Category Archives: Dexter

Season Premiere: Dexter – “Our Father”

“Our Father”

September 28th, 2008

Michael C. Hall has crafted one of television’s most memorable characters in Dexter Morgan, a fascinating psychological enigma who lives and kills by a code handed to him by his father. But after two seasons of murder and the inner turmoil of living with having murdered all of these people, one would have to think that Dexter Morgan would have grown out of his situation, could emerge from the weekly murders to something closer to approximating a real life.

And, the show’s third season premiere finds Dexter as close as he’s ever come: he and Rita are as happy as can be, he’s pretty much a father to her children, he’s more aware than ever about the true purpose behind his murders, and generally speaking his relationship with everyone around him is at last “normal.” Of course, in the world of Dexter nothing is ever that simple: in order to attain this normalcy, he has largely given up listening to his father’s teachings, shunning his sister and turning his back on that chapter of his life in favour of crafting his own code.

The problem with “Our Father” is that it is becoming clearer by the day that there isn’t enough of a series surrounding Dexter for this to feel as natural as it needs to be. Perhaps it’s that this is my first experience watching Dexter after watching The Wire, but this show is falling into a dangerous pattern that cheapens whatever deeper character drama they plan on investigating within the title character. It’s not that the show is failing to deliver on what it promises, but rather that the second season’s urgency and driving force feels lacking, and what we’re left with is a cheap provocation that feels like a show admitting that it doesn’t have the supporting cast or the foresight to develop something bigger or less reactionary.

It’s not just that it’s repetitive, but rather that it feels like an unnecessary intervention: Dexter has largely reformed himself, and as long as the show keeps poking the bear it’s going to (despite Hall’s incredibly strong performance) feel like we’re going through the same motions for the sake of contrivance as opposed to observation.

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10 Shows to (Hopefully) Watch in 2008 – #4 – Dexter

Since I’ve got these put together, I figure I’d keep the content coming for the new year – It sets a nice precedent, after all. This is a piece that is really part of a series of larger rants I have regarding the second season of the show in question, but I’ll forget my concerns for a moment and focus more on the series’ intriguing future. Check back for #3 tomorrow, and the Top Two will follow over the weekend.

There has been a lot of talk about Dexter’s second season, and due to time constraints and an unfortunate inability to be able to watch the series live I wasn’t able to review it as often as I would have liked. Oddly, I remain somewhat ambivalent towards the series, and I can’t quite put my finger on why. I love Michael C. Hall’s performance, the concept of the series is as strong as ever, and there was a great deal of potential realized this season with a blistering series of episodes in the latter half of the season that were amongst the best on television this year.

And yet, every week I would watch Dexter on a strange schedule: I didn’t desperately watch it the second I had time, but would really only do so when I became bored. It sat unwatched for quite some time, and only when the action truly ratcheted up did I begin to actually anticipated what would happen next. I never stopped liking the series, but I can firmly say that I wasn’t loving what I was watching.

Despite these reservations, however, Dexter is most certainly on Cultural Learnings’ list of Series to (Hopefully) watch in 2008. Not only is it a potential strike replacement strategy for CBS, who plans to repurpose episodes by editing them for network audiences, but it is also at a creative crossroads heading into a third season with something to prove.

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Season Finale: Dexter – “The British Invasion”

“The British Invasion”

December 16th, 2007

I don’t quite have time for a complete analysis of Dexter’s 2nd season finale, but I was going to be making this argument anyways and felt that it would be best served here. In short, Dexter’s 2nd season was a strongly-conceived second season which features more fantastic acting from Michael C. Hall and a continued commitment to suspenseful television. Unfortunately, I was not wholly pleased with how the potential foreshadowed early in the season was lost.

This is not to say that “The British Invasion” was bad, but rather that it did nothing to resolve the problems with one key storylines, or make me feel like another decision was necessary to the development of the season. While it may have been visceral, Dexter’s second Season Finale ultimately lacked the complexity and depth of its first.

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Dexter – “See-Through”


October 21st, 2007

The second season of Dexter is based on a basic irony: its title character walks through Miami while people offer opinions of the Bay Harbor Butcher without knowing he’s right in front of them. I’m glad that in this episode Dexter finally admitted how annoying it’s getting, because I would tend to agree. It was engaging for one episode, maybe, but now it’s simply getting repetitive.

