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Dexter? More Like Dexter Freebish! - The Book of the Celestial Cow

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December 30th, 2006


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12:38 am - Dexter? More Like Dexter Freebish!
When Dexter premiered, I was intrigued but busy. A show about a serial killer? Cool! I like to kill people! I read a middling review of the pilot, though, so I shrugged it off.

Then some folks on my flist and other boards began saying it was, in fact, really good. So I thought about checking it out. And then by the time the finale arrived, it felt like everyone on my flist was going ga-ga, so I moved it to the top of my queue.

I watched two episodes yesterday and the other ten today. And the things people were saying about the show being fantastic and an amazing season of television? THEY WERE RIGHT.

Dexter is like CSI: Miami meets American Psycho meets The Inside. But better than all of them. Well, I imagine most things are better than CSI: Miami, but that's not the point.

I came into the show knowing almost nothing about the show, and I find that leads to an optimal viewing experience, so I choose to give that to you as well. Mostly. So don't be looking for a lot of detailed spoilers in here. But you might want to be wary of the comments.

By day, Dexter Morgan is a forensics expert specializing in blood splatter. He is very, very good at his job, and it was really interesting to learn just how much an analysis of the blood splatter can tell you. By night, he's a total psycho freak who doesn't want to have sex with Julie Benz. Also, he kills people, but the first part is weirder, don't you think? Because he only kills bad people, anyway! So that part is okay. Or is it? Thankfully, the show doesn't make a Big Deal about that extenuating circumstance because it's an obvious question the viewer is faced with. It doesn't need to be asked. It's understood. It's so understood, really, that after a while, you sort of forget that it's a question. Because, really, the people Dexter kills...are not good people. They are out there doing bad things, and the world is better off without them, right?

Dexter is not your typical protagonist, which means Dexter is not your typical show. Not many shows ask you to sympathize with a serial killer. But we get into his head because he narrates with an air of cool detachment, cracking the occasional joke, making the occasional pun. He repeats many times that he feels no emotion, that he fakes it for the papers, but we're onto him, we're onto him. He's generally well liked at work, and he's snagged a hot girlfriend who's very into him. But none of them know what we know, what Dexter does with his free time. Which makes it very creepy to watch. The end of the pilot hooked me good, and you can see why in my icon. Combined with his very last line, the look Dexter gives to the camera creeped me the fuck out like nothing I'd ever seen on TV, I think. He's some kind of monster. But a lovable monster! He becomes less creepy over the course of the season as we get to know him better, which makes it easier to take.

But, see, the show's not really just "Oh, he's a forensics expert and a serial killer, hee!" The major plot arc of the season involves another serial killer whose investigation leads Dexter on a journey of self-discovery. I was unsure how they were going to be able to really do anything with Dexter's character, but for a while, they're able to distract us with lots of flashbacks to show us how and why Dexter became who he is, and it's pretty creepy and original. (Hey, guess what! He wasn't abused as a child! THANK GOD.) Then Dexter does stumble through some unexpected character development, and it's very subtle and well done.

Dexter's not the only character, of course. I love his sister, Deb, who's cute, spunky, intelligent, and determined. She and Dexter have a nice sibling relationship. I'm utterly tickled by the fact that the show has not one, not two, but three Oz alumni in the cast: Morales! (Angel) Gloria! (LaGuerta) Moses! (Doakes) Morales was one of my favorites, so I love Angel, who's just so decent and respects Dexter's talents. I wasn't a huge fan of LaGuerta, but I liked her more by the end. A few episodes in, I realized she was sort of like Sheriff Lamb, but not entertainingly bitchy, just bitchy. I'm not sure why I like Doakes; I may just be fond of the actor and his whole style. And it is amusing that, as Dexter points out, he's the only person in the precinct who finds him creepy. Not even Masuka, the amusingly horny lab tech. Rita, Julie Benz's character, is, as people have said, about as far away from Darla as you can get.

Why is Dexter amazing? For starters, it feels like watching a really long movie or reading a really great book. Which, given the source material, isn't too surprising. The first season is a cohesive whole with one major plot arc and several smaller ones, along with character arcs for Dexter and a few other characters. Each episode is another chapter in the saga; nothing is wasted. Watching it makes me want ALL television to be like it is on the premium channels. Short, exquisite seasons, unburdened by commercials, constant network interference, long hiatuses and scheduling issues, the need to make things "viewer-friendly," and everything else that plagues network dramas. This is how it should be: you plot that fucker out, and you stick to it. You spend time concocting a good fucking plan, you don't need to deviate from it. Hell, I almost don't think a second season is necessary because I can't imagine how they'll top this or even come close. At one point in the season, and those who've watched know what point I mean, I said out loud, "Oh no, oh my fucking God!" and clasped my hands to my mouth. I love when TV makes me do that, especially because immediately afterward I realized I should have seen it coming. And toward the end of the season, I was almost literally on the edge of my seat, physically stressed out, almost crying. I needed milk and cookies to get through the finale. I love being so emotionally engaged; it makes me feel like the story is worth watching.

