This season of TV finished about three months ago or thereabouts, so calling this review belated is lending myself an undue kindness. But what can I say I got caught up with other things. So beginning the catch up stretch of TV reviewing, the fourth season of Dexter. The show certainly has its fans, and those who insist its still the best show on television. Then there's the people that would say its repetitive, formulaic and frustrating. I think I might be somewhere in the middle, but I don't love Dexter anymore. I certainly used to, back in the season one days, but I see the haters argument, particularly on account of the horrible third season, which was almost redundant to itself.
The show relies on convenience too often, in which things work out fine for Dexter just because they do, and its insistence on returning to its status quo rather then grow as a show has certainly cost its some points from me. Dexter faces off with the guest star, gets seduced by them midseason before killing them in the finale. This happened enough times to get the show to the point where nothing matters anymore because you know everything always works out for Dexter. The fourth season I think, was a return to form, not outstandingly so, but things went back on the right track. The guest star thing still stands, but for the first time it actually worked, after the misfires of Lila and Miguel Prado. John Lithgow, who most viewers will know from 3rd Rock From The Sun, is pretty much awesome. I wouldn't go quite so far to say he's the only reason why this fourth season was stronger then the past couple, but he's the most vital one.
I wouldn't say the writing is any better, or that the voice-over is any less grating (it used to be so awesome.) But Lithgow's presence seems to re-energize both the show and Michael C Hall, who does his best work in a long time opposite Lithgow. Episodes such as 'Hungry Man' and the finale ' the Getaway' were glimpses as to to what this show can be when its on its game. The police procedural aspect though, is still as boring as fuck. Nobody cares about LaGuerta and Angel's romance guys, no-one. This show's supporting cast has always been its weak link. They're all rent-a-cops with no draw at all. I think Desmond Harrington's Quinn might be the worst of them, with the charisma of a vacuum ( or a charisma vacuum if you will) and most importantly, the police stuff is just fucking boring, and for a show with two serial killers played by Michael C Hall and John Lithgow, boring is something the show should never be. Ditto all the stuff with Julie Benz's Rita, I know some people like the whole Dexter-Rita forever thing, but for me the show has always written their relationship badly, from all of her impossible forgiveness to the horribly simplified broad strokes in which the show portrays them together. But when Lithgow and Hall are together in a scene, none of this matters, because they're both so damn good. Good acting can do a lot of things, but save a show from its tritish instincts is something that it can't so that often, but I think it does here.
I think season 4 worked mostly around the thesis, the same but better. All the same things happened that always happen really, and the shows irrational love of its status quo doesn't go away. But this time it happened with John Lithgow, giving a performance that has finally gotten him some long overdue recognition, so it was OK. I didn't mind if the beats have been covered before, because they were never covered this well. Not up to the first season for me, but a step in the right direction. And the last two minutes of the year is an indication that they intend to follow through on this, because in order for this show to continue to have relevance it needed to do what it did. Sorry guys. Stunt casting brought me back to season 4 after the painful third year, but for season 5 I have been drawn back in, if cautiously.