Eclaire Fare

Enjoying Pop Culture, One Bite at a Time

2009 Emmy Awards: Predictions, Results, and Reactions September 20, 2009

The 2009 Emmy Awards have come and gone. How did Neil Patrick Harris fare as host? Which stars were best dressed, and which ones were worst? And most importantly, who took home awards? This year’s Emmy Awards ceremony was Mad Men themed, from the opening images of the stars’ arrivals with voiceover narration, to Neil Patrick Harris’s old school opening number, to the comic book page set up of the various camera views before commercial breaks. They also had Jon Hamm be one of the first presenters, along with Tina Fey. This show isn’t shy about playing favorites!

Speaking of 30 Rock, it won for Best Writing in a Comedy Series, with Matt Hubbard accepting the award for the episode “Reunion.” The Office, not to be outdone, won in the Best Directing for a Comedy Series category (Jeffrey Blitz for “Stress Relief”). When the show shifted gears to Reality Programming, I was initially irritated to see two dancers from Dancing with the Stars, but then some of my favorite SYTYCD performers appeared on stage, including season four winner Joshua, in a routine choregraphed by Tabitha and Napoleon. It was also nice to see Hugh Jackman’s excellent opening number from the Oscars win for “Best Original Music and Lyrics.” After that, the show settled into a dreary sea of cliched banter between presenters, and boring acceptance speeches. The awards that pleased me most were all of 30 Rock’s wins and Michael Emerson’s win for Best Actor in a Drama. The most disappointing category was Jon Cryer beating out everyone else for Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy.

As for the fashion, or lack thereof, my pick for Worst Dressed goes to Patricia Arquette, who appeared to be wearing a black “Hefty trash bag” as a dress. Vanessa Williams’ aqua blue dress was pretty unflattering as well. Gabriel Byrne was looking rather unkempt with his loosened tie and wrinkled shirt (at least by the time they showed him in the crowd late in the show). On the other hand, my picks for Best Dressed go to Kyra Sedgwick, Alyson Hannigan (who looked great in a classic black straplessdress), and Justin Timberlake. I didn’t pay close attention to all the dresses and tuxes, though, so I am sure there are other good and bad choices I could have gone with.

NPH didnt win an Emmy, but he was a fun host.

NPH didn't win an Emmy, but he was a fun host.

So how did Neil Patrick Harris do as host? Sure, there were some awkward moments, but also some funny ones. I liked how every presenter was introduced by naming some obscure show or movie they appeared in. I double-checked the authenticity of some of them on IMDB because they sounded so ludicrous. Best moment of the night, though: Dr. Horrible interrupting the token Ernst and Young “Emmy vote tabulation process” explanation to proclaim that television is dead and Internet is the new king of entertainment. It was a clever and creative diversion, with bonus points for appearances by Nathan Fillion and other Dr. Horrible cast members, and a few musical moments.

Read on for a list of nominees in the major categories, as well as my predictions about and reactions to the winners.

