2007 Paley Festival Recap: DEXTER

The TV Addict manages to snag a photo with the elusive Dexter played by the phenomenal Michael C. Hall.

Prior to last night’s Paley Festival Event honouring DEXTER, there was only one thought running through this TV Addict’s mind. Who would be worthy of DEXTER’S special brand of justice when the evening was all over? Would it be an audience member for asking an inane question? The moderator for clearly having zero interest or knowledge in the show? Or finally the cast themselves, as they quickly revealed that without a script in hand, they’re simply not that interesting. Only time would tell.

The event started off with a pleasant surprise — E! Online’s Kristin Veitch (Watch with Kristin) was to be the panel’s moderator. Far be it from me to offer up fashion advice, but was it really a good idea to wear white pants on a DEXTER panel? That said, Kristin quickly lived up to her glowing reputation by showing genuine enthusiasm and knowledge for all things DEXTER. Kristin — no need to sleep with one eye open tonight! Dexter’s got bigger fish to fry. More on that later.

As is custom at the Paley Festival, the night started off with an episode screening. The episode chosen was “Return to Sender” which if you’re familiar with the world of DEXTER, you’ll remember as one of the standouts from season one. In the episode, the Ice Truck Killer decides to toy with our intrepid ‘hero’, returning the body of Valerie Castillo (a recent victim of Dexters) thus almost ensuring Dexter’s true identity is revealed. ‘Return to Sender’ not only set the tone for the second half of the season, it gave each member of the cast a really nice story-line and a chance to shine.

Lauren Vélez (Lt. Maria Laguerta) lets her guard down and poses with a fan.

With the episode over, we finally got to meet our panel which included Daniel Cereone (Coexecutive Producer), Sara Colleton (Executive Producer), John Goldwyn (Executive Producer), David Zayas (Detective Angel Batista), Lauren Vélez (Lt. Maria Laguerta), Erik King (Sergeant Dokes), James Remar (Harry Morgan), Jennifer Carpenter (Debra Morgan), and of course Dexter himself, Michael C. Hall

Executive Producer Sara Colleton: “It started with a review that caught my eye in the New Yorker and I went out and bought the book. DARKLY DREAMING DEXTER (By Jeff Lindsay) was a genre story, but with an emotional underpinning and an examination of humanity that made it really something. My partner John Goldwyn agreed that it would lend itself to an unusual and original series.

Michael C. Hall started off by talking about the difference between Dexter and his character on SIX FEET UNDER, explaining that Dexter’s a bit more of a go-getter and Now Dexter’s more on the ‘supply side’. As well as what attracted him to the show, “The challenge of breeding an authentic sense of love into someone who claims to be without the capacity was simply a challenge I couldn’t pass up.”

Lauren Vélez (Lt. Maria Laguerta): “After OZ, I really was looking for something lighter. But I have to say when I read the pilot, it was so great. My sister was like, ‘Can’t you do something Disney-like?’ But it was so brilliant, I was taken back immediately.”

Erik King (Sergeant Dokes):“When I first saw the script I said, ‘Can we do this on TV? Which is exactly the same thing I said about OZ… Can we do this on television.’ But it’s cable.”

David Zayas (Detective Angel Batista): “I found the script really interesting and very psychological. I didn’t really consider it violent. Surprisingly I just found it very psychological. Reading it I couldn’t help but think that it would make a very interesting and unusual show.”

Jennifer Carpenter (Debra) signs a book for a fan.

Michael C. Hall on Dexter and Rita’s relationship: “Rita is the perfect person for Dexter. She has two kids so her focus isn’t exclusively on Dexter — so it takes the pressure off. Rita is one of the primary things that Dexter builds for himself to present to the world that he’s a normal person. And as the first season introduces Paul [Rita’s abusive ex-husband] the structure he’s created starts to crumble. As it starts to crumble his humanity begins to emerge.”

Daniel Cereone (Coexecutive Producer): “Rita represents to Dexter, and the audience, our hope for his humanity. There’s that side of us that is rooting for Dexter, we see ourselve in Dexter and what he’s trying to do. Rita, knowing nothing about what Dexter does in his ‘off hours’, sees the good in him.”

Jennifer Carpenter (Debra Morgan) on the sparks between Debra and Doakes: “I haven’t gotten that far yet, I’m still getting used to Deb being in fragments. Who knows how she’ll pull herself together [after last season’s shocking finale!]. As soon as Dexter (spoiler alert!) slit Rudy’s throat, he’s going to have to save Deb all over again. Deb will first be looking to Dexter, then maybe start dating.”

Jennifer on the emotional season finale: “I don’t remember much of the finale, not sure why, perhaps from being psychically exhausted. The funny thing is when I was watching it at home, it was really strange to see ‘evil’ Rudy. All I ever saw of him was the great and comforting man I’d known all my life. Of course he knew what picture to draw for me… it was really strange to watch him be that way.”

