Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Showtime orders two more seasons of 'Dexter'

Showtime just announced that they're ordering a 4th and 5th season of "Dexter," with 12 episodes set for each season.

Now, I loved the first two seasons of "Dexter" and I continue to think Michael C. Hall is doing great work here. But if you've been reading my reviews this season, you already know I don't think this is a good idea. If three seasons already seems like too much "Dexter" to me -- the concept gets diluted the longer they do it -- than four and five are definitely too much.

Then again, based on a lot of the comments, I appear to be in the minority on this view. Maybe I'll just stop watching after this year. But "Dexter" seems like a classic example of a show that should be done on the British model: one or two seasons, then stop unless the creator has an absolutely brilliant idea that he feels he has to write.

28 comments:

Matt said...

Notably, the Dexter book series apparently completely jumped the shark in Book 3, by turning Dexter's "Dark Passenger" (what the books call his impulse to kill/"Bad Dexter") into a supernatural phenomonon and introducing a simply ludicrous plot twist involving Rita's kids.

Mrglass said...

"But "Dexter" seems like a classic example of a show that should be done on the British model: one or two seasons, then stop unless the creator has an absolutely brilliant idea that he feels he has to write."

'Lost' would fit perfectly in that model; yet many people apparently are still thinking this show has any point after the first 1 1/2 season - and long after its creators have any idea what it should be about.

I will watch 'Dexter' with pleasure as I don't share Alan's displeaure with the third year.

Karl Ruben said...

Although I thought the next-to-latest episode ("The Lion Sleeps Tonight") was a huge misstep, there are enough intriguing story threads this season to make me stick with Dexter. Still, your point about the show being better served by a short run is a good one, and the producers face a steep challenge if they want to avoid a decline.

mac13 said...

Your a man on a mission, huh glassy?

Anyway, Dexter was seriously showing signs of wear around the first season. Fine show, but way too high-concept for more than one season.

Ingrid said...

I enjoyed the first two seasons very much. So far, I have been unenthusiastic about the third season. I can't quite understand why, other than thinking you may be right and it is not a story that can be sustained in the long run.

M said...

This is a fantastic show, and can difenetly endure two additional seasons. Looking at possible ideas going forward: killing/abduction of Debra/Rita can work. If they killed either one, how would Dexter react? Would he lose all faith in society, and go on a rampage?

Also, the second book of Dexter had a truly evil and devious villian that would push the graphic violence of the show to a new level.

The show has great characters(dexter, Angel...even Matsuka!), and we've seen that even they have a darkside (Angel with hookers, Matsuka with fetishes, etc.). There's plenty of potential that can be reached with the show. Pitting Dexter against someone he cares about would create quite the dillema for him (follow his kill code, or his heart...if he even has one).

Mo Ryan said...

I can't see how this could ever be a good idea, for all the reasons Alan stated.

Already the show has lost so much tension as to be almost unrecognizable to me. There's a chance they may pull it off this season, but at this point I'm only watching due to past loyalty. I'm very disappointed in Dexter this year.

Would he lose all faith in society, and go on a rampage?

I guess that's kind of my point. Dexter is not a rampage guy. Up til now the show has been much more subtle and much more about Dexter's inner emotional journey. If I want to see a bad guy killing for kicks, I can turn to CBS any night of the week.

SR said...

Although I realize they'll never do this, I would love to see a season of Dexter less devoted to some season-long arc and made up instead of stand-alone episodes.

I think there's a lot of potential for a dark, CSI-style procedural that been tossed aside to make room for the big arc. That, and I don't always need to see Dexter working at cross-purposes with his friends to conceal his true nature and cover his tracks. There are so many other stories they could tell.

april said...

I actually loved the first season. I was pleased to find out that it followed the book rather faithfully. I thought some of the changes in the tv show benefitted the medium, too. I hit my fatigue in the series last season with the whole Lila thing. So, I went into this season with low expectations. With low expectations, I ended up enjoying this season so far. I'll continue to watch for now. I can't promise the next two years.

ED said...

To me, the show can go one of two ways; 1) Dexter becomes taken over more and more by the "dark passenger" and can't maintain the illusion of a normal life anymore, or 2) Dexter makes an attempt to be a "normal" person and leave his past behind. Maybe they kill of Rita and Dexter is faced with raising the kids by himself, maybe we have someone like Deb or Rita find out who Dex really is, and he has to balance how they see him . . .
I haven't read the books; Is there fertile ground for a season long arc in any of the subsequent novels written?

daveawayfromhome said...