Outstanding Supporting Actor, Comedy
Jack McBrayer, 30 Rock
Tracy Morgan, 30 Rock
Kevin Dillon, Entourage
Neil Patrick Harris, How I Met Your Mother
Rainn Wilson, The Office
Jon Cryer, Two and a Half Men
  • Who I wanted to win: Neil Patrick Harris – please, please, please let him win this year! He has totally deserved it for the past two seasons, so I am hoping that the third time is the charm, especially since, as host, he will already be up on stage to accept his award.
  • Who I thought would win: Since Emmy voters tend to like over the top comedy, they might award Rainn Wilson, but I really think NPH has a good shot at it.
  • Who actually won: Jon Cryer. That is just outrageous. There are no words. At least it provided ample material for a funny running bit for NPH.
Outstanding Supporting Actress, Comedy
Kristin Chenoweth, Pushing Daisies
Jane Krakowski, 30 Rock
Elizabeth Perkins, Weeds
Amy Poehler, Saturday Night Live
Kristen Wiig, Saturday Night Live
Vanessa Williams, Ugly Betty
  • Who I wanted to win: Kristin Chenoweth – Wouldn’t it be nice if Pushing Daisies could have one last moment of recognition? I don’t think it will happen, though.
  • Who I thought would win: Elizabeth Perkins – I’ve never seen an episode of Weeds, so I can’t give an opinion on whether or not Perkins deserves the award, but she seems to fit the Emmy voter bill.
  • Who actually won: Kristin Chenoweth! Hooray! What an excellent start to the evening. Her acceptance speech proved that she was totally surprised by the win.
Outstanding Supporting Actor, Drama
William Shatner, Boston Legal
Christian Clemenson, Boston Legal
William Hurt, Damages
Aaron Paul, Breaking Bad
Michael Emerson, Lost
John Slattery, Mad Men
  • Who I wanted to win: Michael Emerson – He was so perfect last season as Benjamin Linus that it almost causes me physical pain to imagine him not winning in this category. Well then, I guess I should plug in my heating pad, because my muscles and joints are bound to start aching when the actual winner is announced.
  • Who I thought would win: If Emmy stands by its old, boring, and infuriating habits, William Shatner will win. If that happens, I will be furious. If the voters decide to mix things up, they might award John Slattery instead, since Mad Men is the trendy show du jour. (I’ve never watched it, so again, my opinion doesn’t really count.)
  • Who actually won: Michael Emerson!!! I am so thrilled that he won. He earned it, and it gives Lost the respect it deserves. He gave a very sincere, if creepy, acceptance speech. (It’s that voice of his!)
Outstanding Supporting Actress, Drama
Cherry Jones, 24
Chandra Wilson, Grey’s Anatomy
Sandra Oh, Grey’s Anatomy
Dianne Wiest, In Treatment
Hope Davis, In Treatment
Rose Byrne, Damages
  • Who I wanted to win: Back when I watched Grey’s Anatomy, I always liked Chandra Wilson’s performance, so I guess I’d be happy for her to win. Even though 24 is the only show in this category that I watch, I don’t think that Cherry Jones’ performance as the President makes her deserving of the award over these other women.
  • Who I thought would win: Dianne Wiest – Just a wild guess, but she does arguably have the most impressive track record among these nominees.
  • Who actually won: Cherry Jones. Ok. Good for her.
Outstanding Actor, Comedy
Tony Shalhoub, Monk
Steve Carell, The Office
Jim Parsons, The Big Bang Theory
Alec Baldwin, 30 Rock
Charlie Sheen, Two and a Half Men
Jemaine Clement, Flight of the Conchords
  • Who I wanted to win: Alec Baldwin – He is always pitch perfect as Jack Donaghy and so is completely deserving of this one. It’s also nice to see Jemaine Clement nominated for his hilarious work on Flight of the Conchords, but he’s up against some heavy hitters in this category!
  • Who I thought would win: Alec Baldwin – Amazingly, Baldwin seems to be as popular with Emmy voters as with the viewing public. As long as Charlie Sheen doesn’t win, I’ll be happy.
  • Who actually won: Alec Baldwin. I’m mainly just relieved that Rob Lowe didn’t call Charlie Sheen’s name. Alec gave a very polished and efficient acceptance speech.
Outstanding Actress, Drama
Sally Field, Brothers & Sisters
Kyra Sedgwick, The Closer
Glenn Close, Damages
Mariska Hargitay, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
Holly Hunter, Saving Grace
Elisabeth Moss, Mad Men
  • Who I wanted to win: I don’t feel strongly about any of these nominees.
  • Who I thought would win: Glenn Close – She plays a powerful character on a risk-taking show, and that makes her quite a one-two punch to Emmy voters.
  • Who actually won: Glenn Close. Predictable.
Outstanding Actor, Drama
Simon Baker, The Mentalist
Bryan Cranston, Breaking Bad
Michael C. Hall, Dexter
Hugh Laurie, House
Gabriel Byrne, In Treatment
Jon Hamm, Mad Men
  • Who I wanted to win: Michael C. Hall! This is an extremely strong category, and it is highly doubtful that the Emmy voters will reward someone for playing a serial killer over some of the more noble characters represented. However, I think he does an amazing job as Dexter Morgan, and beyond that, that Dexter more accurately represents the human psyche than many of the other nominees.
  • Who I thought would win: Hugh Laurie. He’s always an Emmy favorite, but then there’s the trendy choice of Jon Hamm. As much as I love Simon Baker, he seems out of his league in this group. But I am setting all my hopes on Michael C. Hall winning. Fingers crossed!
