Showtime

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The montage that opens every episode of Dexter is an interesting example of how showing every day images from certain angles can make innocuous actions suddenly look like potential crime scenes. Paired with composer Rolfe Kent‘s creepy theme full of Asian and European instruments like a ukulele, bouzouki and saz, Dexter‘s open is the perfect way to prepare to dive inside of the mind of a serial killer who ties his shoes just like you or me. But the violent images in the open (and the show itself) also bleed into Dexter‘s score as created by composer Daniel Licht. Dexter (Michael C. Hall) prefers a surgical approach when dealing with his victims, and Licht reflects this preference in the show’s score by taking surgical instruments and turning them into musical instruments that pair surprisingly well with the more classical orchestration. Using scissors and knives as percussive elements helped Licht give Dexter the ominous feeling that something sinister was constantly lurking in the background. If you ever wondered how all these different sounds come together on the show, Licht created a behind-the-scenes video to show how he created the sound of Dexter. You can see how Licht shifts from conducting an orchestra of classically trained musicians to create bone-sawing percussion that makes you feel like something isn’t quite right.

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Dexter was eight seasons of fantastic, frustrating, confusing, infuriating cable television, the final of which many longtime fans of the Showtime series had a difficult time getting behind.  It was polarizing, to say the least, which is why even early talks of a prospective spinoff, starring Michael C. Hall’s Dexter Morgan himself seems…weird. Kinda inexplicable. If you’re super late to the game, there be spoilers ahead. You’ve been warned.

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With Dexter no longer holding down the fort in the blood and guts department, Showtime has upped the ante and gone straight up horror with Oscar-nominated writer/producer John Logan‘s Penny Dreadful. Logan, writer of Martin Scorsese-directed films The Aviator and Hugo, as well as co-writer of Skyfall, clearly comes with an excellent pedigree, and his foray into the world of television comes with some big screen names. Josh Hartnett (30 Days of Night), Eva Green (Casino Royale), and another Bond alumnus, Timothy Dalton, will star in the alternate reality, Victorian London-era series, where iconic creatures of the night exist and roam the land doing what will most certainly be nefarious and gross things. Check out the show’s first quick teaser:

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James Cameron is probably out there somewhere, cultivating a fully-formed alien ecosystem on Venus for Avatar 8, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t care about his home planet too. In fact, he cares so much about Earth that he’s produced a documentary for Showtime called Years of Living Dangerously, about the damage our civilization is doing to the environment, and what can be done to stop it. But Cameron is also the man who makes films so popular that unborn children and the recently deceased still manage to make it into the theaters; he knows that your average schmuck won’t be paying attention to a pay-cable documentary about the environment. So what does he do? He crams Years of Living Dangerously with every single celebrity who’s ever uttered the words “climate change,” including, but not limited to: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Ian Somerhalder, Harrison Ford, Matt Damon, Olivia Munn, Jessica Alba, Don Cheadle, America Ferrera and Michael C. Hall. And Cameron’s not borrowing roughly a third of Hollywood just to plant ‘em in front of a camera either. These celebrities are billed as “celebrity correspondents,” and will be taking their famous faces into the field to get an up close and personal look at how environmental damage affects those who don’t regularly receive multimillion dollar paydays. It may put butts in seats (although who knows, it might not), but on the subject of climate change, I’d rather hear from the scientific community than Dexter and Indiana Jones. Check out the trailer for […]

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Masters of Sex

There’s an old marketing cliche that says sex sells. If this is truly the case, then Showtime has successfully set itself up to have the hottest new show on TV once fall rolls around, because it’s newest original program, Masters of Sex, doesn’t just star sexy people like Michael Sheen and Lizzy Caplan, the entire concept of the show revolves around the scientific study of human sexuality. This means that not only will every episode be chock full of sexy talk, but there will also be plenty of room for tons of attractive guest stars to show up and get it on in front of the gaze of Showtime’s cameras. Sounds interesting, no? Of course it does. So click through to watch the network’s new trailer for the show, which will probably get your blood pumping a little faster.