And there's so much story, surprisingly. The episodes are pretty unformulaic; it's not just "Who will Dexter kill this week?" Things happen organically, and nothing feels forced. In some ways, it feels like the story drives itself, and the camera is just there capturing it all. The drama isn't manufactured, and it works.

In the end, Dexter is a story about the dark side in all of us and how we choose to embrace, control, or ignore it. It's about family, both the one made for us and the ones we make for ourselves. It's about what it means to be normal.

This is a friendly post, like, "Hey, you wanna watch?" And, yes, you wanna watch.

You really, really do.
Current Mood: impressedimpressed
Current Music: Kasabian - ID

(72 memoirs | Describe me as "inscrutable")

Comments:


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[User Picture]
From:cerulgalactus
Date:December 30th, 2006 08:42 am (UTC)
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I do? But, good sir, I have Psych coming back soon, and Heroes, and Lost, and Studio 60. Are you suggesting I start watching another TV show? Because, if you are, then I might.

Curse, your knowing what I like in the TV shows.
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:December 30th, 2006 08:44 am (UTC)
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Dude, you can totally finish this shit before all those shows come back, and then you will be cool.
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From:cass404
Date:December 30th, 2006 08:53 am (UTC)
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Wait... You have a Dexter Freebish ref? Leaving Town Dexter Freebish?

I might need a moment here.
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:December 30th, 2006 09:02 am (UTC)
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I love that song. I also like their other single, "My Madonna."
From:hobviously
Date:December 30th, 2006 09:18 am (UTC)

new information

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I love Dexter.
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:December 30th, 2006 09:21 am (UTC)

Re: new information

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If he had feelings, he'd have them for you.
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From:burntspaghetti
Date:December 30th, 2006 10:51 am (UTC)
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This post is great and made me forget my vodka-induced headache for a few minutes. Yay!

And as for next season, if it's anything like the second book it will be fantastic. I just really hate that we have to wait a year for it.
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From:spectralbovine
Date:December 30th, 2006 05:30 pm (UTC)
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I didn't realize there was more than one book at first, but, yeah, I guess if they have more books to draw from, they could be in good shape. Even though they changed several things from the book in this season.

I'm glad you liked the post!
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From:maidofawesome
Date:December 30th, 2006 11:49 am (UTC)
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You like to kill people too? Awesome!

I watched the first five eps and really liked it (and I knew even less than you - that it was a show called Dexter and peole were talking about it, so watching it I was like 'Oh, he's a serial killer???') but I haven't got round to downloading the rest. Is the season finished now? That's a good time to download it.
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:December 30th, 2006 05:31 pm (UTC)
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The season is finished! It is time for YOU to finish, killer.
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From:maka2000
Date:December 30th, 2006 03:56 pm (UTC)
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Right on, I LOVE Dexter! You're ahead of me in watching though so I'm not going to read your other comments. I still need to watch epis 4-10, they're sitting on my desktop at home so once I get back to Chicago, I'm going to mainline those suckers!

I was hooked after the Pilot too, it was SO frickin' creepy and well done. The part that hooked me in the pilot was actually when Dexter saw those very first bloodless body parts - his reaction was so genuinely admiring AND horrified. But not horrified like most people would be - because someone had been murdered - but because the killer had dared get rid of the one thing Dexter is tormented by. When he DMVO'd all breathlessly about "No blood..." I was hooked!

I so don't have an appropriate icon for this comment. Foo.
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:December 30th, 2006 05:33 pm (UTC)
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Yeah, I loved his reaction to the body! It was just so...who does that, right?

Since it feels like a really long movie, this show works well mainlined.
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From:horsefacehannah
Date:December 30th, 2006 04:10 pm (UTC)
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For starters, it feels like watching a really long movie or reading a really great book. Which, given the source material, isn't too surprising.

You are wrong. Given the source material, it is VERY surprising.
The book is awful.
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From:spectralbovine
Date:December 30th, 2006 05:35 pm (UTC)
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Hee. So I hear from you. But the basic plot elements are taken from a book, however bad the writing is, so the book-like pacing and structure of the season isn't surprising.

Why is the book so bad? I've spoiled myself as to the differences, so I don't know that I want to read it, and I definitely don't want to read the others so as not to spoil myself for future seasons.
From:metabeta
Date:December 30th, 2006 04:30 pm (UTC)
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I think I've now decided that I'll watch anything Michael C. Hall does. He's like my new John Cusack.

I had no idea you were watching "Dexter" too. At last, we have another show we both love! *hugs*
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:December 30th, 2006 05:36 pm (UTC)
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I had no idea you loved Dexter too! Huzzah! *hugs*
From:birdsarecalling
Date:December 30th, 2006 04:36 pm (UTC)

ending spoilers!

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Dexter is a fantastic series on so many levels! I am dying for the second season, if only to see exactly how much Deb heard of Dexter and Brian's conversation over her saran-wrapped body.
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:December 30th, 2006 05:39 pm (UTC)

Re: ending spoilers!