  • Who actually won: Bryan Cranston. Come on, Emmys, how about letting someone else win? Then again, maybe I need to check out this show.
Outstanding Actress, Comedy
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, The New Adventures of Old Christine
Christina Applegate, Samantha Who?
Tina Fey, 30 Rock
Toni Collette, United States of Tara
Mary-Louise Parker, Weeds
Sarah Silverman, The Sarah Silverman Program
  • Who I wanted to win: Tina Fey
  • Who I thought would win: Tina Fey. She and the whole cast, as well as the writing, have been so good. They deserve to sweep most of the comedy categories (except for NPH’s category, of course).
  • Who actually won: Toni Collette. I’m okay with this. Spread the love a little beyond 30 Rock. Strangely, I know absolutely nothing about the show she was nominated for, United States of Tara. Perhaps I should check it out.
Outstanding Series, Comedy
30 Rock
Family Guy
Entourage
The Office
Flight of the Conchords
Weeds
How I Met Your Mother
  • What I wanted to win: 30 Rock
  • What I thought would win: 30 Rock. Like I said above, it’s the funniest, most consistently well done comedy on tv right now.
  • What actually won: 30 Rock. Yeah, this show’s gonna be on for many seasons to come.
Outstanding Series, Drama
Breaking Bad
Damages
Dexter
House
Lost
Mad Men
Big Love
  • What I wanted to win: Lost or Dexter, but I think Lost’s ship sailed a long time ago. Even though it just had its best season ever, I think the Emmy voters have already forgotten about it. I also think that season three was Dexter’s best season yet. So fascinating and well executed (pun intended – can’t help myself).
  • What I thought would win: House? Well, I wouldn’t award this medical drama for the uneven season it had, but then the Emmy voters don’t judge a show by an entire season so much as the one episode that is submitted. I don’t know much about the other four shows that are nominated, but if I were to pick one of them as the winner I would go with Mad Men.
  • What actually won: Mad Men (Excuse me while I roll my eyes. Then again, maybe I need to see what all the fuss is about with this show.)
Outstanding Host for a Reality or Reality-Competition Program
Ryan Seacrest, American Idol
Tom Bergeron, Dancing with the Stars
Heidi Klum, Project Runway
Jeff Probst, Survivor
Phil Keoghan, The Amazing Race
Padma Lakshmi and Tom Colicchio, Top Chef
  • Who I wanted to win: Well, I wanted Cat Deeley to win, but she wasn’t nominated. 😦
  • Who I thought would win: Jeff Probst. But do I care? Not really. I don’t watch any of these shows. As long as it’s not Tom Bergeron…
  • Who actually won: Jeff Probst
Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy Series
The Colbert Report
The Daily Show with Jon Stewart
Late Show with David Letterman
Real Time with Bill Maher
Saturday Night Live
  • What I wanted to win: The Colbert Report
  • What I thought would win: The Colbert Report. Stephen Colbert is so great on that show.
  • What actually won: The Daily Show with Jon Stewart
Outstanding Reality-Competition Program
The Amazing Race
American Idol
Dancing with the Stars
Project Runway
Top Chef
  • What I wanted to win: Don’t really care
  • What I thought would win: The Amazing Race (doesn’t it win every year?)
  • What actually won: The Amazing Race
Outstanding Reality Program
Antiques Roadshow
Dirty Jobs
Dog Whisperer
Intervention
Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List
MythBusters
  • What I wanted to win: Dirty Jobs. I do love that Mike Rowe. He should be rewarded for what an easygoing, entertaining host he is.
  • What I thought would win: I honestly have no idea. Maybe Intervention, since it’s the most serious on the list?
  • What actually won: Intervention
Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series
Brenda Blethyn, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
Carol Burnett, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
Ellen Burstyn, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
Sharon Lawrence, Grey’s Anatomy
CCH Pounder, The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency
  • Who I wanted to win: N/A
  • Who I thought would win: Sharon Lawrence
  • Who actually won: Ellen Burstyn
Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series
Edward Asner, CSI: NY
Ernest Borgnine, ER
Ted Danson, Damages
Michael J. Fox, Rescue Me
Jimmy Smits, Dexter
  • Who I wanted to win: Jimmy Smits, please! He was simply amazing as Miguel Prado, and I have spoken at length about it in previous posts.
  • Who I thought would win: Jimmy Smits (wishful thinking, perhaps, but he really was that good!)
  • Who actually won: Michael J. Fox
Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series
Jennifer Aniston, 30 Rock
Christine Baranski, The Big Bang Theory
Tina Fey, Saturday Night Live
Gena Rowlands, Monk
Elaine Stritch, 30 Rock
Betty White, My Name Is Earl
  • Who I wanted to win: Tina Fey
  • Who I thought would win: Tina Fey
  • Who actually won: Tina Fey
Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series
Alan Alda, 30 Rock
Will Arnett, 30 Rock
Beau Bridges, Desperate Housewives
Jon Hamm, 30 Rock
Steve Martin, 30 Rock
Justin Timberlake, Saturday Night Live
  • Who I wanted to win: Jon Hamm
  • Who I thought would win: Jon Hamm. He was terrific as Liz Lemon’s perfect guy, Dr. Drew.
  • Who actually won: Justin Timberlake. How about SNL getting some recognition in the guest acting category?

