Sell me on Dexter

Discussion in 'TV & Media' started by Elemental, Oct 23, 2008.

  1. Elemental

    Elemental Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I'm always looking for the next good show to watch on DVD. I'm currently in season 6, part 1 of The Sopranos and will need something to replace it when I'm done. I keep hearing lots of good things about this Dexter show.

    Some of the elements of the show that I've heard sound unique and intriguing, however, while I enjoy dark stories and having faults in the main characters, the idea of the protagonist being a serial killer (even of criminals) seems a bit distancing to me. While I enjoy The Sopranos, I wouldn't say I'm as drawn in to the characters as a show like Lost, Heroes, The West Wing, ER, Babylon 5, etc. because the characters are perhaps painted a little too darkly.

    I do love mysteries, however, and pre-planned story arcs is always a big plus. Another thing I'm always very wary of is one-hit wonder shows where they get off to an amazing start the first season, gain a large following, but then never really manage to keep that same intensity as things go on. I've seen some comments that season 3 hasn't been as good as the previous two. Is the show still proceeding in a logical, entertaining direction?

    As a means of comparison, I'll list some of my other favourite shows - Star Trek (obviously), Babylon 5, Lost, ER, Heroes. Other shows I've collected and enjoy are 24, The Sopranos, Dallas, The X-Files, and Prison Break.

    Thanks for your input!
     
  2. Super Grover

    Super Grover Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I'm interested in checking it out too.
     
  3. Kirkman1987

    Kirkman1987 Commodore Commodore

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    I'm in the same boat as you two, my friends. I have never seen Dexter. I would like to sometime, as all my friends have highly recomended it. I think the premise is very interesting. I can imagine a serial killer being very likable as a character, and from what I hear he is.

    My favorite shows are Star Trek (you too? wow!), Twin Peaks, Firefly, The Prisoner, Sherlock Holmes, and MST3K. most of those are very different from Dexter I think, but I always like to try new things.:)
     
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2008
  4. Harvey

    Harvey Admiral Admiral

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    The main character is very complex and interesting. He's also a serial killer. That part might be a turn-off you can't get over. But I'd give the pilot a try. Chances are, if you don't enjoy it, the rest isn't worth it. But if you do, stick with it, the first season is great.

    And, out of curiosity, have you seen The Wire yet? Great show.
     
  5. Kirkman1987

    Kirkman1987 Commodore Commodore

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    I really don't think I would be turned off by a serial killer as lead. Hannibal Lector a pretty terrible person but is made very watchable by Anthony Hopkins. I don't mind seeing bad guys as leads in films/tv.

    And no, I haven't seen The Wire either. The truth is, I don't watch much TV. I just rarely have the time beteen classes, my two jobs, and whatever I'm watching on DVD. DVD is how I catch most tv shows anyway, usually after watching a few episodes online.

    But I hear The Wire is good too.
     
  6. auntiehill

    auntiehill Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    I LOVE Dexter, and here's why:

    The main character kills people---yes, that's true. But the way he justifies it almost makes it less horrible. He only kills people that he knows are a threat to society. He sees it as his calling. He satisfies his need to kill and protects the world from criminals. Surprisingly enough, Dexter, in his own twisted way, is a very moral person. He narrates the show, so we see everything through his filter. We see him pretending to be normal, wanting to be, puzzled by the emotional attachments that others have.

    But the show is written very intelligently. It never dumbs it down for us. We hear Dexter's thoughts, see what he does--and yet, the scriptwriters have enough faith in the audience to actually let us figure a few things out (gasp!) for ourselves.

    There are people in Dexter's life that he really loves, although he thinks he is isn't capable of actually feeling anything. But we can see it. Dexter is smarter, more capable, more talented than any of his co-workers, but he hides it and keeps a low profile. He is always two things at once---a meek public mask he has learned to adopt, and the dark, powerful killer underneath. But he is also just Dexter, a guy who wants to fit in, and wants to understand. In some ways, he really is a good guy. He cares, although he keeps telling himself he doesn't. He feels rage when he sees innocent people suffer, he wants to protect and comfort the people he cares about.

