Posted by: Paul | May 26, 2010

Dexter

As you might have gathered if you read this regularly (hello? Is anyone there?), I follow a few US drama series. As such, I was dismayed when I found out that despite showing the first two series and getting good ratings, ITV have not picked up the rights to the third series of Dexter. Still, that’s what DVD box sets and eBay are for.

I wasn’t at all sure about this one after watching the very first episode. The Guardian’s initial review stated that the tone was rather unusual – and that’s certainly true. Unusual not in that the protagoinist, the very person we are asked as a viewer to root for, is a serial killer. But rather in that the show gives off a breezy exuberance which is rather at odds with the subject matter. Everything is bright, colourful, bathed in the Miami sunshine. In conversation with a friend about this recently we concluded that had it been set almost anywhere else the show would not have worked, and been borderline unwatchable. It’s the vivacity with which not only the carnage is depicted, but everything else on the show from locations to subsidiary characters which makes it all click together so satisfyingly.

Dexter Morgan is a blood spatter pattern analyst working in the Miami Metro Homicide department. He’s not a police officer but his familiarity with their methods and habits allows him to pursue his ‘hobby’ undetected – for by night he is a murderer, bumping off reprehensible human beings who escaped justice the first time round, according to a strict code instilled in him by his father (who was, not coincidentally, a long serving detective).

The moral question at the heart of the show – can bad deeds ever become good – is a thorny one, and most of us have wrestled with similar emotions at some point in our lives. Is revenge ever acceptable? Can people change? What would you do if you had someone evil in the palm of your hand, and the only question facing you is ‘can I live with my decision?’ The only difference with Dexter is he acts on his darkest impulses – in a very careful, controlled way. In reality I’d like to think he’d obviously never get away with it, but in the realm of fantasy there’s no harm in rooting for someone who’s ultimately acting for the greater good…is there?

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