Actually, a lot of things are getting repetitive with Dexter. La Guerta’s replacement remains a true incompetent, almost becoming a parody of herself in her quest to reveal her husband’s indiscretion. Deb continues to face her Ice Truck Killer hangups, and Rita continues to be socially awkward with relatives or anyone other than Dexter. I worry that the drug addiction parallel is already getting repetitive after just a single episode, as the sponsor’s speeches were almost groan inducing.

This is not to say that Dexter is losing all of its quality: certain elements of the show remain intact. But the concern right now is that in providing us a greater window into Dexter’s mind, beginning to have other characters relate to him in new ways, the show is going for the easy kill as opposed to the subtle development.

[For more results and Cultural Observations…]

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TV on DVD: Dexter – The First Season

While it technically released yesterday, I figure that today is as good a day as any to suggest that any TV fan out there should get their hands on Showtime’s Dexter. The show’s first season debuted on DVD yesterday, at a fairly reasonable price for its 12 episodes, and the show’s second season premieres on September 30th.

The show’s first season, perhaps out of any series that aired last year, feels like a cohesive piece of storytelling. Based on Jeff Lindsay’s novel, the series take the characters and over-arching plot of that book and expands it into something I personally feel is far superior. Dexter – The First Season

It tells the story of Dexter Morgan, who according to press for the series is America’s most lovable serial killer. I think this is perhaps an oversimplification: if anything, I think that Dexter isn’t lovable at all. Michael C. Hall’s award-nominated performance is unsettling, as it gets under your skin. He isn’t someone you like, necessarily, but someone you’re rooting for even in his creepy, creepy way.

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The 2007 Emmy Awards: The 12 Biggest Snubs

The good people at AOL Television have put together a photo gallery featuring various thoughts on who got snubbed for the 2007 Emmy Nominations, and I was lucky enough to be one of their featured commentators.

Emmys Blog Reactions – AOL Television

However, their list has admittedly got me thinking about some of the most frustrating snubs that could possibly have arisen out of the various Emmy nominations (Even the obscure ones). And so, I’ve created a list of what are my ten largest snubs of the nominations, individuals who deserved a chance to be recognized by their peers.

‘Lost’ for Best Drama Series

There is no question that Lost reached creative highs in its third season, it’s a pity that an arguable lowpoint in its opening episodes kept it from gaining enough traction to overcome lesser shows like Heroes or Boston Legal which skated by with newness and familiarity respectively. It’s hard to know what got it snubbed: a lack of voter interest, a poorly submitted episode, or the spread of the opinion that the show was past its prime. I don’t understand any of those options, but Lost will sit out another year regardless.

Michael C. Hall (Dexter) for Lead Actor in a Drama Series

It was the single worst snub of the Emmy season, greater than any of the other missing individuals. While James Spader and Kiefer Sutherland went through the pace, Michael C. Hall crafted a serial killer that we not only grew to empathize with but actually kind of liked in the end. His performance made the entire concept work; without some level of empathy, the show would collapse under an unlikable hero incapable of emotional contact with others. After the Hollywood Foreign Press and his Screen Actors Guild peers recognized him, it is unfortunate that the Academy members could not do the same. The fact that he won’t have a chance to challenge for this award is the season’s greatest travesty.

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Filed under 30 Rock, Award Shows, Dexter, Emmy Awards, Friday Night Lights, Gilmore Girls, Heroes, How I Met Your Mother, Lost, NBC, Television, Weeds

The Highlights and Lowlights of the 2007 Emmy Nominations

The nominations for the 56th annual Primetime Emmy awards have been released, and the result is a whole lot of frustration. While there are certainly some attributes in these categories that certainly warrant some sort of positive feelings, the overall impact is limited with some rather vile mistakes made by the voters. Yes, I said mistakes. Let’s take a look at the Best and the Worst of the nominations.

Best Category

Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series

This one is simple, really. While there were some other categories that had either too many familiar faces or the wrong mix of people, Supporting Actor in a Comedy gets it just right. Jon Cryer is the token nominee for the popular vote, but then you’ve got four awesome comedic talents: last year’s winner Jeremy Piven along with new (And fantastic) fresh faces in Rainn Wilson, Kevin Dillon and Neil Patrick Harris. I really can’t argue with any of these selections. I would have liked to see Justin Kirk in there, but it’s still a great category.