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Channel Guide - Large

(Reader beware: There are spoilers in this article.) When we last left Dexter, the titular serial killer/blood spatter analyst/hoarder of olive green, long sleeve henleys had just offed Travis Marshall (Colin Hanks)— another in the show’s seemingly endless line of Miami based sociopaths—as his police lieutenant kid sister Debra looked on. It was a shocking moment, it was a game changing moment, it was a moment that was so satisfyingly big and sensational that it compensated for an uneven season. (In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that the general shoddiness of the earlier episodes was purposeful and meant to misdirect viewers and lower expectations for the crazy conclusion.) This new season picks up mere seconds after last year’s finale with a rattled Deb struggling to process what she’s just witnessed and quick-thinking Dexter—who’s standing beside a body swaddled in plastic wrap—Jedi mind tricking his sister into believing that he just “snapped.” From here, the season seven opener moves swiftly and assuredly as Deb agonizes over her decision to help Dexter cover up the murder and a new threat—a Russian crime syndicate—is thrown into the mix. The episode is packed with the sort of tense, unnerving scenes that made the Showtime series a hit and proves that any reports of Dexter jumping the shark were premature.

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Culture Warrior

Last week, Thomas Catan and Amy Schatz of The Wall Street Journal published an article about the Justice Department’s antitrust investigation into whether or not cable companies are manipulating consumers’ access to streaming competitors of television content in order to reduce competition. The investigation’s central question is this: are cable companies like Comcast and Time Warner setting data caps to limit download time, speed, and amount of content in order to stave consumers off from using alternatives like Hulu and Netflix? Furthermore, the DOJ is investigating whether or not selective data limits applied to certain streaming outlets (like the fact that Comcast’s data limits can apply to streaming Hulu, but not Comcast’s own Xfinity services) violates Comcast’s legally-binding oath to not “unreasonably discriminate” against competitors. According to the WSJ, “Attorney General Eric Holder on Tuesday suggested he had sympathy for those who want to ‘cut the cord’ rather than paying for cable channels they don’t watch. At a Senate hearing, Sen. Al Franken (D., Minn.) said cable bills are ‘out of control’ and consumers want to watch TV and movies online. Mr. Holder responded, ‘I would be one of those consumers.’” What’s most important about this story for TV consumers is not so much the specific outcomes of this investigation (though that will no doubt have wide-ranging but uncertain implications), but the fact that lawmakers, regulators, and the industry will continue to be forced to recognize new distinctions being made between cable companies, networks, and individual shows as citizens increasingly […]

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Boiling Point

Depending on your position in life, you most likely fall into one of three camps regarding DVR service. If you’re a user of it, you think it’s one of the greatest inventions of all time. Way better than sliced bread. If you’re someone who has their livelihood tied to commercials, you probably hate it. After all, we use it to skip that shit. The third camp is people who don’t have DVRs and thus don’t really care. Regardless of what camp you fit into, we must all acknowledge that the DVR is here and here to stay. No take-backsies! We have to learn to live with it – well, no, I love to live with it, it frees me up and lets me watch TV on my schedule, but I can understand why some studio people don’t like it. So knowing that a DVR is running in tons of houses, I have a message to Cable Companies: get your shit synchronized!

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Boiling Point

As much fun as it would be to pick on SOPA/PIPA some more and make some jokes about how “SOPA,” when said aloud, is Spanish for soup, this is something entirely different. Oh, it still has to deal with censorship, but this is some self-imposed completely idiotic and maddening censorship. On air, movies and television have to play by a set of rules. These rules aren’t totally set in stone, but basically there are some words you can say and some you can’t say. Then there are some you can sort of say, but mostly only in the right context. An example? Pretty much any show on at any time could say “bitch” meaning female dog, because that’s just the definition of the word. If you want to call someone a bitch, generally that’s kept to after 8pm. Cable gets a bigger break than network, as it’s a paid service, but that doesn’t mean they’re immune to fines and more importantly, advertiser backlash, so everyone kind of plays with kid gloves. Of course, it’s parents who should be responsible for policing the television. If a show wants to say bad words, let them. Put it on after 8pm, put a “Language” notice on it, and parents can set their TVs to block it. Easy cakes. I mean, I still don’t understand why HBO, Showtime, and Cinemax won’t show hardcore porn, because why not, amirite? But I’m getting distracted by the thoughts of boobies. This boiling point is specifically about language. […]

