Sunday, September 29, 2013

From LA Examiner: 'Unforgettable' Renewed; Adam Pally on 'The Mindy Project'; Damian Lewis Back on 'Homeland'; 'Once Upon A Time' Spoilers...

Summer 2014 over at CBS is already shaping up nicely with the eye network renewing the Poppy Montgomery helmed police procedural Unforgettable today... [MORE]

"First Look: Adam Pally comes to The Mindy Project"

There was no bigger fan of Happy Endings than LA TV Insider Examiner. Seriously, challenge me on quotes, trivia, or ask to see my official Mandonna poster! And one of the things that I loved most about that ABC comedy was that it introduced me to Adam Pally. While I was insanely sad to see that show go after its third season, the silver lining was that Pally went over to FOX' The Mindy Project, another one of my favorite comedies. And now we have our first look at him in the episode "Music Festival"... [MORE]

"First Look: Brody returns on Homeland episode 3.03"

There isn't much known yet about how the third season of Showtime's Homeland will unfold, but what has been confirmed is that Nicholas Brody (Damian Lewis), who is being accused of being the Langley bomber has gone into hiding and is nowhere to be found for Carrie (Claire Danes) or the rest of the CIA. Or, at least for the first couple of episodes, the audience itself. Lewis won't be on-screen on Homeland until episode three, and now we have the first look at his return in the slideshow above... [MORE]

If you watched the third season premiere of ABC's Once Upon A Time, you may have picked up on the fact that Peter Pan wants something more with Henry (Jared Gilmore) than just his literal "truest believer" heart. If all he wanted was the organ, he could rip it out of him as easily as we've seen Regina (Lana Parrilla) or Rumple (Robert Carlyle) do the same thing. After all, Neverland is Pan's playground, and the Lost Boys are his Lord of Flies-like minions. They have Henry trapped-- literally. But to just kill a core character wouldn't give him any leverage over his powerful loved ones searching for him. In fact, it would pretty much end any intrigue or story in Neverland in the first place. But instead, things there are just getting started. What's to come for some very troubled characters-- old and new? We checked in with series executive producers Eddy Kitsis and Adam Horowitz to find out! ... [MORE]

Friday, September 27, 2013

'We Have Thoughts': On The 6th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards and Winners...

It's almost a week since the weirdest and most depressing Emmy Awards potentially in the history of the medium, and though much of the discussion has died down and many of the winners already forgotten, We Have Thoughts is just getting around to talking about it. What can we say? Premiere week kicked our butts! 

Marisa and I shot this vodcast the afternoon after the ceremony occurred live from Los Angeles, and we had opinions about everything from the actual ceremony itself (lackluster opening moment, odd choreography, drawn out in memoriams and random performances and other moments in television-- but not moments in this past season of television) to who took home statues that we were happy about, as well as who took home statues that left us scratching our heads. And of course we threw in some shout-outs to who we would have voted for.


Thursday, September 26, 2013

From LA Examiner: CBS Orders New Crime Drama; HBO Renews 'Boardwalk Empire'...

CBS is already moving onto the television season for 2014-2015, despite the 2013 season just getting underway. The eye network has a number of new series still yet to debut, but it's putting its faith in Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan by picking up his new detective series... [MORE]

HBO has announced today that their hit period crime drama Boardwalk Empire has been renewed for a fifth season... [MORE]

'We Have Thoughts': On the 'Dexter' Finale (Part 2)...

There's a reason our vodcast is called We Have Thoughts, and I warned you there was especially a lot to be said about the Dexter finale and what it meant for the series and the character that came before it! 

Click here for Part 1 of We Have Thoughts' Dexter finale discussion.

Given that Marisa and I both felt the series finale left the show on a down note (for varying reasons), we wanted to look back and consider what that meant for everything that came before it. Sometimes a show will end in such a way that it forces you to look at all previous episodes differently (learning something wasn't real but all in a character's dream, for example, is the most obvious offender, but sometimes it's just the quality that makes you question what you used to think about something, too). So in addition to talking about the series finale episode, we did want to expand a bit more on the themes and character development.

Full disclosure and fair warning: Here is where my psychological profiling of the character really kicks in. I fully admit I watch this show differently than most people! But we also talk about the ending that could have been in what previous showrunner Clyde Phillips would have done, as well as the odd balance of the season and if that was indicative of the character's struggles or the writers', and if there's a potential rewatch on the horizon...

The Psychology of 'Nashville's' Deacon Claybourne...

Dexter Morgan has only been gone for my life for a few days, but already I think it is apparent that his successor in my heart and mind will be Deacon Claybourne (Charles Esten) on ABC's Nashville.

We have known Deacon was a more traditional addict (an alcoholic) since the pilot episode, but he seemed to be strong in his recovery and deep into living without those demons. The events of the season finale, which admittedly I railed against for seeming out of character, spun him into a rage that he only knew how to quell by drinking. He found out he had a daughter and that she was kept from him for years, and he just couldn't handle it. At the time it made no sense: he had been through so much, especially recently, that could have been a trigger, but nothing else even blipped his radar. This not only blipped it, it exploded it.

But as season two is exploring, albeit in a quiet, more internalized way through nuances in Esten's performance (if you think he's broken your heart so far, just wait until next week!) and the expectation that audiences understand addicts' frames of mind, it wasn't so much the news of fatherhood that set him off but the feeling of unworthiness that came with it. The woman he loved didn't trust him enough to tell him about his child-- not at first because he was still drunk back then but also not once throughout the thirteen years that she had been alive and he had been sober. He thought he had been doing well this whole time, but this was the proof that people still held back with him-- even if they loved and respected him, they didn't quite trust him. "Once an addict, always an addict," right? And he gave into that, figuring if they were already thinking it, he shouldn't fight it anymore.