Runner-Up: Supporting Actor in a Drama Series

Worst Category

Supporting Actress in a Drama Series

Three Grey’s Anatomy actresses, two Sopranos actresses, and perennial Emmy favourite Rachel Griffiths. It is clear that the men are where the new talent is making an impact, because these nominees couldn’t be much more predictable. The lack of new talent (Elizabeth Mitchell for Lost, Hayden Panettiere for Heroes) is the biggest problem, and I really hope that this can change in the future.

Runner-Up: Outstanding Drama Series

Most Surprising Nominee

Michael Emerson (Lost) – Supporting Actor in a Drama

I had written off Michael Emerson, one of my early picks, after Elizabeth Mitchell failed to crack the Top 10. However, it appears that Emerson was able to make it in, and with 6 nominees in his category worked his way into the fold. This was likely supported by Terry O’Quinn’s tape, which featured Emerson heavily. It is most deserved, and the most pleasant surprise of the morning.

Runner-Up: Boston Legal – Outstanding Drama Series

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The 2007 Emmy Awards Nominations: Lost Snubbed, Sopranos Praised

After months of coverage and more than a little bit of analysis, it is has finally come down to this: this morning, the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences have officially announced their nominations for what their voters believed to be the best in television over the past year. Are they right on the money, or are they off the mark once again?

The Big Stories

– Lost and Friday Night Lights snubbed, although Lost dominates in Supporting Actor with Terry O’Quinn and Michael Emerson! Woo!

– The Sopranos leads with 15 nominations.

– Battlestar Galactica and Lost each garnered writing and directing nods on the Drama side, while 30 Rock and The Office dominated the categories in terms of Comedy series.

– There’s a lot of snubs all over the place, I’ll go into more detail tomorrow, but Michael C. Hall is the worst one. Yes, worse than Lost.

– Rainn Wilson and Jenna Fischer break through as supporting contenders for The Office, which garnered a whole lot of nominations once you factor in writing and directing.

And the Nominees Are…

Oustanding Drama Series

The Sopranos


Boston Legal

Grey’s Anatomy


Oustanding Comedy Series

The Office


Two and a Half Men

30 Rock

Ugly Betty

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Filed under 24, ABC, Award Shows, Battlestar Galactica, Brothers & Sisters, Desperate Housewives, Dexter, Emmy Awards, Entourage, FOX, Friday Night Lights, Gilmore Girls, Grey's Anatomy, Heroes, House, How I Met Your Mother, Lost, Monk, My Name is Earl, NBC, Reality TV, Scrubs, Television, The Amazing Race, The Office, Ugly Betty, Weeds

Cultural Learnings’ 2007 Emmy Nominations: Final Predictions

Tomorrow morning at 5:35am PDT, the nominations for the 59th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards will be announced. I will now put myself out there on a limb with my own predictions of whose names will be called. I’ll have all the final nomination information as soon as it breaks, as long as my plan to be online at that point in time works out. I will literally stop working to do this for you, remember that.

NOTE: Some of these predictions have changed thanks to the leaked Top 10 lists. Most have not.

Oustanding Drama Series


I think it’s the best show on television, and I think that its season was certainly worthy of an Emmy nomination. The show is unmatched on network television in terms of writing, production and performances.

Grey’s Anatomy

It’s season was uneven, but its popular support and wide-range of acting talents will be too hard for the ATAS to ignore.

The Sopranos

The show’s final season kept the buzz level high, and the finale basically clinched it: no one will be forgetting The Sopranos this year.


It’s the second biggest drama on television, and people just seem to love the show to death. I think that it is a show that has proven itself worthy in the past, unlike Heroes which still hasn’t won that level of respect.

Friday Night Lights

Admittedly, this is a sentimental choice. However, I can’t not believe that Emmy voters will find the heart of this series too endearing to pass up. With Kyle Chandler making the Drama Actor Top 10, I think the show has a shot.

Oustanding Comedy Series

The Office

Last year’s winner had another strong and buzz-worthy season. It was a bit of a dark horse last year, but this time around it’s absolutely a front-runner…but in a category full of them.

Ugly Betty

One-hour comedies have a distinct advantage over half-hour ones, but even ignoring that Ugly Betty was a charming series that features some great performances. With Becki Newton and Vanessa Williams making the Top 10, I also think this show is a shoe-in.

