I love TV, sure 95% is junk but I don't watch THAT stuff. It's the 5% I look for and am delighted when I find a gem in the mud. One of those gems is Dexter, new this season on Showtime. I've long been a fan of HBO's shows and thought them the best on TV, Showtime's have always been pretty poor in comparison, but with Dexter they have achieved greatness. Michael C. Hall of "6 Feet Under" fame (an HBO show) plays Dexter Morgan, who works in the crime lab in Miami, blood is his specialty. But his real life is his hobby - serial killer. Dexter narrates the show, giving us his inner vision of what a serial killer is like, how empty he feels and how much he likes killing people, the whole ritual he's developed. But there is a further twist within the twist, Dexter's adoptive dad was a cop and saw what Dexter was at an early age and began molding him on how to kill people without getting caught, how to pretend to be normal so no one suspects, and most important - who to kill. Dad sent Dexter off against the evil people (like him) who slip through the cracks, so he becomes a GOOD serial killer. The idea is brilliant, we are repulsed by Dexter yet root for him too because we get to see just how bad the people are that he goes after, while Dexter himself is very likable. Michael C. Hall plays it brilliantly, just enough of a smirk on his innocent face to let you know there are hidden secrets. And he lost weight for this job so he is now very lean and the leanness adds to the character, gives an edge and hunger he was lacking in 6 Feet Under. In general, Hall is too nice a guy to play a serial killer, but that's what makes it all work so well. If he was playing a hard-core-evil-and-mad-to-the-bone-killer we wouldn't believe it. But because he plays a "nice" serial killer and torturer we can buy it, in fact, Hall plays the role perfectly and the series wouldn't work without him.

What adds so much depth is the flashback scenes to Dexter's childhood and how Dad teaches him; all the tricks to acting normal, all the ways to curb his bloodlust (like taking him hunting), and how important it is to only attack evil people. James Remar plays his dad, Harry Morgan, and does it very well. We see the moment when dad realizes the kind of person Dexter is while the boy is very young, and he takes it in stride and begins teaching him right away. There never seems to be a moment when dad questions the morality of what he is doing, he merely proceeds with his modeling of Dexter as if it was the most natural thing for a parent to do. Especially a parent who was a cop. The most recent episode gives us the best clue to his motives where he tells the teenage Dexter that it's no fun to teach him how to kill people without getting caught but it's the only way he can think of to keep Dexter out of the electric chair.

In the first episode Sgt. Doakes (Erik King) tells Dexter that he gives him the creeps. Dexter then muses how odd it is that in a building full of cops Doakes is the only one who gets the creeps from him. And Dexter's sister is a cop as well and Dexter helps her out with tips (who knows a serial killer better than him) on the Ice Truck killer who is cutting up girls in Miami. But there is an added twist with the Ice Truck killer as well - he knows who Dexter is and leaves hints for him. "My friend wants me to come out and play and I want to," narrates Dexter.

But when the Ice Truck killer turns the tables on Dexter and has the cops and his own crime lab investigate one of his murders (circumstances forced him to rush, no other murders are
known about) Dexter starts to panic. Until he gets the idea of turning the tables back again by giving the police another suspect by planting the very evidence he is supposed to be examining. His sister Debra (very well played by Jennifer Carpenter) works up a profile of the killer which matches Dexter exactly, but of course she would never suspect him so it doesn't occur to her. When Dexter plants his evidence it blows her profile out of the water and causes friction between the siblings. But Dexter knows she will get over it.

I would call "Dexter" the best new show of the season. Bizarre, creepy and likable, it wins points simply for uniqueness, the fact that it's well done and well acted is a wonderful bonus. There are many shows I like this season but only Dexter, Studio 60 and Battlestar Galactica make my "must see" list.

Giving times for it can be difficult for a cable show as they change it between time zones, it premiers each Sunday night, in SoCal it plays at 7 & 8pm plus 10 & 11pm and is repeated several times during the week.

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