People tend to think of addiction only as it relates to drugs or alcohol rather than the brain chemistry and chemical imbalances that actually cause it. It's so much easier to focus on the external-- on what can be seen-- but that's only a behavior. You can stop drinking or using drugs, but the part of your brain that obsessively fires the need for giving into the compulsion doesn't rewire. It can quiet over time, but it doesn't completely disappear. 

Now that Deacon has come out of his relapse, though, as we saw in the second season premiere but will especially see in the second episode of the second season, he is self-punishing because of the immense guilt and sadness he feels over recent events and actions that he doesn't quite have the proper tools with which to deal. He has woken up from addiction, looked around at the mess he made, and (like Dexter, by the way) decided he is no good to anyone or anything. He may not drink himself to death, but his shame spiral is just as detrimental.

Pleading guilty to the car accident that put Rayna in a coma even though he wasn't driving was just the start. Not wanting a lawyer or to be out on bail or even his niece to come and see him continued the thread. But the real telling moment is how he is handling his broken arm. Prison healthcare is not great, and Deacon is in no position to take pain meds anyway, but living with the pain in his arm is a constant, throbbing reminder of the pain he has caused those around him. Forcing yourself to experience that-- to relive that-- not only keeps you in an equally obsessive state as when you'd down bottle after bottle, but it sets up just as dark a future, too.

Deacon is a musician. He relies on his hands for a living. By not letting his arm heal properly, he is basically shutting off that part of his life that has sustained him-- monetarily but also emotionally-- and been his only healthy outlet. He's holding himself so responsible for so many things, he's basically letting the pieces of himself that make him happy or feel loved die slowly, one by one. He's basically saying he's not worthy or deserving of them-- of anything. He might as well curl up in a corner with a bottle of whatever because the result is pretty much the same. The depressive crash that comes when one gets sober is just as all-encompassing as the initial addiction. After all, it's all the same synapses in the brain.

Of course, Deacon has people, like his niece, in his life who will push and claw their way back in no matter how much momentary hurt he may cause, so his struggle shouldn't be a completely internalized one going forward. But honestly, watching everything behind his eyes, on his face, play out in his isolation in the season premiere was what makes me want to stick with an otherwise very over the top, soapy Nashville. To be honest, I didn't think this show had this kind of serious complexity in it. It grabbed so easily for catty fighting and tedious, stereotypical love triangles in its first season. There was always potential for Deacon and cowboy singer Will (Chris Carmack), but the show last year shied away from it. What we're seeing so far in season two, at least from Deacon, is truly grounding the series and inspiring what will hopefully prove to be a consistently smarter, stronger, more important show.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

From LA Examiner: 'Masterchef Junior' L.A. Event; 'The Miller's & 'Sean Saves the World' Advance Reviews...

"Masterchef Junior and Sprinkles to attempt World's Largest Cupcake in L.A.!"

There may never be another event that speaks as personally to LA TV Insider Examiner as today's FOX and Sprinkles attempt at a Guinness World Record. Sprinkles Cupcakes, which has locations in Beverly Hills and at the Grove here in Los Angeles, is teaming up with FOX and Gordon Ramsay's new cooking reality competition series, Masterchef Junior in order to attempt to make the World's Largest Cupcake... [MORE]

"Fall 2013 TV Preview: CBS' The Millers"

We don't usually say it's a good thing when pilots keep certain characters separate from each other and don't allow actors to bounce off each other in scenes, but for CBS' The Millers, it actually works in the show's favor that Jayma Mays talks about and around her on-screen parents more than she does interact with them. Mays is playing a very grounded, single-camera comedy character, while both Beau Bridges and Margo Martindale as said parents are diving into the big, broad, "scream it to the balcony" aspects of traditional sitcoms. Will Arnett, the bridge between the characters and the center of the show, therefore has to carefully toe the line between both styles. His character is the audience's way into the show, and we are looking to him to know what "normal" behavior should look like for the world and tone this show is creating. This makes him more of the straight man than you've ever seen him, and though it's a role he slips into well, it's a little unfortunate and uncomfortable for an audience who knows and loves him as a bigger personality. There is a lot of weight on his shoulders to prove that he isn't as crazy as those who birthed him, just as there is a lot of weight on this show in general to prove it can be more than fart jokes, "older people are bad with technology" jokes, and general loud decibels of line delivery that the pilot relies on for the comedy... [MORE]

It gets better. That's not just a life motto anymore; it also should be the tagline for NBC's new sitcom, Sean Saves the World. Because though the pilot is very schticky, relying heavily on physical gags and hitting punchlines hard, there is a promise of a sweeter, softer story to emerge as the audience settles in with these colorful characters... [MORE]

'We Have Thoughts': On the 'Dexter' Finale (Part 1)...

Sometimes a television series is so epic, it warrants hour-long discussions about nuance and detail in its writing, production, and performances. The final episode of those shows bring on feelings that are usually accompanied by tears as you have to say good-bye to a character who you've come to love like any family member or friend you hang out with weekly in your living room. If that character ends the series still alive, there is the notion that he or she will go on and have more adventures without you with which to contend as well. It is no secret that both of us at We Have Thoughts connected with Showtime's Dexter and saw it as a series of epic proportions-- especially in the beginning. So when the series finale rolled around, we of course, had a lot to say about where the show went in its final moments-- for the audience as well as the title character himself.