So, what were you happy or disappointed about on this year’s Emmy Awards? Or, did you not even watch?

 

Dexter Season Three: Bodies, Babies, and BFFs? September 4, 2009

Filed under: Television — Emily @ 5:06 pm
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Dexter season one gave us the search for the Ice Truck Killer and the truth about Dexter’s troubled childhood. Season two gave us the search for the Bay Harbor Butcher and one crazy chick named Lila. And season three gave us the search for the Skinner, the evolution of Dexter’s human relationships, and finally, Jimmy Smits as one twisted assistant DA. I realize that I am about a year behind on this show, since season four is about to begin, but I am one of “those people” who waits until the show is released on DVD to watch it, rather than shell out even more money to the cable company every month for a subscription to Showtime. So there you have it. And now, as many of you gear up for season four of this fascinating show, join me as I review season three.

First of all, I’d like to say how thoroughly I enjoyed this season. I was intrigued by all of the characters, from defense attorney Ellen Wolf to the Skinner to Debra’s “not a CI” Anton. I don’t know if it can beat season one, but it was certainly better than season two – with Lila and all her hysterical theatrics. (I still enjoyed season two, but season three worked well on all levels, whereas the sophomore season had some problems.)

Dexter

Dexter’s voiceover narration was as witty, ironic, and darkly humorous as ever. I found myself laughing out loud on several occasions. But while Dexter continues to be led by his Dark Passenger, I am intrigued by the ways in which he is also becoming more human. (And his imaginary conversations with Harry as he contemplated these issues were enlightening for both Dexter and the viewers.)

At the beginning of the season he experiences the pangs of guilt when he kills someone without knowing, for the first time, whether he deserved it. That crime leads him into the unfamiliar territory of a close friendship, with the one person who has the most reason to hate him. But instead of hating him, Miguel Prado welcomes Dexter into his life like a brother, and suddenly Dexter finds himself trusting another person and opening up about matters that had previously been completely private.

Unfortunately, this friendship also introduces Dexter to the disappointment of betrayal and deceit, and he finds himself once again cleaning up messes to protect himself, his family, and the Code. Meanwhile, Dexter also finds himself contemplating fatherhood and marriage, and ultimately deciding that he is capable of succeeding at both. It is Dexter’s relationships with Rita, her children, and Debra that reveal to us his true nature, which as it turns out amounts to more than just the shell of a man. Somewhere beneath his cheerful disposition and dark tendencies lies a man with feelings of love and loyalty. I hope that as the show continues, we are moving toward a point where Dexter will be able to heal some of the wounds from his past. (Because it would stink if he just ends up going to prison or the electric chair…)

Finding Freebo

This season’s ongoing investigation by the Miami PD involved a killer who was leaving a trail of skinned victims, all who had ties to Freebo, the drug dealer who Dexter originally set out to kill in the season premiere. I liked how this investigation was secondary to Dexter’s relationships, rather than being center stage. If the search for the Skinner had been the main focus of the season, then this plot would have needed more oomph. (The Skinner’s motives were a bit shaky, some of the police work was sloppy, etc.) But since it was only a backdrop to the more interesting activities involving Dexter, Miguel, et al, I didn’t mind.

The Supporting Characters

Aside from the main plots involving Dexter’s growing, accidental friendship with Miguel Prado, and the subsequent complications, and Debra and Quinn’s investigation into the Skinner murders, I was pleased that the writers found an interesting subplot for each of the supporting characters.