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Ooh, you think she heard anything? I never thought of that. They have the big Doakes and Rita plot threads already; it feels like they're setting up a lot of trouble for Dexter's secret. But it's one of those things, like...once he's exposed, the show's over, right? I was wondering how they were going to get out of that when he finally ALMOST got caught, which I was waiting for.

Is it bad that I felt really sad and pained when he was throwing his tools in the water?
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From:thekateyouknow
Date:December 30th, 2006 04:41 pm (UTC)
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This is just what I needed to read this morning! I keep having this nagging thought in the back of my head about watching Dexter and I just haven't gotten around to it. Mostly I wanted to watch it because Michael C. Hall is freaking AMAZING (did you watch Six Feet Under? I can't remember) but also I've been hearing nothing but good things about it. I'm sold, but I need to wait for the dvds.

Why is Dexter amazing? For starters, it feels like watching a really long movie or reading a really great book.

This is how I feel about almost all of the shows on HBO (SFU, Sopranos, Rome etc) and now maybe Showtime is getting in on the act, it seems. Well played, Showtime, well played indeed.
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:December 30th, 2006 05:42 pm (UTC)
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This is just what I needed to read this morning!
Aw! You say the nicest things.

Mostly I wanted to watch it because Michael C. Hall is freaking AMAZING (did you watch Six Feet Under? I can't remember)
No, not yet, but I've been thinking of getting around to it. Especially now, to see him in another role.

I've been hearing nothing but good things about it.
Yeah, that finally got to me too!

This is how I feel about almost all of the shows on HBO (SFU, Sopranos, Rome etc) and now maybe Showtime is getting in on the act, it seems. Well played, Showtime, well played indeed.
Oh, nice. I still haven't seen those HBO shows. Just Oz and Entourage. Oz had a lot of those elements too, but sometimes it made the viewer feel lost because they were setting up way too many plot threads without even telling you what was going on, whereas with Dexter, there's a lot more confidence to the story. You know where you're being led, even if you don't know what will be there.
From:babsonite
Date:December 30th, 2006 04:49 pm (UTC)
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Warning: my fanatic praise of the show is not as eloquent as yours...

Dexter is very awesome. I love when he shows up at crime scenes and gets giddy, then he has to make up an excuse why. Especially the time when the body was at the hockey rink.

I love Deb! My sister and I watch it together, and the finale like slapped us both across the face! And of course as soon as it happened it was so obvious and we should have known, which made it so awesome!
Warning: my fanatic praise of the show is not as eloquent as yours...
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:December 30th, 2006 05:47 pm (UTC)
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Ooh, I didn't know you watched!

I love when he shows up at crime scenes and gets giddy, then he has to make up an excuse why.
Heh, yeah. I loved the conflict between wanting to catch the killer and wanting to continue playing the game.
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From:vonniek
Date:December 30th, 2006 05:02 pm (UTC)
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Yay, you posted! And a kickass rec post it was, too.

In the end, Dexter is a story about the dark side in all of us and how we choose to embrace, control, or ignore it. It's about family, both the one made for us and the ones we make for ourselves. It's about what it means to be normal.

A lovely sum-up of the show's themes. Dexter refers to this side of his as his "dark passenger," which I find terribly evocative. I'm flabbergasted by this show's ability to creep me the fuck out *and* to move me to tears, sometimes at the same time.

This is a friendly post, like, "Hey, you wanna watch?" And, yes, you wanna watch.

You really, really do.


Heeee! I love it.
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:December 30th, 2006 05:45 pm (UTC)
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And a kickass rec post it was, too.
Aw, thanks. I never seem to be happy with them. I get too rambly and don't say anything interesting.

Dexter refers to this side of his as his "dark passenger," which I find terribly evocative.
He also refers to himself and people like him as "travelers" (a word someone else like him uses too), which I found interesting. I'd never heard that term.
[User Picture]
From:alliterator
Date:December 30th, 2006 08:16 pm (UTC)
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Man, I would really love to watch Dexter. Unfortunately, I don't get Showtime. Is there a Dexter downloading community?
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:December 30th, 2006 08:55 pm (UTC)
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Yes, and it's what you'd expect, given the names of most other downloading communities. Just take a guess or two.
[User Picture]
From:orangesky33
Date:December 30th, 2006 08:28 pm (UTC)
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I? Am very intrigued. From your description, the show sounds awesome and Michael C. Hall's work on Six Feet Under (or what I've seen of Six Feet Under) was wonderful. But alas, I too do not have Showtime. Argh.

Also, much woo-hooing to Julie Benz getting to be un-Darla-like regularly on a seris!
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:December 30th, 2006 08:58 pm (UTC)
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But alas, I too do not have Showtime. Argh.
Neither do I. You know.
[User Picture]
From:mutinousmuse
Date:December 30th, 2006 08:41 pm (UTC)
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I just watched the first two eps of this show, and I completely agree! So freakin' funny. And yes, the Julie Benz thing is way weirder than the killing people thing.
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:December 30th, 2006 08:58 pm (UTC)
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I mean, how do you not want to have sex with Julie Benz? Really.

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