It should be no surprise that our love for the show and the character made us not love where the show and the character were left in those final few moments of the series finale. Due in part to those emotions and in part due to sleep deprivation caused by a crazy busy weekend of this finale, Emmys, and fall premiere week prep, we did repeat ourselves a bit when discussing the themes within this most recent vodcast. And we certainly went on longer than usual. But both such a complex character and a show that at times was just as complicated deserve dissection, rather than snap judgement, knee-jerk reaction. 

On Reactions to This Finale, Compared to Other Genre Finales:

On Those Final Few Moments Proving Dexter Lost Not Only His Shadow Self But Himself In General:

On The Finale That Could Have Been aka The Fake "Leaked Outline":

On Potential Spin-Offs and Lack of Spoilers This Season:

On No One Else Learning Dexter's Secret Before The End:

 On Dexter's Internal Struggle:

And come back tomorrow for the conclusion of our Dexter series finale vodcast discussion. Will anything stir us up like this again!?

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

From LA Examiner: 'Castle' Season Premiere Review; 'Once Upon A Time' Neverland Spoilers; FOX Orders 'Gotham'...

"Castle's season 6 premiere: The review that should have been"

ABC's Castle's sixth season premiere, "Valkyrie", opened in the moments immediately following Castle (Nathan Fillion) pulling out the ring, allowing the characters to discuss how serious he was and how it sounded like he was breaking up with Beckett (Stana Katic) but also allowing the audience to get her answer immediately. But then it catapulted the show-- and Beckett-- in time and distance to her new FBI training, where she wasn't the self-assured, always hero she has been within the NYPD. Instead she made mistakes. Big ones. She had to relearn a lot of things and rid herself of other habits. She was no longer looking at evidence but intel, and the instincts that made her such a good detective, caring about victims and witnesses and hostages, can and did trip her up in the bigger leagues. It was great to finally get to see a different side to Beckett and some different vulnerability from her, too, even if it did prove to be a bit short-lived. But it was even better to see her play off Lisa Edelstein, as her senior partner who seemed to see a lot of herself in Beckett, flaws and all. "Valkyrie" was a true chance for Katic to stand alone and shine... [MORE] 

"Once Upon A Time EPs preview Neverland, psychology, & Pan as ultimate villain!?"

ABC's Once Upon A Time is once again starting its season in a strange new world-- for its characters as well as its audience. When Henry (Jared Gilmore) was snatched by two real world villains doing the bidding of a secretive "Home Office" in the season finale, his family formed the most unlikely road trip-- well, boat trip-- and set sail after him to bring him home. The journey will bring all of our beloved characters, from Henry to his mother Emma (Jennifer Morrison) and her parents Snow (Ginnifer Goodwin) and Charming (Josh Dallas) to the slightly more villainous Regina (Lana Parrilla), Rumple (Robert Carlyle), and Hook (Colin O'Donoghue) to Neverland-- a world where little boys, led by Peter Pan, never grow up. But none of the characters in Once Upon A Time are exactly what we'd expect them to be from the stories we may have grown up reading or watching, so true to its form, neither is Peter Pan nor the world which he inhabits. Emma may have been a fish out of water stepping into the cursed Storybrooke in season one, but here we have a group of fish out of water trying to navigate a dark and dangerous jungle to ward off Lost Boys and find Henry... [MORE]

"FOX orders Gotham straight to series"

Yet another comic book series will be coming to television-- but not until 2014. Deadline broke the news earlier today that FOX has officially committed to Gotham from Bruno Heller and Warner Bros. TV with a straight-to-series order... [MORE]

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Reflecting on 'Dexter's' Evolution and Exorcising of Demons...

Dexter changed my life. But as it turned out, it changed a serial killer's, too.

In 2006, when Showtime first debuted Dexter, their drama about a serial killer who kills serial killers was hardly the first series to stick an anti-hero at the center of the show, making the audience not only follow but also care deeply about a flawed protagonist. Both The Sopranos and The Shield get the most credit for kick-starting the movement (in 1999 and 2002, respectively) that made anti-heroes popular, but in truth, they have been around for centuries in literature and were introduced to television decades earlier on everything from soap operas to sitcoms (Archie Bunker and Al Bundy, anyone?). But Dexter, adapted from Jeff Lindsay's novels, with the aid of the premium cable network that didn't just push boundaries it obliterated them, was on a level by itself. It came roaring out of the gate on premiere night full of blood and sinister images and sharpness-- and that was only the opening credits. But what followed was a unique portrayal of a man whose compulsion drove his every action, his every thought, his every move. He was a man unlike anyone we had ever seen because he claimed he could not feel real emotions; he claimed he was not human. While mixing quite a few stories we've seen before (crime drama, serial killer slasher, fish-out-of-water comedic moments, and even eventually a coming of age tale), Dexter was a case study in the psychology of an uncommonly complex character.

Due to the graphic nature of the show and Michael C. Hall's unflinching portrayal of a man who had been convinced-- who had convinced himself-- he was not a man but a monster, Dexter got a lot of attention for its violence. It was a show that made its audience root for a guy who was going around fictional Miami stabbing people, cutting them into little pieces, and throwing them in garbage bags off the side of a boat, after all. Dexter started decades into the character's honoring of his Code, decades after he had come to terms with who and what he was and what that meant for his extracurriculars. There was no question of whether or not Dexter should have a table at all but instead the audience was just told to accept it, too, without nearly as much prep time. It was a bold way to start, and that earned Dexter much praise and respect, as well.

