Dexter’s 2nd season begins tonight at 9pm ET/PT, but since I am slow, I offer my review of the first season’s first two episodes. Enjoy.
Being based on a book seems like a blessing and a curse for Dexter. The blessing is the darkly comical premise that is darn near brilliant. The clichéd anti-hero as a grizzled loner who barks and growls but secretly harbors a heart of gold gets thrown out the window and replaced with a cold-blooded murderer flashing a saccharine smile. Dexter is gloriously free of regret, guilt or any semblance of a conscious. But his twisted code of honor allows him only to kill the bad guys and therefore necessitates his ever-cheerful smile and clever tongue to hide his complete disregard for all human life other than his cop foster sister and possibly his girlfriend.
Dexter captures the bright colors and vivid contrasts that CSI:Miami has made synonymous with Miami television shows. Also standing out is Michael C. Hall in the role of Dexter. He's good-looking, charismatic and still manages to growl and grimace like a murderer. His cop sister, played by Jennifer Carpenter, is goofier than expected but her earnest performance is growing on me.
Dexter’s dark humor and intriguing mystery have successfully transitioned onto the television screen but here’s where the curse comes in: by sticking so close to the book’s material the show frequently slows down and scenes feel like they're filled with dead air (no pun intended). I may be coming from a biased perspective but the book was so fast and fun that by comparison the show feels slow and plodding.
If later episoes sharpen the dialogue and kill off (hehe) some of Dexter’s endless sighs and looks of befuddlement, then there’s enormous potential for the show. Increasing the frequency of Dexter’s inner thoughts would help keep narration brisk and up the comedy quotient which is already good but not great.
Dexter shows promise and I’ll do my best to keep with it but so far the book has been the more entertaining option.