    He also has "The Dark Passenger," that drives him to satisfy his need to kill and still meet the strict codes of justice that his foster-father instilled in him. He doesn't kill randomly. He carefully follows trials, researches evidence, examines the blood evidence ( his specialty, of course), and when the guilty go free, he steps in.

    Watch the first three episodes. You won't be able to stop.
     
  7. Elemental

    Elemental Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Ok, I get that much... but how does this concept lead to several seasons worth of story arcs? Are there any elements connecting various episodes and "victims" to each other? Or is the only real connection the protagonist himself?
     
  8. auntiehill

    auntiehill Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    ACK....there so many different plot lines that connect in this series. The victims are connected to the killer(s) who are connected to the detectives in the police department where Dexter works as a forensics specialist. Every episode connects to the next. I can't give you any specifics without giving things away. The first season has a DEFINITE story arc and the second season has a DEFINITE story arc. The third season has just started, but I'm guessing the pattern will continue.
     
  9. Spaceman Spiff

    Spaceman Spiff Abuse of Power Administrator

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    Dexter is fucking excellent.

    There you go. ;)
     
  10. Mojochi

    Mojochi Commodore Commodore

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    Ok, the somewhat quick sell on Dexter.

    The show does not pull any punches. There is a palpable edge on which you ride with the main character. He is not a vigilante, nor does he think of himself as one

    He is a homicidal psychopath, & he knows it. He kills people because he desires killing people, plain & simple. Only though a moral code, which has been instilled in him since childhood, by his step-father (Played brilliantly by James Remar) has he been able to reduce the level of monstrosity that he is, by killing only they who are at least equally monstrous, which he never seems to run out of

    The edge, which we ride with him, resides primarily in that he chooses to live almost as dangerously as any murderer can, by continuing to make & hold relations & connections of a ridiculously personal nature, which leaves him exceedingly vulnerable to exposure for what he is, foregoing any discussion about the fact that he works around cops

    Still, in all, though the show holds to that taught formula almost religiously, it still manages to not only be genuine, but also heartfelt, clever, ironic, & even funny, while continually maintaining a very firm grasp on the reality of police investigation, psychology of the normal & abnormal mind, interpersonal relations, & life in general

    I don't know how long they can maintain the quality of ride they have been, but I'm stll enjoying season three, without exception, even though the show & character continue to grow & find new direction.
     
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2008
  11. Bob The Skutter

    Bob The Skutter Complete Arse Cleft Premium Member

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    No sell, just watch it, it's one of the best shows on TV. Your loss if you miss out.
     
  12. Deckerd

    Deckerd Fleet Arse Premium Member

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    It's a good show because the characters are all interesting, which is a rare thing in modern TV series. It also has the best working plot I've seen for ever so long; how to make a serial killer likeable.
     
  13. Mistral

    Mistral Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Watch the show-or the puppy gets it!:evil:
     
  14. Starbreaker

    Starbreaker Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    It's like crack.
     
  15. Jax

    Jax Admiral Admiral

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    Watch it and then you will know why we all love it
     
  16. auntiehill

    auntiehill Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    It is. Video crack. If Dexter came in dime-bags, we'd all be seriously screwed.
     
  17. Temis the Vorta

    Temis the Vorta Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Watch the premiere episode. If you like it, stick with the show. If not, drop it. (Rent it, don't buy it. If you really like it you can buy it later. I'm buying all the seasons of Dexter and I don't normally buy anything on DVD.)

    I've had too many cases of me watching shows that others rave about and being disappointed for me to do that to anyone else. If a show has a good, representative premiere episode, then you only need to invest an hour of your life to find out whether you'll like the whole thing.
    Me too. I was envisioning something off-putting like those dumbass slasher movies I find so contemptable. But Dexter is the polar opposite. Slasher movies are cynical exercises in throwing blood and gore at the audience without dealing much with the consequences of the violence. Dexter actually downplays the violence - when you really start noticing it, you'll see they cut away from violence rather than dwelling on it.