From as far back as watching Doakes (Erik King) actually be onto Dexter and therefore actively rooting for him to die, the audience was challenged to tap into their own morality. Dexter was a show you could sit back and watch passively for entertainment purposes if you wanted, but you could not walk away from it without it leaving residual thoughts in your head about your ideas of right and wrong and what you thought the characters were doing that was right or wrong. Still, the character of Dexter Morgan was so firm in who and what he was back in season one that the audience, even if not always agreeing with him, had to praise and respect him, too. This was a man with a hyper-focus, a mission, and he wasn't going to let anything get in his way. Most television characters spend the better part of their individual episodes making mistakes, having misunderstandings, scrambling to get all the right information to solve a problem, but not Dexter. Never Dexter, not in the beginning at least. But how long could that be kept up? A character who is so sure of himself doesn't leave much room for growth, and without growth there is no reason to keep watching. And furthermore, a true sociopath can never grow so there is no room there for something new or different or unique. Thankfully, Dexter answered this just as early on by offering inklings that the mask he wore wasn't actually a human one after all but the monster one-- built harder than most plaster over years of repetitious belief and to a degree self-inflicted emotional abuse that he was not normal and could never be so. Suddenly what was so interesting about Dexter was not the "big bads" he had to hunt down or the people around him he had to keep at bay lest they get suspicious but what was happening in his own mind as very real relationships started to pick at his mask and prove there actually was a real guy underneath it. He became even more complicated for it, and that confused and sometimes convoluted the show as he couldn't always work out why he was suddenly doing things differently.

We got glimpses into Dexter's humanity when he went after Rita's (Julie Benz) abusive ex-husband Paul (Mark Pellegrino) as well as when he took out Lila (Jaime Murray) for killing the still-innocent Doakes. We saw him make mistakes because of that evolving side of himself that started to yearn for normalcy even when he couldn't recognize it, let alone admit it. Taking Miguel Prado (Jimmy Smits) under his wing just to have a real friend was a tipping point, but so was the fascination with getting to the bottom of what was going on in Trinity's (John Lithgow) family. We saw him make horrible mistakes-- ones that should have gotten him caught for sure and ones that sent him spiraling, again, in ways he didn't yet recognize, let alone acknowledge. But the audience, completely in touch with the whole range of human emotions for years, could. And we did. 

In the earliest days of the show, Dexter came alive when entrenched in those things; he was snarky, light on his feet, and downright fun when getting his fix. He researched his next potential victim because he needed a next potential victim; he got off on the excitement, the thrill, the rush. He was feeding an addiction. But when Rita and then Harrison came into the picture, things changed a bit. Not instantaneously, but gradually over time. He began to get more out of the idea of a family life and prolonged moments that allowed that-- even though they were usually weird moments with pseudo-father figure Trinity. He had spent so many years giving himself over completely to his Dark Passenger that he didn't know how to balance, and he lost the chance to learn in the most tragic way possible. What he went looking for was revenge-- not only against Trinity; taking out one man wasn't enough-- but also against those who abused and tortured Lumen (Julia Stiles). She resembled Rita enough that Dexter could transfer many of his unexplained feelings onto her and their situation. But while he helped her heal, he really only distracted himself. In fact, he distracted himself so much he didn't seem to notice that he was no longer enjoying the kills as much as he used to but rather starting to just go through the motions with them. He performed the ritual because it was just that, and because it came with tradition. He was chasing feeling something in all the usual ways but coming up empty.

Travis' (Colin Hanks) break with reality in seeing the professor he killed as his guide for all of his new kills was a cautionary tale for Dexter Morgan himself, and in many ways should have been a wake-up call to him to try harder to break free of his demons that enslaved him to his Code, his ritual, in the first place. Dexter was still leaning too hard on Harry (James Remar) and with so much loss around him personally and on the job, he could have easily snapped the way Travis did. There will always be people around worthy of the table, and that kind of hyper-focus on finding and catching them all could drive anyone insane, let alone someone who increasingly was being fulfilled by things outside his Dark Passenger.

For a few seasons in the middle there, it seemed like maybe Dexter was just in a rut. Maybe he lost some of his passion because the routine-- the ritual-- hadn't provided him with many real challenges in awhile. Maybe it was the classic case of over time needing more and more to feel that initial thrill. But then season seven came along and proved that no, it was because Dexter's focus had opened up and shifted, and he was genuinely caring about more things than just the Code. Namely his sister Deb (Jennifer Carpenter) and his actual-equal, not just attempted-to-make-an-equal like he had in the past, Hannah (Yvonne Strahovski). Suddenly it wasn't his family that was distracting him from his Dark Passenger but the other way around. What he used to willingly let consume him became something he seemed to have to get through in order to move onto other things, and at times he even seemed irritated by he commitment his Code required-- an irritation or at least annoyance previously reserved for per people and their interactions. Dexter Morgan came immensely far in eight seasons to realize just how human he is-- but human nature only makes you more vulnerable, even if it's mostly to your own suddenly conflicting inner thoughts and feelings.

