Posted: Wed., Sep. 27, 2006, 11:45am PT

Recently Reviewed


 (Series -- Showtime, Sun. Oct. 1, 10 p.m.)

Michael C. Hall stars as a vigilante serial killer, with Julie Benz as his troubled girlfriend, in Showtime's 'Dexter.'

Filmed in Miami and Los Angeles by John Goldwyn Prods. and the Colleton Co. Executive producers, Goldwyn, Sara Colleton, James Manos Jr., Clyde Phillips; co-executive producers, Daniel Cerone, Michael Cuesta; producers, Drew Z. Greenberg, Robert Lloyd Lewis; director, Cuesta; writer, Manos Jr., based on the novel "Darkly Dreaming Dexter" by Jeff Lindsay.
Dexter Morgan - Michael C. Hall
Rita Bennett - Julie Benz
Debra Morgan - Jennifer Carpenter
Sgt. Doakes - Erik King
Lt. Maria LaGuerta - Lauren Velez
Angel Batista - David Zayas
Harry Morgan - James Remar
Masuka - C.S. Lee
Capt. Matthews - Geoff Pierson
Serial killers are so entwined in the public's imagination it was inevitable there would be a TV series about one, answering the puzzling question of what Hannibal Lecter might do in his quieter moments. Yet in doing so, Showtime has reminded us how antics of the deranged -- even when constructively channeled into vigilante justice -- aren't really all that pleasant to watch. Credit "Six Feet Under's" Michael C. Hall with sinking his teeth into this distinctive new role, but a creepy, tawdry tone should place "Dexter" in that dreaded "off-off-Broadway" tier in terms of appeal.

Based on Jeff Lindsay's novel "Darkly Dreaming Dexter," the series focuses on a Miami forensics expert who finds the town -- characterized as it is by a low murder-solving rate -- "a great place for me to hone my craft." Alas, said "craft" is ritual murder, though thanks to his foster father (James Remar, very effective in flashback sequences), Dexter (Hall) has learned to put his homicidal impulses to good use, hunting down and eliminating killers and miscreants who have skirted justice or otherwise gamed the system.

Dexter is close only with his foster sister Debra (Jennifer Carpenter), a cop toiling in vice who yearns to transfer into homicide. He also has an emotionally damaged girlfriend (Julie Benz) who, mercifully, is as uninterested in sex as he is. Meanwhile, one co-worker, Sgt. Doakes (Erik King), can sense there's something seriously off about the guy -- an intuition Dexter actually admires.

Steeped in atmosphere and heavy on voiceover narration, the show kicks into a higher gear with a crime spree by another, as-yet-unidentified (through three episodes, anyway) serial killer who has spotted Dexter and is teasing him with clues. "I think he's trying to impress me," Dexter muses in the second hour. "And it's working."

Diving headlong into the black humor, Hall quickly dispatches any thoughts of his "Six Feet" character, which, by itself, represents quite an accomplishment.

In their desire to be provocative, however, the producers, director Michael Cuesta and writer James Manos Jr. approach the line between "edgy" and "distasteful" and, at least at times, drift across it, despite their relative restraint in terms of excessive gore. Dexter is meant to be more acceptable because he slays only those who deserve it, but the relish with which he pursues his work -- wrapped in cellophane and coolly wielding an electric saw -- feels plucked from a Stanley Kubrick outtake reel.

Granted, some of Showtime's recent series have been a little squishy conceptually ("Huff" comes to mind), and no one can accuse "Dexter" of such wishy-washiness. So if brilliant, psychotic lunatics are your bag, by all means, climb aboard.

As for pay TV's marching orders of trying to impress the critics, at least on this one, it's not working.

Camera, Terry Stacey; editor, Elena Maganini; music, Daniel Licht; production designer, Michael Corenblith; casting, Deborah Aquila, Tricia Wood, Jennifer Smith. Running time: 60 MIN.


Variety is striving to present the most thorough review database. To report inaccuracies in review credits, please click here. We do not currently list below-the-line credits, although we hope to include them in the future. Please note we may not respond to every suggestion. Your assistance is appreciated.

Date in print: Thurs., Sep. 28, 2006, Los Angeles


Have an opinion about this article? Be the first to comment

Summer Blockbusters

Variety has everything you want to know about this summer's biggest movies.

Recent Reviews:

The Game - 9/26/2006 10:00:00 PM

Runaway - 9/24/2006 5:56:29 PM

Ugly Betty - 9/24/2006 6:00:00 AM

Help Me Help You - 9/24/2006 6:00:00 AM

Heroes - 9/21/2006 1:19:21 PM

The Megan Mullally Show - 9/20/2006 12:23:56 PM

CTO of LucasFilm Richard Harris discusses the importance of creative freedom for digital artists. ; LucasFilm's Richard Kerris talks about foundations of technology; in particular, communications. ; Richard Kerris talks about the importance of collaboration in the videogame industry. ; Chief Technology Officer of Lucasgame, Richard Kerris, talks about the higher standards of the industry.; Innovators: Sassoon 1; Innovators: Sassoon 2; Innovators: Sassoon 3; Innovators: Sassoon 4; Innovators: Urbach 1; Innovators: Urbach 1; Innovators: Urbach 1; Innovators: Urbach 1; Innovators: Weinstein 1; Innovators: Weinstein 2; Innovators: Weinstein 3; Innovators: Weinstein 4; ThatGameCompany co-founders Kellee Santiago and Jeneva Chen talk about their videogame, 'Flow,' which could be described as an aquatic Pacman. ; ThatGameCompany; cloud; flow; tgc; variety; videogames; Co-founders of ThatGameCompany, Kellee Santiago and Jeneva Chen, discuss their USC roots while developing 'Cloud.'; ThatGameCompany; cloud; flow; variety; videogames; Co-founders Kellee Santiago and Jeneva Chen discuss their company's non-violent approach to game development. ; TGC gaming; ThatGameCompany; cloud; flow; variety; videogames; TGC co-founders Kellee Santiago and Jeneva Chen talk about being approached by videogame publishers. ; ThatGameCompany; chen; cloud; flow; santiago; variety; videogames;

Variety's 10 Innovators to watch
Presented by:
Q What are the top 3 things affecting our industry today?
A. Fernando - 1. I'm not part of it yet 2. Leading ladies should be more curvacious 3. We need a broader... more >

Submit this form
© 2008 Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. Use of this website is subject to its Terms & Conditions of Use. View our Privacy Policy.