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Dexter (S1)
DVD disk
Aug 28, 2007 By: Quigles
Dexter (S1) order
Director:
Michael Cuesta, Tony Goldwyn

Actors:
Michael C. Hall
Julie Benz
Christina Robinson

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
A Miami blood spatter analyst leads a double life as a serial killer, taking out the trash when justice can't find a way. When not busy revealing what made Dexter the twisted soul he is, season one focuses its energy on the prostitute murdering "Ice Truck Killer", a man who drains the blood from his victims and cuts their body into precisely measured pieces.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
There appears to be a rule that if a TV show isn't a sitcom, it will most likely be about death. It will either be about people solving the mystery behind a death ("CSI"), people dealing with the dead ("Six Feet Under"), people who are dying ("House M.D."), convicting the people that possibly caused a death ("Law & Order"), people conversing with the dead ("Pushing Daisies"), people trying to stop a death before it happens ("Day Break"), or dozens of variations thereof ("Dead Like Me", "ER", "Criminal Minds", "Ghost Whisperer", "Medium", "Raines", etc.). DEXTER, despite its cool premise, doesn't exactly break new ground on the subject (how in the hell could it?). What it does do though, is take that oft-used formula which so many shows are based around and give it a darkly comedic edge.

It also has the benefit of being headed by the excellent Michael C. Hall, who's capable of being charming when he needs to be, and creepy as hell when he doesn't. The show succeeds almost entirely on his behalf. The supporting characters, meanwhile... not so much. Out of the many cops and detectives and sergeants that the show's focus switches between, the only standout supporting character is also the only one Dexter doesn't work with, his girlfriend. As the show progresses, they eventually get fleshed out into slightly more appealing, less one-dimensional people, and at the same time, their subplots start becoming more important to the main storyline. Even so, they're never as interesting or compelling as when the show focuses on Dexter. I occasionally found myself waiting for those segments to hurry up and finish so I could see more of that wonderful serial killer killing killer. (Well that's a tongue twister...)

Complaints aside, there's something that happens to the show about halfway into the season. It gets better. And I'm not just talking a little better either; it becomes a minor masterpiece of television. Finally, all of the hype I was hearing about the series made sense. Once the "Ice Truck Killer" makes his first real appearance in the storyline, everything comes together, piece by piece (sometimes literally). Even Dexter's flashbacks to when he was a kid (which appear in almost every episode) pay off in full. Prior to that point, they were vaguely interesting in terms of character development, yet felt consistently awkward and forced in terms of storytelling. Fortunately, those feelings wash away the more you learn about Dexter's past.

Another big plus for the show is its unusual format, made possible by airing on Showtime. Not only does every episode run close to a full hour (meaning, not 40 minutes like other "hour long" shows), it also provides plenty of gore, cursing, and even nudity (boo-yah!). To top it all off, the show's got quite possibly the greatest opening credits sequence ever made. It's so good that it's actually poetic. And by the time DEXTER's first season reaches its end, you'll feel the same about the show itself.

Season 1 contains 12 episodes, spread across 4 discs. The two episodes with optional commentary have been marked with an asterisk.

DISC 1
Dexter
Crocodile
Popping Cherry
Let's Give the Boy a Hand

DISC 2
Love American Style
*Return to Sender
Circle of Friends
Shrink Wrap

DISC 3
Father Knows Best
Seeing Red
Truth Be Told

DISC 4
*Born Free
THE EXTRAS
I hope fans weren't holding their breath for some quality behind-the-scenes material, because the majority of the extras here essentially act as promotional material for other shows. Lame.

In terms of packaging, there are two conveniently thin plastic slipcases held inside a cardboard cover, each of which hold two of the four discs. Not exactly flashy, but nice and compact.

Audio Commentaries: With neither the show's creator or main star on board, the season DVD's two commentaries didn't hold much value for me. Speakers include actors Jennifer Carpenter, David Zayas, Lauren Velez, and Erik King on the episode "Return to Sender", and producers Sara Colleton, Clyde Phillips and Daniel Cerone on the episode "Born Free".

Witnessed in Blood - A True Murder Investigation (12:00): This would be more interesting for somebody who's never seen CSI or other crime dramas. It's a by-the-numbers look at how blood spatter analysis was used to convict a murderer. For what it was, I enjoyed watching it.

"Brotherhood" Episodes: There are two episodes of the Showtime series "Brotherhood" made available here, and to be honest, I didn't watch either of them (not yet anyway). Didn't feel any need, since they have zero correlation with DEXTER.

Also included are a bunch of Previews, as well as some features exclusive to your computer.

NOTE: The box lists another special feature, "The Academy of Blood - A Killer Course", but it doesn't appear to be on any of the discs. Weird.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
I wasn't overly impressed with DEXTER as it began, but the more the story progressed, the more I found myself falling in love with it. Most of this is thanks to Michael C. Hall's chillingly seductive performance, which truly makes you believe Dexter's episodic transformation. The eventual reveal of the "Ice Truck Killer", if a bit predictable, brings both Dexter's past and the current storyline one step closer to the first season's climactic finish. And coupled with the show's darkly comic mean streak and cool sense of style, those elements certainly add up to some killer television. (No, I won't apologize for that awful pun. You'll just have to deal with it.)
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