Dexter's final season packed all of the core themes from the first seven seasons in, in order to remind the audience, and to finally point out to Dexter himself, just how far he has come. From the earliest moments of Dexter learning that it was not his adopted father who came up with the Code after all, but a stranger psychiatrist (Charlotte Rampling), it was apparent that Dexter was going to have to do some soul-searching, and perhaps some rethinking, everything he took as gospel about himself. He had spent so long just rigidly following this Code and resigning himself to be only one thing, but the seeds had already been planted that maybe he wanted to be something else, and here he was, learning that he could have been.  

He still spent time trying to take someone else under his wing (Sam Underwood)-- to try to build out a true support system-- only to see it end badly because of things he had overlooked in his desire to get something very specific out of it. He still had to choose between family, only time and emotion proved the choice more complicated and fraught than ever before. In season one, Dexter had to choose between his siblings, standing over Deb with Brian Moser (Christian Camargo) and either slicing her to kill her or to set her free, but in season eight he had to choose between protecting Deb and Hannah and his healing process or his surrogate mother Dr. Vogel. He met not a blood brother but a brother figure in Daniel Vogel/Oliver Saxon (Darri Ingolfsson) and played a game of cat-and-mouse with him that he willingly walked away from a few times, only to mean disastrous results repeated. Like with Trinity, Dexter hesitated just enough to give Saxon the edge, and the boy who was born in blood became the man who was finally awakened in it.

It took Dexter longer than it took the audience to realize that though his Dark Passenger was a part of him, it was not all of him. Since we were steps ahead of him in his own self-discovery, these thematic return sometimes meant the show took on a more typical or anticipatory formula. Sometimes the actions Dexter was taking or mistakes he was making seemed beneath him-- like things he shouldn't be doing, like things he (and supposedly the show, too) was smarter than. Sometimes the evolution of Dexter into an actual human man from the more robotic killer he was when we met him actually seemed like a degradation of the guy for whom we had grown such an affection. He was repeating his own mistakes; he was leaving himself and his loved ones vulnerable; he was-- gasp-- letting his emotions lead him. These are all things that define every other character on television-- and in this particular show-- yet he was supposed to be "better" than that. But the thing is, Dexter has always been extremely emotionally stunted because of the fact that he didn't think he had true emotions at all. So to get in touch with himself so late in life and realize he actually does, well, of course he's going to make some really bad decisions. He's just doing it much later in life and in much heightened circumstances.

The Dexter we met in season one could never have imagined he'd turn into the Dexter we said good-bye to in season eight. He had resigned himself to a certain kind of life, convinced that was all he was capable of and good for. Admittedly, the show absolutely had to end when and where it did because the audience unabashedly signed on for a show about a serial killer in 2006, and this many years later, that is the show they wanted to watch-- not one about a guy who had worked through his demons and found that he wanted to focus now on something else instead. Personally, I'm glad the show found a way to only metaphorically kill the Dexter we came to know and love so we only have to mourn a part of him, not the whole character. It wouldn't have felt right if the man who had taken down so many looming, terrible forces would have been stopped in the end. Even though over time Dexter let down his guard enough to let others catch onto him, there was never a character worthy of taking him down, but for possibly Deb, who it was always established would be by his side no matter what, even to her detriment (as it turned out to be). 

For eight seasons, Dexter was a character who did the things we at home on our couches could not. We lived vicariously, if not a bit more savagely, through him. It is perfectly fitting that he capped off the series with a couple of those actions. Ending Saxon was certainly one of them. 

While it wasn't the same as seeing him strapped to a table, wrapped in the iconic Saran wrap, it certainly satiated Dexter's drive to take care of things himself-- because that it the only way he has ever been able to prove it would be done properly, even if somewhat late. And to see that there was no joy left in the action for him, that it was just something he literally had to check off on a list, proved he no longer needed his Dark Passenger the way that he used to. But he thought he could still lean on it to get him through a few last actions, and that is where things truly turned tragic. Most people grow and mature over decades, slowly, surely, organically, but Dexter has kind of had a rush job as he has only recently realized he was even capable of emotions. And while they should be great for the man, even if not the machine-like killer inside of him, he never developed the proper tools to work his way through them.

Even if in the end he gave Debra a little bit of mercy by ending a miserable and unfair circumstance, he could not get past the childlike feelings of it all being his fault to consider the choices she willingly made that led her here as much as it did him. Any burst of growth he may have had wasn't allowed to blossom; he still gave in to his darkest thoughts that he didn't deserve anything good and that anyone around him was doomed because of him.

Of course, you can't really change who you are, and the Dark Passenger is as a part of Dexter as any other. But you can choose to let one side of yourself shine brighter and take over the others. Dexter did that with his Dark Passenger for years, and he was trying to do that with the loving family man side of him for awhile there. But replacing one all-encompassing faction with another is not learning to balance or to mature. If Dexter had simply walked away from all of his obligations to "choose himself," then this series could have still ended on a high note. Years earlier, when this series first started, Dexter driving his boat into the middle of a storm in order to leave behind all of his commitments would have been something that set a wide smile on the character's face. This time, all it did was push him into a darker place than his Passenger ever led him. 

There are many who would say that a serial killer-- even a fictional one-- doesn't deserve the hope that comes with healing or a happy ending. There are many who would say that a serial killer-- even a fictional one-- deserves to live in torture in order to pay for the crimes they've committed. True sociopaths don't feel regret for those they have killed, but even they feel when their own lives have been disrupted. Dexter may not have been locked in a physical prison, found out for his Bay Harbor-butchering after all of these years, but he put himself in a metaphorical, emotional one, punishing himself by extraditing himself and therefore backtracking completely over some of the very real work he had done towards healing. It was a relapse that turns his sadistic side in on itself. When he was a slave to his Dark Passenger for all of those years, he never thought he had another option. But now he knows the world is wide open to him, and he's choosing this solitary, sad existence anyway. It's the most depressing ending that I could have imagined: he still considers himself a monster above everything else.

