Tag Archives: Dexter

Ranking the Shows I Watch – 2014 Edition: The Outcasts

14 Jan

Breaking Bad

It’s time for an annual beginning-of-the-year tradition over here at Drug of the Nation, the ranking of the shows I’ve watched during the previous year. This is my fourth annual ranking, and I’ll repeat the caveat I placed atop last year’s ranking introduction:

Because the TV season is no longer the fall-to-spring trajectory that it used to be, I arbitrarily rank things on a calendar basis, and that leads to strange situations where I’m occasionally ranking the end of one season and the beginning of the next season in the same ranking. It’s strange, and not ideal, but I have to pick some point in the year to do the rankings, so I’ll roll with the punches and mention within the article if there was a significant change in quality one way or the other between the end and beginning of seasons covered in the same year.

I’m only ranking shows I watched all of or just about all of the episodes that aired last year; if I’m just two or three behind I’ll rank it, but if I’ve only seen two or three, I won’t. I’m ranking three episode mini-British seasons but not shows with one-off specials (Black Mirror’s Christmas special is the most notable example this year) . These rules are arbitrary, admittedly, but any rules would be. No daily variety programs like The Daily Show and The Colbert Report are eligible either.

The rankings this year were incredibly difficult, and a generally weak fall slate of TV shows had me forgetting just what an utterly strong year on the whole 2014 had been for television. I was forced to put shows I liked a lot towards the bottom of these rankings, and unlike previous years, there are just about no shows on this list that I’m one bad episode away from stopping, or that I’m just stringing out due to past loyalty until they finish. It’s absolutely brutal, and although I was forced to make tough choices, that doesn’t mean I don’t genuinely enjoy just about every show on this list. TV is that good, folks.

We start, as last year, with the shows that made last year’s list but didn’t make this year’s for one reason of another. This year these are almost entirely because they ended or didn’t air in the calendar year, so I’ll just run through them quickly, with some additional notes about the few that didn’t fall off due to simply not airing last year. This year I’m going to additionally throw in where a show ranked last year for context.

Here’s a quick link to last year’s final ranking as well. Now, on to the outcasts…

Breaking Bad – 2013: 1

Treme – 2013: 4

Eagleheart – Last year: 6

30 Rock – Last year: 10

Venture Bros. – 2013: 12

Top of the Lake – 2013: 15

Arrested Development – 2013: 17

Childrens Hospital – 2013: 21

Broadchurch – 2013: 23

Happy Endings – 2013: 24

NTSF: SD: SUV – 2013: 31

Black Mirror – 2013: 36

Family Tree  2013: 37

Siberia – 2013: 38

Luther – 2013: 45

The Office – 2013: 46

Dexter – 2013: 48

Enlightened – 2013: 6.5 (Initially, an embarrassingly mistaken omission)

Ben and Kate – 2013: 23.5 (Initially, an embarrassingly mistaken omission)

Take a deep breath. All of these shows did not air in 2014, so that’s the simple explanation why they’re not on the list. Many of these shows ended, Top of the Lake was a miniseries, several have extended offseasons and will be back in 2015 or later, and a couple are in extended hiatus, waiting to see whether they will return or not (looking at you, NTSF: SD: SUV). Easy enough.

Homeland – 2013: 41

Homeland

After a season and a half of utter frustration with the show’s inconsistency at best, and downright lousy and lazy writing at worst, I cut the cord, deciding not to watch the fourth season after a third season that really was not a very good season of television. People have told me the fourth season is better, and if a critical consensus emerges I’ll consider coming back, but I’m not that close to it. I got so sick of the show and Carrie and Brody in particular; if I had cut out earlier, I might have been more easily convinced to come back. It’ll always have an absolutely all-time first season, and is worthy fo remembering just for that, reminiscent of an athlete like Mark Fidrych who blows away the league in his first season only to never do anywhere close to the same again.

Under the Dome – 2013: 47

 

Under the Dome

Oof. Under the Dome’s first season makes the third season of Homeland look like the fourth season of Breaking Bad. It’s still stunning to me that I made it almost to the end of the first season (I never actually watched the season finale; either with only one left, I couldn’t bring myself to). The plot was incredibly stupid, the acting was generally pretty bad, and the characters were horrible. It’s hard to imagine a time when it could have been decent, but alas, a sneakily bad show is bound to end up getting watched sometimes when you watch so many shows.