Wanting to ensure her reputation as TV Scoop Queen, Kristin tried her best to pry some information from the panel with regards to season two. Producers Daniel, Sara and John are not surprisingly tight-lipped. But after some pleading, Executive Producer Daniel Cereone does reveal the theme for the second season, “The big challenge beyond the pilot of the show was what’s the next episode? Beyond tracking the killer, we had to find reasons to root for Dexter. As much as viewers were hooked on the Ice Truck Killer, theories etc… the show isn’t about that. The Ice Truck Killer was used to take Dexter on an emotional journey. The discovery of a connection, Dexter doesn’t have parents, a peer group — the Ice Truck Killer was someone who he could reach out to and understand.”

“Going into the second season we think we have something equally compelling. Basically Dexter’s search for meaning. Who am I? What is my purpose? Ultimately leading to questions of good and evil. This season we want to bring that question to the forefront. Why is he here? Who is he? What is his purpose?”

Season two will explore more of Harry (Dexter’s father). Why he made the decision he did. Adds James Remar who plays Dexter’s father, “Harry’s Badddd.”

Masuka will also be made a regular. Adds, Michael C. Hall, “Masuka’s funny on the set, he ad-libs a lot, like the line ‘I’m Hungry’… I don’t think it was in the script, he said something different all the time. I think that was the only take I didn’t laugh.”

David Zayas (Detective Angel Batista) and Lauren Vélez (Lt. Maria Laguerta talk amongst themselves.

Daniel Cereone: “The funniest part of the show is watching people justify why they like the show. Why they root for Dexter. It’s fascinating stuff and reveals so much more about the people than Dexter. Dexter is amoral, he does what he does because he has a need to kill. We tend to impose our moral views on him, when really, he’s just acting without conscience.”

John Goldwyn: “We live in this world where everybody is afraid to take a stand. People tend to think in absolutes, rights and wrongs. This show isn’t about right and wrong — it’s about sort of everything in between. I read an interesting article about people’s fascination with these types of characters through history. Acting on impulses without control, it’s a bit of wish fulfillment. It’s not that we want to kill people, but who hasn’t wanted to take things into their own hands? Not answer to anybody and just do it.”

Kristin: In interviewing Christian Camargo I know he mentioned that someone actually turned around in a Rite Aid and literally yelped!

Michael C. Hall: “If someone yelps, I know they have skeletons in the closet! People are usually like, ‘Yeeeaaahhh’ People are turned on by this idea of Dexter. He’s a guy who takes control in a chaotic world.”

Erik King: “I get a lot of, I’m watching you Mother Fu***r”

David Zayas: “I get, What’s up with your wife? questions in the supermarket. I wasn’t sure if he was talking about my wife or my wife on the show! (needless to say it was his wife on the show).

Jennifer Carpenter: “A friend of mine got tickets to WWE so we were walking backstage where they rehearse… sorry… I mean it’s real. These huge guys with oil al over them would come up to me and be like, ‘I Love Dexter'”

With about half our time up, Kristin kindly opened the floor up to fan questions.

How much of the second season is going to be drawn from the second book?
Daniel Cereone: A lot of the characters and story that ended up in the show were not in the initial book. The Paul character, hooking up Deb and the Ice Truck Killer, introducing the Ice Truck Killer so early. We’ve read the second and third book and while Jeff Lindsay’s mind is unlike any others, we didn’t see the opportunity in the second book to find that emotional journey for Dexter. So we’re pretty much taking our own path.

Did you initally take this project to any of the networks?
Daniel Cereone: No, we only went one place, to SHOWTIME, and they said yes. (applause!)

Almost all of the actors involved with Dexter have worked on HBO shows. Once you’ve worked on cable, is the idea of working on a network show less appealing?
Michael C Hall: It just unfolded that way, but it’s certainly nice to work the cable schedule. Twelve episodes have become the standard length of a season, as a result you can sort of see the light at the end of the tunnel. Instead of ten and a half months, you have a six month shooting schedule. You can wrap your mind around the whole thing. The writings of a higher quality, not as diluted. I’ve never worked a network schedule but I’d be nervous about it after being spoiled. (TV Addict Note: Twelve episodes instead of twenty diluted episodes… BATTLESTAR GALACTICA, take note!)

Michael C. Hall smiles for the fans.

What has Jeff Lindsay’s reaction been to the show?
Sara Colleton: Jeff was thrilled with what we did with his book and realizes that there’s a big difference between the books he’s writing and the ongoing nature of a television series. He couldn’t’ be more pleased.

