Return to Form

Continuing the trend of bringing back beloved characters several years after they left our screens, Showtime have returned Dexter to us. Dexter was the first TV show I really got into, that introduced me to the wonderful world of serialised storytelling. It was also the first show that broke my heart. Not because of how moved I was by the story of a serial killer with a conscience, but because of how awfully it ended. It was like a bad breakup, leaving me confused, angry, upset, lost, texting my friends things like, “I just don’t know what to do with myself anymore,” and “Will I ever love again?”. You may wonder whether I’m exaggerating, but I was 15 when Dexter finished, and first loves tend to hit the hardest when that love is set on fire and left to burn.

Dexter: New Blood actually seems to be a prime candidate for a successful revival. A once great, beloved TV show that went off the rails in its later seasons with a disastrous ending, revisiting the character years on with the same cast, an entirely new world around them, as unfamiliar to it as we are. The first episode was a little clumsy, at once feeling thrillingly Dexter, and also like it was desperately trying to prove itself as something else, something better. It’s found its footing since though, and I look forward to the new episode every Monday on Now/Sky Atlantic.

At least, I think it has more chance of success than The Sopranos prequel film, The Many Saints of Newark (Alan Taylor), as reviewed by gentleman, Joey Fanthom on this website. With Dexter, you can argue the case that the character, and the show, needed redemption. I hope New Blood earns it.

Some Seasonal Merriment

Now that the frost has finally arrived, and the undeniably phallic Christmas lights of Grafton and Henry Streets have begun their reign of terror (you won’t unsee it now—you’re so, so welcome), the seasonal screen content has started to grace the streamers.

Robin Robin (Daniel Ojari and Michael Please) is the new short film from Aardman (of Wallace & Gromit fame) available to stream on Netflix. It’s about an orphaned robin (Bronte Carmichael) who is raised by mice as she tries to find her way in a world in which she doesn’t quite fit in, no matter how hard she tries. Adeel Akhtar plays father of the year, Richard E. Grant plays a magpie who loves any bit of glistening tat he finds (not unlike Withnail, let’s be honest), and Gillian Anderson plays a sinister cat. Other than wondering why cats are so maligned in children’s films (perhaps that’s the reason I was always quite scared of them as a child), I was delighted by the stunning felt animation (in place of the Aardman’s usual clay figures), sweet songs, charming performances, and uniquely strange story. Basically, it’s lovely. It’ll only take half an hour to brighten your day.

Disney and Marvel are also in the festive spirit with the new Hawkeye show, starring Jeremy Renner as everyone’s least favourite Avenger, Clint Barton, and Hailee Steinfeld as Kate Bishop, a young archer who gets herself in a bit of a pickle with a nasty crowd. Happens all the time. It also stars Tony Dalton, a.k.a everyone’s favourite Salamanca, in a key role, which was a very pleasant surprise to see his cheeky grin again whilst we impatiently wait for the new season of Better Call Saul. Despite being a Marvel show, the series very much has the atmosphere of Christmas, whether that’s through the soundtrack, the set design, or Clint’s repeated promises that he’ll be home to slide down the chimney and drink all the brandy.

The festive period is a time when families and friends reunite, spend time with one another, and look to be entertained, therefore anything that evokes this spirit of the season should reflect this too (unless you want to directly contrast it to horrify, but that’s another column). Some of the other Marvel Shows (namely What If…? and The Falcon and the Winter Soldier) seem to have had a harder time connecting with audiences and remembering to entertain them, so it’s nice that this latest offering on Disney+ is more engaging.

Both of my recommendations this week feature cute animals (Hawkeye has a gorgeous dog with one eye and a strong sense of right and wrong), so maybe I’m just a sucker for a waggy tail and fluffy feathers after all. And what person in their right mind wouldn’t be?