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Darrel Manson

Dexter

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We finished watching season 1 last night. The season works like a good novel. Good enought that I've put a hold on the audio book of the book it's based on, Darkly Dreaming Dexter.

I has all the things that normally I'd say are bad about serial killer movies/shows -- especially the POV of the sociopath. But he is such a lovable sociopathic killer. As the season goes along, we begin to see what made him like he is. But he does try to cope, in large part because of the "code" his foster father instilled in him to funnel his hunger for killing into acceptable forms.

His victims are killers who have escaped punishment. His day job is blood splatter analyst for the Miami PD. He has a girl friend, who he starts off with because she is safe and isn't ready for real intimacy, but of course things change over time. He has a nemesis all through the first season, another serial killer who plays personal games with Dexter. Quite engaging.

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Darrell, the book is interesting, but this show is one of the rare times where the show was better developed than the book.

Look forward to Season 2 this year!

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For those of you, like myself, who don't have Showtime, CBS is going to be airing the series beginning Feb. 17th at 10pm.

I like to read the blog of the TV critic Alan Sepinwall. He likes the CBS version.

The edits for broadcast change much less than you'd think. Again, "Dexter" isn't a particularly violent or gory show - in the original versions, "We usually cut away right before the violence," notes Showtime president Robert Greenblatt, who helped oversee the editing for CBS, "so there's nothing where you have to cover your eyes" - and there was almost no explicit sexuality in the first season. (The second season, which CBS won't be airing, is another story.)...

...Watching "Dexter" with commercial interruptions and clumsy dubbing isn't the ideal way to see the show, but by trimming some of the extraneous storylines, the CBS version is at times an improvement over the original. Who would've thunk it?

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I like to read the blog of the TV critic Alan Sepinwall. He likes the CBS version. The edits for broadcast change much less than you'd think. Again, "Dexter" isn't a particularly violent or gory show - in the original versions, "We usually cut away right before the violence," notes Showtime president Robert Greenblatt, who helped oversee the editing for CBS, "so there's nothing where you have to cover your eyes" - and there was almost no explicit sexuality in the first season. (The second season, which CBS won't be airing, is another story.)...

I just finally got around to season one and am into the second disc of season two. I really like the show, in part because it has those great "Oh wait a second" moments...and even if you see something coming (I figured out the Ice Truck Killer's identity about two episodes before it was revealed) it still is a satifying reveal. There is a nice dark humor (in season two, Dexter's sister tells him their father imparted the importance of human life to them and we hear Dexter think "Sure...but I think we had different homework assignments"). The series seems to be going in a direction where all of Dexter's pretending is suddenly becoming less of an act...he is connecting in ways he did not expect from his sister to his girl friend. Plus, I really like the supporting cast. When the show switches to, say Angel or Doakes, I am as interested in their side stories nearly as much as the main story.

What I initially meant to comment on is that...well, so far, while there has been sex scenes in season two, I have not noticed anything shockingly graphic... not in the sense of extreme nudity...heck, i was surprised at how much Dexter does not seem to take advantage of it's pay cable home of Showtime like shows on HBO often will.

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To be honest, something's always bothered me about this show. And I think Jonah Goldberg finally hit on it earlier this morning by reminding us of Mark Lasswell's piece in Commentary -

Up in Edmonton in the fall, though, Mark Twitchell did more than merely identify with Dexter Morgan. He wrote a movie script inspired by the series and then acted it out in real life. Posing online as a woman interested in a romantic liaison, he lured thirty-eight-year-old pipeline-industry worker John Altinger to a residential garage. And then, according to police, he tortured and murdered Altinger—just the way Twitchell’s hero Dexter Morgan would, because, you see, this most agreeable television character is also a serial killer. Twitchell was charged with first-degree murder and the script was seized as evidence. He pled not guilty.

