Finding a fresh approach to very well trodden ground of the closet serial killer is not an easy thing to do, but somehow this charming and quirky Showtime original series has found a way. Based initially on the first of Jeff Lindsey’s acclaimed series of novels (Desperately Dreaming Dexter), this darkly sardonic saga swiftly found its own direction in following the ongoing exploits of the titular Dexter Morgan. Dexter’s day job is forensic blood splatter analysis for the always busy Miami Metro Police department. Dexter has a secret life, however, a life that his policeman foster father Harry taught him to hide and mask so that he would remain safe and undetectable.

Dexter lives by Harry’s code, never kill the innocent. Fortunately for Dexter, in today’s world, that still leaves plenty of targets out there and our unlikely hero takes great pride in “taking out the trash” as he puts it. He does his best to fit in and appear normal, staying close to his foster sister Deborah (Jennifer Carpenter) and last season married longstanding girlfriend Rita (Julie Benz), a former battered wife and her two young children. But this new season finds Dexter out of sorts and off his game. A new baby sees him deprived of sleep, while the close proximity of Rita and the neighbors ensures he’s never less than very uncomfortable.

What makes this show unique is its fastidious attention to itself. It does not veer off into the realm of been-there-seen-that cliche. Michael C. Hall of Six Feet Under fame has gone to great lengths to carve out a character that doesn’t feel like any other on television. Where some would borrow from the classics and amalgamate a persona, Hall never looks like he is doing a bad impression. The Dexter he has created avoids the aloof menace of a Hannibal Lector and the sleazy smugness of a Patrick Bateman, embodying a character that’s real, everyday, and strangely likable.

Refreshingly normal and quietly contemplative on his own nature, Dexter’s compulsion is not one of anger or blood lust, it just is. This raises some interesting questions on the nature of good and evil, such as where does evil live, is evil in the flesh? If Dexter only kills bad people who do terrible things, then does that not make him good? The complete and total refusal to render any kind of judgmental stance gives the show an edge and freedom to move and break free from the tired mold that suffocates so many network police procedurals.

Dexter is a character that is unique and compelling and who consistently holds your interest, ably assisted by a terrific support cast of TV veterans. John Lithgow guest stars this season as the enigmatic serial killer Trinity, hiding in plain sight as the seemingly contented family man – everything Dexter wishes he were. Rather than exact his own brand of justice this season looks to be positioning itself to break new ground, with Dexter looking to learn from this master of disguise to ensure that his extra curricular activities don’t cost him his own family as a result.