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An enjoyable show (if not quite up to the gold standard set by "Mad Men").

The main problem, and I think the key to the show's potentially brief shelf life, is that the recurrent theme is of Dexter almost getting found out for what he is: a killer. A killer of Bad Guys, yes, but this is more a matter of convenience for him than of principle.

This can only go on so long, I think. It'll get tired quickly.

But then, I'm a fan of the do-four-to-six-seasons-and-then-end-on-a-high-note method of programming. (The Simpsons and South Park should take note.)

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Hubby and I are Dexter fans. I don't see how you can say it has a potentially brief shelf life when it's 4th season will start in the fall. We only subscribe to the movie channels while Dexter is on :)-

Did you read the books - I did, they are a bit different especially when it comes to Doaks.

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An enjoyable show (if not quite up to the gold standard set by "Mad Men").

The main problem, and I think the key to the show's potentially brief shelf life, is that the recurrent theme is of Dexter almost getting found out for what he is: a killer. A killer of Bad Guys, yes, but this is more a matter of convenience for him than of principle.

This can only go on so long, I think. It'll get tired quickly.

But then, I'm a fan of the do-four-to-six-seasons-and-then-end-on-a-high-note method of programming. (The Simpsons and South Park should take note.)

well if you've watched all the seasons you'll notice the progression of Dexter's character, he's developing empathy/feelings...I imagine in the final season he may put away his knife and retire...

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Hubby and I are Dexter fans. I don't see how you can say it has a potentially brief shelf life when it's 4th season will start in the fall. We only subscribe to the movie channels while Dexter is on :)-

Oh, I don't mean the show isn't successful. It is successful, and rightfully so. It's very good.

By "brief shelf life," I only meant compared to the very popular programs that go on and on for nine, eleven, twelve years.

I like the idea of a show having a definite arc, lasting a few seasons, then ending on a high note. Several of the quality HBO programs have done this, and I think it's better than holding onto one's cash cow until the ratings drop and it gets cancelled.

(As a note of interest, did you know that Dexter and his sister Deb are married in real life?)

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well if you've watched all the seasons you'll notice the progression of Dexter's character, he's developing empathy/feelings...I imagine in the final season he may put away his knife and retire...

Yes, I think his continual facade--Mr. Nice Guy--is not as completely fake as he himself claims it is. It seems the children are partly responsible for this change in him.

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An enjoyable show (if not quite up to the gold standard set by "Mad Men").

The main problem, and I think the key to the show's potentially brief shelf life, is that the recurrent theme is of Dexter almost getting found out for what he is: a killer. A killer of Bad Guys, yes, but this is more a matter of convenience for him than of principle.

This can only go on so long, I think. It'll get tired quickly.

But then, I'm a fan of the do-four-to-six-seasons-and-then-end-on-a-high-note method of programming. (The Simpsons and South Park should take note.)

Keeping a successful TV show on track seems to be almost as difficult as creating one in the first place. There's countless examples of TV shows that caught people's interest for a time but then stalled out because they didn't know what to do once they finished a story arc or didn't know how to develop the characters any further. ("Ok, now that they've finally slept together... what do we do now?!")

Having a start, a finish, and a plan from how to get from one to the other is crucial for a book or a movie to work. Doing the same thing in a TV series is a little harder... (what happens if you get renewed for another season?) I think my favorite TV series have tended to follow the format of having a single episode story that more or less stands on its own, as well as a season-long story that is advanced a little bit each episode. Dexter is a prime example.

I watched the first season of Dexter, but have not seen any since. This is what I wrote a couple of years ago (in one of those "everything nowadays sucks, it was better in the good old days" threads that pops up here from time to time) :

I think Boomtown remains the network TV show that I found the most brilliantly written. Recently the show that I've found most fascinating has been Dexter. It is apparently a cable network show, but made it to CBS as a fill-in during the writers' strike; I was so enchanted that I went and obtained the whole first season from ... unscrupulous sources. The title character is a homicidal psychopath who, out of loyalty to his adoptive father, confines his violent urges to exacting vigilante justice on other killers. At first it just seems like a wickedly funny and grim show having some fun with a gory premise, but as the series advances, it evolves into a great character study. Dexter, having barely any human emotion himself, gets through his day to day existence by essentially faking everything; each episode is full of his observations about people in general, what he has to do to try and act like everybody else, and the futility or stupidity or comedy of it all. Dexter's inability to really connect with anybody, his fake relationship with his emotionally damaged girlfriend, his relationship with his sister and his co-workers, and his increasing belief that the serial-killer he's stalking is the only person on earth he has any real connection with, it all provides this interesting perspective about human connection through the lens of this character who is fundamentally disconnected from everyone. Watching this almost inhuman monster stumble through his life trying to understand humans and normal daily life has (as strange as it sounds) given me many moments where I felt like I completely related.

