Thursday, March 13, 2008

T.V. Series & Books: Dexter

Dexter appeared on Showtime last year and is scheduled on CBS soon. The series, based on the books by Jeff Lindsay, has an interesting premise: Dexter is a forensic blood-splatter specialist with the Miami-Dade Police Department. He's also a serial killer, but one with a code. Dexter's foster father, Harry, was a police officer. He recognized Dexter's tendencies, but rather than send him off to years of therapy, Harry taught Dexter a code. Dexter could kill only those who escaped conventional justice. And Dexter must follow very strict procedures so he won't get caught.

Part of Dexter's disguise is to appear normal. He has a girlfriend. He on the police force bowling team. He has a foster sister who he protects and who loves him very much. Still, in the books, Deborah suspects something is not quite right with Dexter. Sgt. Doakes, a detective on the force, also has his suspicions.

So this series isn't for everyone. Dexter is, after all, a killer. And he gets away with it. Yes, his victims are guilty of heinous crimes, but Dexter is judge, jury, and executioner which is not condoned by society nor by the Church.

So why do I enjoy this so much? There's something fascinating with the idea of the outsider looking in, trying to figure out what he can do to fit in. There is the cat-and-mouse aspect: will Dexter be able to get away with murder? Will Sgt. Doakes catch him in the act? Will Dexter become human? For that's really what this series is about--Dexter learning to love.

F-bombs are used liberally, both by males and females. I think the writers think this adds an aura of "authenticity," but do real cops swear quite so much and so often? Sex is frequent and often casual. Interestingly, the language and the sex in the novels are considerably tamer, yet manage to convey the same impressions and ideas.

I am rather curious to see how CBS handles this series, taming it for network television.

Overall, Dexter is well acted and raises some fascinating questions about morality and what it means to be human (especially in the second season, which has already played on Showtime). This series is not for everyone--I would be especially cautious with pre-teens and impressionable teenagers. We watch it as a family and have had some interesting discussions about vigilantism, casual sex, lying, deceit, and the use of sex as a tool of manipulation.

On the March Hare scale: 2.5 out of 5 Golden Remotes; 3 out of 5 Golden Bookmarks

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