TThe last time anyone saw Dexter was back in 2013, looking into the distance with a dingy Sellotaped nylon beard on his face, looking grim because he had just realized he had inadvertently played in the worst TV series finale in history.
But now he’s back. Last night, Showtime announced they’ve recruited star Michael C Hall and writer Clyde Phillips for a brand new 10-episode limited series Dexter. The new episodes will air next year, finally giving Dexter fans the closure they so deserve.
That is, of course, if there are any Dexter fans left. Because you could spend years racking your brains and finding a better example of a bed-cracking show than Dexter. While it started off pretty well, its premise – what if there was a serial killer who was also a police forensics expert – quickly ran out. It was good for four seasons, two of which were really excellent, before falling off a cliff quickly.
Between seasons five and eight, the plots got silly and repetitive, the actors sleepwalded through their scenes, and, perhaps most damning of all, Dexter’s colleagues had to become dangerously incompetent to keep letting him go. The series quickly became less of a TV show and more of a weird human zoo where we could all go and watch the biggest load of absolute nincompoops in living memory.
I’m one of the very few who, probably out of deep-rooted self-hatred, made it to the last episode of Dexter. And how did Dexter reimburse me? With a scene from Dexter like a lumberjack moping with pubic hair stuck to his face. It’s been eight years and I’m still angry.
Having said that, of course, I’ll be watching the clock. Call me an optimist, or call me an illusion, but I really believe this could be one of the biggest reputation upsets of all time. Let me explain why.
Most important is the participation of Phillips. Although Dexter ended up burning the showrunners like they were old-fashioned, Phillips ran Dexter when it was right. He left at the end of season four, at the height of Trinity Killer’s ever-brilliant storyline, and was quite vocal about his feelings about the show after he left. During a Reddit AMA in 2013, he said that Dexter had left him “a little confused”, that “that didn’t make sense”, that he “broke the code with the audience” and that, when a user told him that Dexter had gone from his favorite show to his least favorite, replied, “I share your frustration.” Getting the original showrunner back in shape is the best possible thing Dexter could have done.
Plus, most of Dexter’s more frustrating elements are no longer a problem. Debra Morgan – Dexter’s sister, played by Jennifer Carpenter, whom Hall married and then divorced while the series was ongoing – cannot return as she died in the finale. Charlotte Rampling’s irritating quasi-mother figure suffered the same fate. Dexter’s dead father, who regularly appeared from beyond the grave to offer boring poems about morality, rose to heaven in the penultimate episode. Granted, many of Dexter’s goofy coworkers tragically came to an end without being murdered, but at least the show can return without most of the elements holding it back.
Plus, you know, it’s not like Dexter could get any worse. You could chain a million monkeys to a million typewriters and commit them and the results still wouldn’t be as stupid as Dexter in his prime. Even though Hall and Phillips completely lose their minds and fill these 10 new episodes with more insane leaps of logic and more characters who completely change their personalities from scene to scene and longer, dull monologues about the nature of death – even though these new episodes are only 10 hours of Dexter staring into space with his tiny Oregon lumberjack armpit beard still attached to his face – then the new Dexter can’t scientifically be as terrible as the old Dexter.