30 Rock

The other new show to make this list, 30 Rock is a show made for the Emmys: prestigious talent (Fey, Baldwin, Krakowski), relevant and relatable theme (Show about a show), and it’s incredibly liberal. Plus, it’s kind of also the best new comedy of the year. Just sayin’.

Two and a Half Men

The only traditional sitcom left in the Emmy race, I think that voters will trend towards it like the sheep they are. That being said, the show is not the worst sitcom ever: it’s just similar to them in every way.


While Scrubs did have the musical episode, I think that Entourage is the closest the category has to a hip show that hasn’t quite gotten its due. 30 Rock is actually quite safe, The Office is now almost too popular, so it’s Entourage that best fits the bill. With Kevin Dillon breaking the Top 10 for Supporting Actor, the show has a shot.

Extra Prediction:

The Sopranos will garner the most nominations on the drama side, while 30 Rock and The Office will fight it out for the most comedy nominations with Ugly Betty not far behind.

The rest of the nominations can be found below, with full explanations found here (Drama) and here (Comedy).

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Words and Pictures: Emmy Writing and Directing Contenders (Drama)

Every year, writers and directors kind of get the short straw, if you will, when it comes to Emmy night. In the past, these categories have served as catch alls for the Academy to recognize series that aren’t getting the same level of attention at higher levels. Two years ago, House won for Best Writing in a Drama Series while Lost swept Directing/Drama Series; last year, My Name is Earl won writing and directing despite being otherwise shut out. This year, these categories will be yet another chance for shows to be recognized.

Today, I want to highlight five drama episodes in both directing and in writing that, I believe, should be recognized by the Academy and its voters this year.

Oustanding Writing in a Drama Series 

Lost“Through the Looking Glass” (Writers: Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse)

Taking over as full-time co-showrunners, Lindelof and Cuse were behind some great episodes this season. Nothing, however, lives up to this beautifully plotted and mind-bending finale that incorporates action, drama, romance and of course the season-ending twist that was eloquently foreshadowed throughout. It’s a great piece of script work, and deserves to be considered for an Emmy award.

Lost“Expose” (Writers: Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz)

This is perhaps a surprising choice, as the episode was quite divisive. However, in terms of single episodes, this was a wondrous throwback to Twilight Zone storytelling with an amazing slow reveal to the buried alive conclusion. It was a tragedy and a morality tale all wrapped in one, and I think it was an achievement that the writing came together in such a sharp fashion on what could have been (And may have been, for some) a complete disaster.

Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip“Pilot” (Writer: Aaron Sorkin)

Say what you will about what the series became over the span of its twenty-two episodes, but this pilot is still a fast-paced rollercoaster that does a brilliant job of setting up a series with a lot of potential. It’s contrived, but so is just about everything else on television: Sorkin’s work on the pilot was his best in the series, and I think it is the show’s only chance at garnering a nomination. And, well, it kind of deserves it.

Heroes “Company Man” (Writer: Bryan Fuller)

Rumour has it that Tim Kring might have a better chance with the series’ pilot, and if that is nominated but Company Man is not I will personally hunt down Bryan Fuller and apologize to him on behalf of the Academy. The single best piece of writing to come out of the series if not the season, Company Man shined a magnifying glass on the world of Heroes to find stories, people, development and subtle qualities I didn’t know the show had. Fuller elevated the material, without a doubt, and deserves recognition for the amazing achievement.

Battlestar Galactica“Occupation / Precipice” (Writer: Ronald D. Moore)

As the show’s third season began, BSG turned into a post-colonial study of people being oppressed, and their only hope losing hope that they could do something about it. Having flashed forward over a year, Moore had a lot of pieces to pick up and did it well. The introduction of the resistance and its plight was real, relevant to today’s politics, and felt like the series was finding a new ground. It is almost unfortunate that they left New Caprica so soon, because the material to be mined there was very solid. And Moore knew it.

Oustanding Direction in a Drama Series

Friday Night Lights“Pilot” (Director: Peter Berg)

Some people are turned off by the show’s handheld style, but without it I think this pilot may have been just a pedestrian football drama. So much of the show’s heart comes from our intimate location during both the football games and conversations: being able to capture that allowed his characters to grow, and Berg’s touch made sure that happened.

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