Last week, I talked about enjoying the interplay between light and dark characters on "Dexter" and in Sunday night’s episode, Dexter started bringing that concept home, mulling over the theory of light and dark angels as he dissected the angel wings from the Doomsday Killer's most recent attack. In a what-could-have-been-awkward-hangout-that-turned-out-to-be-cool, he and Sam talk about the dual sides of a human being. Sam tells Dexter that he has more light in him than he knows (for instance, the way Dexter takes care of Harrison) and that "there's no darkness the light can't overcome."
Dexter tracks down his own angel of death by figuring out that Travis works for the Miami Art Museum. After confirming that the pages cut from Travis' Bible match those inserted into the Doomsday Killer victims, Dexter catches Travis in his car, kidnapping him and strangling him until Dexter infers that professor Gellar is the real killer. "God doesn't speak to me. He speaks through the professor. He's a prophet filled with truth and light," Travis says. Dexter lets him go in order to track down Gellar. I have a feeling Dexter is going to regret letting his prey loose.
Did Dexter made a deal with God tonight? And how is this going to be carried out? In tonight’s episode, “A Horse of a Different Color,” Dexter further explores his new relationship with religion by attending one of Brother Sam’s baptisms. Dexter doesn’t question whether there’s a God so much as why people believe in him.
It was interesting that in this episode, Sam met Debra: It’s refreshing that Dexter can just about be himself around Sam. Dexter hasn’t exactly told Sam that he’s a murderer, but Sam knows Dexter’s name, his family and what he does for a living. It feels like the most real Dexter’s been able to be with someone since Lumen (again, aside from that whole “I’m a murderer” thing). Dexter and Brother Sam engage in some good-natured theological discussion, both about the good parts of religion and the parts that inspire psychos to stitch humans together into puppets and send them down the street on horses. “People use God as an excuse for a lot of things,” Sam says.
Dexter eventually finds himself calling out to a higher power as an act of desperation. His son Harrison becomes sick with appendicitis, and in a clever scene, after Dexter takes his frustration out on an uncooperative automatic coffee machine, he says “If there's something I need to do in return, I’ll do it ... OK?!” God/the coffeemaker responds by sending Dexter a cup of coffee and a healthy son.
I’m really enjoying the long slow build that this season of “Dexter” is taking with its main freaky murder plot. Obviously, we know Travis Marshall and Professor Gellar are up to no good (you can tell by Colin Hanks’ “I’m very upset!!!” face) but what exactly they’re doing and why, well, we barely know more than we knew in the first episode of the season. It felt like last season, the writers doubted our patience and introduced characters and very quickly showed us their M.O.s. There was little doubt, for instance, the moment we saw Jonny Lee Miller appear onscreen that he was the ringleader of his particular gang of sadistic thugs.
But we still don’t know what this season’s gruesome twosome are cooking up. Tonight we did learn that they have a flair for the dramatic, however. The episode ended with what appeared to be two human-size puppets riding down the street on horses, and, P.S., the puppet parts appear to be made of real humans. One of the puppets appeared to be made up of parts of Nathan, the jogger Travis kidnapped and mentally tortured with promises of letting him go if he repented. Obviously, there is a biblical element to these murderers (how many horses were there, exactly? Four?), but does anybody have any thoughts as to what exactly they’re trying to carry out?
Travis and the professor’s antics are barely even on Dexter’s radar at this point. Tonight he was caught up hunting down a man called the Tooth Fairy (known for pulling victims’ teeth as a prize, much like Dexter’s blood samples). As a child, Dexter was obsessed with the Tooth Fairy for his confidence and arrogance, but the murderer is now a crotchety old retiree named Walter Kenney. Even though I saw Kenney trying to kill Dexter before Dexter did, I loved that particular angle of Dexter being forced to think about what he’ll be like as an old man and what he’ll leave as a legacy for Harrison. (I also liked the parallels of Harrison’s toy horse and the horses ferrying the stitched-together bodies down the street.)
One of the biggest issues I’ve had with “Dexter” in seasons past is how comparatively weak the Miami Police Department storylines are compared to the rest of the show — they’re murder cops, after all, not accountants. Why did they have to be so dull? But from what I’ve seen so far, Dexter’s co-workers are getting better treatment in Season 6.
First, finally, Deb Morgan has had a good (if intense) day. Poor Deb was always getting shot at or her boyfriend was being tortured or her other boyfriend wanted to murder her brother, but Sunday she’s an Internet sensation (thanks to video posted online of her taking down the bar shooter), Quinn proposed and Deputy Chief Matthews offered her a promotion to lieutenant. LaGuerta had assumed that Batista would get the promotion due to her blackmailing the deputy, but Matthews appointed Deb, mostly just to rub it in LaGuerta’s face. Did LaGuerta want to promote Batista in order to keep tabs on him? To make herself feel better for their split?