Soon after the arrest, an Edmonton homicide detective named Mark Anstey said of Twitchell: “We have a lot of information that suggests he definitely idolizes Dexter, and a lot of information that he tried to emulate him during this incident.” At the time of the arrest, Dexter writer and producer Melissa Rosenberg was promoting the teenage-vampire movie Twilight, for which she had written the screenplay, but she soon found herself fielding questions from Canadian media about Twitchell’s affinity for her show. To her credit, Rosenberg did not adopt the usual Hollywood line of soberly contending that no one has ever shown a link between simulated violence and the real thing, a contention that is the studio equivalent of tobacco-company executives in Washington putting their hands on their hearts and claiming they had no idea that cigarettes cause cancer. The Canwest News Service reported on Rosenberg receiving news of the arrest and the Dexter connection: “‘Oh, Jesus,’ she exclaimed. She saw this as a ‘worst fears’ situation—something which had worried the show’s creators from the beginning.” Rosenberg insisted, though, that the series did not “glorify” Dexter Morgan’s murders:

Every time you think you’re identifying with Dexter and rooting for him, for us it’s about turning that back on you and saying: “You may think that he’s doing good, but he’s a monster. He’s killing because he’s a monster.”

The audience might be rooting for the serial killer because it is the particular inspiration of Dexter to make the character a responsible citizen who channels his murderous impulses strictly in the service of removing bad people from the world. Rosenberg said that the show’s creators had steeled themselves for criticism when Dexter made its premiere on Showtime in 2006. “The executive producers were expecting it. They were ready for it. They thought that we were going to get slams,” Rosenberg said, but there was “not a one.”

Well, here’s a one. Rosenberg had it precisely backwards, for just when you think Morgan is a monster, the show takes pains to ingratiate him further into your good opinion. Deviancy has continued to be defined down since the late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan identified the trend sixteen years ago, but Dexter represents a new low: the feel-good serial killer. The he’s-a-monster-no-he’s-not strategy of the show was apparent from the first episode, when Morgan abducts the director of a boys’ choir who moonlights as a serial killer specializing in the murder of his charges. Morgan has dug up some of the man’s victims and confronts him with the bodies—“Look or I’ll cut your eyelids right off your face”—before performing the ritual slaughter-of-the-guilty that is Morgan’s trademark. In this case, he goes to work on the man’s head with a power drill as a prelude to the butchering. “You’ll be packed into a few neatly wrapped Heftys,” Morgan patiently explains, “and my own small corner of the world will be a neater, happier place. A better place.”

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Up in Edmonton in the fall, though, Mark Twitchell did more than merely identify with Dexter Morgan. He wrote a movie script inspired by the series and then acted it out in real life. Posing online as a woman interested in a romantic liaison, he lured thirty-eight-year-old pipeline-industry worker John Altinger to a residential garage. And then, according to police, he tortured and murdered Altinger—just the way Twitchell’s hero Dexter Morgan would, because, you see, this most agreeable television character is also a serial killer. Twitchell was charged with first-degree murder and the script was seized as evidence. He pled not guilty.

Soon after the arrest, an Edmonton homicide detective named Mark Anstey said of Twitchell: “We have a lot of information that suggests he definitely idolizes Dexter, and a lot of information that he tried to emulate him during this incident.”

Apparently not enough. No, this was clearly a psycho who latched on to something. I find it highly unlikely that before Dexter he was not fantasizing about harming people. That he was some average joe who suddenly decided to murder a person because he saw an episode of Dexter and was hooked. It's a terrible tragedy what he did, but it is not somehow the fault of the show that he committed this heinous act. (Besides, if he truly idolized Dexter, he would have targeted a killer or at least a child molestor.

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Season 5 Promo just came out. Featuring the Clint Mansell piece from Requiem for a Dream that now regularly appears in movie trailers. Not sure what to expect from this season of Dexter, but the big change at the end of season 5 was probably for the best.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GB88Ml8DGFY

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I just started in on season 6. There is a lot of religion talk going on. I don't expect them to get everything right, but it will be interesting to see where it leads.

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