Dexter: Season 1 (2006)

DVD Cover (Showtime Entertainment)
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Overall Rating 86%
Overall Rating
Ranked #134
...out of 14,074 movies
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Connections: Dexter

Dexter Morgan, Miami Metro Police Department blood spatter analyst, has a double life. When he's not helping the Homicide division solving murders, he spends his time hunting and killing bad guys that slip through the justice system. He spends his sun-drenched days solving crimes - and moonlit nights committing them. But not to worry, our cool-blooded Dexter doesn't kill just anyone. He reserves his homicidal hobbies to taking only the lives of other killers. --IMDb
Review by Chad
Added: May 26, 2009
There are so many excellent television series that have come and gone over the past couple of years, but I rarely catch them during their initial runs. You see, I can't stand the "end every episode with a cliff-hanger" approach that these shows use to keep their audience coming back week after week. Sure, I understand why they do this, but that doesn't mean that I like it. I tend to just wait for the series to hit DVD, but therein lies my next problem: by the time a good show comes home to those little plastic discs, the buzz surrounding the show has died down and I completely forget that I was interested in checking it out. Needless to say, there are a fair number of shows that I likely would have loved, but I never got a chance to watch. Dexter is one of them, or should I say "was" one of them prior to a few weeks ago when a friend hooked me up with the first two seasons.

The show centers around Dexter Morgan (Michael C. Hall), a forensics expert working for the Miami Metropolitan Police Department who just so happens to be a serial killer. However, unlike the other serial killers who have gone down in history, Dexter lives by a code of only murdering those who deserve it: little old ladies and hookers are perfectly safe, but murderers who were found not guilty on a technicality had better be sleeping with one eye open. He's able to elude detection thanks to the training of his now-deceased foster father Harry (James Remar), a man who brought him in as a child and taught him everything that he needs to know in regards to blending in with the crowd and covering his tracks. Of course, he also has to keep this little secret to himself for obvious reasons, and thus, he has to live a lie in front of his sister Debra (Jennifer Carpenter) and his girlfriend Rita (Julie Benz).

The main storyline for this particular season deals with another serial killer who has been dubbed "The Ice Truck Killer" due to his particular style of slaughtering his victims. His method involves him keeping his victims in a cold yet portable environment (hence the "Ice Truck") before draining their blood, hacking their body to pieces, and wrapping up the individual parts before leaving them in public places for the police to find. Needless to say, finding this man is priority number one in Miami, and being the go-to man in forensics, Dexter is caught up in the middle of the manhunt. As the season progresses, we discover that it is no random coincidence that this serial killer picked this neighborhood to ply his trade in, and in fact, he may be specifically targeting Dexter. Throw in a huge number of minor side-stories and characters and you have one of the better television series in recent years.

When watching a television show that uses the standard "one main storyline, dozens of minor arcs" formula, I always look at it in two ways: how interesting is that main storyline, and how much am I enjoying the side arcs? Dexter makes the grade on both accounts, as the main plot is extremely well-written and will keep viewers guessing while the minor stories serve to both flesh out the other characters while also keeping us interested in the show as a whole. There are always a half-dozen things going on at once involving just as many characters, and even though I wasn't a huge fan of each and every last plot point, the good far outweighed the bad.

Another thing that I look for in a show is how interesting the universe as a whole is. The show revolves around this Dexter guy, and this particular season revolves around that one serial killer... but what if both of these serial killers suddenly disappeared and we were left with the other characters? Were they developed enough to keep us happy, or would the show immediately fall apart? Now, we all know that the character that the show was named after wouldn't just disappear after two episodes, but this is how I look at things to see how good or how bad everything else was written. Dexter passes this test with flying colors courtesy of a host of likable characters who seem perfectly capable of carrying the show should the leading man disappear. Each character is given a set of strengths and weaknesses, a trait that leads to characters who feel human instead of characters who could exist only on television. Dexter Morgan may be the star of the show, but carrying this show is not entirely on his shoulders.

It certainly helps that the actors really fit into their respective roles and brought their characters to life. Michael C. Hall is perfect as the leading man, as he is more than capable of coming across as both a lab geek and a sadistic serial killer, all while making us fall in love with the character. These are two character aspects that could separately be accomplished rather easily by any actor with a little experience under his belt, but having one man go back and forth between them with no issues? Now that takes talent. Jennifer Carpenter is also quite good as his little sister, and though she may get some flack for her recent roles, I really can't find a fault with her. Here, she plays a vulnerable yet strong character who is always looking out for her brother while also trying to advance her own career, and again, I just couldn't find anything wrong with her acting chops. She seems to be comfortable with the comedic, serious, and dramatic traits of her character and can switch back and forth with ease, and she plays the role of Dexter's "sidekick" to perfection. Much the same could be said about Julie Benz as Dexter's girlfriend, as she pulls off the "girlfriend with issues" shtick as well as one could hope for.

There are also a number of other characters who pop up throughout the season that I particularly enjoyed. Fans of Oz will recognize Lauren Vélez and David Zayas, and said fans will be pleased to see that both of them prove here why their characters were so beloved in Tom Fontana's prison stories. Lauren Vélez was particularly good in her role as the catty yet caring lieutenant, but David Zayas certainly didn't slouch as the wisecracking man in blue. Erik King is also no stranger to Oz (though not quite as recognizable), and here, he plays the hard-nosed sergeant who is constantly riding Dexter's ass. I do have to admit that he goes a little over the top from time to time, but this is more a fault of the script than the delivery. Regardless, these minor blemishes are few and far between, and King's time certainly does nothing but add to the overall product.

As mentioned earlier in the review, Dexter is one of the better television series in recent years, and in fact, it's one of the better shows to come around period. I can't compare it to the original novels, but I can definitely say that the writing in this adaptation is as strong as any of the other classics out there, the acting is comparable to the greats, and yes, you will find yourself hooked after just one episode. I'm glad that I have season two sitting on my desk right now, or else I would have had to get rush delivery on my order to have it in my grubby little hands as quickly as possible. 10/10.
BuryMeAlive #1: BuryMeAlive - added 05/26/2009, 02:13 PM
The best thing to hit TV since "Oz"
grain of sand #2: grain of sand - added 05/28/2009, 02:01 AM
My favorite TV show on right now, love it.
Lucid Dreams #3: Lucid Dreams - added 06/07/2009, 03:08 PM
Very original and exciting. 10/10
Tristan #4: Tristan - added 09/28/2010, 11:45 PM
Just burned through the whole season in one day. Very enjoyable.

Nirrad #5: Nirrad - added 04/07/2011, 08:36 PM
Just finished this and will be starting season 2 in a few days. Pretty good. 9/10
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