Years ago, walking away from everything would have been the selfish choice. Here, he thought it was a selfless one because he believed he was the poison in his loved ones' lives. He was wrong, but it still let those left grieve and then move on. But after all the time we've spent with Dexter Morgan and all the insight we've gained, I still, maybe equally childishly, wanted something better for him. I'd still like to believe that the look on his face at the end was one of regret, and he'd track Hannah down, apologize, and start over again with her and Harrison. His grief over Debra caused him to turn to an old faithful "opt out" plan, but it's not one that will make him happy because he does have attachments now. I very much wanted him to get to the point where he gave in to how much his human nature meant for him, even when it was scary, even when it was messy. I wanted him to struggle with what it all meant but to turn to others to help him through it, rather than folding inwardly and shutting down again. If he could heal and have a happy ending, then it gave hope for the rest of us.

And the 65th Annual Primetime Emmy Award Winners Are... (Questionable)

Tonight, hosted by Neil Patrick Harris, live from Los Angeles the 65th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards were held, celebrating the best-- for once this year not just the most beloved-- in television today. Immediately off the top of the show, predicted results were shattered in many categories, allowing for some very deserving but admittedly underdog and "new" talent to take home the coveted gold statues. Were the ones you predicted among them? Were the ones for which you hoped? For me, not so much. If I had an office, I certainly would have lost the pool!

The list of winners is below:

Comedy kicked off the night with the first category being Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series, which went to Merritt Wever for her role on Showtime's Nurse Jackie, and Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series, which went to Tony Hale for his role on Veep (HBO).

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series followed, marking another win for HBO's Veep in series star Julia Louis-Dreyfus.

Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series went to Melissa Leo for her scene stealing turn on FX and Louis C.K.'s Louie during last week's Creative Arts ceremony, as was Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series, which went to Bob Newhart for his appearance on CBS' The Big Bang Theory. Remarkably, this marked Newhart's first ever Emmy win.

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series went once again to Jim Parsons for CBS' The Big Bang Theory.

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or Movie went to Laura Linney who was finally honored for her journey as cancer patient Cathy Jamison on The Big C, highlighting her final season hereafter.

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series went to Anna Gunn for her role on AMC's Breaking Bad, marking the first of what ended up being a shorter list for the series this year than expected.

CBS' Undercover Boss won Outstanding Reality Series at the Creative Arts ceremony held last week, while Project Runway's Tim Gunn and Heidi Klum won Outstanding Host for a Reality or Reality-Competition Program there. But tonight The Voice took home Outstanding Reality-Competition Program for NBC.

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series went to Bobby Cannavale for HBO's Boardwalk Empire and Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series went to HBO's The Newsroom's Jeff Daniels, leading to the biggest upsets of the evening.

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series once again went to Claire Danes for Showtime's Homeland.

Outstanding Variety Series went to Comedy Central's The Colbert Report.

James Cromwell took home the statue for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or Movie for his turn on FX' American Horror Story: Asylum and Ellen Burstyn won for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or Movie for USA's Political Animals. The Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or Movie award went to Michael Douglas for HBO's Behind the Candelabra.

Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series went to Carrie Preston for her admittedly more comedic role on CBS' The Good Wife. She was given the award during last week's Creative Arts ceremony.

Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series went to Dan Bucatinsky for his role as reporter James on ABC's Scandal. He took the time to thank both his real life husband and his on-screen husband, noting how special it was that he could do such a think. He took home the statue during last week's Creative Arts ceremony.

And finally the big three categories saw the following results:

Outstanding Miniseries or Movie - HBO's Behind the Candelabra

Outstanding Comedy Series - ABC's Modern Family

Outstanding Drama Series - AMC's Breaking Bad

For the rest of the winners, including writing and directing, click here.

What did you think of the winners? And how about that red carpet fashion? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

Friday, September 20, 2013

From LA Examiner: 'The Originals', 'Betrayal', & 'Super Fun Night' Advance Reviews...

"Fall 2013 TV Preview: The CW's The Originals"

The CW has an interesting experiment on its hand with The Originals, the Vampire Diaries spin-off that focuses on Klaus (Joseph Morgan) and his family as they attempt to take back New Orleans from his former protege Marcel (Charles Michael Davis). This new show started as a backdoor pilot in the fourth season of The Vampire Diaries, providing an episode that while rich in complications in the new world it introduced ended up delivering less-than stellar ratings. Still, the network picked up the show to series the next day, and Morgan along with Claire Holt and Daniel Gillies packed their bags from Mystic Falls to head to the bayou on a more permanent basis. But the network by no means wants only The Vampire Diaries audience to be interested in The Originals, and their attempt to court those new eyes finds the show delivering a premiere at the start of fall launch that is different from the backdoor pilot in point of view but not events. What this results in is a repetitive and expository hour for anyone who either actually already watched the backdoor pilot, which has been readily available online all summer, or simply knows the story of the original vampire family... [MORE]

"Fall 2013 TV Preview: ABC's Betrayal"

