DexterDexter : Season 1 Episode 1
"Dexter", or "Pilot", is the pilot episode of the first season television drama series of the same name, which premiered on October 1, 2006 on Showtime in the United States. The episode was written by developer James Manos Jr. and directed by Michael Cuesta. It was based on the opening of the 2004 novel Darkly Dreaming Dexter by Jeff Lindsay. The pilot introduces the series' protagonist, Dexter Morgan (Michael C. Hall), a Miami Metro Police Department blood spatter analyst with a double life as a serial killer. While solving murders in the Homicide division, Dexter also spends his time hunting and killing murderers and criminals who have escaped the justice system. The pilot introduces the "Ice Truck Killer", a serial killer who targets prostitutes and leaves their bodies dismembered and bloodless, and the rivalry that develops between the killer and Dexter.
DexterDexter : Season 1 Episode 1
Jeff Lindsay was initially against casting Michael C. Hall to play Dexter, but changed his mind after seeing him speak only one line of the script. The crew began filming the pilot in Miami, but were unable to finish due to the overlap of production with the hurricane season. In spite of a subsidy from the state of Florida, the crew moved to Los Angeles, where the remainder of filming took place; footage shot in both Miami and Los Angeles were used in the episode. "Dexter" was watched by over one million viewers, giving Showtime its highest ratings in almost two years. Critical reception of the pilot was mostly positive, with praise centering on the strong acting from the entire cast, compelling story, and set design, though Dexter's narration was often criticized and some questioned whether portraying a serial killer in a heroic light was tasteful or entertaining.
Showtime began developing the series at the start of 2005, planning for it to be based on the novel by Jeff Lindsay. By February, Emmy-winning writer James Manos Jr. (a writer for The Sopranos) was on board to write the pilot script with John Goldwyn, with Sara Colleton as executive producer. By June 13, 2005, Showtime had given the show a green-light to be aired for the next year. The premise of the episode follows the same storyline as Jeff Lindsay's novel Darkly Dreaming Dexter, the first in the series of novels on which the television show is based, albeit with many additional elements and altered characters. Dexter was released on Showtime as part of a batch of new programs for the network, along with Brotherhood, This American Life and a reality TV series called Sexual Healing.
Michael C. Hall received the script for Dexter in July 2005, after just having finished the fifth and final season of HBO's Six Feet Under. Hall was one of the few cast members not to audition for their roles; Robert Greenblatt and Michael Cuesta approached him with the script. Hall said that he didn't think "the role was created with me in mind but I think that once the pilot script emerged at Showtime, both Robert Greenblatt and Michael Cuesta independently thought of me for the role and then approached me about it."
Filming of the episode took place in Miami and Los Angeles. Shooting began on the first episode on September 18. The network took advantage of the Florida Film Commission incentive program which provided a 15% rebate of all money spent in Florida on the production (which was up to $2 million) to encourage film and television production in the state. The incentive was first launched in 2003, and was refunded by the state legislature for 2006 with $10 million, its largest budget to date. President of Entertainment at Showtime, Robert Greenblatt said "I've always felt that location is a strong starring character and adds to the success of many shows."
Veteran television editor Scott K. Wallace was hired later, on Maganini's suggestion. Wallace and Maganini had already worked with each other on Tarzan. They worked on the flashback sequences in the episode, which they tried to make "very dreamlike," identifying as Dexter's "Dark Passenger," which urges Dexter to kill as explained in Lindsay's novels. After the pilot was filmed, the footage filmed in Miami was mixed withthe footage of Los Angeles.
The first scene, with Dexter cruising through the Miami streets, was filmed on location, along Ocean Drive in South Beach. They used Ocean Drive again for the scene in which Dexter strolls through the streets with an ice cream, before meeting with Rita and once more, in the same street, for the next episode, Crocodile, for the scene whereby Dexter and Debra find the Ice truck killer's truck. They also used a gazebo in a park in Miami Springs, Florida, located around seven miles northwest of Miami, for the boy choir scene in which shortly after the choir ends, Dexter kidnaps Mike Donovan. They used several water locations in Miami, to illustrate Dexter on his boat, the "Slice of Life". These locations include Biscayne Bay and Virginia Key island (used for the flashbacks of the 8-year old Dexter, talking with Harry about his homicidal tendencies, and then later re-used in Crocodile). The condo used to portray Dexter's apartment is also in Miami. The Seven Seas Motel is an actual location and they didn't change the name for the motel. There is genuinely a pool outside and the room 105 was rented for the day for them to shoot in it. They also shot in Doral Park Country Club to portray the valet station where Jaworski works.