  • Angel was promoted to Sergeant and finally found some happiness with Gianna, a cop from vice. After all the drama Angel has had with his ex-wife and daughter, it was nice to see him in a better place.
  • Debra once again found herself torn between doing what was necessary for her career and doing what she wanted in her love life. It was pretty obvious from the beginning that the writers were planning to put Debra and Anton together, but I was pleased with the way it was handled. Plus, it was much nicer to see her with a young, attractive musician than with last season’s old geezer detective guy. And while I wasn’t too thrilled with her new partner, Quinn, at the beginning of the season, I liked how they developed his character by the end.
  • Rita had the double whammy of planning a wedding and dealing with pregnancy hormones, a combination which provided for some humorous conflicts with Dexter, who really did have much more important things on his mind than who was coming to the wedding and what kind of flowers they should choose.
  • Lt. Laguerta was humanized (after her irritating behavior last season) when she struck up a friendship with Ellen Wolf and then had to deal with a second wave of grief, right on the heels of losing Sgt. Doakes. I felt really bad for her, but was very satisfied when she conducted her own investigation into Prado and when she gave Debra props instead of a scolding for not sacrificing her love life for her career.
  • And even Vince Masuka had more to do than tell obscene jokes. I appreciated seeing his more sensitive side when no one went to his presentation at the conference, and when he met a woman who was actually interested in a relationship with him.

Jimmy Smits, I Applaud You

A review of season three wouldn’t be complete without praising Jimmy Smits for a job well done in his portrayal of Miguel Prado. I was skeptical when I first saw his name in the credits, but he certainly proved me wrong. I was completely impressed and convinced by his performance. He was terrific at playing a local hero with a dark passenger of his own, who manipulated both Dexter and the viewers to the very end. He is nominated for an Emmy, and I would be thrilled if he wins.

Dexter’s Season-by-Season Character Development

Each season of Dexter has advanced the title character’s understanding of himself and other people by putting a new, disruptive figure in the midst of his carefully crafted world.

  • First it was Rudy, who made Dexter question what a real family was, among other things. (After dealing with Rudy, Dexter decided that his sibling bond with Debra was all the family he needed.)
  • Then it was Lila, who made him question what a real relationship was, and whether he was capable of such a thing. (After dealing with Lila, Dexter decided that he had a good thing with Rita and that he would try his best to be faithful and protect her.)
  • And this season it was Miguel, who made him question what a real friendship was, and whether he should let his guard down and let someone else into his dark world. (In the end, Dexter decided that he didn’t have room for the kind of friend that Miguel had tried to be.)

So while he has made room for family and love, he draws the line at BFFs.) For me, this third relationship was the most fascinating and well done. I wasn’t thrilled with the actor cast to play Rudy, and I thought Lila’s character was a bit too campy. On the other hand, Jimmy Smits was perfectly cast in the role of Miguel Prado, and his character was realistically developed, revealing his true nature a little at a time. So, for me, this series has continued to build on a strong foundation, and it hit its highest mark yet in season three. What has been your favorite season so far? What did you think of season three?

Related Links

 

Deliberately Dissecting Dexter: A Review of Jeff Lindsay’s Book Series August 26, 2009

I love the alliteration of Jeff Lindsay’s Dexter book series’ titles. Darkly Dreaming Dexter. Dearly Devoted Dexter. Dexter in the Dark. Dexter by Design. They all have a nice ring to them, and are in keeping with Dexter Morgan’s cleverness and dry sense of humor. I also happen to love the books themselves, as well as the Showtime series based on them. I’m in the middle of Dexter season three, since I waited until it was released on dvd to watch it. So far I am enjoying it.

Sometimes it is hard to remember what happened in the books and what happened on the tv show, so I thought I’d take a moment to review each of the books, in preparation for the release of the fourth installment, Dexter by Design, which will be released in the U.S. next month. I will also give my spoiler-free assessment of the fourth novel, since I read it a couple of months ago. (My friend Lindsay picked up a copy of it for me while she was in England, where it was released earlier this year.)

Darkly Dreaming Dexter


  • Plot – We meet Dexter for the first time, and learn that he is a blood splatter analyst by day and a serial killer by night. He maintains the illusion that he is normal through his job, his family ties to sister Deb, and his relationship with Rita and her kids. His carefully crafted world is threatened when another serial killer starts littering Miami with dead bodies and leaving clues for Dexter to join the game. Through Dexter’s investigation into this crime spree, we learn more about his past and see him deal with the inconveniences and complications of pretending to be normal.
  • My Assessment – I’ve read plenty of serial killer/suspense novels, but none of them have stood out as much as the Dexter series. What makes it different is that the story is narrated not by the victim or investigator of the crimes, but by the criminal himself. Despite his proclivity to murder, we still like Dexter because he paints an amusing and honest portrait of life in Miami, giving a running commentary on the stranger aspects of human nature. It feels strange to be rooting for Dexter to successfully kill his next victim, but that’s exactly what happens, because in the world of Dexter, that’s what makes sense and provides closure. The first book had an excellent story arc, and was quite a page turner, with the surprising revelation of who the killer was, and the implications of that for Dexter. I also loved Sergeant Doakes as the villain who would be a hero in most books. Interestingly, I liked Doakes (and I think most people do). I respect Doakes for having the sense to recognize that there’s something not right about Dexter, while everyone else walks around completely clueless. Rita is a rather flat character in the book, while Deborah and Dexter’s sibling relationship is developed rather well.