David Zabel, who adapted an international show for his new ABC adultery drama Betrayal, seems to be banking on the fact that there is a good portion of the Scandal audience who wants to watch the early days of an affair play out, to experience the heat and excitement and thrills alongside those characters involved. And there probably is a good chunk of the audience who would want to watch that-- but watching even a few minutes of Betrayal proves that if that's what you want, you're not going to find it here. Sure, the show absolutely explores the early days of an affair-- but there is no heat or excitement or thrills about it... [MORE]

There's a independent female buddy comedy that went straight to DVD called Spring Breakdown that stars Amy Poehler, Parker Posey, and Rachel Dratch as three socially awkward, sheltered women who bonded in college but remained friends ten years after, still spending evenings in with games and make-your-own pizza nights. It is a little-known comedy, but one I personally have gotten a lot of laughs over and really marveled at a different kind of female friendship being explored. So when ABC picked up Rebel Wilson's Super Fun Night, a half-hour comedy about three socially awkward, sheltered friends who spend their own nights in, I was thrilled by the possibilities. The pilot episode doesn't quite deliver on all of the potential the premise has to offer, but the thing about a pilot is it's a launchpad for an on-going story, and though this one isn't perfectly paced or hysterically funny, there is definitely a lot about it that provides a truly unique voice worth giving a bit more time to work out the kinks... [MORE]

Who DanielleTBD Wants To Win At the 2013 Emmys...

The 65th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards will be handed out on Sunday, and of course I'll be reporting on who takes home the gold, but first: who I *want* to take home the gold*:

* Please note, these are not predictions but wishful thinking

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series - Merritt Wever, Nurse Jackie

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series - Ed O'Neill, Modern Family (though, in my opinion, he really should have been nominated in the Leading Man category)

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series - Amy Poehler, Parks and Recreation

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series - Jason Bateman, Arrested Development

Outstanding Comedy Series - Veep (HBO)

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series - Anna Gunn, Breaking Bad

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series - Aaron Paul, Breaking Bad

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series - Vera Farmiga, Bates Motel

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series - Tie: Bryan Cranston, Breaking Bad and Damian Lewis, Homeland 

Outstanding Drama Series - Tie: Breaking Bad (AMC) and Homeland (SHO)

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or Movie - Sarah Paulson, American Horror Story: Asylum

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or Movie - John Benjamin Hickey, The Big C: hereafter

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or Movie - Laura Linney, The Big C: hereafter

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or Movie - Michael Douglas, Behind the Candelabra

Outstanding Miniseries or Movie - American Horror Story: Asylum (FX)

Outstanding Variety SeriesLate Night With Jimmy Fallon (NBC)

Outstanding Reality-Competition Program - The Amazing Race (CBS)

Thursday, September 19, 2013

From LA Examiner: 'The Crazy Ones' & ' The Michael J. Fox Show' Advance Reviews; Taye Diggs to TNT; ' Arrow' Season Premiere Photos...

Put Robin Williams on a TV show, and the assumption may be that it almost doesn't matter who you put around him because he's such a big personality, he's going to suck most of the attention and energy in for himself. Williams' usual brand of humor is certainly aggressive, and on CBS' The Crazy Ones he is still very much that big personality that speaks fast and requires everyone else to speak faster just to get a word in edgewise. But The Crazy Ones proves that if you surround Williams with actors who all shine in their own niches as he does with big, broad comedy, they will feed off of him, and that transfer of energy should even things out nicely... [MORE] 

Maybe I underestimate NBC or maybe I've just been trained by other shows that feature an actor's name in the title, but I fully went into The Michael J. Fox Show pilot expecting it to be a star vehicle for his comeback and that alone. Instead, I was pleasantly surprised to find that while Fox himself is certainly in the center of the action, the heart of the show really beats fully because of everyone that surrounds him. While Fox spends most of his time being self-deprecating and letting the audience know it's okay to laugh when his character mis-dials 911 or takes forever to spoon out dinner because his hands are shaking from Parkinson's, the talented supporting cast that makes up his family rounds out the other kinds of humor-- from snark to sass to teenage manipulation. The Michael J. Fox Show is a well-rounded family comedy that may cause big, out-loud belly laughs. No need to consult your own physician... [MORE]

"TNT orders Murder in the First with Taye Diggs and Kathleen Robertson"

TNT announced today a new scripted drama order from Steven Bochco entitled Murder in the First. The series, which stars Taye Diggs and Kathleen Robertson will follow a single case across an entire season. Does anyone else think this sounds like a sexier version of The Killing? ... [MORE]

"First Look: Summer Glau guest stars on Arrow"

When Arrow returns to The CW for its second season, the show is coming back with new adversaries already in Oliver Queen's (Stephen Amell) life. One key one is Isabel Rochev (guest star Summer Glau), who is preparing a takeover Queen Consolidated in his absence... [MORE]

"First Look: Arrow's season 2 premiere puts Roy and Thea even closer"

The gang's (almost) all here! When Arrow returns for its second season, it's with an episode that brings all of our favorites from season one front and center-- and almost everyone is represented in the season premiere photos You've already seen Diggle (David Ramsey) and Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) face some early danger, so why don't we lighten things up by featuring the young love that is blossoming in Roy (Colton Haynes) and Thea (Willa Holland)? ... [MORE]

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

From LA Examiner: Sara Colleton Previews 'Dexter's' End; 'Supernatural' S9 Premiere Photos; Charles Michael Davis Previews 'The Originals'...