The house used for Rita's abode is actually in Long Beach, California, and is in a residential area known as Los Altos. The Los Altos neighborhood has been used extensively in shooting Dexter. The team used 6 different homes in that area alone in the first season: Dexter's childhood home, Angel's house, the house of the neighbor with the noisy dog, the Dade City house that Dexter inherits from his biological father, and the house of the old lady across the street. It is also close to the intersection where the "Ice Truck Killer" stopped his car to check on his captive (Debra) in the car trunk.
As promotion for the show, Showtime posted a preview of the pilot on their website. In September 2006, CBS and YouTube struck a strategic content and advertising partnership, and the YouTube CBS Brand Channel started including daily contributions from the Showtime network, including promotional video clips from its critically acclaimed original series, such as Dexter. On October 28, after the first few episodes had aired, Showtime made it easier for viewers to catch up with the show by dedicating a whole night to showing the first five episodes.
Although some critics objected to Dexter's edited broadcast, CBS, in response to the PTC, moved it up to a later timeslot and replaced expletives, using substitutes such as "frickin'" and "mother lover". Also, the scene in the car, in which Dexter inappropriately touches Rita thinking of bloodless bodies was removed. In addition, bloody scenes were cut out by the network, as well as giving the show a TV-14 Rating. While the PTC was still against CBS airing the episode, CBS eventually broadcast the episode on February 17, 2008.
Slant Magazine's Ed Gonzalez was unimpressed with the character of Dexter, saying the show "meticulously and dubiously qualifies its twisted gimmick, asking us to put stock in a serial killer (yikes!) only to reveal that he murders only those who have taken from society (aww!)," and that Dexter's narration is trite and fails to say anything that the good acting does not already convey. Entertainment Weekly's Josh Wolk called him "the hippest-looking killer since American Psycho's Patrick Bateman". The San Francisco Chronicle's Tim Goodman said "What makes the series work so well is twofold. Hall is magnificent; it's another sterling performance from him. But instead of being pent up yet emotionally explosive, like his David Fisher on Six Feet Under, he's cool and calculated and entirely without compassion as Dexter. That makes him alluring, in a strange way." Ryan found him to be "among the more compelling characters on the small screen." Gilbert described Dexter as a cross between Hannibal Lecter and Clarice Starling, calling him a vigilante obsessive murderer with a slippery personality, but "also a hero of sorts." InsidePulse.com reviewer Mathan Erhardt said that the episode did not quite meet his expectations, and in a reversal of Gonzalez, opined that Dexter's narration is necessary but grating. He praised Hall's performance for being distinct from his character in Six Feet Under and finished the review, "Dexter, despite it's [sic] flaws is yet another reason why Sunday night is one of my favorite nights to watch TV."
IGN gave the pilot episode an "Outstanding" rating of 9 out of 10. Reviewer Dan Iverson argued in favor of the narration, saying that it is creepy and is the only way that the audience can come to know Dexter or understand the reasoning behind his actions, and said that Dexter successfully inhabits a moral gray area. IGN reviewer Matt Fowler later placed Mike Donovan third on a list of "Dexter's Top 10 Kills", saying he "wasn't Dexter first dead body, but he was our televisual introduction into Dexter's wicked world of revenge and reckoning." IGN also declared the show the "Best New Psycho Drama of 2006".
TVSquad reviewer Jonathon Toomey gave the first episode 9 out of 10 and said of it that "This show is legit, well-worth watching." He praised Hall's performance as moving chameleon-like between different personas, and said that some of the supporting cast nonetheless managed steal some of the scenes. He cited the flashback scenes of Dexter as a child as a highlight, and key to making the character sympathetic. Toomey later added another review of the premiere, again mentioning the strength of the supporting cast. He argued that despite the controversial subject matter, the gore in the episode is not significantly worse than that seen on popular programs such as House and the various CSI shows. 041b061a72