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Channel Guide: A Column About TV

Ah, the television midseason. By now, the public has decided which new shows they’ll stick with (Revenge, 2 Broke Girls, New Girl), which they’re unsure about (Pan Am, Prime Suspect, Once Upon a Time) and which aren’t even worth thinking about (The Playboy Club, Free Agents). There’s little chance that if something hasn’t become appointment viewing by now, it’s worth cancelling the DVR season pass. So while we’re all finally getting over the tragedy that was Charlie’s Angels, the network bigwigs are using their highly-representative sample (comprised, one can only imagine, of elderly people, religious zealots, and the entirety of the state of West Virginia) to determine just what they’ll throw at us next. Sure, some of the best shows have been birthed out of a midseason replacement (ahem, Happy Endings, ahem), but the pickings are often more than slim – shows the networks don’t often find strong enough to debut with their fellow newbies in the fall. So what will we have to look forward to (or to run away from) in our TV Guide in the coming weeks? Sure, PBS will kick off the second season of critical and ratings darling Downton Abbey January 8th, while NBC’s 30 Rock is back January 12th. Cee-Lo Green will once again be gracing our television screens with The Voice’s post-Superbowl premiere, and Timothy Olyphant will be emanating his rugged swagger on Justified once more, as the lawman drama kicks off its third season January 17th. But what of the newly minted […]

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As all things go in cycles, we’re headed toward the apex of the Stephen-King-Movie-Go-Round. And, yes, I know carousels don’t have apexes because they spin horizontally, but just go with it. Some projects, like The Dark Tower still have a question mark hanging over them, and others, like remakes of Carrie and Pet Sematary, are simply ideas in the minds of executives. Today we can add another project to that pile, and take one out as well. According to /film, the proposed Showtime series adapted from “Under the Dome” is moving forward with Lost writer Brian K. Vaughan sitting down at his typewriter for the program. The story focuses on a town in Maine (surprise!) that’s sealed off from the rest of the world by a mysterious force field. Kind of like a supernaturally powered island. Adding to the prospective pile, Variety is reporting that Palomar Pictures has secured funding for two foreign remakes and an adaptation of King’s “Rose Madder” – the novel about a woman who leaves a dreadfully abusive husband and discovers a painting that she can travel into. The bottom line? Either get ready for a lot of Stephen King or get ready for Stephen King to receive a bunch of checks for movies that never get made.

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There are few comic books that so obviously needed to be adapted into a mini-series, and “100 Bullets” is one of them. It’s a fantastic neo-noir that works issue to issue just as well as it works as a long-form story with far more going on underneath its surface. Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso created an engaging underworld where a mysterious agent hands you a briefcase with proof of who ruined your life, a gun, and 100 bullets that, if analyzed, will instantly halt any police procedure by federal mandate. It’s a violent golden ticket to get away with murder. Now, according to Deadline Dimsdale, that golden ticket will be heading to Showtime as a new series under the writing and executive producing of David S. Goyer. There’s no doubt that this material is rich and ready for the screen, but Goyer is a bit of a wildcard. He has some phenomenal credits under the umbrella of Christopher Nolan, but he’s also been a part of middle projects and downright unwatchable crap. This is not quite the abomination that Akiva Goldsman writing The Dark Tower is, but it’s not exactly the perfect pairing this show deserves. It’s not like he’s shown off noir chops as of yet (unless you loosely count the Blade movies), and there are definitely a few names that would have caused more of a spark here. Or, like the comic book itself, maybe Goyer has a few surprises up his sleeve.

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With Smallville ending in a few weeks, Human Target (unfortunately) hanging on by a the skin of its teeth in ratings, The Incredible Hulk in pre-production and the Wonder Woman pilot now shot and awaiting word on series pickup possibilities, this is a great time to discuss what other comic book franchises would be well served by a live action TV adaptation. So without any ado at all, I offer five comic book franchises that would make great TV and the networks that would make the best match.