There are children on the show, do they know what it’s about?
Daniel Cereone: Before each show the cast gets together and does a full read through for us and the network. The children leave the room when they’re not reading their lines. Sometimes if it’s inappropriate, they just won’t read their lines at all. I have a son who’s five, and a friend’s mother called while we were shooting and told me that her son was going to audition for a roll on DEXTER. She said he was going in for the roll where the kid is covered in blood. I told her, with all due respect, don’t go into that audition.

Have you received any strange mail from people who might really admire Dexter?
Sara Colleton: Nothing that’s come to us. We haven’t and we were sort of worried about that in the beginning.

Kristin: You didn’t get my letter?

Daniel Cereone: Before the series premiere, we were prepared for a critical assault and were waiting just to be ravaged by the critics (because of the violence). But the show was so universally well received.

The evening’s final question was quite simply moronic and most definitely deserving of the ‘worst question of the night award’

I was wondering if you guys knew if season one was coming out on DVD?
Sara Colleton: Yes, most likely before season two premieres.

Well DUH! Of course the season is being released on DVD. Anonymous Question Asker, sleep with one eye open tonight!

Kristin ends off the night by pleading for a small piece of information with regards to season two. Needless to say, the producer’s answer with a resounding “NO”, leaving this TV Addict even more excited for DEXTER’S return. All they will reveal is that the second season of DEXTER premieres at the end of September.

Serious thanks and kudos go out to the entire cast of DEXTER who stayed well after the event was over to mingle with the audience, sign autographs and take photos. Having seen numerous actors in my time storm off and not give their fans the time of day, It’s always a pleasure to see actors take the time to appreciate the reason they have a career — the fans.

Tune in tomorrow for theTVaddict.com’s report from the NIP/TUCK PANEL

For all the latest TV news and reviews

  • Jenny

    Why Daniel! Who knew you were so adorable! 😀 Great pic!

  • Jenny, the cheque’s in the mail ! 🙂

  • Monica

    I was at Brother’s and Sister’s. Thanks so much for posting Dexter. Wish I had been there especially with Kristen hosting.

  • Younowho

    Great column!

  • JennyC

    OMG, two hotties in one pic. LOL!

  • This recap is spectacular — thank you so, so much!

  • Jennifer

    Wow, I can’t believe you got to meet DEXTER…………..congrats, have a great trip!

  • Erica

    Thanks for the recap!!!

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  • Robyn, I am totally with you on your things you missed on the first go around: the gloves go on after breaking into the house? I said as much; right about the time he pulled them on.
    When the Mob hit man was murdered in jail by the guard, did no one think about the fact he was left with handcuffs on as well as a metal shank which could provide fingerprints, just dropped by his body?

    In any case I too became hooked after I was told about Dexter from a co worker, I subscribed late in the season, and thankfully, I was able through Video on Demand catch up with all the previous episodes. I took two days and watched them ALL, back to back. I found myself becoming sympathetic to his early childhood trauma and became his supporter.

    Does that mean there is something wrong with me?

    In the episode where Rita’s husband Paul’s dealer just took off with her late model car as payment for 2 oz of ‘blow’; come on, it was totally unbelievable that he got to drive away with the car and Dexter never retaliated, not one bit. It left me thinking ‘what the heck?’ That storyline just dead-ended.

    Then in a later episode where she found Paul’s shoe by the trash can, after Paul told her to look for it and it would prove he was forcibly removed from her house. That too seemed to go no where, I mean; she could have thrown the shoe in the trash right then and there, or she could have hid it in her closet for Dexter to find it later, oh no! Then he’d know that she knew…….yikes.

    In the Return to Sender episode, I found myself on the edge of my seat when he became so close to getting caught, I could feel my heart pounding in fear, right up to the end.

    I was a little disappointed in how last season started to wrap up; Episode 11 “Truth Be Told”: with Debra and Rudy. I think it moved too fast after the proposal. He should have let her go back to work with the engagement ring he got off one of his victims. That should have played into the story line with her not wanting to believe Rudy could be the killer – more Cat and Mouse antics could have filled an entire episode then we would have had one more to watch.

    ATTENTION SHOWTIME PRODUCERS: You have GOT to put sub titles in where Lt. Maria LaGuerta and Angel Batista are not speaking English! It really pisses me off to know there is dialogue that could possibly play a part to the story and we non-Hispanic viewers are missing out. Am I the only one who feels this way?

    Angel Batista’s character’s story is so sad; thank god he lived after the Ice Killer tried to kill him. I really love his soft heart; he’s got my vote to remain in the show.

    Needless to say, I am hooked. Question: How can it get ANY better than it was? Answer: By not having to wait till the end of September 2007 for the new episodes to begin.


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  • Angie Bamji

    Thanks for the Dexter update, Daniel (You are a cutie). After watching all of the episodes on DVD – I just want more Dexter.

    Do you have any favorite Dexter fan sites?