Ranking the Shows That I Watch – 2013 Edition: 48-45

27 Dec

Time to start these rankings in earnest – remember, even being relatively low on the list isn’t an insult – the fact that I’m watching the show at all probably means I think it’s at least pretty good. That said, there are a couple of exceptions, seasons of shows I didn’t particularly care for but I watched anyway for a variety of reasons, most often because it was a lousy season of a show that had been good in the past. The first couple of entries in the list should more or less sweep through that first bunch.

48. Dexter

Clean yourself up, Dex

Bringing up the rear is Dexter. The eight season of Dexter truly was a putrid, awful, horrible, terrible no good very bad final season of television. I try not to think about it to avoid a feeling of Lost-like instant frustration. I I actually believed the season to last season of Dexter had a chance to be good, but it wasn’t, and I already harbored pretty low expectations for the last season. Still, the season started not great. The season got worse as it went along, the finale was worse than the season, and the last two minutes of the finale may have been the worst part of the episode. The writers were clueless, lost, and wasted a chance to do something really interesting Dexter could have only done as it was ending. Alas. The last four seasons, and the last three seasons in particular (five isn’t really that bad) shouldn’t take away from Dexter’s stellar first four seasons, but as someone who hasn’t rewatched the series, the bad is fresh in my mind, and the good a long way off.

47. Under the Dome

Under the Dome or Under the Minidome?

Ick. Why did I watch this entire season of television? I don’t really have a good reason. The first episode really was not bad. I was telling a friend that, and he laughed it off. He rightfully gave me an “I told you so” just a few weeks later, after two or three weeks of me insisting the show still had upside. The concept may have but the show didn’t, and it just got worse and worse and more insipid and silly and stupid and it went on. Mysticism and mystery isn’t entertaining for its own sake, and the idea that the dome had a will of its own just seemed dumb rather than interesting or mysterious. There was a mystery, but that doesn’t do any good if no one actually cares about it, and no one should have. Dean Norris deserves better. It was possibly worse than this season of Dexter (possibly) but I’m giving Dexter the last slot because of the negative associations it created with something I previously liked; thankfully I had no positive associations with Under the Dome that the show could ruin right off the bat.

46. The Office

The Office

This was also a putrid, awful, horrible, terrible no good very bad final season, but with one exception that places it clearly ahead of Dexter (and Under the Dome). The season was awful but the finale was actually good. It’s almost as if the writers farmed out every other episode in the season to a bunch of six year olds or one terrible writer and spent the rest of the time working on the finale. It’s hardly an all-time classic finale, and has nothing on a couple of other finales we’ll get to later, but it served its purpose, was appropriately heartwarming and funny and cameo-filled, and it left a good taste in my mouth after a bad season, unlike Dexter. There were so many things wrong with the last couple of seasons, that it was nice to have the last moments we spend with the lovable Dunder Mifflin crew be joyous.

45. Luther

DCI Luther

I recently wrote an article which says my thoughts in far more detail than I’ll say them now. This is a show that I probably never would have watched if it wasn’t as short as it was and if it didn’t star Idris Elba, but it did have redeeming features that make me keep watching through the first two seasons. Sadly, these redeeming features were largely not present in this third season. The best character in the show barely appeared and her appearance was uninspired and felt forced, and Luther, the character, has run out of interesting things to do. The best part was always the villains and this season’s villains largely didn’t match up to previous years’.

The Zeljko Ivanek Hall of Fame: Mark Pellegrino

20 Nov

Mark Pellegrino

(The Zeljko Ivanek Hall of Fame is where we turn the spotlight on a television actor or actress, and it is named after their patron saint, Zeljko Ivanek)

Some of the people we induct into the Zeljko Ivanek Hall of Fame are actors who most people would instantly recognize because of their long, prolific television careers, or character actors remembered in particular for one stand-out main cast role in a much-loved television show. Some however, are less well-known, and can only be pinned down by most people as “the guy who played” one character from a couple of episodes of a couple of shows. Well, Marl Pellegrino is one of the latter, but I think if you’ve watched a lot of television in the ‘00s, you’ll likely recognize at least a role or two he’s played. In particular, he has appeared in one all-time recurring role of a character much better remembered by name than for the amount of screen time he gets in the seven episodes in which he appears. But we’ll get there. First we start at the beginning.

