Hall's 'Dexter' Is a Bloody Good Time

By Curt Fields
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, August 17, 2007

Taking the concept of the antihero to extremes is "Dexter," a Showtime series starring Michael C. Hall in the title role as a forensics analyst who just happens to be a serial killer in his spare time.

As you might expect, the show can often be a bit bloody. What you might not expect is that it's also bloody watchable. That's primarily because of the sterling performance of Hall, whom you may know from his turn as one of the mortician brothers on HBO's "Six Feet Under." He imbues his character with a captivating charm and a sense of realness that makes you just a bit sympathetic.

Hall was nominated for a Golden Globe and a Screen Actors Guild Award for his work and earned honors from the Television Critics Association and other groups.

Dexter has a troubled back story, as you might imagine. He was orphaned at age 4 and adopted by a police officer. The cop realizes that Dexter is a budding sociopath and tries to guide him to use his tendencies for good -- killing criminals such as child molesters and murderers who have avoided being punished by the justice system.

Dexter isn't really good at emotion, so he ends up faking the sorts of feelings most of us take for granted. Fortunately, he's adept at it and is well liked by his Miami law enforcement colleagues, his girlfriend and her kids (he has a soft spot for children).

The first-season DVD set (out Tuesday, $39.98) contains all 12 episodes plus several extras. Bonus features include the featurettes "The Academy of Blood: A Killer Course" and "Witnessed in Blood -- A True Murder Investigation." There are also commentaries from the producers and supporting cast members, two episodes of the Showtime series "Brotherhood," access to two episodes of "The Tudors" and to the first two chapters of the novel "Dexter in the Dark" ("Dexter" is based on Jeff Lindsay's novel "Darkly Dreaming Dexter") and the first level of the video game "CSI: Hard Evidence."

The extras aren't bad, but they're not the reason to get this set. The attraction is Hall, whose performance keeps you riveted. As he did in "Six Feet Under," he uses subtle gestures and brief flickers across the face to convey added layers to his character. The result is a show that is, as a review in the Chicago Sun-Times called it, "fantastic, fascinating, creepy, charming and gruesome."

Do be forewarned though. It is gruesome. The violence is both stylized and scary. If you get queasy easily, then you'll either not want to watch at all or keep a finger on the fast-forward button of your remote.

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