"But "Dexter" seems like a classic example of a show that should be done on the British model: one or two seasons, then stop unless the creator has an absolutely brilliant idea that he feels he has to write."

Unfortunately, this is true about a lot of television series (Twin Peaks, anyone?), but Americans are the pit bulls of the storytelling world, and wont let go of anything if there's a dollar left to be drained. Artistic integrity be damned, there's money to be made.

Matt said...

I only read the first book, which was pretty faithfully adapted as Season 1, though with a lot more Dexter victims included, but the second one ("Dearly Devoted Dexter") might have some fertile ground. The third one ("Dexter In The Dark") was apparently a mess--"a mysterious cult begins stalking Dexter, believing his "Dark Passenger" to be a threat to them."

Also, in the novels, Deb learns of Dexter's secret during the climax of book 1.

renton said...

Well, I'm much more likely to watch a 4th season of "Dexter" than any further seasons of "Entourage".

Kenrick said...

Just having watched seasons one and two in the span of two weeks, I'm inclined to agree with Alan. Although I thought Dexter has been fantastic, I think it's better to end it early than to keep chugging along allowing itself to get stale. I mean if the writers' have a brilliant idea to sustain Dexter through seasons four and five, I'm all for it, but part of the fun of the show is discovering the mysteries behind Dexter's life and getting to know the characters. After a while that becomes boring, and I'm afraid the writers will have to add inane twists and convoluted plot devices to keep things interesting. In any case, I'm all Dextered out for the moment so I haven't begun season three yet. I do really hope the quality will be sustainable though.

Morrolan said...

I think S3 is down on the first 2 seasons but I think it can recover. The problem to me is that the season is focusing too much on Rita being pregnant and their homelife. It has lessened the suspense.

dez said...

Also, the second book of Dexter had a truly evil and devious villian that would push the graphic violence of the show to a new level.

I'm currently in the middle of that book and I'm a big horror fanatic, but even I don't want to see some of that stuff put on screen, yeccch! :-)

However, I think they could do a lot of interesting things with Deb's finding out who Dexter is (as Matt mentioned above, Deb found out Dex's secret in the first novel). We've already seen what a rabidly good cop she is (when she arrested the CI, e.g.); how would she react if she found Dex's horrible secret? Would she ultimately turn him in? Would she become his surrogate Harry (the Code of Deb, anyone)? Would she wind up telling LaGuerta that yes, LaGuerta was right about Doakes' innocence all along? Could be very good territory for them to explore--if they do it right, of course.

Anonymous said...

Why should they stop making enjoyable tv? Especially if they feel the material is worth it? Because some people say go out on top and smaller is always better? Forget that. I'd rather a great show keep at it especially if the creative juices are flowing.

Remember these are the same people who said The Wire should end after Season 3. What more could they possibly have to say????

Mike said...

Have to disagree with Alan here. For me, Dexter has improved each season. Getting rid of the one-note Doakes was a step up for the show and in so doing elevated his character to new heights.

Each year, we've seen Deb progress as a character in what I think is one of the grittiest, naturalistic and surprising acting jobs done by an actress. Angel is also excellent in his limited role.

And Michael C Hall continues hall of fame level work. His acuity for the abnormal makes Dexter's body language and facial expressions has brought a wonderfully horrible social awkwardness to the serial killer role.

Season 1 stayed somewhat true to the books and luckily presented a much more textured and rich set of characters and themes than the book ever did. From the 2nd half of the 1st season on, the series easily surpassed the books, which I'd guess were written on a 5th grade reading level.

Alan's contention is that, as a sociopath, Dexter isn't supposed to have feelings or be human...but what is unique about Dexter's character is that thanks to Harry, he is completely self-aware in his sociopathy. Because of that and season 1's events, Dexter was set on a path towards self-discovery. Through his sister, his co-workers and his "cover" girlfriend, he was able to understand how others viewed him. His notions of self-aggrandizement were put to rest during season 2 when he was surrounded by people's real opinions of The Bay Harbor Butcher.

So I strongly disagree that there is nowhere to go. Its unclear to me whether Dexter yearns to be more human like Lt Data from Star Trek TNG or if he's just being pulled along by events and circumstances down this path. But either way, he's on a journey.

