TV Review: Hall keeps 'Dexter' bloody good in season three
When the first season of "Dexter" ended, I thought: That is a perfect 12-episode series, so perfect I kind of wish it ended there. I just didn't think the show's writers could top that initial arc. And so far, they haven't.
That was true in season two, when the writers let Dexter (Michael C. Hall) off the hook. He didn't have to violate his code -- kill only killers -- by killing the innocent Sgt. Doakes; crazy Lila did that dirty deed.
In season three, the writers let Dexter go further but with extenuating circumstances that give viewers the opportunity to feel sympathy for Dexter's plight and excuse his actions.
- Starring: Michael C. Hall.
- When: 9 p.m. Sunday, Showtime.
That's not to say "Dexter" is terrible in its third season. It's still a hugely entertaining show thanks to its charismatic lead actor and the tension that builds in its twisty-turny plots. But when a lead character is a murderous anti-hero, there's a fine line to walk between cheering a righteous vigilante and offering sympathy for the devil. Season one walked that line perfectly. Season two did not, and four episodes into season three, the show's haze of moral ambiguity grows denser.
Getting into specifics would spoil too much plot. Suffice it to say that on the job Dexter gains an ally in assistant district attorney Miguel Prado (Jimmy Smits), who may even become something Dexter has never had: A trusted friend.
Changes also brew in his relationship with girlfriend Rita (Murrysville native Julie Benz).
Everything in season three seems designed to evolve Dexter in a multitude of ways that are both intriguing and disturbing.
"He's simultaneously attracted to and repulsed by the idea of a sort of intimacy with another person," Hall said in July at a Showtime press conference. Series creator Clyde Phillips said Dexter's comfort with Prado will grow. "Dexter becomes more and more open with Jimmy Smits' character and is able to open up a little bit about who he is."
For fans who got hooked on "Dexter" when its first season aired on CBS, don't expect to see season two or three on CBS. Network executives said in July they don't plan to air additional seasons. But Phillips would welcome more CBS airings if executives change their minds.
"6.5 million people would see the show on CBS where, on a good night, we would get 1 million people [on Showtime]," he said. "I think, in all candor, whether it's inclusionary or exclusionary, I think [the CBS airings] perhaps affected the Emmy nomination [that 'Dexter' received]."
First Published September 25, 2008 12:00 am