In the US: Starts September 30th on Showtime
In the UK: Will probably air on FX
Just as FX in the UK is finally getting its act together and showing the first season of Dexter, Showtime is ramping up for season two of the much loved/feared serial killer show. For those not acquainted with the show's premise, it's a little implausible, but if you buy into it, rewarding viewing.
Dexter is a serial killer, raised by his cop foster father to channel his unnatural tendencies into only killing (in his own, unique way) bad people. Now he works for the police as a blood-spatter expert, by night hunting down various naughty types so they can no longer kill, murder, rape, abuse, etc.
So far, he's gotten away with his acts of mass murder. But a lot of people are starting to get very suspicious...
I'm not going to spoil anything for UK viewers, don't worry, beyond mentioning that Dexter is still alive at the beginning of these episodes*.
But for various reasons I won't go into, Dexter's lost his groove and is looking for a way to get it back. The first two episodes of the second season should really be viewed as a pair, designed to re-align the show ready for its new trajectory, as various characters undergo changes as a result of the events of the first season and new characters are introduced.
It's to the show's credit that the drama of the first season isn't swept under the carpet and a whole load of people are still trying to come to terms with what's happened, including Dexter. While Dexter's off his game, the show loses a little of its insightfulness - the problem of using a narrator to explain himself when the narrator doesn't know what's going on.
But it continues to explore the moral ambivalence of the concept with its usual verve. Should we be happy or sad that Dexter's having problems - he's a murderer after all? Whom do we cheer for: the people hunting him or Dexter himself? Are his acts justifiable or wrong? The show edges slightly closer than it did last season to endorsing Dexter and his activities, but there's still considerable leeway for the viewer.
Beyond a shift to Los Angeles for filming (Miami insurance premiums are a bit higher than the budget allows, apparently), the show remains more or less the same as before. Doakes is perhaps a little more of a caricature than previously, but there's a pleasing number of dimensions to each of the characters. Entertainingly, Angel has had his life changed by Oprah, so that's something to watch out for.
It'll be a few episodes before Dexter returns to its old, tense form, I suspect. But even in a state of flux, it's engrossing viewing. Never too explicit in its depictions of Dexter's acts, the show is probably still a little dark for some people, but thoroughly engrossing.
Here's a shiny, happy spoiler-free promo from YouTube for you.
* QFS: the show's called Dexter. Of course, Blake's 7 got by without Blake for a while, but generally, you need the title character to be around for the show to continue
- December 20, 2007: Season finale: Dexter
My review of the finale of the second season of Dexter