Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Dexter: A Good Way to KILL Some Time

I love television but there is one show for me that sticks out above all the rest and that is Dexter. Dexter is a show on Showtime about Dexter Morgan, a blood splatter analyst for the Miami Metro police department. The first season was based on the book Darkly Dreaming Dexter by Jeff Lindsay. Dexter is your average guy except for one small difference; he kills people. One of the reasons I like this show besides from the suspense it creates is how it makes the viewer feel for Dexter. Even though he kills people, he only kills bad guys and other killers. So in a way he is an anti-hero and the viewer almost roots for him to escape so he can rid the world of evil. It brings up a good question. Is Dexter a good person doing bad things or a bad person doing good things?

Besides from great storytelling and acting, done especially well by Emmy nominated actor Michael C. Hall who plays Dexter, the production team makes some interesting and great aesthetic choices. First off the color of red is everywhere. Dexter will drink red wine and eat red meat. Streetlights behind Dexter’s head will often be red. Red, obviously, is supposed to signify blood, which Dexter sees a lot of. Another example is what they do to show the different sides of Dexter. When Dexter is the good, average Miami citizen upbeat Latin music plays against the sunny Miami city. The colors are bright and the world just seems happy. However when Dexter is acting as his “dark passenger” the lighting becomes chiaroscuro. There is a sharp contrast between light and dark (which is a metaphor for the sharp contrast between his two sides). Soft and creepy music also plays as Dexter slowly lurks in the dark.

Harry Morgan, a cop and Dexter’s dead adoptive father, will interfere with Dexter’s life and remind him about the code they set up so he will not get caught. Whenever Dexter sees him the scene gets a little blurry and the lighting becomes brighter, especially around Harry. This could be interpreted like Harry is Dexter’s guardian angel, a mystical figure coming back to help Dexter when he needs it the most.

One of the greatest aesthetic pieces of Dexter is seen every week in the opening credits, which is Dexter’s morning routine. There are many close ups and extreme close ups that show Dexter getting ready for the day. All of these show his precision and his eye for details. It is also edited in a unique way. First it is edited into “choppy” segments (pun intended) and like a horror movie the killer is not revealed until the end (Dexter is finally visible in the last few seconds of the video). These shots, especially in extreme close ups, also look very scary and brutal. For example when he tightens the lace on his shoe or cuts into a piece of meat, it looks like he is strangling someone or cutting into a body. It’s practically his killing cycle! The audience will definitely know what they are getting themselves into as they watch these credits! Finally despite all of these scary images his morning routine is very similar to ours and is supposed to show no matter how crazy or demented Dexter is, he is still human. He shaves, flosses his teeth, and locks the door to his house as he leaves just as we all do every morning. In a way he is just like all of us (except he finds very different ways to use his free time).

For more information on Dexter, check out it's Showtime website. The new (sixth) season premiere is October 2nd!

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