December 2 is the first day of TV’s silly season, so I’m getting in nice and early –which is just as well because you will need to install Pay TV to enjoy the pleasures of Dexter, a gloriously twisted, serial-killer drama launching on Foxtel’s newest channel, Showcase.
And the pleasures are many, beginning with Michael C. Hall.
You probably remember him as Six Feet Under’s “David”, one half of the show’s gay couple. If you thought he was fragile after that freaky car-jacking in Season 4, you won’t recognise him here.
Showtime’s Dexter is based on the crime novel series “Darkly Dreaming Dexter” by Jeff Lindsay. Our anti-hero is a forensics blood-spatter expert for the Miami Police. And he’s also a serial killer. Yep, he’s the homicidal equivalent of a fire-bug under the very noses of a fire brigade. But Lindsay has Dexter target Miami’s murderers. He unleashes gory killing sprees as a way of balancing society’s dis-order, taking out the tropical trash in Florida, America’s southernmost refuse.
Hall is supreme in this most delicious of roles.
Everything is underplayed, only allowing a fleeting crack to chip in Dexter’s porcelain personality. Dexter is a loner, but an intelligent, charming, even sexy one. Wicked voice-over thoughts like, “Another beautiful Miami day, mutilated corpses with a chance of afternoon showers,” add to the show’s blood red DNA.
Despite an intellectual career, Dexter is resolutely shy, unable to forge a mature relationship. “When it comes to the actual act of sex, it’s always just seemed so undignified,” he observes. He befriends Rita, a recovering rape victim, because “she is as damaged as me.”
But it’s the tone of Dexter that makes this startling television. It teeters between malice and flippancy. Dexter thinks little of answering a call in the middle of carving up his latest victim. “Hi honey, I’m just in the middle of a project.” SLICCCCCCE.
There have been too many American vigilante flicks where justice without morality is seemingly validated (The Brave One, anyone?) but Dexter has the luxury of time to delve deeper in order that we understand and empathise with the character. Like Hannibal Lecter we are mesmerised by what makes him tick.
Fittingly, the show has critical buzz. Smart, sexy, salacious, it deserves every accolade. Spend your summer with Dexter. He’s just dying to meet you.
Dexter premieres 8:30pm Thursday December 6 on Showcase.