Pellegrino’s first IMDB credited role is as “punk” in an episode of L.A. Law. Next was an appearance in TV movie What Price Victory, followed by one-shots as “Dude” in Doogie Howser, M.D., an episode of Hunter, and as “Punk” again in a Tales From the Crypt. He ran through the entire decade of the ‘90s appearing in single episodes of many television shows, some of them popular, including, Northern Exposure, something called The Hat Squad, The Commish, Viper, Renegade, Deadly Games, ER, Nash Bridges, The Sentinal, Brimstone, and The X-Files. In X-Files episode “Hungry” he played a murder suspect, Derwood Spinks, who gets eaten by the true murderer and self-hating monster Rob Roberts. He also appeared in TV movies Class of ’61, Knight Rider 2010, The Cherokee Kid, and Born Into Exile. His best known role of the decade, however, may have come as an unnamed blond Jackie Treehorn thug in The Big Lebowski. He dunks The Dude’s head into the toilet and drops the bowling on the tile, breaking it, towards the beginning of the film (“Where’s the money Lebowski?,” he asks).

In the ‘00s, Pellegrino’s career began to pick up with some recurring roles. He was in three episodes of The Beast and four of NYPD Blue. He was in single episodes of The Practice, The Unit, Burn Notice, and Grey’s Anatomy, and two of Without a Trace, along with TV movie NYPD 2069.

Paul from Dexter

In 2006, he got the first television role for which he’s frequently recognized. He played Rita’s sketchy ex-con ex-husband Paul Bennett in eight episodes of the first two seasons of Dexter. Bennett is extremely possessive, and after he gets out of jail he comes looking for Rita and her new boyfriend, who is, of course, Dexter. Bennett was an abusive husband who beat and raped Rita, which got him to jail in the first place. Rather than simply kill him, per Dexter’s m.o. Dexter sets him up with some heroin and gets him shipped back to prison, where Bennett gets killed in a prison fight.

After getting killed off on Dexter, Pellegrino spent some more time as a TV nomad. He appeared on episodes of Women’s Murder Club, K-Ville, Knight Rider (remember that reboot?), Criminal Minds, Fear Itself, Ghost Whisperer, The Philanthropist, and The Mentalist, and two each of Prison Break and CSI.

Jacob from Lost

Soon, though he was to land his next extremely recognizable recurring character as the infamous Jacob from Lost. I don’t even begin to actually understand much of Jacob’s story, but he was a legendary figure talked about and heard but not seen long before his backstory was revealed. Jacob was the long-time protector of the island. He had a centuries-long feud with his brother, the nefarious Man in Black who also took the form of the Smoke Monster, and also killed their mother (Yes, Lost makes absolutely no sense; as someone who watched most of it, I can’t even imagine how ridiculous this sounds to someone who has seen none of it). Jacob was worshiped by Ben Linus, he was the one who made Richard immortal and he eventually anointed a successor to his place from among the survivors of the Oceanic crash.

Pellegrino was in TV movie Locke & Key (as Locke), a CSI: Miami, and a Breakout Kings, before guest-starring in six episodes of TNT hit The Closer as Gavin Q. Baker, a lawyer who represents Brenda in whatever the Turrell Baylor lawsuit is. He’s described by Wikipedia as flamboyant, astute, clever, and brutally honest.

He appeared in two Chucks and a Castle. He got a pretty choice recurring role as Archangel Lucifer on Supernatural. He has appeared in that role for 10 episodes over the course of seasons 5 through 7 and is the primary antagonist of season five, when, after breaking out of his prison in hell, he attempts to get Sam to be his vessel who he can inhabit (I don’t really know what that means either. Maybe I’ll watch you one day, Supernatural).

He appeared in the TV movie Hemingway & Gellhorn and in episodes of Grimm and Person of Interest.  He was a main cast member in the first season of the American Syfy remake of British supernatural show Being Human, in which a ghost, a werewolf, and a vampire live together and try to make it in modern day society. He played James Bishop, a vampire, turned in the 15th century, who now works in the Boston Police Department.

