Comic-Con Live-Blog: 'Dexter'
Michael C. Hall and company talk up their serial killer dramedy
I'm going to live-blog Thursday's (July 22) panel for Showtime's "Dexter" for a trio of reasons: The first being that it just might be interesting, since so little is known about the upcoming season. The second being that I'm live-blogging Joss Whedon and "True Blood" tomorrow and I've gotta give my fingers a workout. And finally, there's an event I'm trying to catch that begins almost the second "Dexter" ends, so I'd love to be able to pack up and run.
So click through for the live-blog, complete with the possibility of spoilers. I don't imagine there are actually going to be spoilers, but if your own version of Harry's Code requires you to be 100 percent unspoiled, steer clear...
5:57 p.m. Pacific. The panel is scheduled to start in 3 minutes... There's much room-filling still to come. I just snuck out and looked at the line. If you're in the line and you're reading this: Most of you probably aren't getting in. Might as well just read the live-blog.
6:03 p.m. Your moderator is Ralph Garman. Some people know him from the radio. I know him from "Joe Schmo."
6:05 p.m. We're starting with new clips... From the "Dexter" webisodes. Kinda creepy. Should I be watching these? Also "exciting," the "Dexter" iPhone game is easily marketable! Who would have guessed a show about a lovable serial killer would have so many ancillary possibilities?
6:06 p.m. Not sure I need to play the game. I can kill people with my iPhone any time I want. All I have to do is drive while Tweeting.
6:07 p.m. Oooh. Actual clips from Season Five. [SPOILERS!] We begin with little Harrison bawling, being held in Dexter's arms in the aftermath of the shocking finale of last season. Police! FBI! Dexter telling his stepkids. They are... not pleased. Quinn is concerned by Dexter's seeming lack of concern! Oh, Dexter's stepkids are not pleased. And Harry's also not pleased with Dexter's sloppiness. And the police? They know that when a wife is killed, the odds say it's the husband. "Conscience is a killer," the text says. Creepy. Freaky. Premieres Sept. 6.
6:12 p.m. They didn't leave many of the show's executive producers behind. Half the panel is writers I need to figure out how to identify. On the acting side? James Remar, Jennifer Carpenter and Michael C. Hall, who folks love.
6:13 p.m. What does Rita's death do for the creative process? Chip Johannessen says this is a fruitful starting position.. "To see Julie leave was really tough," Hall says. "She's in a new show with Michael C. Hiklis," Hall cracks of Benz. He's still upbeat, though, about this opportunity to fundamentally change the character's landscape, calling it "a pretty exciting development, horrifying as it is."
6:16 p.m. Jennifer Carpenter says that Debra is beginning to have some suspicions this season, but as she puts it, "I don't think she's actually put the puzzle together so that it reads 'My brother's a serial killer.'" Deb is also going to get to be an aunt this season, which will give different shadings.
6:17 p.m. Remar says that when things get tough, people go back to basics and for him, that means extra time for Harry, as Dexter turns back to Harry as a voice in Dexter's life. "It's a cool dance we get to do," Remar says. "Whether I get to do more or less, I can't say, but it's cool to be there," Remar says.
6:19 p.m. Two of the new producers on the show come from "24." They had to learn that it was OK to make time cuts and to have humor, which they weren't accustomed.
6:20 p.m. "I think Dexter's exploring uncharted territory emotionally," John Goldwyn says, mentioning Dexter's new positions as a single father. Adds Hall, "It is as wide-open-feeling and new as it's ever been," referring to the fresh tone as the show enters its fifth season.
6:21 p.m. First audience question regards the ongoing "Dexter" theme of trying to "have it all." The question asks if Dexter will have a new blow-up this season. Johannessen says this season won't necessarily be all about the body count.
6:23 p.m. Second query: Have the writers recognized the similarities between Dexter and Batman. The producers look perplexed and mostly shrug, leaving the questioner to back up her point, which isn't that outlandish. Hall references "Batman Begins" and acknowledges that Batman surrendering to his identity is a bit like Dexter surrendering to his own darkness. It's a good-sported answer from Hall. He gets laughs by saying that Harry is Alfred.
6:24 p.m. "Sometimes in traffic," Hall says of when he feels most like Dexter. He says that the character is in him "on a cellular level," admitting that "inevitably you take your work home with you." He adds, "I'm never more relaxed than on a day I just simulated killing someone. It can be a real stress reliever."
6:26 p.m. Hall is a huge John Lithgow fan, marveling at his sense of play, referencing hysterical moments during the filming of last season's rather stunning Thanksgiving episode.
6:27 p.m. A British woman asks if there will be another "female British character." It doesn't really go anywhere.
6:27 p.m. Ha. Reference to John Lithgow's children's album "Singing in the Bathtub." The producers laugh and say that that had nothing to do with that character. "I hear sales plummeted after last season," Hall cracks.