I like Maria LaGuerta as a bad guy on “Dexter” much more than as someone we’re supposed to root for. When the series first began, Dexter described her as something of a more sinister yet clueless character, but as the show progressed, she became more sympathetic and pathetic at the same time. We were supposed to care about her love life and personal life, but I could never get invested in her. This possible switch of LaGuerta to a semi-villain is a welcome one: The show is more interesting with a scheming kind of woman in it. And since I like thinking of Maria as the bad guy, I was glad she didn’t get her way when it came to Batista’s promotion.
After being given the promotion, Deb protests that it belongs to Batista, eventually seeking out his blessing before accepting it, which relieves her of looking like she was betraying her friend. Angel, to his credit, seemed sad but perhaps slightly relieved at the prospect of not being promoted, plus he actually got the opportunity to call Maria out on her never-successful plotting.
I was optimistic about this new season of “Dexter” for one particular reason: the smirk on Dexter’s face in the screener’s press photos. Of course, it’s understandable that Dexter was a bit of a downer last season, with his wife being dead and all, but to me Season 5 was something of a drag. I would have preferred that Dexter start off somewhere new, alone, or at least with someone who had a bit more zazz than Lumen.
But Dexter seems to be smiling again, and that’s when I love this show most -- when it’s dark and funny. And I was not disappointed tonight.
The episode started off with a bang: we’re led to think that Dexter’s been stabbed and is so desperate that he calls 911, but we get a delightful switcheroo -- the whole scenario has been staged just so Dexter can nab two wayward EMTs. He kills them with a defibrillator (so apparently it’s not just the knife for Dexter anymore.) Even without the fake-out, it would have been an exciting dive into the new season, but the trick on us made it even more fun.
Dexter brags in voiceover that things have been great for him lately, and that’s great for us. A theme of the episode is that everyone is moving forward, and that includes Harrison, who is about to start preschool. Dexter and Deb check out a Catholic school, and while Dexter wryly observes that some parts of the religion appeal to him (i.e. the bloody crucifixion), he admits to Deb and the nun that he doesn’t believe in much, which bums Deb out. She puts it into Dexter’s head that he should think about what Harrison wants to believe. It’s interesting that Dexter is open-minded enough to give Harrison the option of religion and doesn’t intend to raise him as an atheist like himself.
"Dexter," "The Borgias," "Weeds" and "Nurse Jackie" are among the popular Showtime series that revolve around high concepts of serial killers, corrupt royalty, pot-selling soccer moms and pill-popping nurses. But upcoming series on the premium cable network will be more grounded in the so-called real world.
Showtime's president of entertainment, David Nevins, said the network is gradually evolving into a renewed sensibility with series such as "Homeland," about a former prisoner of war who may or may not be a terrorist, and "House of Lies," about a self-loathing management consultant.
"We're getting into shows that have scope and bigness and are relevant to the world we live in," Nevins said. "We believe in real diversity of programming. We will be sophisticated and adult but can also be bigger and edgy."
"Homeland," which stars Claire Danes and Damian Harris, will premiere in October, while "House of Lies," which stars Don Cheadle and Kristen Bell, is scheduled to premiere Jan. 8.
Upcoming on the Showtime schedule is "Laughing Stock," a new series that will feature interviews with top comedians as they explain their art and the state of comedy. Steve Carell ("The Office") and David Steinberg ("Sit Down Comedy With David Steinberg") are executive producers, and Chris Rock, Tina Fey and Ellen Degeneres wil be among the comedians participating.
Nevins said he was also proud of Showtime's reliance on its veteran slate, which he categorized as "renewable resources" that keep growing in creativity, attracting bigger audiences.
-- Greg Braxton
Photo: Josh Lawson, Kristen Bell, Jeannie Van de Hooven, Don Cheadle, Dawn Olivieri and Ben Schwartz of "House of LIes." Photo credit: Showtime.
Mark your calendars: There will be blood Oct. 2
Showtime announced Thursday at Comic-Con 2011 that the sixth season of 'Dexter" will make its fall return then.
It will be followed by the debut of the new Claire Danes psychological thriller "Homeland," about a CIA officer (Danes) who becomes convinced that there's a conspiracy tied to Al Qaeda that led to the rescue of a U.S. soldier (Damian Lewis) who had been missing and presumed dead.
For more dispatches from Comic-Con, check out our sister blog Hero Complex.
For more on what's to come in the fall from Showtime, here's a look:
-- Yvonne Villarreal
Photo: Michael C. Hall as Dexter Morgan in "Dexter." Credit: Showtime.
