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    TV Fest '07: I Spent the Night with Dexter—and Lived to Tell About It

    Dexter Kevin Parry/MTR

    I have a confession to make: I. Heart. Dexter.

    Perhaps that makes me a person of questionable integrity. Perhaps that makes me a little bit insane. But it also makes me a fan who knows good TV—and a talented cast—when I see 'em!

    And after spending the night at the Museum of Television and Radio's Paley Festival with the cast and crew of Dexter—the biting, edgy and often hilarous Showtime series about a serial killer following a strict moral compassI have to tell you, I could not be a bigger fan. And I am making it my mission to get this show—and Dexter himself, the genius Michael C. Hall—all the awards they can get their fake-bloody little hands on. Who is with me?

    I've been covering the Paley Fest for years, but last night I had the special honor of taking the stage to serve as host and moderator of the Dexter screening and panel Q&A. Truth told, I can think of no other show I would have rather moderated, because not only do I think Dexter is television's best-kept secret, I had never had the chance to meet the cast or producers before—and, oh mama, did I have questions!

    Thankfully, the Q&A lasted a full hour, so I was able to work in (I think) many of the questions we Dexter fans have been dying to know. And here's what we learned...

    1. It's Coming Back!  Dexter's producers and writers reconvened two weeks ago to start mapping out the second season (whee!). And production begins May 21 (whee!). And the show is tentatively set to return Sept. 30 (whe—what? Ruh-roh). Yes, it seems like an eternity to wait to find out the aftermath of season one's gripping finale, but this is cable, and this kind of masterful art takes time, so we fans will wait dutifully, right? In the meantime, the plan is for season one to come out on DVD so you can catch up. 

    2. Everyone Is Back for Season Two:  When I asked who is—or isn't—on board for season two, and the producers answered that all series regulars from last year would be back, the cast heaved a collected sigh of relief. Yes, season-two specifics are hard to come by, even for the actors! Executive producer Sara Colleton also announced that C.S. Lee (who improvises much of his role as the hilarious Masuka) was promoted. "We ended up loving him and putting him in every episode, so he's a series regular now." 

    3. The Cast Has Had Some Kooky Fan Interaction:  When asked how the fans are when they meet the cast on the street, Michael C. Hall said with a little laugh, "If anyone yelps, I know they've got skeletons in their closet. But really, the fans are just into it. People are turned on by a guy who takes control of his corner of the world in this chaotic world." Erik King (Doakes) says the fans come up to him and say, "I'm watching you, motherf--ker." David Zayas (Batista) gets, "What's up with your wife?" And Jennifer Carpenter says she went to a WWF event and was embraced by sweaty, oiled-up wrestlers who told her, "I love Dexter!" "It was really gross!" she said with a big laugh.

    4. It's Okay to Love Dexy-Poo:  "The big challenge for us was to find reasons to root for Dexter," executive producer Daniel Cerone explained. "For us, the first season was never about the Ice Truck Killer mystery. It was about Dexter's discovery. His search for connection with his peers." Cerone also talked about how Dexter's adorable girlfriend (Rita, played by Julie Benz) shows that Dex does have redeeming qualities. "Rita represents his humanity—shows a side of Dexter we can root for. She sees his goodness—not knowing what he does in his off hours."

    5. Doakes and Deb Aren't Dating Just Yet:  When asked about the chemistry between Doakes and Deb and if there'll be any D&D action in the new season, Jennifer Carpenter said, "I think it's going to take a good long time for her to pick up the pieces after dating the Ice Truck Killer. Who knows how she'll put herself together? I think Dexter will have to save her life all over again."

    6. The Show Is Only Loosely Following the Books Now:  "We're taking pieces of the book and using them to the best emotional advantage," Colleton said. "We didn't see an opportunity in the second book to directly translate it to the screen, so we're going to continue in the areas we've developed." And King (Doakes) is glad for that: "In the second book, I become a little nub who has lost his arms and legs and nose and ears, so I'm happy we're going another direction!"

    7. Season Two Is All About the Pressure Cooker:  Okay, so the producers did give a wee snippet of info on season two. (But don't blink.) "The second season will be about Dexter's search for meaning," Cerone said. "Who am I? Good or evil?" Adds executive producer Clyde Phillips: "In the pilot, Dexter says he's empty inside. But he's not. It's the coffee press analogy. It's all pushed down inside. His feelings for the children and for Rita. And we saw in the finale, his relationship with adopted sister Deb versus his blood brother Rudy, and he chose Deb. So there is hope."

    As for whether Rita or Doakes or Deb find out Dexter's secret, whether Rudy returns in flashbacks and whether we learn about Dexer's biological mother, well, you better believe I asked, but the producers aren't saying a word about the upcoming plot for season two. Turns out, they've learned a thing or two from Dexter about keeping secrets.

    Additional reporting by Drusilla Moorhouse

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