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Sunday, May 29, 2011

The skewed lure of 'Dexter'

Just through with watching the first five seasons of the television series 'Dexter' on Star World.
It is one of the most gripping tele-serials in recent times and has been a huge hit all over the world, and it is impossible to stay indifferent to its charm.
American crime-drama series forms the staple diet of most of the television viewers across the world because, besides being well-produced, well-scripted & well-acted, these tap on the universal craving for an exploration of the darker recesses of human psyche. 'Dexter' goes one step ahead and toys with the saint-sinner tagging and has as the eponymous protagonist a forensic bloodstain pattern analyst for the Miami Metro police department who moonlights as a serial-killer.

In America, the series had debuted in 2006. But here, in India, we have been shown it this year, all the five seasons, back to back, on week-nights, with repeats on weekends. However, most viewers who got hooked to it have made sure that they catch the episodes online, as scenes and dialogues had to filtered for the telecast in the sub-continent, owing to excessive violence and profanity. In fact, the content and the violent images have been the bone of contention for the purists, and for many a social-analyst, not just in these parts of the world but in the West as well.

The first season was largely based on the novel 'Darkly Dreaming Dexter' by Jeff Lindsay, the fisrt of his series of Dexter novels. The subsequent seasons have largely evolved in an independent manner. The key scripting was done by James Manos, Jr. The principal cast features Micahel C. Hall (in the title role), Jennifer Carpenter, James Remar, Lauren Velaz, David Zayas, C. S. Lee, Julie Benz, Erik King, and Desmond Harrington. Also, Margo Martindale, Christian Camargo, Anne Ramsay, Valerie Cruz, Jonny Lee Miller, Jimmy Smits, Keith Carradine, Julia Stiles and John Lithgow are some of the big draws who have had supporting roles or guest appearances.

It is pointless to introduce the plot-line to those who are unaware of this phenomenal series. Yet, here it is, the germ of it all: Dexter is orphaned at the age of three due to the murder of his mother in front of his eyes, and is then adopted by Miami police officer Harry Morgan. After discovering that the young boy has been killing a multitude of neighborhood pets, Harry tells Dexter that he believes the need to kill got into him, and that he believes Dexter's need to kill will only grow. To keep Dexter from killing innocent people and winding up in an electric chair, Harry begins teaching Dexter The Code, whereby his victims must be killers themselves who have killed someone without justifiable cause and will likely do so again. Flashbacks throughout the series show Harry, who died several years before, instructing Dexter on how to fake human behavior, how to cover his tracks after a kill. Dexter has followed The Code religiously to satisfy his Dark Passenger - the name he has assigned to his urge to kill. Like many serial killers, he keeps trophies - before dispatching a wrongdoer, he makes a small incision on their right cheek with a scalpel and collects a blood sample, which he preserves on a blood slide & stores in a box concealed inside his air conditioner. Dexter has a skewed logic that he is in denial of and it is this logic or rationale that actually makes us question what's justified and what's not. Dexter's private life, his being lovelorn, his secrets tumbling out - make interesting viewing, as do his exploits, his kills.


Deep said...

Lovely post. Dexter is my favorite series, and I have been wanting to read up on it for quite sometime, and honestly, you have echoed my views.
I would have loved it more had you wrote even more, dissecting the various characters, even the antagonists of the series. Would look forward to your comments on the same here.

abhishek said...

Dexter rocks!
The series is sinfully addictive, hahaha..... borrowing your favorite expression. Top notch acting, and thrilling, edge-of-the-seat moments had me lapping up the series - all the five seasons - on the web last winter. Can't wait to watch Season Six this winter!

Joy said...

Everybody has secrets, but everybody's not Dexter. Yet, there's a Dexter-like darkness inside us, that we cannot deny. Therein lies the sinister appeal of a premise like DEXTER's. Michael C. Hall had impressed me way back when I saw him in SIX FEET UNDER, and with DEXTER the admiration has grown manifold.

namit said...

Nice post, Ani.
The USP of 'Dexter' is the rich narrative and the brilliant characterisations. Some of the key characters have been modelled a bit differently from the original novel, but that suits the series fine. The dramatic balancing of the protagonist's double life has kept us hooked for the first few episodes but that is surely going to change now. His slip-ups are likely to multiply..... that'd be reasonable enough as he clings to his own family..... I just wish that the series gets wrapped up before the incredulous bits multiply to amount to tedium for us viewers.

Krishh said...

Even the sternest critics won't deny that 'DEXTER" is one of the most slickly produced serials that have ever been produced. It does have too much of gore, and isn't fit to be seen by the faint-hearted, but it is very much intriguing for the lay viewers to follow the curious findings aided by forensic sciences, and also to watch the dramatic proceedings that stem from the complexities of the human psyche.

saurabh said...

I am a huge fan of this series. I just can't get enough of 'Dexter'. All the characters are fascinating, and the situations compelling. I am looking forward to the 6th Season;
I hope it gets aired here by the end of this year only!

aniruddh said...

I think the biggest USP of the series is Michael C. Hall in the title role. He is simply superb. It was incredibly brave of him to announce that he had been suffering from Hodgkin's lymphoma, a cancer that attacks the lymph nodes, and he has survived and recovered. He is back to play the serial-killer Dexter after having won Screen Actors Guild Award as well as Golden Globe for his role.
I shall be keenly waiting, like a million other fans, for Season 6 to unfold on telly.