Video credit: Showtime
It's the most wonderful time of the year — that is, if you're a fanboy or girl in San Diego this week. That's right: Comic-Con has officially started. And this year's confab isn't too shabby, with Steven Spielberg making his first appearance to discuss his motion-capture movie "The Adventures of Tintin." And, of course, there's the unveiling of Andrew Garfield as the new Spider-man.
But TV is also proving to be a big draw at this year's sold-out event. Ballroom 20, Comic-Con's room dedicated to television, will feature panel presentations from HBO's "Game of Thrones" and "True Blood" and AMC's "The Walking Dead."
And several studios are planning to screen pilots, including J.J. Abrams' "Alcatraz" and "Person of Interest," and Kevin Williamson's "The Secret Circle." There's also "Terra Nova," "Once Upon a Time" and "Grimm."
If you weren't lucky enough to score a ticket to the annual geek pilgrimage, rest easy. Our sister blog Hero Complex has reporters on the floor to cover as much of the madness as possible.
-- Yvonne Villarreal
Photos: Top: Sarah Michelle Gellar in "Ringer." Credit: The CW. Bottom: Sorana Caldwell (left) and Gilia Melendez walk Comic-con in costume. Credit: Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times.
The nominations for the 2011 Emmy Awards were announced early this morning, with plenty of surprises mixed in with the evergreens. (See the full list here.)
The Los Angeles Times spoke to a number of nominees about the Emmys and the roles that nabbed them a chance at an award.
Some nominees -- like "Justified's" Walton Goggins -- didn't even try to downplay their excitement: "I feel like I’m floating in a vat of liquid gratitude," he said. "It’s surreal. This may never happen again in my lifetime but to go through this experience now, it doesn’t get better than this."
Idris Elba, who was nominated both for his role in "Luther" and a guest role on "The Big C," was doubly knocked out : "It’s incredible. You wait for one bus and two come along. They’re both great surprises."
Matthew Weiner is no Emmy newbie, but he still seemed thrilled: "There’s something extra sweet about it because, four years into it, you just don’t expect to be in it." He also revealed that he already had an ending in mind for the series, three seasons down the line. "I do. I do. I do. I do have an ending in mind." So what is it? We'll have to wait, apparently. Said Weiner, "I’m keeping it close to the vest in case I change my mind."
"Mad Men's" John Slattery -- who has received a supporting actor nomination for every season "Mad Men" has been on the air -- spoke eloquently about inhabiting the role of Roger: "On TV, the most challenging thing is not to assume you know how your character would react just because you’ve played it for years. You want to deliver the joke, but you don’t want your character to be a joke. Also, people wonder about the clothes and the cigarettes and the drinks -- but you don’t play the period, you play the scene. You play each moment as it comes."
Michael C. Hall, who is nominated once again for his role on "Dexter," talked about the particular challenges this past season: "In the fifth season we sort of had to take responsibility for the mess in Dexter’s world. He had a big share in Rita’s death. It was difficult to try to play this guy who maintains some sort of disconnect from his emotions and still process all of that."
And Johnny Galecki of "Big Bang Theory" spoke about playing a character smarter than he is: "I’d say he’s much more intelligent than I am. I can only pretend to think like this guy. I can understand how he feels as [if he's] the underdog outcast. That is something I can relate to. I wasn’t the most popular kid growing up."
Matt LeBlanc knows all about awards: "I’m familiar with not winning," he joked. Asked if he'd spoken to any of his costars from "Episodes," he quipped, "They’re probably bitter and angry. I’ll call them and rub it in. They’re all in London."
For Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton of "Friday Night Lights," the nominations are a lovely complement to the end of the series. Said Britton, "After five seasons, it just feels incredible to have the show recognized. It was long deserved, I think." Chandler talked about hearing the news: "My wife came out and said, 'Guess what, you just got nominated!' I immediately asked, 'What about Connie?' She told me that she got one too. Then she shoved me in the swimming pool."
Mireille Enos of "The Killing" talked about the backlash to the show's finale. "I loved the reaction," she said. "It's evidence of how attached people had gotten to the show. My hunch is that the people who are screaming loudest are the ones who are going to be the first to watch the next season."
Who was overlooked? Slattery mentioned "Mad Men's" Vincent Kartheiser, who plays Pete Campbell.
And what about the stiffest competition among fellow nominees? "Modern Family" star Sofia Vergara pointed to certain popular octogenarian: "Betty White is on the list, that can’t be good for anyone."
Michael C. Hall couldn't choose one name. "Oh, gosh, I don’t know. It’s strange," he said. "We’re not running a 100-yard dash. We’re all doing very different things. It’s a strange thing deciding whose is best. Good luck to the voters doing that."