All that's left to decide is everything. For the minor characters, they all seem to be searching for some personal happiness. Deb & Batista are my personal favorites and I think they're characters who are worth continuing to root for. And for Dexter, the big questions are whether he can lead a normal life, find salvation, tame the dark passenger, and come to some sort of peace/rest with himself.

Now...I don't think we'll see the series end with him giving up killing. But I do want to know if his character can progress and continue to keep his secrets.

anon said...

The problem isn't just extra seasons -- it's the lack of finality. It's difficult to see how to build multiple open-ended seasons of the show where: a) Dexter never stops killing, b) Dexter never gets caught, c) Everyone who learns Dexter's secret dies (or goes mad, I guess), and d) A new serial killer emerges every season to spur Dexter's personal growth but is safely dispatched at season's end.

On the other hand, the last season of Dexter, if it was known to everyone involved in advance that it would be the last season, could be really compelling, since all these constraints would go out the window.

As an example of this trajectory, just read Alan's recaps of the last season and a half of The Shield.

Anon

Anonymous said...

"But "Dexter" seems like a classic example of a show that should be done on the British model: one or two seasons, then stop unless the creator has an absolutely brilliant idea that he feels he has to write."

This isn't "the British model". It is a British model, but it is very much the exception, rather than the rule. And on the occasions that it does appear it's often more to do with something not doing terribly well, but being given a 2nd chance that ends up not paying off, rather than any grand plan.

Rev-Views said...

Hum, well I think that it could be a good thing if the writers use the two definate seasons to build things up with a long story arc between the two (in addition to a shorter one).

Personally I think a completely innocent man (reporter maybe) sniffing around Dexter's activities would provide a decent foil for him. Someone who can fill the role Doakes was in the first two seasons. "I know something's wrong here, but I'm not sure what."

The show really shot it's load losing Brian in season one and then Doakes in season two.

Mark Madel said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Alan Sepinwall said...

I don't quite understand how you can decry another season or two of Dexter, yet still be enthralled with The Shield.

First, I did complain a fair amount about The Shield running in place during its middle seasons, and in an ideal world, it would have run maybe five years instead of seven.

Second, the last few seasons -- all written with an end date in mind -- have been phenomenal, with last night's episode among the most intense the show has ever done, entirely because the writers could do blow things out knowing only a few episodes are left.

If "Dexter" seasons four and five are designed with some kind of endgame in mind, maybe my opinion of this move will change. Hell, it's still eminently possible that my opinion of this season may improve before we're done.

blogward said...

It seems that the Dexter team have rung all the changes - it's all been done in S1 & S2 and it's suffering from soapoperatism. Somebody knows Dexter's secret, Dexter finds redemption, somebody takes the rap for Dexter, Debra is put in jeopardy, Dexter has to kill to save his neck, Dexter is disillusioned, etc., and if the end of S2 is anything to go by, they will end it all with a big explosion and fire. Great in Hi-Def, but a huge plot copout. The British model - on the BBC at least - tends towards flogging a dead horse long after it isn't fit for jerky.

Jill said...

I'm kind of late to the party here -- new job; my own blog, and frankly, I just forgot.

I think two more seasons is fine, but about it. I keep waiting for an episode to be called "Pinocchio", because what we're seeing is the evolution (I hope) of Dexter into a "real boy."

MCH's work this season just leaves me gaping and speechless at the end of the hour.

alexxx125 said...

I LOVE Dexter and will watch no matter how many seasons--If you are not digging it as much, don't watch. And quit complaining and let the rest of us watch Dexter in pieces... I mean peace....

Anonymous said...

I hope they have a 4th, 5th and
6th season. Dexter is a creative show...love the narrating. I would have sworn if someone told me about this kind of show I would have said I wouldn't watch it. But honestly we're all hooked!
Keep Dexter coming Showtime!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Hmmmm
I hope they have a 4th, 5th and
6th season. Dexter is a creative show...love the narrating. I would have sworn if someone told me about this kind of show I would have said I wouldn't watch it. But honestly we're all hooked!
Keep Dexter coming Showtime!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

8:39 PM, December 30, 2008

i agree... thats what many people dont realize... this entire show is built on a concept that upon hearing about it many people are instantly turned off... yet all who watch become captivated... i say keep it coming... and stop complaining about developements and what it would take to maintain the show when no one knows what is in store...