now, while my joking series of capital letters there might stand for “How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Hate Dexter,” at this point, i still kid, because i don’t REALLY hate Dexter – yet, anyway – but i DO have some gripes with this whole “season three” thing that’s going on right now, and because i don’t have much else to discuss (what else is new), well, it’s time we got to this as a topic. another note: that cryptic post title was liberated from remarks made about Dexter by another person, not myself, but it made me laugh and thus i simply HAD to abscond with it. and for the record, personally, i don’t find side-boob to be that wonderful or redeeming of a concept. though i guess it seems that said quote’s author might actually agree with me on that.
also, we won’t dwell on the fact that it’s been said i have similarities with the character of Dexter, what with me having to fake emotional closeness and the whole “eating junk food and staying trim regardless,” except to say that i don’t serial kill in my off-hours to keep my weight down or anything like that. sorry to disappoint. or, well, i WOULD be sorry if i could empathize with humans like that. hah! i don’t need emotions, i have Frankie Valli records that generally allow to figure out how they work. anyway, we were talking about the show?
ah, there’s nothing like sitting back and savoring the moment as you strangle another serial killer into submission
so what the fuck is this Dexter thing we’re talking about?
well, kids, in 2004, this guy named Jeff Lindsay cranked out (or published or whatever, because i really don’t know when he first set pen to paper) a book by the name of Darkly Dreaming Dexter which, along with a LOT of alliteration, introduced us to the serial-killing character of Dexter Morgan. it was then almost immediately recreated in the form of the Showtime series Dexter in 2006, and it is this that we’re going to talk about today. basically, it’s a show about a serial killer who kills killers and who works as a blood spatter specialist in Miami. ooo… EDGY.
but seriously, who gives a fuck about a show about an “edgy” serial killer on the poor man’s HBO?
yeah, i have to admit it: despite the fact that i have been known to find serial killers an interesting topic for books and films (shout out to the Zodiac and his related books and movies), i was at first resistant to the concept of this show. this was mainly due to two things: a) the show seemed to be edgy for the sake of being edgy, which is lame, and b) the fact that Showtime is, let’s face it, not as cool as HBO. HBO gave us the Wire and the Sopranos; Showtime gives us cheaper versions in the form of Weeds or Brotherhood or whatever. i GUESS this makes Dexter the poor man’s Six Feet Under because of the Michael C. Hall connection, but i have to admit that that one’s a little weak.
anyway, i was maintaining my snobby outlook for a while until basically everyone i know convinced me to watch it; anyone that gets why the Wire is the best show of all time OR who gets why the “California Love” ending to that one zombie-themed episode of South Park is awesome can redirect my viewing of television any time. well, not ANY time; 2-4 PM is “reruns of Law & Order” time. but other times are up for grabs.
oh, supporting cast of Dexter, there was a time when the only ones of you that were annoying me were the ones that were SUPPOSED to annoy me
so seasons one and two were totally fine?
surprisingly, yes, i really enjoyed them; at this point, i’m going to attribute that to Daniel Cerone, one of the show’s executive producers and the one who left after season two, because that would explain the drop-off, but we can come back to that. for seasons one and two, i think the basic concept of Dexter as a character is solid, not cheesy (what if a serial killer’s compulsion could be turned against people who deserved it?), and there’s a lot of endearing stuff about the show: Michael C. Hall does good work, which i was unaware of due to my refusal to try and watch Six Feet Under; supporting characters like Matsuka, Doakes and Debra add some color to the show without overshadowing Dexter; and villains that molest children and the like end up stabbed and dismembered. and if there’s one thing that puts a smile on America’s collective face, it’s the murder and mutilation of a child molester. plus, let’s get serious here: there’s a chainsaw murder or two in those seasons and everyone loves a good chainsaw murder.
season two got a little sketchier with some of the plot – really, there’s been a degree of repetition in both the second and third seasons, which is the kind of thing that annoys you exponentially – and Lila is a generally annoying character with a LOT of screen time, though some of that is intentional. but the show remained solid, overall, probably due to the fact that the plot still has the same reliable “will Dexter get away with all his schemes and scams” plot line.
didn’t you say this show was originally created in book form or something?
yes, it also helps that i think the show compares well with the books, a couple of which i’ve read since i began watching the show. i’m going to have to spoil them, but they introduce notions like “Dexter training his girlfriend’s children to be serial killers like him” and “Dexter might have magical powers and gets stalked by a cult.” do i have to elaborate as to why these notions are TERRIBLE? well, okay, i will.
–“Dexter training his girlfriend’s children to be serial killers”: on a more intellectual level, i think it cheapens a notion behind the character of Dexter (and his brother) in that they’re stated to have become killers because of their exposure to a horrific crime, while his girlfriend’s children haven’t seen anything on that level; on a pettier level, this is one of those things that some people think are cool, but which i don’t, like iPods. that’s right, i’m comparing the iPod to youthful serial murderers. deal with it.
