Dexter, Boardwalk Empire and Homeland: Glut of quality TV on Sundays winds down this week
Is there any day of the week more crowded with quality TV shows than Sunday nights?
There's so much to see, I haven't yet watched the new episodes of CBS' The Good Wife or AMC's Hell on Wheels waiting for me on the DVR, choosing instead to focus on the three best shows winding down to their painful conclusions this week and next: HBO's Boardwalk Empire and Showtime's Dexter, along with its lead-out series Homeland.
Dexter may be the most controversial, as it steams towards the conclusion of a widely-criticized storyline in which Colin Hanks (Tom's son) plays a religiously-rooted killer who imagines he's working with a mentor he actually killed years ago. Some have faulted the cycle for having a twist which was too easy to guess, others have rightfully dinged the show for having Michael C. Hall's excellent killer of serial killers Dexter Morgan wringing his hands too much about religion and faith only to ultimately discard all that.
I agree with much of this criticism. The quietly compelling Mos Def was wasted as a killer converted to religion whose murder failed to turn Dexter and too many of this season's hazards have been too easily sidestepped -- culminating with Dexter shoving former My Boys star Jordana Spiro into a handy interrogation room when she brought a poison gas bomb into the squad.
But I'm also digging the way the characters are bouncing off each other -- especially sister Deborah's realization that her feeling about brother Dexter may be deeper than she realizes. I hold out hope that Sunday's finale will quiet the naysayers, if only a little bit.
Of course, I still tune into Law & Order: SVU occasionally hoping it might be getting better, so it takes a lot to make me give up on a series.
Homeland is the surprising, overlooked gem of this year's TV season, giving Claire Danes another chance to play a deliriously daffy savant in secretly bipolar CIA officer Carrie Mathison. In Sunday's episode, Carrie's mania emerged after she was caught in a bomb blast, while Damian Lewis' recovering U.S. soldier Nicholas Brody seems poised to take out the vice president using an explosive vest.
Coming after a series of sly and unexpected revelations, this episode felt more like a long bit of running in place before Sunday's finale. It's still tough to believe Brody will follow through with his deadly mission -- he is not a tightly controlled automaton or blind loyalist -- while it is tough to see where this story will go once it's plotlines are resolved. Now that Carrie's disorder in known to the agency she's gotta lose her job, and either Brody kills the VP or doesn't, right?
Similarly, it's hard to imagine where Boardwalk Empire goes after Sunday's thrilling season finale. Number Two turned Oedipal mess Jimmy Darmody is dead by the hand of Steve Buscemi's charismatic curmudgeon Nucky Thompson and his new wife has signed over the millions they expect from a New Jersey highway project to the church.
In a sense, it seems unbelievable that Kelly MacDonald's Margaret Schroeder wouldn't take a side -- will she serve God or reconcile herself to serving her ruthless gangster husband?
And it's hard to imagine how the great minds behind this series will find a storyline to rival the Darmody-led insurrection which nearly toppled Nucky. But it sure will be fun seeing them try next year.