Showtime's Dexter may be a show with a serial killer at the center, but series executive producer Sara Colleton doesn't like to think of it as a "serial killer show." Like us, she considers its importance much deeper on a psychological level. This is why the final few episodes of the series see Dexter Morgan (Michael C. Hall) struggling with choices and change, rather than tracking a big bad for his table like in seasons' past... [MORE]

"First Look: Supernatural season 9 sees Bobby's return, meets Ezekiel"

The Supernatural season nine premiere is almost upon us, and if you've been paying attention, you know it will have Sam (Jared Padalecki) facing immediate peril. The trials took a toll on him physically and mentally last season, and when we pick back up with the Winchesters again, he is down for the count and in a hospital, fighting for his life. Dean (Jensen Ackles) is left to guard him and ward off those who might be coming to take him out while he's already weak-- including and especially some of the new angels who have fallen after the events of last season's finale... [MORE] 

"Charles Michael Davis on why The Originals is like Scarface"

Charles Michael Davis may be the new guy on the block of CW's line-up, but his The Originals character Marcel is an old authority on New Orleans. Having once been taken under Klaus' (Joseph Morgan) wing, Marcel has surpassed his old friend's teachings and gotten a handle on both the vampire and witch situation down south. So when Klaus saunters back into town, things are much different than how he remembers them, putting him in a slight underdog position to the insanely charismatic but also seemingly omnipotent and powerful Marcel. The two were tight years before, and it appears that they will be again, but this time there is much more of an ulterior motive involved as Marcel knows how the line between friends and enemies can change in an instant... [MORE]

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

From LA Examiner: 'Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.' & 'Lucky 7' Advance Reviews...

Much like The CW's Arrow before it, I feel the need to express to you lovely readers that I am not super familiar with the comic arcs' of the various characters depicted on ABC's Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. which shall forever be hereafter referred to without the studio in its title. You may choose to take my subsequent review of the pilot episode with a grain of salt if you like, but I declare this not to show off an ignorance but rather to prove that no comparisons will be drawn and I will be focusing solely on what worked and what didn't from the story and execution presented in the pilot alone. The truth is, regardless of how much you know about the world set up in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. before even flipping the show on, it has to stand on its own and be both entertaining and informative to attract a wider audience than just those who grew up with the comics. And the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. pilot does just that: it actually makes its world extremely accessible for anyone who isn't familiar with the myths and legends of Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg) or Melinda May (Ming-Na Wen) while setting up a very loud, very high-adrenaline, very fun series. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is pure entertainment, and it should only be expected to be entertainment. It is when the pilot tries to dig deeper to deliver a larger, preachy message that it stumbles a bit through schmaltz, rather than sentiment... [MORE]

ABC's Lucky 7, based on an international version of the same story, is not a flashy or hook-driven show. Yes, there is a hook (that a group of blue collar workers win the lottery), but the show is a character-driven ensemble that turns a lens on some ordinary people-- people who could be you, me, or any one of our friends or neighbors-- and explores their intricacies and personalities both before and after wealth. Lucky 7 doesn't rely on tricks or special effects to draw in its audience; there are no literal explosions or supernatural events or superhuman feats featured here. Yet, it is such a compelling character-driven drama that it is impossible not to be swept up in the story from minute one, focused entirely on the people who pop off the screen, in a way that seems to silence everything else around you from your phone to social media. Lucky 7 sucks you in with its grounded reality and makes you fall in love with every minute of it... [MORE]

Monday, September 16, 2013

From LA Examiner: 'We Are Men', 'Mom', 'Hostages', & 'The Blacklist' Advance Reviews...

"Fall 2013 TV Preview: CBS' We Are Men"

Do you remember on Friends when Ross thought about opening a divorced men's club where there'd be pool and basketball courts? After a guy she was dating got back together with his ex-wife, Phoebe told Ross that if they broke up again, he better not let that guy into his "sad men's club." Ross corrected her with "Divorced men's club," of course, and Phoebe said "Potato, potahto." That is pretty much the only thing that ran through my head while watching CBS' new not-quite alpha male comedy We Are Men... [MORE]

"Fall 2013 TV Preview: CBS' Mom"

Move over 2 Broke Girls, there's another low rent waitress in town-- and on your network to boot! This fall Chuck Lorre is getting in on the "anti-heroine" sitcom game with Mom starring Anna Faris and Allison Janney, and the show is everything you would expect from the master of crass... [MORE]

For the record, if CBS' Hostages was "just" a show about a regular ole family whose members each individually felt trapped by their circumstances and obligations and railed against them, rebelling in the most obvious-- and the oddest-- ways, I would want to watch it. I love character studies like that. But those are often very internal struggles about which not even the best actors can make an audience with limited time, limited patience, and limited willingness to think too much care. This is the entertainment business, not a psychology study, right? So the fact that Hostages takes this family with these problems and thrusts them into an extraordinary situation when they are quite literally taken hostage by quickly unmasked men is really just the icing on top of an already very rich cake... [MORE]

There has been a run on cat-and-mouse thrillers ever since Silence of the Lambs hit screens. These days, there is a tendency for writers to take that cop and criminal dynamic to a farther extent. On FOX's The Following, the criminal is just so obsessed with the cop he has amassed a whole citizen army of sorts to torture him psychologically and physically at times. On the upcoming drama that FX is developing based on the Gretchen Lowell books, the criminal personally psychologically and physically tortures the cop whenever she can. In every case, though, there is a history between the characters that explains, if not fully warrants, the obsessive behavior. On NBC's The Blacklist, the same can be said. Although the cat-and-mouse here is strictly psychological, and the deeper connection is not known after the pilot-- though it seems all-too-obvious what it probably will turn out to be... [MORE]