all the loose ends. terrifically done. A series based on a series of books can't make a show mess up too much. It's all about planning.
Mood: The show's opening credits is chock full of extreme close-ups of a Dexter's 'morning ritual': slowly carving and juicing a blood orange, cutting himself shaving, frying up ham, grinding coffee, flossing and tying his shoes like a garrotte, and pulling a shirt over his face with a particular asphyxiative tone. This intro is the perfect was of describing the show. There's a constant undercurrent of fear and doubt amoung the viewer, an innate apprehension towards Dexter's acts. Even when doing nothing sinister, Dexter has a sinister air. When he smiles it's for the wrong reasons, and as we grow to learn about him it takes time for us to acclimate ourselves to his way. In fact if it weren't for his backstory, I don't think he'd receive any sympathy at all. This way of telling the story is the best way of doing it, because otherwise we'd be leaving with a 'aw shucks he's such a nice killer'. I'm glad no one went that way.