As I hope the selections in the previous post demonstrate, great works of art inspire great works of critical analysis. Dexter has been a great show for a few years now. Apparently, some people found last season to be off, but I thought Jimmy Smits was brilliant, and I liked it just fine. This season? Well, I can’t really say after one episode, but Dexter-as-Family-Man isn’t all that, just yet. Michael C. Hall never gets old, and it’s always good to see Keith Carradine, who was once just a smoothy with Carradine genes, but who in his later years has become a terrific screen presence (case in point will always be his remarkable turn as Wild Bill Hickok in Deadwood). But, as Alan Sepinwall points out, “this isn't a show that should be having a fourth season.” Sepinwall was his usual best in discussing Mad Men’s latest episode, but with Dexter, he admits that he retains a fondness for the show but isn’t very invested in it any longer, so he’ll be writing about it less this season.
Great works of art inspire great works of criticism. OK works of art that may be past their sell-by date inspire critics to move on.
As for why Dexter doesn’t really need to be on TV any more, I’d argue along with Sepinwall that the more familiar we become with “normal” Dexter, the farther away we move from “killer” Dexter, the less interesting the show becomes. Dexter has always been a show with dark humor, and there is indeed something funny about Dex feeding the baby while telling him that daddy kills people. But we’ve gone from a killer with daddy issues to a daddy with killer issues … maybe it’s just me, but the latter is “nicer” in ways that don’t make the show any better. Tonight I watched Mad Men, Sons of Anarchy, and Dexter … Dexter was easily the lesser show of the evening. The first show is holding steady, the second show is on the rise, the third show? Well, let’s give it some time, maybe it will return to previous heights.