Showtime Catching Up with HBO

In the last few years, Showtime has begun to catch up with HBO in presenting innovative and sometimes provocative original programming. Two of its strongest offerings have just begun new seasons.

TV: Dexter Season Four — Television’s most winning killer — or is that avenger? — returns this fall with a life even more complicated as well as daunting to his mission of finding and eliminating serial killers. He is now married to his longtime girlfriend Rita and they have a baby boy. And the rather mundane yet trying demands of caring for a newborn create plot twists from the beginning. As well, a new serial killer, played by veteran actor John Lithgow, is at work in Miami, and now-retired FBI Special Agent and profiler Frank Lundy (played by Keith Carradine is a bravura career performance) is also back in town. It’s a plot set-up that promises what might be the strongest season yet in this superb drama that hinges on the vital moral issues around murder and justice as well as the nature of psychopathology. Anthony Michael Hall brings the right amount of charm, lovability and self-awareness to his title role as a police blood expert so that you can’t help but root for him to succeed and get away with his morally questionable if not condemnable cause of stopping serial killers who have slipped through the fallible system of law enforcement and criminal justice. With a core cast of characters that one can’t help but become involved with and care for, Dexter may be the most morally challenging show on television ever. But it’s also both engaging suspense as well as delightful fun and well worth the time for anyone who enjoys excellent entertainment that gives the viewer much to ponder while letting it take you along for the irresistible ride of its plots.

TV: Californication Third Season — An alternate title for this series could easily be Politically Incorrect if Bill Maher’s old ABC-TV talk show hadn’t already taken it. If you are easily offended by obscenity, overt sexuality, alcohol and drug abuse, and morally questionable behavior, either avoid this show like the plague or suspend your standards by remembering that it is fiction, even though I believe the series does show modern life in Los Angeles in all its sometimes distressing glory. Obviously I’d urge the latter, as its also one of the most pointed, evocative and sometimes downright hilarious and touching tales of an antihero you can’t help but love within a modern and frequently amoral milieu that is as wild and wooly as the new West can be while also true to the dilemmas of modern life in the fast lane. And in the end, the sodden and sex-obsessed writer Hank Moody at the center of it all — portrayed by former X Files hero David Duchovny with a believable insouciance that wreaks havoc almost everywhere he goes — is at his core a fallible and troubled soul who nonetheless loves his estranged wife and teenage daughter with an honesty and strength that’s admirable even if also at times off kilter. Californication pushes the envelope in any number of directions, and guest appearances by Kathleen Turner and Peter Gallagher augur for another season full of shocks and surprises on a show that never pulls punches and often throws roundhouses never before seen on TV.

From The Progressive Populist, November 15, 2009


News | Current Issue | Back Issues | Essays | Links

About the Progressive Populist | How to Subscribe | How to Contact Us

Copyright © 2009 The Progressive Populist
PO Box 819, Manchaca TX 78652