    The show is all about the elaborate emotional and moral consequences of the violence they hardly even depict. Instead of reminding us how scary Dex is by showing him chopping someone up, they rely on Michael C. Hall's amazing acting skills to occasionally freak us the hell out, which is crucial to maintaining the show's credibility. Dexter can never be allowed to become the audience's pet serial killer.
    I loved S1 and wondered how they could keep it up. S2 was even better. Reports from those with Showtime are that S3 is keeping up the level of quality. :bolian:

    Most people don't need to wrestle with morality at every moment of their waking lives. Dexter does. Sometimes he comes off as downright puritanical in the way he parses every action.

    There are many supporting characters who are important in Dexter's life for various reasons. Keeping the secret from them creates an ongoing web of complexity that provides plenty of story material. There's also an arc of increasing self-awareness for Dexter that keeps things up in the air.

    It pulls a lot fewer punches than most shows, but it's not 100% brutally gutsy. The writers have a tough task to keep the audience in love with a guy who is extremely creepy if you allowed yourself to think about him. I've noticed certain manipulative elements and plot conveniences such as
    making Lila a very unlikable person and not dwelling on the emotional wreckage Dexter leaves behind even in killing only "bad guys" - even bad guys have families sometimes.

    And for him to be so careful in his investigations that he never targets the innocent by accident, yet finds a steady supply of scumbags that the police have somehow overlooked strikes me as implausible. A really gutsy show would delve into the problem of Dexter simply running short of 100% guilty people and lowering his standards. Inevitably his need to kill should be leading him to deliberately murder someone he shouldn't. Maybe they'll do this in future seasons? There have been a few marginal cases already - did the drunk driver really qualify? He was careless and selfish, but on the same level as a pedophile?
     
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2008
  18. Mojochi

    Mojochi Commodore Commodore

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    Well, yeah, it can't afford to be 100% brutal toward its main character, but they come as close as anyone ever could, with less than 12 hours per season.
    They completely describe the intent with Dex's cold precision, & they've shown the stalk, the kill, the aftermath, & though they haven't shown the full on dismemberment, they do show the product thereof. They even call his boat "A Slice Of Life":guffaw:

    As far as "Emotional Wreckage" or collateral damage, they've been delving into that much more in season three, as well as the real consequences of deliberately killing people, not being as neat a kind of activity, as he views it

    As for the point about the criminals. it's not so much that Law enforcement missed them, it's more that they didn't seal the deal, & they're out on the streets again. I'd attest that this is really the only area subject to a very mild suspension of disbelief, because it is a fairly real situation that criminals get off. The suspension of disbelief comes in that were he to continue finding them, he'd almost undoubtedly have to take the show on the road, outside of Miami
    I don't think we have to be in love with Dex, we only have to identify with him, & they are successful in doing so
     
  19. stj

    stj Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Dexter is the greatest detective in the history of the universe! Batman is a kid playing Clue by comparison.

    The vigilante thing is by far the least interesting part of Dexter. Family and work relationships are by far the most interesting. And in those relationships, Dexter tries hard to do good. The basic story is Man Goes Sane. It should be watched for the novelty alone.
     
  20. Temis the Vorta

    Temis the Vorta Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Dexter shows no signs of "going sane." More likely, he's been more sane all along than he gives himself credit for - his self-image as a "monster" is just a way he denies his emotions. But his mental stability is not going to get any better unless he starts making attempts at improving it, and he's shown no inclination to do so.

    For him to do so would undermine the core of the story, the radical notion that Dexter is okay has he is, and the ideal solution is for others to come to accept him (as depicted in the fantasy-parade in the S1 finale). If he has to change, and go sane, to make others accept him, that betrays the whole point of the story.