Dearly Devoted Dexter


  • Plot – The second book finds Dexter’s extracurricular activities at a standstill because of the increasingly watchful eye of Sergeant Doakes. Before long, though, they both find themselves drawn into a new criminal case. Deeply disturbed Dr. Danco has been exacting revenge against former army colleagues by kidnapping them, sedating them, and then mutilating them over a period of several days. Dexter finds himself caught in the middle of the investigation when it turns out that Deborah’s new boyfriend, Kyle Chutsky, as well as Doakes, are among Dr. Danco’s former colleagues, and are therefore in danger.
  • My Assessment – The descriptions of Dr. Danco’s victims made me feel physically ill, particularly the first victim that was discovered with no eyelids, no limbs, and no tongue, but still alive, and making animal-like sounds. Yikes! It was also disturbing to read about characters we already knew going through similar torture. I wasn’t as enthralled by this book as the first one, but it was still entertaining.

Dexter in the Dark


  • Plot – The third book in the series took a supernatural turn, as Dexter is left feeling inadequate when his Dark Passenger (the presence that controls his urges to kill) leaves him. He spends much of the book lamenting his abandonment, learning how to function without the Dark Passenger,  and being stalked by a strange cult who sees him as a threat. There is also a murder investigation into some killings linked to the cult of Moloch, and Rita’s two children, Astor and Cody, start exhibiting signs that they share Dexter’s homicidal tendencies (presumably because of their abusive father).
  • My Assessment –Dexter had talked about his Dark Passenger in the first two books, but in this installment the DP took center stage. I was not very thrilled with this turn of events. In addition, the murder investigation was confusing and full of holes, and I never quite figured out how everything was connected. Honestly, I didn’t enjoy this book much at all. I suppose you should still read it so as not to miss some of the details of character development, but on the other hand, I think you could easily jump from Dearly Devoted Dexter to Dexter by Design. I honestly don’t know what Jeff Lindsay was thinking, with all this Moloch and Dark Passenger mumbo jumbo. By taking things the supernatural route, he got away from what makes the series so refreshing and likable to begin with – its brutally honest, funny look at the silly things “normal” people do in their daily lives, and the lengths Dexter goes to to hide his true nature.

Dexter by Design


  • Plot – At the beginning of the novel, Dexter and Rita are on their honeymoon in Paris. But it isn’t long before real life gets in the way of marital bliss, and Dexter finds his domestic and professional worlds thrown off balance once again. As in Darkly Dreaming Dexter, someone else seems to share Dexter’s views of the beauty and artistry of death. When Dexter tries to take the law into his own hands, he makes a costly mistake that sends his life spiraling out of control.
  • My Assessment – I thoroughly enjoyed this book. There were a few plot holes, but I was willing to overlook them since overall the book was so entertaining. (I’m guessing that Jeff Lindsay writes these books so quickly that he doesn’t have time to iron out some of the details.) Since we now know Dexter very well, I found myself very emotionally invested in the ups and downs of his world. It was interesting to watch Dexter, who is normally so on top of things, face the consequences of his errors and have to be creative to set things right again. Over the course of the series, as the wall between his forced human persona and his sociopathic true nature has been slowly worn down, he has had a more difficult time maintaining control. It is intriguing and satisfying to see how Dexter’s domestic and relational ties change his decisions and actions. I find myself hoping he will become more human, but at the same time cheering for him to succeed by his old techniques. If you enjoyed the fast pace and clever narration of the first book, and the gory descriptions of the second book, then you will find much entertainment in this latest installment. And the ending leaves the door open for a fifth book. I’ll be ready and waiting to read it when the time comes.

I just looked it up and confirmed that there is a fifth book in the works, entitled Dexter is Delicious. This novel will take Dexter into the world of cannibalism. Sounds tasty! 😉

Making the Grade

  • I give the latest book, Dexter by Design, an A. It is exciting, fast paced, and funny.
  • Dexter in the Dark was a disappointment, as it stepped away from the characteristics that make this a successful book series. For that misstep, I give it a C.
  • Dearly Devoted Dexter earns a B. It was well written, but the gory descriptions of the victims were a turn-off.
  • Darkly Dreaming Dexter was a terrific introduction to Dexter and the people in his world. A+

If you haven’t read this series before, but you like your mystery and suspense fiction a little humorous, do yourself a favor and start from the beginning.