–“Dexter might have magical powers and gets stalked by a cult”: the former is terrible because it ruins the dangers of being Dexter that add tension and excitement to the show. look, everyone knows Batman is better than Superman because Batman’s just a regular guy and you can kill him while Superman’s an asshole who’s basically immune to harm; that’s why he fights shitty alien adversaries and his movies suck. think of Dexter as Batman in this scenario. as for the cult thing… look, it’s just lame and it’s also tied into the supernatural magical powers thing.
the bottom line, though, is this: Lindsay’s not a great writer, but he did have a great concept (Dexter) and the show’s done a better job with his source material than he has; the only advantage of the books, as far as i can tell, are that they kill off annoying characters the show doesn’t, keep alive non-annoying characters the show doesn’t, and feature excellent characters like Dr. Danco that the show can’t.
speaking of things season three could use more of, Doakes seems to share my disappointment
so… season three?
yeah, so, here we are with one episode to go and i have to say this: i’m disappointed. generally, when i watch a show i like, i’ll absentmindedly leave it on in the background when it airs again, but with this season of Dexter, i actively avoid doing so. and there are many reasons:
–annoying secondary characters: okay, Matsuka’s still money, but in season three, everyone else seems to have gone downhill (and even Matsuka might be going that way). Dexter’s sister has been given an even MORE annoying love interest than in the past two seasons (which, frankly, seemed impossible) and the actress portraying her (Jennifer Carpenter) is getting worse at acting by the episode, especially evidence in a scene about trimmed trees. fellow detective Angel Batista has a stupid fucking romance going on that both a) moved WAY too fast and b) doesn’t add anything to my viewing experience beyond the taste of the small amount of vomit it makes me throw up into my mouth. there’s this new Quinn character who’s a complete default cop stereotype who ALSO seemed to have a subplot that better have something to do with the last episode because if not … well, then we wasted a lot of time on it. LaGuerta’s still trash, and the scene time they gave the Ellen Wolf character to make LaGuerta REALLY CARE ABOUT HER made me want to break stuff. i cannot think of a character who i like more than or even the same as last season.
–annoying Dexter-home-life-related characters: granted, you know i always celebrate characters that are free of libidos, but this season’s had Rita’s become too sexualized and, dare i say, “normal,” and her character has this every-episode-character-arc where she’s annoyed for no reason until Dexter does something that makes her OH SO HAPPY (moving in with her or giving her or something ELSE that didn’t matter until it mattered this week). and her kids… actually, wait, one good thing about this season is that i think we saw them once and then they got phased out. seriously, i couldn’t tell you when the last time we saw those kids was. i don’t miss them, though i guess that means that we’re at least not going to see them torturing fish or anything.
–Jimmy Smits? really?: however, the king of all the annoying secondary characters is Jimmy Smits’ new character: some people seem to legitimately like him, but if i didn’t know he was actually Hispanic, i would almost consider him to be an offensive caricature. actually, he works if you think he’s supposed to be a joke we’re all in on (he’s ridiculous), but as far as serious drama… not so much. actually, what this reminds is that i’m not sure i can think of anything i have ever enjoyed Smits doing. and THAT does make me laugh. oh, Jimmy, how your life has been a waste!
–not enough Dexter: the worst thing about all that secondary character nonsense, though, is that half the episode always seems to be about them and not Dexter. i don’t care that Angel’s seeing prostitutes and almost gets busted for it but then, wait, cleans up his act and is now romancing the vice cop that almost busted him. see how that seems to have NOTHING to do with Dexter? there’s more of that in an episode than there is “Dexter stalking and killing a a recidivist who preys on children.” seriously, if i wanted emotional and poorly-acted drama about love, i would watch Lifetime. i want to see murderers taped up and slain! granted, this seems like the same complaint i just made, but it’s more about the screen time. it’s fine for Carpenter to suck at acting when she pops in for two or three lines and leaves; it’s different when she’s on screen for way too long.
–Dexter too friendly: actually, this was not my exact contention, but hearing it voiced made me consider it as essentially valid because it ties in with my feelings on another fictional killer, Hannibal Lecter. originally, Dexter was an interesting character to follow, and we could just enjoy the ride, but season three Dexter, more than before, is a character we’re supposed to sympathize with. this is the same thing that happened with Lecter as Thomas Harris fell more in love with him – remember, Lecter is a minor character in Red Dragon who sics the serial killer of that novel (the Tooth Fairy or the Dragon or whatever) on the hero of that novel (Will Graham) who has become the hero himself by the time of Hannibal Rising. just as that made later books and films shittier, i am concerned about the same thing happening to Dexter.
so, yeah, i have some complaints. and if the plot seems redundant, true, it might always have been that way; sadly, for about three seasons now, you can boil the main plot down to “Dexter having to kill someone who came to know and empathize with his secret,” even if you think that there ARE variations on that. but this redundancy wouldn’t be as big of a deal if i could enjoy it more. since the show’s been renewed for another two seasons, we’ll see where this all goes, and maybe the season finale in a couple of days will make a big difference in my position here… but we’ll see.
next week, i might try and punch up a topic that relates to a blast from the past (think weird stuff i have received in the mail and maybe you’ll think of a topic or two there), but i’ll probably just phone it in again. this is what i do!