The Austin Chronicle

DVD Watch

Reviewed by Raoul Hernandez, September 14, 2007, Screens

Dexter: The First Season

Showtime/Paramount, $39.98

Moral responsibility extends even to the amoral. Miami beat cop Harry Morgan, superbly cast with forever Walter Hill baddie James Remar (The Warriors, 48 Hrs., The Long Riders), understands Dexter's need to kill. Nurture can't supersede his adopted son's nature. Not as baptized in the drowning pool from which Harry rescues the 2-year-old. Yet that instinct can be channeled, Dex. Beginning with the hospital nurse overopiating cancer-ravaged Harry and a host of others. Serial-killing pedophiles, snuff-film rapists, murderous immigrant traffickers. Dexter definitely delights in dispatching the despicable. As serialized and blackened in dark crimson humor by Jeff Lindsay via Darkly Dreaming Dexter (2004), Dearly Devoted Dexter ('05), and now Dexter in the Dark (Tuesday), Metro-Dade's blood-lab expert moonlights as a doughnut-scarfing human being, one with a code. "Harry's Code." Sister and soon-to-be Miami Police Department Sgt. Deborah Morgan lives by their late father's more law-abiding ideals. The Ice Truck Killer's bloodless ethic completes the triangle. In one of two episode commentaries, Dexter's producers acknowledge surprise at the lack of protest generated by the Showtime series, but as dime-store grifter Jim Thompson once novelized, The Killer Inside Me always lurks. Fake grins, pretend attentiveness, simply not caring. It's the human condition, whether it hides three dozen methodical dismemberments or merely a bad day. As sauntered gaily through by Six Feet Under's fearless Michael C. Hall, Dexter does in all the denizens we're powerless to dismiss. Credit Darkly Dreaming Dexter for source material that, with an amputated plot point or two from sophomore slump Dearly Devoted Dexter, informs a nearly flawless 12-hour arc across four DVDs that only slips ever so slightly during the denouement. Deliciously daring Dexter.

Also Out Now

Bones, seasons one and two (20th Century Fox): Forensic anthropologist (Emily Deschanel) and FBI agent (David Boreanaz) banter over gleefully gross murders. Chemistry: unrefutable.

Miami Vice, seasons three, four, and five (Universal): Pow, bam, pfft ... the final three seasons, 1982-85, wherein Crockett, Tubbs, and creator Michael Mann template Dexter's future gravity, wit, and visual style. Edward James Olmos still steals the show.

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