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Thread: Inarus' Column of Reviews and Recommendations

  1. #1
    Inarus's Avatar In Laziness We Trust
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    May 2009

    Default Inarus' Column of Reviews and Recommendations

    “Reviews” seemed limiting, “Recommendations” lacking, I settled upon “Column” for being…
    different (or rather all that came to mind).

    Here I shall focus, mostly but not entirely, upon the last of those subtitular traits: Television,
    the rising addiction artform which, I could happily argue, is rapidly eclipsing the film industry
    as shows such as
    Game of Thrones tackle ambitious Epics and others such as Doctor Who
    forge epics of their own. But I aim here, not only to review and recommend my personal
    tastes (I am not a critic at heart and seldom venture far enough to find a series to slate
    though certainly they do come along) but also to draw attention to some of the, perhaps
    obscurer, shows arising in this golden age of television. For some I’ll be brief, other’s I’ll
    indulge, a few I’ll even return to and I’ll look up some classics from the boxset grave. But
    first and though I know I shouldn’t…

    I really need to indulge in a favourite…

    Review #01 - 06/10/2013

    A brutal, bloody serial killer, and you’ll support him (almost) all of the way.

    I’m in mourning. Mourning for, what was, without a doubt, my favourite television programme. Dear Dexter has departed from my screen for the last time.

    “Codswallop!” you cry, denouncing the last few seasons, but bugger them, for this was a show which has gripped me like no other, the cliffhangers keeping me glued to the screen, eager for each new episode. Watching the first season on DVD I was up into the small hours, gripped, shocked, moved, disturbed even by Dexter’s grisly self-discoveries, and at last, moved by his own sacrifice. The second season tortured me with episode endings so masterfully written that I had to return, on time, the following week, desperate to discover how Dexter could get out of the impossible dilemmas imposed upon him. Together, those last hours of the second season are, to this day and in my honest opinion, the finest piece of television ever made (sorry widely-acclaimed Breaking Bad but you have never tortured me for so long, so many weeks - though is this, perhaps, a flaw of the binge culture that Netflix is now inspiring in so many of us?).

    But before I get carried away and for those of you as yet to be inducted into this dark drama, a proper introduction…

    Based upon the novel, Darkly Dreaming Dexter by Jeff Lindsay, Showtime’s Dexter stars Michael C. Hall (Six Feet Under) as the titular blood-spatter analyst working for the Miami Metro Homicide Department. An all-round good-hearted guy, he brings doughnuts to work, has a nice girlfriend, although his sister has a vocabulary that I could not quote herein; oh, and from time to time, he straps murderers onto a table with plastic wrap and duct tape and ends their undeserved existence. Every guy has his faults I suppose…

    Spoiler for WARNING: Mature Content

    In typical crime drama fashion, the first season revels in the traditional journey of discovery as a serial killer terrorises Miami’s underworld, taunting her police department, but beyond that the genre is uprooted, establishing the titular character as a serial killer who performs his own personal investigations into the killers who have escaped justice and enforces his own upon them. Hall’s voice-over, rather than being a monotonous tool of exposition, is ladled with black humour and provides dark insights into Dexter’s mind, creating a character that becomes, however wrongly, morally acceptable, even lovable. In contrary to the genre it devises a character that one gleefully supports in his endeavours to escape the sticky situations which otherwise would condemn him to incarceration.

    “Harry and Doris Morgan did a wonderful job raising me. But they’re both dead now. I didn’t kill them, honest.” - Dexter, Pilot

    What sets the early seasons of Dexter aside from other television shows is the depth of characterisation that goes into lesser figures such as the manipulative police Lieutenant, LaGuerta whilst the more major character of Rita, Dexter’s unknowing girlfriend, evolves into a stronger character in the wake of her ex’s abuse. Intricate subplots that surround characters such as Doakes, the one cop that just senses there’s something off about deceitful Dexter, and those revolving around Dexter’s nocturnal affairs are carefully handled to fit with story and explore fresh new angles. What emerges is an opening season that is well rounded, bursting even with thrilling, engaging drama.

    But that is to negate the major plotline, that which drives the show to the point of excellence. The various twists and turns (including one rather subtle container of bananas for book readers alone to comprehend) drive the show in unexpected directions which build the tension beautifully, some even are disturbing as startling recollections build to climax in an emotionally powerful and gruesomely bloody hotel room.

    “There’s something strange and disarming about looking at a homicide scene in the daylight of Miami.
    It makes the most grotesque killings look staged, like you’re in a new and daring section of Disney World: Dahmerland.” - Dexter,

    There is a surreal atmosphere to the drama that seems to further subvert the genre, that in the golden sunlight the officers of Miami Metro can joke jovially over a dismembered corpse, or compare blood-spatter patterns to crustaceans. Not that the show strays from empathy, for there are innumerable heart-wrenching and emotive scenes, yet there often arises a feeling of detachment as one often sees in the eyes of policemen desensitised by the violence in their job, which is only emboldened by Dexter’s witty narrative. The music often further embellishes this, straying from the macabre and spine-tingling “Blood Theme” to the more jaunty Cuban music which, though it so well embodies Miami’s blend of cultures, contrasts against the grim homicides.

    Spoiler for Macabre Music

    Nine times out of ten an original soundtrack makes a show a thousand times better, this is no exception, the music is masterful, from eerie as above, to touching, heartwarming or beautifully sentimental. The main titles cannot escape mention, being some of the finest ever developed, taking Dexter’s morning routine and twisting it into something much more sinister, from the lethal edge of a razor blade to the shoelaces: like a garrote being drawn taught. The opening music itself reflects many of the themes of the show, the last lingering ting of the triangle accompanied by the knowing nod of Dexter, innocently passing by.

    Dexter boasts thrilling drama, it boasts tension that binds you to the edge of your seat that only accelerates into the second season; at first glance it is a crime drama, but it evolves to demonstrate that it is so much more. From the storm of blood as Dexter finds his identity threatened to his closing fantasy, there is an artistic depth to which so much attention is placed and that a media student could devote hours and essays into exploring. You can observe my lack of criticism, but to be honest it is exists alone in nitpicks: the lack of spontaneity in the monologues of deeply disturbed Dexter in the Pilot, but by episode two they are on form, and only improve. What emerges is a powerful drama, that, in the style of plays of old and present day’s Breaking Bad, is a Tragedy of the highest form.
    Last edited by Inarus; October 06, 2013 at 11:38 AM.

  2. #2
    Inarus's Avatar In Laziness We Trust
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    May 2009

    Default Re: Inarus' Column of Reviews and Recommendations

    I hope you'll forgive me for being new to reviewing, well, I've reviewed before but never been happy by what I've done or the manner in which I've done it, so naturally I'll welcome any and all constructive criticism. Regarding the shows be respectful, avoid spoilers, and don't damn them for their later seasons (might get to reviewing some in the end) If you've any requests, that'll be good, might even have to start watching them myself.

    Currently watching and would recommend: Peaky Blinders, Veep.
    Last edited by Inarus; October 06, 2013 at 11:36 AM.

  3. #3
    TheDarkKnight's Avatar Compliance will be rewarded
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    The good (not South) part of the USA
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    Default Re: Inarus' Column of Reviews and Recommendations

    Very nice man.

    Excellent presentation, for sure. And well written.
    Things I trust more than American conservatives:

    Drinks from Bill Cosby, Flint Michigan tap water, Plane rides from Al Qaeda, Anything on the menu at Chipotle, Medical procedures from Mengele

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