Sunday, November 12, 2006

What's Up Dex?

The last couple of days I’ve finally had a chance to catch up with Dexter.

Not this one.

But this one.

New from Showtime, the drama stars Michael C. Hall as Dexter Morgan, a forensics expert for the Miami PD who specialises in blood spatter analysis. He’s also a sociopath.

Whereas Will Graham in Michael Mann’s Manhunter, adapted from Thomas Harris’ Red Dragon, could get into the mindset of the serial killers he was chasing, Morgan Dexter goes one step further by being a full blown serial killer himself: a combination of Graham and Hannibal Lecter, say.

After all, everyone should have a hobby, to stop it all being just being about work, and Dexter’s is to dismember people he doesn’t like. So as not to draw undue attention to his extracurricular activities, he adheres to a strict code of practice instilled by his father, himself a member of the Miami Police Department.

Choosing people who have slipped through the criminal justice system as his victims, he goes about it with such planning that it’s difficult to tell whether he’s a forensics expert who moonlights as a serial killer, or a serial killer who moonlights as a forensics expert. And of course, as we begin to see the hidden secrets and ulterior motives of his friends and colleagues in the world he inhabits, Dexter comes out with the more honest moral code.

Unlike CSI: Miami which drenches the city in honey golden hues, Dexter shows a city coloured with a much more muted palette. Like Manhunter, and Nic Roeg’s supernatural chiller Don’t Look Now, bright reds are used to denote danger. The colour is primarily reserved for the bright splashes from arterial sprays that daub the stark white walls of the murder scenes.

A number of people have wondered how such a show was commissioned. I suspect it was pitched as an exploration of the dual nature of personality and how we put on a public face to hide our true nature. Get the suits interested in that and then drop in the fact that the protagonist is a serial killer. Yeah, that would work.

“Another beautiful Miami day. Mutilated corpses with the chance of afternoon showers.”


At 4:50 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I liked your observation about the colour scheme of Manhunter and Don't Look Now. I try to work a colour scheme into my scripts as I write them.

The thing that struck me most about Manhunter wasn't the reds, it was the stark whites - Lector's prison cell is so bright, as opposed to the murky cell Lector has in Silence of the Lambs. But the bright white chilled me more than the reds.

Dexter sounds like its worth watching. For some reason I love those kind of shows, even though I'm squeemish about blood.

At 5:31 pm, Blogger wcdixon said...


"After all, everyone should have a hobby."

Nice write up Good Dog. I've watched this since ep 1 and enjoyed it, but everybody else has blogged about it better than I.

At 6:27 pm, Blogger Good Dog said...

OR, you're right about Manhunter. I'm a paid up member of the camp who thinks Manhunter is far superior to The Silence of the Lambs. Brian Cox's Lecter (or Lecktor as he was renamed for the film) was far creepier than Anthony Hopkin's portrayal.

His casual line to Graham, "Would you like to leave your home phone number?" is just plain creepy.

And, after the scenes where they examine the message found on the toilet paper in Lecktor's cell, Mann skillfully illustrates how to film a discussion around a board room table with real zest.

Will, yeah it's a great show. Love the freaky, creepy title sequence as well. Got the first four episodes of Heroes to watch now.

At 7:45 pm, Blogger wcdixon said...

Yeah 'Manhunter' is one of my all time favs...we need to intro it to a new generation though - I've encountered too many younguns of late who thought it all began with 'Silence'.

At 12:15 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hesitate to say this but I think prefer Red Dragon to Manhunter, although I like them both.

Also loving Dexter (Ops, it will be on FX on Sky in January/February)


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