 

All Fired Up about Dexter Season Two September 2, 2008

Filed under: Television — Emily @ 5:02 pm
Tags: , ,

Trial by fire. Fight fire with fire. Fanning the flames. Playing with fire. Where there’s smoke, there’s fire. I could go on. All these phrases could be applied to the second season of Dexter, but there is nothing contrived or cliche about this show or its fascinating main character. Fire played a major role this season, both literally and figuratively. But that was only part of the story. In order to fully appreciate the intricacies of this season’s plot, you had to watch to the very end. Only then did it all make sense. Read on for my dissection of what happened in the twelve episodes of season two. WARNING – IT IS VERY SPOILERY, SO STOP READING IF YOU HAVEN’T WATCHED YET AND PLAN TO.

The basic premise of this season:

Dexter’s tidy, compartmentalized world is thrown off balance when his body dumping site is discovered at the bottom of the Atlantic. Enter Special Agent Frank Lundy, who the FBI sends to Miami to lead the manhunt for the soon-dubbed Bay Harbor Butcher. Before long, Dexter’s sister Deb becomes interested in Lundy in more than a professional capacity, which further complicates Dexter’s work environment. As a blood analyst, he is in the awkward position of investigating his own bodies of work. Meanwhile, Sgt. Doakes is busy investigating Dexter, a process which includes stalking him and delving into his past.

Things are no less complicated in Dexter’s relationship with Rita, which takes a bizarre turn when she asks him if he is an addict. He answers her truthfully, “Yes, I have an addiction,” and with that statement he is thrown into the world of Narcotics Anonymous, where he meets and becomes involved with the mysterious (and, later we learn, crazy) Lila.

Before long, all of Dexter’s carefully separated worlds (work, love, family, serial killing) begin to collide, and he has to get creative to protect himself, his family, and his secret.

Here’s a closer look at the characters:

  • Sgt. James Doakes – Poor, poor Doakes. I’ve read all the Dexter books by Jeff Lindsay, on which this series is based. In the second book, Doakes meets an unfortunate series of events. While the second season of the tv show differed significantly from the book, there were still some similarities (namely a secluded cabin in the Everglades and a special agent sent to lead the manhunt for a serial killer.), so I kept expecting the worst. As the season progressed, it seemed clear that the only way for Dexter to escape discovery as the Bay Harbor Butcher was for Doakes to die. The question was, how would it happen? Would Dexter kill him in the same methodical way as his other victims? That seemed unlikely, and it would have been difficult to watch. Would Doakes meet his match in a hungry alligator? He almost did, but I’m glad the show didn’t pull a “Kim Bauer and the cougar” moment. Doakes also had a close call with a couple of drug dealers. After watching him survive all of these potentially deadly situations, it really was heart-wrenching to watch him die at the hands of that horrid Lila. I so wanted him to get out of the cabin just in the nick of time, especially after he managed to grab the key and get out of his makeshift prison. But, Lila had made certain that he would be trapped by blocking the door. And so, after surviving his years in special ops and being held hostage by a serial killer, Doakes succumbed to a tank of propane and an open flame. And so Dexter’s secret remains safe. I will miss Sgt. Doakes next season. He brought a strange brew of intensity and humor to the show that none of the other characters can match. And in those last few episodes, we were able to see his softer side as he tried to talk Dexter into turning himself in. I suppose he should have left well enough alone…
  • Lt. Maria Laguerta – She has never been my favorite character, and I was not a fan of the direction her subplot was going at the beginning of the season. I’m referring to her supposed camaraderie with her replacement, Lt. Pasquale. I quickly grew tired of the shenanigans surrounding Pasquale’s suspicions and obsessive snooping into her fiance’s suspicious behavior. It seemed unrealistic that someone who had it together enough to rise to such a powerful position would go bonkers so quickly. Looking back on this storyline now, though, it makes sense. I didn’t guess until just before it was revealed that Laguerta was actually manipulating Pasquale by being her friend while at the same time being the very woman the fiance was sneaking around with. This reinforced our view of Laguerta as a cold-hearted, power-hungry woman. Later on, this allowed us to understand that Doakes was one of the few things that Laguerta cared about more than herself and her career. It was very sad to see her following all the right clues for proof that Doakes wasn’t the killer, but being ignored by all the people who could do something about it. I actually feel sorry for her now, which is something that I never thought I would say.
  • Angel Batista – At the beginning of the season Angel was fresh off of an Oprah moment, and was finally seeing the light and embracing his moments of opportunity. He provided some of the humor this season with his silly rants about seizing the moment and taking control of his destiny. Later on, he got a reality check when crazy Lila framed him for rape. Thankfully, though, in the end he was able to come out of the situation relatively unscathed.
  • Rita Bennett – Sweet, good-hearted Rita. She’s always looking out for her children’s best interests, and trying to protect herself from potentially unhealthy relationships with addicts. I was slightly annoyed by the introduction of her perceptive mother, who pegged Dexter as someone who was hiding something from the moment she met him. But, having her mom move in gave Rita a chance to demonstrate her newfound self-confidence. I was so proud of her when she ran her mom out of town! And strangely enough, she has made a wise choice for a man in Dexter. He probably cares more about her two kids than he cares for anyone or anything else. That pesky killing habit that he has is one of the only drawbacks to their relationship.
  • Debra Morgan – I must say, I liked Deb more this season than last. She was more grounded and level-headed, under the influence of her AARP card-carrying boyfriend Lundy, than she was while dating the icky Ice Truck Killer, Rudy. She was also a more solid cop than last season, rather than an annoying rookie who was always trying to get Dexter to do her job for her. That being said, the Debra/Lundy romance was my least favorite storyline of this season. Eww! He was really old, and they kept making subtle references to Lundy being a stand in for her father, which just made her involvement with him seem wrong.
  • Special Agent Frank Lundy – As a perceptive FBI agent, he was fine. But I wasn’t buying him as a sexy, silver-haired dream guy for Deb. Again, yuck! All he ever talked about was food and dead bodies. If I were Deb, I would have stuck with the well-built, attentive children’s book writer, Gabriel. I’m guessing we won’t see Frank anymore. He’s already off working another case, and Deb chose her job when she was forced to make a quick decision of taking a cab to the airport or helping Rita find her kids.
  • Lila – She may be the best female villain I have ever encountered on a tv show. I hated her at first, and later on I despised her. When Dexter first became interested in Lila, I was wondering if we the audience were supposed to like her, because I certainly didn’t. She was extremely annoying, and she was quickly destroying all the things that Dexter had worked to build, like his mask and his relationship with Rita. I started to worry that this season wouldn’t be very good. But then, about the time that she set her home on fire to get Dexter’s attention, I saw where things were headed, and I liked it. The question became, “What chaos will she cause now?” And she certainly caused a lot of chaos, all in her quest to convince Dexter that she was his soul mate. To name a few examples: She lured Dexter away from his safe and comfortable relationship with Rita. She told Dexter’s mother’s murderer where Dexter was, which led to several more complications and inconveniences (including Doakes’ discovery of Dex as the Bay Harbor Butcher). She accused Angel of rape. She deliberately caused an explosion to kill Doakes. And worst of all, she kidnapped Rita’s kids and left them and Dexter to die in her burning apartment. What a horrible woman! By the end of it all, I was nearly yelling at my tv, “Chop her up into little pieces, Dexter!” I was ready to see her pay for her manipulative, psycho, destructive ways. A simple knife to the heart wasn’t what I was expecting, but it works just fine. It’s nice to know that she won’t cause any more trouble to the good people of Miami.
  • Dexter – How strange that I love Dexter and cheer him on in his dark deeds. It was fascinating to see him become more human. He was making poor decisions (namely Lila) and then feeling guilty about them (as well he should have!). He was torn about what to do with Doakes. I was glad he decided against killing him. And in the end he made decisions based more on the people he cares about (and who depend on him) than on his own needs. Of course, he didn’t want to get caught, but he was more concerned about how it would affect Deb, Rita, and the kids. By the end of the season, Dexter felt that he had risen above Harry and his code. He still finds release in killing, but he is now more than just a man in a mask. There are feelings behind that mask. It will be interesting to see what direction the show takes in the third season, as Dexter once again balances a stable domestic and professional life with a morbid, night time hobby.

At the beginning of this post I mentioned that this season was all about fire. Fire was a catalyst for many of the problems Dexter encountered, but in the end it was also the solution, as it took care of his Doakes problem. I think I actually liked season two better than season one. Lila was a more interesting villain than the creepy Rudy. But I enjoy this show through all of its storylines and all the ups and downs of its characters. Sign me up for season three!