Friday, October 06, 2006

“A Very Neat Monster”

Who’d have thought that such an execrable character as this would one day merit his own TV crime series?
Dexter Morgan is clearly not your average, everyday kind of guy. Sure, he’s likable, although he is rather bewildered by the attentions of women. He can be charming and witty, and he’s always supportive of his foster sister, Deborah, a Miami vice squad cop. But Dexter leads one hell of a double life. During the day, he’s a blood-splatter lab technician with the Miami Police Department. At night, he’s a serial killer with a marked difference: he only slays bad people (as if that excuse will save him from the electric chair).
This description comes from Ali Karim’s Rap Sheet review of Darkly Dreaming Dexter, a 2004 novel by Floridian Jeff Lindsay that won enough critical and popular acclaim to merit not only a sequel, Darkly Devoted Dexter (2005), but a new Showtime series. Dexter, starring Michael C. Hall (formerly of Six Feet Under) and based on Lindsay’s stories, debuted on Sunday, October 1, and is scheduled to run at least through mid-December. You don’t get Showtime? Well, the cable network is now offering you a taste of Dexter for free. (If that sounds rather like a drug pusher handing out samples, it’s not an inappropriate comparison, television being so addictive to so many people.) For at least a limited time, you can watch the premiere episode via Yahoo. Just click here.

As blogger Lee Goldberg reports, this no-cost preview is part of a short-term Showtime marketing scheme to increase the paying audience for Dexter and some of the network’s other series (episodes of The L Word, Brotherhood, and Weeds--starring the fetching Mary-Louise Parker--are also available for streaming). Showtime has been aggressive, as well, in trying to publicize Dexter via the Web. “Several weeks before Dexter premiered,” writes Goldberg, “Showtime sent bloggers personal e-mails with links to the pilot in an effort to generate word-of-mouth for the show within the blogosphere. As far as I know, this is the first time a network has so actively attempted to court bloggers to hype their shows.”

So, will all this hype pay off? I just watched the Dexter debut on my computer, and while I found the idea of a demented avenger fairly compelling, I’m still not ready to sign up for a pricier cable-TV package that brings me Showtime. After all, do I really want a Miami serial killer invading my living room every Sunday night?

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