Monday, March 08, 2010

Bliss Part 9

There is, of course, a Part 8. It's titled "Kevin Spacey's In Singapore!" :)

So the latest upper in my otherwise monotonous life is none other than Dexter Season 4, which I'd been watching sporadically online these past few weeks. Am happy to report that I finished the last 3 episodes on Sunday evening. What a rush!

I've raved about a number of TV shows over the years - CSI, House, Monk - but even the best of the lot tend to lose momentum after a few seasons, either due to writer fatigue, cast changes, or the biggest mistake of them all: taking the viewers for granted.

CSI is a prime example of the last sin. The Las Vegas version - which I've always enjoyed the most - began to annoy the hell out of me somewhere in its 4th or 5th run, when the writers tried to come up with more creative ways for people to die, and invented dumber methods of spiffy crime-solving.

Not so for Dexter. It has succeeded in outdoing itself with each new season, in terms of characters and storylines. The villains are diabolical yet ambiguous. Season 1 featured a serial killer who turned out to be Dexter's long lost older brother. Season 2, a psychotic girlfriend. Season 3, a District Attorney turned crazed vigilante. Season 4, a church deacon whose dark history fuels his massive bloodlust.

The cast is outstanding. Michael C. Hall is only getting better with age, and in S4, he looks damn bloody gorgeous at times ( no pun intended ), with the ruffled hair, buff bod and occasional mischievous smirk as he zooms in on yet another target. He's also letting his flair for comedy take flight. There're moments in S4 where I found myself laughing out loud at Dexter's antics, many of which revolve around his desperate attempts to balance a new family with his nocturnal adventures. Lots of nail-biting moments!

Jennifer Carpenter also finds her mojo as Dexter's foul-mouthed detective foster sis, Deborah. Some real-life couples can't play siblings convincingly, but no problem here. Even though they're married now, they stay perfectly in character, without any of that sexual tension interfering with the flow of the story. Amazing!

Season 3 had Jimmy Smits. Season 4, on the other hand, features John Lithgow, of all people, playing the Trinity Killer - a fellow so twisted he gives even me the heebie-jeebies. And I already have a pretty high threshold for gore.
This was a stroke of genius in terms of casting. Who would've thought the funny guy from 3rd Rock From The Sun could play creepy so well?

The best thing about watching Dexter online is being able to bypass the irritating local censors, who love to erase all the nudity, violence and foul language. Unfortunately, these are vital ingredients where this particular show is concerned, so trashing them just spoils the entire flow, and important plot points end up being lost.
E.g. The Trinity Killer displays a pattern which includes slaughtering women in bathtubs. So both he and the victim are naked. I found it insightful rather than exploitative.

I do wonder if my recent appreciation of the Dexter novels, on which the TV show is based, could have something to do with the sudden surge in enjoyment. Answer: there's a definite correlation. I would recommend Dexter fans to watch the series AND read the books. Only the first novel, Darkly Dreaming Dexter, shares the same storyline as season 1. After that, almost every major / subplot is different. For instance, Book 2 aka Dearly Devoted Dexter mentions that a certain central character was killed off in Book 1, which did not happen on-screen. Quite a big shock, that one!
The villains also share zero similarities. So it's like getting 7 doses of Dexter instead of 4! :)

I'm halfway through Book 2, and just picked up Book 4 when it finally reappeared on the public library's shelves. Can't wait to get through them ASAP. :)

Oscar news: I'm thrilled that The Hurt Locker helped shatter the glass ceiling for director Kathyrn Bigelow, and whacked Avatar in the Best Picture category. Haven't seen Locker yet, but I love to root for the underdog, especially when James Cameron so clearly wants to win big yet again. C'mon, Avatar was fun, but a little too cheesy for Best Pic. A recent blockbuster that deserved to win that award was The Dark Knight.

Signing off. Till next time...


Jasmine said...

Hi! I've been a silent reader for a while, but just wanted to say that I'm watching Dexter Season 4 at the moment as well. Only just started cos I just finished Season 3 last month, now I can't wait to get to the end. Been contemplating getting the books, and after reading your entry I thought I should get into action so I just bought them online. I'm excited now =)

spacefan said...

Hi Jasmine, thanks for the kind comments!
You can get the books at the public library for free, but they're really good, so buying them for keeps is also a good option. Enjoy! :)