How does a man who has never been able to emotionally connect with anyone or anything deal with the brutal death of the one person who came closest to bringing out his humanity? And how is his seeming lack of humanity viewed by those around him, including the sister who has long struggled to understand his quirks? That was the intriguing premise behind the fifth-season premiere of DEXTER as our anti-hero struggled with the aftermath of wife Rita’s murder. Having Dexter’s disconnect from humanity be the very thing that makes him look like a prime suspect in Rita’s death was a stroke of genius, and the scene in which he broke news of her death to his stepchildren while wearing a pair of mouse ears from Disney World – aka the Happiest Place On Earth – beautifully displayed exactly the kind of dichotomy this series has specialized in from the beginning. If there was one flaw with the episode, it lay not in what transpired during the hour but in the spoiler-heavy preview of what’s to come this season. That said, having not flicked the TV off quickly enough to avoid seeing them, it looks as if we’re in for a hell of a ride over the next 13-weeks.
If last night’s FAMILY GUY is a sign of what to expect this weekend, we’re in for some good stuff. While the episode wasn’t as laugh-packed as usual, it was an epic homage to every flick from And Then There Were None to Clue, all done with a directorial flair that showcased the limitless nature of animation. It’ll be interesting to see if the episode’s deaths — especially those of Mort’s wife and newswoman Diane Simmons — are mined for future plotlines. Perhaps Marge as Tom Tucker’s new on-air sparring partner, or Mort’s search for a new wife? Of course, this being FAMILY GUY, the whole thing could wind up being explained in passing as someone’s dream. One thing’s for sure: I can’t wait until next week, when Brian takes on Rush Limbaugh! Talk about a dog-eat-dog scenario!
To say I haven’t been a huge fan of DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES over the past few seasons would be an understatement on par with John McCain is no spring chicken. But I’ll admit that last night’s episode — the seventh-season premiere — was better than pretty much any of last season’s episodes. In fact, the highly-publicized arrival of Vanessa Williams’ Renee was actually the low point of the hour. Don’t get me wrong: I’m a huge fan of Williams in general and her UGLY BETTY persona, Wilhelmina, in particular. But come on… who didn’t know the second Lynette began talking about her friend with the fabulous life that by the end of the night, it would be revealed Renee’s stock had plunged lower than the neckline on her portrayer’s dress? The plot that found Susan preparing for a life in softcore porn was equally predictable, although it could morph into a fantastic little story in which her attempt to moonlight for cash winds up involving her in a dangerous world behind her comprehension. (But let’s face it, under Mark Cherry, it’s pretty much a rule that all Susan-related plots be played for laughs, meaning in two or three weeks, this story will be dropped like that bombshell Carlos will soon be unleashing on poor Gaby. No, for me, the promise comes from the returns of Paul Young and, more importantly, Felicia Tillman (played by the incredible Harriet Samson Harris, whom many will remember from her awesome portrayal of FRASIER’s agent, Bebe). While I’m sure that — as in every single season so far — what starts out as an exciting mystery will quickly become boring thanks to too-few plot developments spread over too many episodes, with this show, I’ve learned to take what I can get.
I wanted to love RUNNING WILDE if for no other reason than the talents involved, but for now, I’ll have to settle for being in like with it. This is through no fault of leads Will Arnett and Keri Russel, who perfectly embody (respectively) blustering billionaire Steven and cute-if-clueless Emily. Rather, the pilot simply felt a little too forced. All the trademarks one would expect from a show executive produced by three members of the ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT team are in place… and in a way, that might be part of the problem. Some of the quirks are too familiar (the voiceover by Stefania Owen’s precocious pre-teen, Puddle). Others are too over the top. (Until now, I’d have thought one could never get enough of miniature horses. Turns out, I was wrong.) Then again, I wasn’t blown away by the ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT pilot, and that show went on to become one of my all-time faves.