Tuesday, December 15, 2009


Dexter is the best show on television, obviously. If you don't agree you can blow it out your ear. And I have never really written a review of it (largely because the show pre-dates Haunternet and there was no sense starting to review the show starting with Season 2, and I'm lazy). But i was compelled to say a few words about Season 4.

Season 3 was somewhat of a disappointment. It was still the best show on television, but True Blood was thinking about taking its place (My wife puts True Blood first, so there ya go). For some reason the whole Jimmy Smits thing wasn't working for me, and Dexter's behavior was so inconsistent and frustrating. Not because he wasn't "following the code" but because he was doing things just to make the story move forward. There is a little of that in every season of Dexter. He needs a scenario to work out, and sometimes it needs to be forced a little in inorganic ways and it always feels that way. But the concept and performances as well as the overall direction of the show are so excellent that it pushes aside any convenient storytelling elements.

That said, Season 4 rebounded in a big way. It was the best season since the first (and that says a lot because I thought Lila was a very compelling character in season 2). This has a lot to do with the villain Arthur Mitchell. It was a great bad guy but it was also played by a great bad guy actor in John Lithgow. He was a perfect counterpart to Dexter. They also brought back Detective Lundy (Keith Carradine) which we all loved. And the artistic team took real chances all season long, all of them earned. If you haven't seen any of Season 4 stop reading now because I am going to address some spoiler type of things.

Risk number 1: killing Lundy. It was perfect, too. It wasn't just "let's kill some major characters to turn this show on its ear," (like in the way The Sopranos did. They would clearly decide who was going to die because the audience needed something "shocking" to happen so they would kill a relatively important, but not terribly important, secondary character in the finale, just 'cause) it actually had everything to do with what the season was about. Risk number 2: Child abduction and murder. We hadn't seen that yet. That obviously generates pejorative visceral responses, but again, it was important to the development of the character of Arthur Mitchell. And then of course, the season finale - Reason number 3: killing Rita. How devastating, but how earned. It caught everyone by surprise, but it was not out-of-left-field. It was completely justified with everything that had been established all season. And that's what makes this show potent. Nothing is unearned so you truly feel the effects of something bad or good that happens because it feels like it did happen. It's not like one of those Freddy Krueger vs. Jason who would win arguments because who would win depended on whoever the screenplay writers wrote to win. That is not what Dexter feels like. Obviously, it ain't real, so someone had to decide these things, but it just feels like there was no other choice to make and that is what we are seeing.

And that is why this show is so good. You never feel cheated that a decision was made just to aid in getting from a to z. You really take the logical journey with the entire story. I was hoping season 4 would take us back there and it did. Now Dexter has three kids to take care of and no mate. what the hell is he going to do? I cannot wait to see what they come up with.

1 comment:

Ari said...

omigosh, thank you for writing a spot-on review for the best show on tv [besides superjail!]