Monday, December 10, 2007

Dexter - not your average crime show

Now here's a unique way to tell a story: a TV series about a serial killer, who kills serial killers (and any other criminals who seem to escape the justice system).

Dexter started on the new Foxtel channel Showcase this week. Based on novels by crime writer Jeff Lindsay, it's about a guy with a need to kill, who's learned to channel it into a macabre vigilante tool (thanks to his foster father cop).

But while there's certainly some startlingly graphic violence (to remind us just what Dexter is capable of), this show also has some of the wittiest writing on television, that's also at times unexpectedly profound. Most of the (very dark) humour comes through Dexter's voice-overs, as he calmly and - often sadly - shares his reflections on himself and the world around him.

By day, Dexter is a blood spatter expert with the Miami Police. By night, he metes out the justice his colleague's can't.

At the core of this show is the question: can you do good by doing bad? Dexter is loaded with moral ambiguity, which is compounded by the thoughtful, complex performance of Michael C. Hall (from Six Feet Under), who more often than not makes Dexter likeable.

There are some disturbing moments: in fact, the first time I stumbled across the show I saw a scene out of context and immediately switched off - but then, when watching it in context, it was still unsettling, but at least I understood why it was there. Definitely not for everyone.

Yes, there's always a chance this show could encourage the very sort of behaviour it depicts. But when you look past the shock factor, Dexter asks some fascinating questions, which are worth seeking answers for, given these types of people really do exist in society.

The Weekend Australian's Review lift-out had a great article this weekend about the show by Graeme Blundell, but it's still not available online. So, in the meantime, here's a bit more about the show for anyone interested:

Anyone else watched this show or have any thoughts about it?


Bec said...

I'm afraid I'm not going to be able to offer any scintillating comments here, as I am just too big a wuss. Can't watch violence. Can't even read about it. Even put my fingers in my ears and sing "la la la la" when people discuss disturbing things that are in the news.

Having said that, I do find the philosophical issues here extremely intriguing, so I'll follow the discussion with interest.

Paula said...

Discussion? I think I scared everyone off with this one!