Cultural Catchup – Dramas – October 19th

[Okay, so here’s the deal: I almost finished this post, and decided to wait for more shows…and then just got more busy. This covers most of the show until mid-week, I will hopefully get to the rest soonish]

Dexter – “An Inconvenient Lie”

I haven’t talked about Dexter’s second season much at Cultural Learnings for a variety of different reasons: well, actually, just one. The problem is that I watched the first two hours of the season back in July, and it was only on Sunday that the third installment aired. With Dexter’s ocean graveyard uncovered, the stakes are extremely high…but, unfortunately, I had to wait a really long time.

It is that much more impressive, then, that I was sucked right back in again. There is simply something compelling about Michael C. Hall’s performance that keeps you from being disconnected. Watching Dexter struggle to lie to the world while faced with the unearthing of his past performances while perfecting a new role as a drug addict, the parallel is less than subtle…but it is powerful, and brings forth the principle of the Dark Passenger more clearly than the show’s first season.

The episode hit many high points: Deb’s continued inability to get over Rudy trying to kill her remains important, and Dexter’s downright unsettling discussion with his FBI headhunter were two of them. Also: “You were right about the ample cargo room” was one of those one-liners that Michael C. Hall has too much fun with. The episode balanced messages of lying and Dexter’s own issues of personal introspection in regards to both Rita and the morality of his killings. It’s my first real Dexter in a while, and it reminded me why I became so infatuated with this show last year.

Gossip Girl – “Dare Devil”

Perhaps trying to prove its potential for an entire season, Gossip Girl came to bat with a full-featured and quality hour of television. “Dare Devil” dumps Nate and Chuck and focuses on situations with real drama: Dan and Serena’s first date, Jenny’s insistence on joining Blair’s social circle, Erik’s imprisonment at the Ostroff Centre, and the parental tango between Rufus and Darla.

Much like some of the best episodes of The O.C., this one managed to weave various separate threads together into a web of truth and dare, dive bar hopping, impromptu dinner dates and a jailbreak of sorts. Despite starting as separate storylines, these four parts became one by episode’s end, and I think that the result was a satisfying hour of television.

I’m frustrated with the speed at which Dan and Serena entered into makeout mode, but was surprised that the parents’ storyline gained some level of actual depth with the further introduction of Dan’s mother into the mix. Erik and Jenny remain rather adorable entries into the CW canon, and Blair’s catty side is certainly more entertaining than her rather meek appearance last week. On the whole, the show continues to sustain its basic level of quality, which is a positive sign.

Heroes – “The Kindness of Strangers”

This week’s episode of Heroes was a step in the right direction, but it didn’t quite get back on track. The core storyline is in better shape, but the dialogue and the overall pacing still need more work. This week’s episode at least gives us a worthwhile cliffhanger, but Tim Kring’s general plotting is still fairly lacklustre.

Like all Kring-written episodes, this was a decent enough story with dialogue that failed to do anything for me. I like the focus on Parkman, but I really wish it hadn’t taken the show four episodes to FINALLY cut a couple of the storylines out of an episode and focus things. They should have done this in the second week, I think it would have seriously benefited both Hiro and Peter’s storylines.

That being said, I’m of course looking forward to Kristen Bell’s arrival. I think it will make a huge difference in Peter’s storyline, although if they waste her I am just going to get more frustrated. I’m still watching, but I am hoping that the Heroes coming together more might result in a more engaging and “new” set of storylines.

Brothers & Sisters – “History Repeating”

It was like a perfect storm of Brothers & Sisters’ most maligned qualities…okay, I lie, it was basically just too focused on Tommy. The character tends to bring the show down, but this week his own sadness seemed to infiltrate the remainder of the series. Scotty’s return into Kevin’s life may have been a bright spot, but Kitty’s shrill dealings with McAllister’s ex-wife did little to ignite the episode.

Everyone’s just so darn sad at this point: Justin’s in pain, Nora’s in pain because of his pain, Rebecca’s in the doghouse because she makes Justin’s pain worse, and pretty well everything is just far too dramatic right now. The show went from a downright light-hearted hour last week, outside of Justin’s constant pain and all, to a dour and regrettable hour this time around. I’m hoping they can bounce out of it soon enough, but only time will tell.

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