With Netflix, and other services, TV series have never been so widely available, and the temptation to binge watch a whole season of Breaking Bad in one night can be overwhelming. May contain spoilers.
Dexter Morgan is a quiet, unassuming technician who works for Miami Police in the homicide department, as a blood spatter analyst. By all accounts, he is a pretty normal guy, kind enough to bring doughnuts into work most days. But Dexter hides a deadly secret. He kills people. Not just anybody though, Dexter sticks to a "Code" taught to him by his father, Harry, who was a Detective before his death, which states that Dexter can only kill people who deserve it, such as other murderers.
Series One begins as Dexter is called to a crime scene in an empty swimming pool. Upon arriving at the crime scene, he sees the body of a prostitute, cut up into separate pieces and drained of blood. For Dexter, blood is a big deal; he has urges to kill people and thrives upon taking blood samples just before he kills them. So this new murder frustrates him for its lack of blood, and when the killings continue in the same fashion, Dexter realises he has a contemporary and the two serial killers begin to send messages to one another.
Dexter is a textbook psychopath; he is entirely incapable of feeling any emotions towards other people, instead he is filled with an emptiness and an urge to kill people, which he calls his "Dark Passenger". Despite this, he has a girlfriend, but he justify this to himself as merely a ploy to make himself appear as an ordinary human being. Dexter also has a sister, Debra, who he does admit he is close to, who becomes a Detective in the same department as Dexter.
Because of the rather unusual nature of the main character and what he does, Dexter is certainly very different to any other series, especially as it is presented from Dexter's point of view, giving an insight into his mind and the urges he feels, as well as showing the conversations he has with his father, both in flashbacks and as an almost Obi-Wan Kenobi like influence on him. This gives a strange sense of intimacy to the programme, which is not present in most other series.
However, the plot lines over the seasons are limited a bit by the fact that Dexter is a serial killer, as there are relatively few ways to explore his character and little opportunity to develop it. Also, the plots tend to be rather similar to one another, differing only in the specifics. For example, most of the series feature a serial killer, who Dexter eventually tracks down and kills, but along the way, the killer discovers who Dexter is and what he does, leading Dexter to fear for the safety of his secret and those around him. On top of this, the pace of the series can be slow at times, in fact, some series probably could have been condensed into half the number of episodes with no great loss of quality.
Personally, I grew a bit tired of Dexter about series 5 or 6, but continued to the very end of the show regardless. Every time I felt as if I was not going to watch another series, after the current one, the one that I was part way through watching turned out to be good. This happened in series' 3 and 6, both of which feature serial killers, but have very good, believable, plot twists.
Any show is most remembered for it's finale though, and it is here that Dexter really does come up short. After being told several times that the entire final series was terrible, I was pleased to see that this was not the case, and I quite liked it, apart from one very important part: the climax. I felt thoroughly disappointed by the end of the final series, something that many other people have echoed. The more that I think about the finale, the less it seems to be a fitting end and the more irritated I get at the writers, who have let themselves down with a, quite simply, bad ending.
Overall though, Dexter is a good series, but it is not exceptional. It does create moments of high tension and action, as well as developing the characters around Dexter.But, for me at least, the overall pace is a little too slow and the way that the plot lines closely mimic one another over the entire show makes me think that it would have been better if there had only been, say, 5 series, instead of the 8. There is also a series of books, starting with Darkly Dreaming Dexter, by Jeff Lindsay, from which the idea was taken, but these differ massively from the show in many ways. On the whole, I would recommend Dexter, but only if you are struggling to find anything else to watch.