Wednesday, December 19, 2012

+1 Dexterity

Soooo.... television!

I finished this season of Dexter. The finale was better than the last couple of episodes that came before it, but the season as a whole failed to live up to the huge potential of its first half.


I was a huge fan of Hannah - she's sexy and dangerous, one of the few characters with the potential to actually change Dexter. Ever since season three, I've been longing for Dexter to have a true partner, someone he can confide in and kill with. Part of my frustration in recent years has been how the show repeatedly presents someone as a potential addition to Dexter, only to yank them away and return to the status quo. I should have known that this was too good to last - yet again, the writers have built up my hopes for a true partner for Dexter, and denied its fulfillment.

We'll see if that goes anywhere in the next season. I kind of hope so, but I'm not holding my breath. The cynical part of me wonders if this is all part of a negotiating ploy on Showtime's part - I feel like at this point they could talk to both Yvonne Strahovski and Julie Stiles, then pick whichever one would be cheaper for the final season. At this point, both characters have killed with Dexter, know his secrets, and been lovers, so they're somewhat interchangeable.

(My brother Andrew had a great theory that I really wish had been true - he had speculated that maybe Deb had deliberately drugged herself to cause the crash, knowing that it would force Dexter to break up with Hannah. That would have been awesome, but alas, it was not to be.)

Overall, there was just so much wasted potential. Isaac was a fascinating villain, probably the most interesting adversary since John Lithgow in Season Four. His story was really interesting, but it seemed to just be squandered at the end. After that was done, the boring Quinn plot kept running on fumes, for no discernible payoff whatsoever. And, boy, speaking of Quinn, that last episode really twisted the knife in terms of what we lost. Ever since I read the episode title ("Surprise, Mother****er!") I've been waiting to see how Doakes would be involved. My imagination ran wild - could Doakes have a long-lost twin brother? Maybe he was rescued by Cuban paramilitary and turned into a cyborg? Or would he turn into a ghost and defeat Harry in an epic battle of poltergeists? Sadly, all we get is flashbacks, but even those flashbacks were sufficient to remind me how Doakes had more interesting things going on in a single thirty-second scene than Quinn has had over the past five years.

I AM glad that LaGuerta's dead, though. She was hands-down my least favorite regular character on the show. And the way she went was impressive - I was sure that Dexter would do her in, so it was a shock to have Deb pull the trigger. Deb has now gotten pulled as deep as she can into complicity with Dexter's darkness, and I'm awfully curious to see how that will play out during the final season. Is she tied to him now, or will she turn? How will her brutal honesty co-exist with her deep guilt? In a way, this one kill from Deb is worse than any of the hundreds of murders Dexter has committed. LaGuerta, awful as she was, didn't fit The Code at all.

Let's see, what else... I was pleasantly surprised that Angel didn't get killed, since they seemed to be foreshadowing it pretty heavily. The political way Dexter drew out LaGuerta worked pretty well. The tech that the finale relies on is hilariously unrealistic, though. So, let me get this straight... a police officer can order surveillance videos from every gas station in the county? And they take six months to arrive? And they get sent to the officer's grieving widow in Chicago? And it's somehow possible to collect historic GPS tracking data for arbitrary phones from six months ago? (Here's a hint from a guy who programs cell phones: No! It doesn't work that way!) And, assuming it WAS possible, if the person requesting the subpoena was murdered, then the request would just go away? I enjoy suspending disbelief, but I hate when I feel like this show requires me to lower my IQ by 50 points.


I've finished the first season of Doctor Who! It did get better, though I'm looking forward to David Tenant. I think two things in particular surprised me. The first, as I'd mentioned before, was just how corny it can be. The effects aren't very realistic, the settings are often absurd, and individual scenes can be very laughable. The very first episode includes multiple sequences where an actor clutches a prosthetic arm to their throat, vainly thrashing around in an attempt to make it look like the plastic is choking them. It... it gets better than that.

The second thing that surprised me is how much horror is in the series. Having heard a little about the show but not seen any, I'd thought that it would be pure science fiction, something like a British version of Star Trek. Actually, it's much closer to The X-Files. A lot of episodes deal with possession by spirits, or doppelgangers, or seemingly-dead people bolting upright and lurching around. There are sci-fi explanations for all those things, but the settings are much closer to what I'd expect from a horror show.

The characters are pretty good. I grew to like the Doctor, particularly his inappropriate smiles and lurches into good cheer. I never totally warmed up to Rose, perhaps partly because she reminded me a little too much of Buffy and suffered a bit in comparison. The late introduction of Captain Jack Harkness was a lot of fun; he's a very familiar archetype at first glance, and played with full exuberance, and ends up going off in some interesting directions.

Andrew had told me earlier that almost every British actor ends up in Doctor Who sooner or later, and the most fun cameo from this season was Simon Pegg, who gave a fairly villainous turn in an episode set in Earth's future. It still blows my mind that Derek Jacobi appeared on this show; I'm looking forward to eventually seeing him.

And, yeah, I am going to keep going - I liked the few scenes of Tenant that I'd seen from the Weeping Angels episodes, and am optimistic about the seasons surrounding them. It's a different show than I'd expected, but it's an interesting and good show.

Let's see... I think most other shows were already finished before my round-up. The finale for The Walking Dead was awesome, and may be my favorite episode so far from that series, even above the incredible pilot and the barn episode from season two. It seems like the show's creators are listening to the feedback fans have been giving, and this season there's been a drastic decrease in scenes of characters complaining at one another, and a corresponding increase in awesome fight scenes between desperate humans and hordes of ravening undead. There still is character development, but it's much more action-driven now. Plus, we finally are getting some of the coolest characters from the comic, so that's been great.

MEGA SPOILERS (show and comic) for The Walking Dead

It is funny and disturbing that the show seems to be adhering to a strict one-black-man policy. We've had T-Dog for over two seasons, though he never did much other than occasionally saying "Aw, hell no!" Then Oscar showed up, and T-Dog died. Then, in the finale, Tyrese was FINALLY introduced (fellow comic-readers have been confused for a while as to whether we would actually get Tyrese, or if he was getting subsumed into lesser characters), and Oscar died. It's kind of like The Highlander: There Can Only Be One Black Actor.

The fight between The Governor and Michonne was quite brutal. I think it's hard for me to separate my opinion of the TV version of the Governor with the book version. Since I know how horribly he treated Michonne in the book, I was cheering for her while she took him on (though still cringing at the brutality of the violence). Within the context of the show, though, Michonne is the one who comes off as the sadist, not him. In the show, she wasn't tortured, Glen was; she wasn't raped, Maggie was humiliated. Michonne has known that The Governor is bad, but all that she's seen is that he's creepy: keeping enslaved walkers, and an admittedly chilling wall full of living decapitated heads, and a little zombie girl in the closet. Bad stuff, sure, but nothing that directly affects her. I feel like, on the whole, the show version of Michonne isn't as sympathetic as the book version. That's entirely the result of the writing, though; the actress who's playing her is perfect for the role. Oh: also, the TV version doesn't seem to be crazy and hearing voices, so I'm curious if they've dropped that or if it will come in future seasons.

END MEGA SPOILERS for The Walking Dead

Community is coming back in a few months, you guys! I know a lot of people are concerned about what the show will look like in the post-Harmon era. I can imagine it taking a hit in quality, but between the incredibly talented cast and returning writers like Megan Ganz, I'm cautiously optimistic that we'll get some great TV.

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