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Q: What Do "Dexter" and "Walking Dead," and Wigwams and Tepees, Have in Common? A: They're Too Tense...
December 4, 2010  | By David Bianculli  | 1 comment

Don't worry, I'm not revealing ANY secrets about this Sunday's installments of Showtime's Dexter or (the season finale of) AMC's The Walking Dead. But what I AM revealing -- what I marvel at -- is how incredibly, impressively tense these two shows make me as I watch...

The writers of Dexter seem to revel each year in painting their homicidal hero into a bloody corner, but this year's plot line has been ridiculous... in a good way.

First, in the course of tracking and killing a serial killer just to vent some of his own internal rage, Michael C. Hall's Dexter is witnessed by Julia Stiles' Lumen, that killer's captive and, had not Dexter intervened, next victim. Then Lumen and Dexter team up to wreak revenge on the killer's co-conspirators -- a path that leaves a trail that, at this point, several others are following.


Jonny Lee Miller, as a self-help guru at the center of the murderous gang, has tipped his hand, calling Lumen to let her know he knew she was alive, and with Dexter -- and that he was out to kill them both, before they can get him. But also on Dexter's trail are a) the ex-cop who has collected evidence of Dexter's vengeful sprees, b) Dexter's colleague, who hired the ex-cop to investigate Dexter, and c) Dexter's own sister, a detective whose examination of the "barrel murders" is taking her dangerously close to crossing paths with both Lumen and Dexter.

In the new episode Sunday (9 p.m. ET), all this percolates, and boils, and had me on the edge of my seat -- and, at times, completely off it. What an hour. What a show.


Ditto for The Walking Dead (10 p.m. ET Sunday), which ended last week with a sudden flood of light, as a lone survivor inside Atlanta's Center for Disease Control opened an automatic door to afford our zombie-killing heroes some shelter from the storm. In Sunday's season finale, they get to take a hot shower -- but even that, it seems, is cold comfort.

And before it's over, I was off my chair again.

Tepee. Wigwam. Dexter. Walking Dead.

Two tents.

Too tense...




vince everett said:

title reminds me of an old Abbott & Costello joke
A:"your brain is too tense"
A: "Yeah...2/10s the normal size"

Comment posted on December 4, 2010 4:33 PM

Angela said:

I have a question. David B, has so much good to say about Dexter. I loved Dexter too, and proceeded to watch Season 3. But 4 or so episodes in to it I lost interest. Two disks through the season and I was glad I could send it back to Netflix. What happened? I liked this show before!

I stopped caring for the characters because I felt their acting wasn't as good as before. Or maybe it was the writing that made it seem that way. But the characters seemed fake and lacked depth to me in general. Not Dexter and not his sister Debra, but the other main characters just feel way too one dimensional to me.

And the stories themselves felt like repeats, just slightly different versions of what we had seen before.

So my question is, was season 3 simply a poor season (or long part of a season) that one needs to get through before it picks up again? Or is it me and I should let this show go?


[If you'r asking me, I say give it another chance. But let's see what others have to say... -- David B.]

Comment posted on December 4, 2010 7:11 PM

Sarah said:

Now you are starting to sound like my mom. When I get to watch a show like The Walking Dead with her and it ends the way it did we are both like "come on!".

This really started with the first season of Lost but just a couple of weeks ago we were watching Blue Bloods, you know the one where the murderer was freed from jail,anyway I ended up having to press the record button and watch something less tense (I think it was a re-run of Family Guy) Anyway I got to watch the rest of the episode the next day without her and when it was over I was able to tell her everything ended happily.

When things get to tense or scary we just remember that episode of Friends in which Rachel finds a copy of The Shining in the freezer and Joey goes on to explain when a story gets scary he has to hide it there, as they did later with Little Women.

So to make a long story short my advice is when things get tense and our characters are thrown into a situation we are unsure about just put it in the freezer.

Comment posted on December 5, 2010 10:45 PM

Rich said:

Wigwam?...teepee?...hmmm. I'm sure there's a joke in here about Julia Stiles and me 'pitching a Tent' but this is a family site.

What impresses me about "Dexter" is that it never goes where you think it will. The tangled connections and near misses are intricate that even the most learned TV viewer can get taken along.

pity we can't have an actual "Battle of the Network Stars"...imagine Dr. House in a battle of wits with "Dexter"...and Walter Bishop ("Fringe") is the referee?

My point being 'Treasure these Moments' as we are likely to never have such a collection of sinister & genius minds at one time to "Review" and discuss.

Comment posted on December 6, 2010 2:37 PM

Rich said:

@ Angela - I know what you're saying about season 3 of "Dexter"!...I hear you. Skip it or just watch the last episode for fun.

Season 4 MORE than makes up for it! Season 4 was so drenched in tension I felt like I watched 2 seasons. It was that loaded. Season 5 is so good I can't believe it's almost over- it flew by I was I was enjoying it so much.

Comment posted on December 6, 2010 2:44 PM

Angela said:

Thank you for all the feedback. Because of it, I've decided to watch the last episode of season 3 of Dexter, so I have a foundation for season 4, and go from there.

It gets harder and harder to find the real gems in television these days, so I really didn't want to miss out on something very much worth watching. If season 3 of Dexter had been very near the end of it's run, I wouldn't have worried about it so much. But since there's a whole lot more of Dexter to go it's just not right to let it go to waste if it's as good as it sounds.

Rich, because of your comment especially, I'm actually looking forward to Dexter again. I did love the way it always kept me guessing as to which way it was going to go next. I guess I just needed to hear from one more Dexter fan besides you know who. Thank you!

Comment posted on December 8, 2010 8:53 PM
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