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The Hollywood Reporter is reporting that Oscilloscope and Showtime will partner to bring Rebirth – a documentary following ten people affected by the events of 9/11 over the course of almost ten years – to the theaters and television sets of us all. That theater run will start in August, but there’s no word yet on how wide it will be. Showtime will air the documentary on the tenth anniversary of the attacks. After that, the film, directed by Jim Whitaker, will find a home in the National September 11 Memorial and Museum at Ground Zero. Interestingly enough, the doc also includes time lapse footage of ground zero to show how it’s changed since the devastation of the terrible, cowardly attacks perpetrated that day. It doesn’t feel like it’s been ten years, but I imagine it never really feels like much time has passed for things like this. It will undoubtedly be a difficult movie to sit through, considering the compelling nature of the subject matter. However, one thing stands out as particularly wise – the documentary seems to focus, instead of the emptiness of the event, on the continuation of life after it. Is that something you’ll tune in for?

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The final showdown between Jordan Chase and Dexter has arrived, it’s a race against the clock and Lumen’s life is the reward. Dexter will stop at nothing to save the one person who he has ever been able to truly open up to. Deb will also make the final connections in order to bring down Jordan Chase for good, but what she finds is the one thing she would have never expected to see. Miami Metro will also discover the body of Stan Liddy at a harbor and Quinn in the prime suspect. Now it’s up to Dexter to decide if Quinn will go down for the murder he committed.

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Things are about to go off in the sunny city of Miami, and it all leads up to the beginning of what will hopefully be a heart-stopping season finale. Dexter will be put into a situation that will force him to choose between keeping his secret a secret, or risk exposure from within the department… or so he thinks. Deb will also get one step closer to proving her vigilante theory, but not before LaGuerta can stonewall her from moving forward. And Lumen will be put into the one situation she has been trying to avoid for weeks.

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Before Dexter and Lumen head out to take down head honcho Jordan Chase, they have one stop to make… the woman whose blood Chase has been wearing around his neck. This woman will lead Dexter and Lumen to the final piece of the sick and twisted puzzle, and by the end both of their lives will be changed forever. Miami Metro will also get one step close in their investigation into the barrel girls when they discover a key piece of evidence hidden away in a secret lock box… evidence that will send Debra on an emotional tail spin. Finally, Liddy steps up his investigation into Dexter and his new “squeeze.”

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Things are about to get very interesting for Dexter when a break in at his old house leads to a reveal that could put his entire plan on ice. As for the plan itself, Dexter will attempt to play nice with Jordan Chase… For now. In the hopes of finding definitive proof of his wrong doing as per the codes demands. Things will also get very dicey over at Miami Metro Homicide when Debra is placed on file duty until stumbling on a case that could lead the entire department on a war path leading right back to are beloved serial killer. And by episodes end, someone’s truth will be known…

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Tonight’s the night. Tonight’s the night Cole Harmon will finally meet his maker at the hands of our beloved serial killer. But things take an unexpected turn when Dexter begins to have suspicions about the head honcho himself, Jordan Chase. Lumen will also get a phone call that she really doesn’t want, and before the day is over she’ll have to make a choice that will affect her life forever. Miami Metro is going to have to deal with the backlash from the club shootout, and Deb will come to a scary realization about herself. Liddy will also get one step closer to learning Dexter’s deep dark secret.

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Dexter’s three worlds are about to collide is a cluster f**k of circumstance. And when he realizes what has happened, it is up to him and Lumen to point the cops in a direction that will allow them to continue on their current war path. The Homicide team with also come closer the Fuentes Brothers then they have ever been before. But by night’s end, this will be far from OK for at least one detective. Dexter & Lumen will also get one step closer to learning the identities of all of Lumen’s tormentors. And before the week is over, Lumen will take one step close to the edge of sanity. Quinn will also get one step closer to learning a truth he doesn’t want to know.

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