-- Joy Press
Photo: Top: Michael C. Hall at The Los Angeles Times' 3rd Annual The Envelope: Primetime Emmy Screening Series panel in Los Angeles. Credit: Alberto E. Rodriguez / Getty Images. Bottom: Sofia Vergara in "Modern Family." Credit: ABC.
Dexter Morgan, you are being summoned. Many people enraged over the "not guilty" verdict in the Casey Anthony murder trial have resorted to airing their frustration on Twitter, proclaiming the services of the venerated fictional serial killer are needed.
Anthony was acquitted Tuesday in the death of her 2-year-old daughter. Soon after the verdict was read, Dexter Morgan quickly became a popular trending topic on the social media site. Why? Because the central character of the Showtime series "Dexter," played by Michael C. Hall, moonlights as a serial killer who snuffs guilty suspects.
Tweets began pouring forth: @lehmo23 wrote, “A job for Dexter Morgan #caseyanthonyverdict”; @myrontan wrote, “Casey Anthony the baby killer found not guilty. Your move, Dexter”; and @iPaulGibson tweeted, “well i guess we all know what season 6 will be for Dexter Morgan… #CaseyAnthony wrapped in plastic.”
And there were hundreds more just like those seeking a way to right what many viewed as a wrong decision in a case that captivated the nation.
Showtime would not comment on the matter.
The L.A. Times is ushering in Emmy season with Envelope Emmy Week -- five days of television series screenings, cast Q&As and roundtable panels starting June 1. Fans of “Mad Men,” “True Blood,” “Dexter,” “Justified,” “Shameless” and many others will get a chance to hear the series' stars discuss their shows and characters.
As noted on our sister blog, Awards Tracker, Jon Hamm, Christina Hendricks and Kiernan Shipka will join “Mad Men” creator and executive producer Matt Weiner for a screening and Q&A on June 1. William H. Macy and other cast members of Showtime's "Shameless" take the stage on June 2, and Timothy Olyphant, Walton Goggins and others talk about “Justified” on June 6.
The final two roundtables mix things up thematically; the Alternative Families panel on June 7 will be hosted by Times TV critic Mary McNamara and will feature Katey Sagal (“Sons of Anarchy”), Jennifer Carpenter (“Dexter”), Denis O’Hare (“True Blood”), Emmy Rossum (“Shameless”), Cloris Leachman (“Raising Hope”) and Peter Krause (“Parenthood”). The Geek TV panel on June 8 will be moderated by Times television critic Robert Lloyd and will feature Joel McHale (“Community”), Sam Trammell (“True Blood”), Jayma Mays (“Glee”), Michael C. Hall (“Dexter”) and Johnny Galecki (“The Big Bang Theory”).
So, what would you want to ask this eclectic mix of actors? Leave your questions here for possible inclusion in the panels.
Guild members can get additional details and RSVP to attend any of the events at http://events.latimes.com/envelope/.
-- Elena Howe
Top photo: Michael C. Hall. Credit: Randy Tepper / Showtime
Photo at right: Cloris Leachman. Credit: Stefano Paltera / For The Times
We appreciate all of the hard work writers put into their TV shows. Here are some of the moments that left us wondering a bit.
1. "Lost": They're all dead and waiting to go to heaven. Depending on who you are, this was either a very good head-scratcher or a very bad one. We loved it, even though we're sad about what it means.
2. "The Walking Dead:" Zombies unseat vampires as the coolest non-humans on TV. It's not their fault they're zombies which makes us feel for them, though they freak us out.
3. "Mad Men:" Don Draper proposes to Megan. Whoa, Don! A little foreshadowing next time, please?
4. "Breaking Bad:" Walt goes from meek chemistry teacher to big-time drug dealer to murderer. Walter, you scare us. But you're never boring and for that we love you.
5. "Glee:" Mr. Schue kisses Coach Beiste. Enough said.
6. "Sons of Anarchy:" Jackson and his half sister are discovered half-way down the incest road by their respective mothers. Double ick.
7. "True Blood:" Bill and Sookie break up. Again. Can't we all just get along?
8. "Dexter:" Someone accepts Dexter for all that he is. How nice. We like this one.
9. "The Event:" Aliens. Really? All that pre-game hype and they turned out to be aliens. Possible to start over?
10. "The Good Wife:" CBS goes all sexy on us in a surprising oral sex scene between Alicia and Peter. It sure made us blush -- and they didn't even show anything!
--Yvonne Villarreal and Maria Elena Fernandez
Photo: A scene from the "Lost" series finale. The castaways are waiting to go to heaven. (L-R) Ian Somerhalder, Elizabeth Mitchell, Josh Holloway, John Terry, Matthew Fox, Evangeline Lilly, Sonya Walger, Henry Ian Cusick and Emilie de Ravin. Credit: ABC