-k

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Keeping a successful TV show on track seems to be almost as difficult as creating one in the first place. There's countless examples of TV shows that caught people's interest for a time but then stalled out because they didn't know what to do once they finished a story arc or didn't know how to develop the characters any further. ("Ok, now that they've finally slept together... what do we do now?!")

True. Some people wondered when Ross and Monica from "Friends" were finaly going to sleep together. :)

I watched the first season of Dexter, but have not seen any since. This is what I wrote a couple of years ago (in one of those "everything nowadays sucks, it was better in the good old days" threads that pops up here from time to time) :

I think what you wrote sums up the 1st season very well. And you're right, Dexter is an enormously appealing character.

(In case you're wondering, season 2 is really good as well.)

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Guest American Woman
....Dexter is an enormously appealing character.

In case you're wondering, season 2 is really good as well.)

I watched the first two seasons and found the show very provocative. The idea that 'killing someone before they can kill others is the right thing to do' is difficult to argue the way it's presented in the show. But it's the way Dexter goes about it that makes the show more than just the idea of 'killing a killer before he kills' and it's ultimately why I had to stop watching. I just couldn't take it any more.

My daughter and brother are still big fans (my grandson's middle name is Dexter, so yeah, he is an enormously appealing character :D) and it sounds as if the show has managed to keep the viewers' interest, and may, in fact, still be getting better with each season. I toy with the idea of picking up watching it again on On Demand so I don't let my daughter or brother fill me in on what's happened, but I just don't know if I'm up to it emotionally. :P

Edited by American Woman
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I watched the first two seasons and found the show very provocative. The idea that 'killing someone before they can kill others is the right thing to do' is difficult to argue the way it's presented in the show. But it's the way Dexter goes about it that makes the show more than just the idea of 'killing a killer before he kills' and it's ultimately why I had to stop watching. I just couldn't take it any more.

My daughter and brother are still big fans (my grandson's middle name is Dexter, so yeah, he is an enormously appealing character :D) and it sounds as if the show has managed to keep the viewers' interest, and may, in fact, still be getting better with each season. I toy with the idea of picking up watching it again on On Demand so I don't let my daughter or brother fill me in on what's happened, but I just don't know if I'm up to it emotionally. :P

Yes, it nicely avoids the reactionary-political trap: it isn't a clear-cut case of doing the "right thing," like the "Death Wish" vigilante movies with Charles Bronson, where "killing bad guys" is a black and white proposition. Dexter, after all, is sadistic.

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Yes, it nicely avoids the reactionary-political trap: it isn't a clear-cut case of doing the "right thing," like the "Death Wish" vigilante movies with Charles Bronson, where "killing bad guys" is a black and white proposition. Dexter, after all, is sadistic.

Lots of our fiction does feature homicidal vigilantes who are portrayed as heroes, even though they are, essentially, psychopaths. Dexter is a homicidal vigilante who is clearly a psychopath, but certainly no hero. The viewer's dilemma-- how much can they identify with this person who is basically a monster-- is one of the things that made the series so fascinating for me.

Dexter's father's dilemma-- what to do when he realized his son was a genuine clinical psychopath who was probably going to end up hurting people some day-- is an interesting one. I think most parents in that situation would be in a state of complete denial, probably convince themselves that mutilating small animals was just a phase that he'd grow out of if they just gave him the right lecture.

For me the best part of the show was Dexter attempting to blend in with "normal". His thoughts on all the masks people put on for the rest of the world. His attempts to fake feelings he didn't actually have, to avoid discovery. It was something I really related to. Because although not a psychopath-- as far as I know at least-- I put on many masks during a typical day too... for example, my evening job as Happy Waitress Kimmy... is not easy to do when I'm not feeling particularly happy or not feeling up to flirtatious drunks. Responsible Day Job Kimmy is also a mask sometimes. Trying to show one face to your subordinates who might lose respect if they thought you weren't confident, trying to show a different face to your boss who might fire you if he knew what you were thinking, or so on. Or your social life... what to show and what to hide from the people in your personal life... I think all of us wear a lot of masks. Not quite like Dexter, but there's a similarity.

-k

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Kimmy, that is some decent insight to the series which I never even thought of. I had watched the first two seasons and loved it. I should watch the rest.

When talking about masks, you are correct. Everyone wears them in some fashion or another. I also think another aspect of the show is to show us that we all have demons or varying degrees in the closet we'd rather not share with anyone. Dexter tries to hide everything and puts on a mask when he deals with Doaks who thinks he has Dexter figured out.

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All of you who haven't made it to the 3rd and 4th seasons yet... If you loved the Dexter/Doakes dynamic, just wait till you get to Prado and, later, Arthur.

A big part of the brilliance of the show is how new major characters keep the show fresh and interesting every season and how they end up teaching Dexter more about himself.

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