6:28 p.m. Carpenter agrees that being bound naked in Saran Wrap was one of the odder things she's had to do as an actor.
6:28 p.m. They're shooting their fourth episode now. Carpenter emphasizes that as of now, Debra's concerns for her brother don't go as far as to think he might be killing people.
6:29 p.m. Remar is making an interesting point about how he has to play Dexter not as a character himself, but as an extension of Dexter's consciousness, playing a version of Dexter himself.
6:30 p.m. Confusing question that Garman reinterprets as: What link do the books have to the series at this point? That wasn't what was being asked, but it lets the writers give their stock answer: Only the first season came from the books.
6:31 p.m. Johannessen says that, coming in from the outside, "Dexter" is a happy family, attributing a lot of the responsibility to Hall. He makes it clear that things were different on his last show. That show? "24."
6:33 p.m. Hall says that last season's finale was his favorite twist. "I think that my favorite twist is yet to come," Carpenter says, noting that she's holding out to see how Deb's going to react when she finally eventually learns Dexter's secret. For his part, Hall says that while the actors sometimes know the broad strokes but the specifics are surprising to them. Carpenter swears she doesn't have a clue what's coming this season, which makes her nervous.
6:35 p.m. Let's talk guest stars. Julia Stiles, Jonny Lee Miller. Peter Weller. They're very excited about all of them. But what will any of them be doing? Who knows! Goldwyn says that they're lucky that people are eager to be a part of the experience. Johannessen says that Peter Weller's character was originally pitched to Showtime with the name Weller. Goldwyn says they're excited to have Stiles for her first TV experience. What? Her vodka commercials don't count?
6:37 p.m. Hall says Lithgow was his favorite guest star but adds, "There are so many. I've enjoyed all the people I've killed." Without hesitation, Carpenter answers "Keith Carradine."
6:38 p.m. "Did Trinity really kill Rita, or was it the creepy next door neighbor?" they're asked. Nobody answers. Heh.
6:39 p.m. Hall says he read accounts of the crimes and apprehensions of different killers as part of his research, case studies and whatnot. But he says that Dexter was ultimately unique and a creature of fancy.
6:40 p.m. Carpenter has kind words for Courtney Ford, describing the intensity of their final encounter. Carpenter says that the show sometimes freaks her out. Carpenter calls days like today a payoff for all of their hard work. The panelists applaud us for applauding them. We simultaneously applaud them for applauding us.
6:42 p.m. How do you top Trinity? "We're not," a producer says. "Dexter's going to go to hell and kill the Devil himself... Not really," Hall cracks.
6:42 p.m. Dexter will be taking stock of his life this season, looking at his connection to The Dark Passenger. Does Dexter want to be cured? Producer says he felt last season like he could be, but the ending was like proof that he can't.
6:44 p.m. "I think she's interested in getting rid of the ghost. I don't know what I'm allowed to say. So I'll say nothing," Carpenter says of Deb's love life this season.
6:45 p.m. They haven't talked about an ending, but producer agrees that they'll all know when they've "hit that wall" and it's time to end.
6:46 p.m. "Mr. Hall, F-cancer. You're the man," says a questioner. Loud applause. Hall is grateful for the support and offers quick thanks.
6:47 p.m. "It's what people say about acting, if you really feel like you have to do it, do it..." Hall cracks regarding advice for possible serial killers.
6:47 p.m. "Yes," Carpenter says when asked if she curses more in real life after playing Deb.
6:48 p.m. Producer Sara Colleton says that Dexter became too confident last year and that was why he needed "punishment," specifically the confiscation of what matters to him most, specifically Deb. She swears it was a difficult decision to make and that they had to decide how to punish him.
6:49 p.m. "I think there's an undeniable sense that Rita's blood is on his hands," Hall says, claiming that he's motivated by a desire to make amends, "even if he doesn't even consciously know it."
6:51 p.m. Forget Baby Harry. Are the other kids going to be showing "sociopathic tendencies." The primary concern is still about Harrison, Hall says. Producer says that their options are limited by having the happiest, most content baby actor imaginable.
6:52 p.m. Rita will not return in a Harry-like capacity, the producers emphasize.
6:53 p.m. The actors are asked, individually about their weaknesses. Remar says that he sometimes becomes self-conscious and that's when he starts to mess up. Carpenter is silent. Hall says, "Next question."
6:55 p.m. "It was really satisfying to kill Little Chino, because he was so big," Hall says of his favorite kills.
6:56 p.m. "Stay tuned. It's a logistical nightmare. He's gotta lean on his foster sister for her help. A nanny is hired at one point. He's got to get even better with the sleep deprivation," Hall says on how Dexter will balance serial killing and single parenthood.
6:58 p.m. Last question... Does Dexter decide to give up the Code? It will be a fight, more strained than ever.
6:59... Off I run!!!!
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