Pellegrino played Jeremy Baker, a member of the Monroe Militia in four episodes of Revolution. Currently, he’s starring as the antagonist in the CW’s The Tomorrow People, about a near-future where some people have genetic super powers. He plays the head of the villainous government organization Ultra, charged with rounding up and disabling all the people with genetic mutations.

Before, he may have just seemed to be “the guy who played Jacob in Lost,” but he’s so much more. Welcome to the Zeljko Ivanek Hall of Fame, Mark Pellegrino.

The Zeljko Ivanek Hall of Fame: Jim Beaver

13 Mar

Jim Beaver

(The Zeljko Ivanek Hall of Fame is where we turn the spotlight on a television actor or actress, and it is named after their patron saint, Zeljko Ivanek)

Today we’re celebrating the television work of Jim Beaver, a character actor who has only become more prolific with age, first acting in the late ’70s, working more frequently in the late ’80s, and whose biggest roles have come largely in the last 10 years.

Beaver’s first work came in the late ’70s, appearing in tiny roles in TV movies Desperado and something called Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders starring Jane Seymour, as well as an uncredited appearance as “diner” in an episode of Dallas.  After another uncredited appearance in a TV movie called Girls of the White Orchard as “pedestrian,” he next appeared in a Jake and the Fatman episode in 1987.  He spent the end of the ’80s and 1990 making individual appearances in Matlock, Guns of Paradise, CBS Summer Playhouse, The Young Riders, Father Dowling Mysteries, and Midnight Caller, and TV movies Perry Mason: The Case of the Lady in the Lake, Mothers, Daughters, and Lovers (that’s one title), Follow Your Heart, El Diablo, The Court Martial of Jackie Robinson (featuring a young Andre Braugher as Jackie Robinson), and Gunsmoke: To The Last Man.

He got his first multi-episode role on soap Santa Barbara as the wonderfully named character, “Andy the Rapist.”  He got his biggest role yet in two season odd couple cop drama Reasonable Doubts, which starred Marlee Matlin as a civil liberties-friendly District Attorney and Mark Harmon as an old-school cop.  Beaver appeared as Harmon’s friend and partner Detective Earl Gaddis in 14 episodes.  He showed up in another Gunsmoke movie, an episode of Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, and TV movie Children of the Dark before appearing again as a regular in two season ABC sitcom Thunder Alley.  Thunder Alley starred Ed Asner as a retired race car driver, and included in the cast a young Haley Joel Osment.  Beaver played Asner’s mentally challenged mechanic, Leland DuParte.

Beaver danced around TV for the rest of the ’90s, appearing in single episodes of Home Improvement, High Incident, Bone Chillers, NYPD Blue, Moloney, Murder One, Spy Game, Total Security, The Adventures of A.R.K. (I have no idea what some of these are), Melrose Place, Pensacola: Wings of Gold, The X-Files, and TV movies Divided by Hate and Mr. Murder (starring the great Stephen Baldwin).  He also appears as bar owner Happy Doug in seven episodes of 3rd Rock from the Sun and in four episodes of long-running soap The Young and the Restless.

He recurred in one season David Krumholtz and Jon Cryer starrer The Trouble with Normal in 2000.  From 1996-2004, he appeared in 26 episodes of soap Days of Our Lives as Father Tim Jansen, the local pastor.  Next, there was more journeying around the world of TV appearing in single episodes of That ’70s Show, The Division, Star Trek: Enterprise, The West Wing, Philly, Andy Richter Controls the Universe, Six Feet Under, Tremors, The Lyon’s Den (Rob Lowe’s ill-fated post The West Wing show), Monk, and Crossing Jordan.

Whitney Ellsworth

Beaver landed the biggest role of his career in 2004, as he was cast in David Milch’s Western masterpiece Deadwood as grizzled prospector Whitney Ellsworth.  Ellsworth was the rare truly honest man in Deadwood, and unlike a couple of the other honest characters, was liked by just about everyone in town.  He’s initially trusted to manage Alma Garrett’s gold claim, and works hard to manage her successful gold operation, fighting off various concerns who want to buy it.

Episodes of The Unit and CSI: Crime Scene Investigation were next, followed by the start of his second biggest role, appearing as a heavily recurring character in Supernatural.  At 54 appearances over the course of Supernatural’s nine seasons, Beaver has shown up in more episodes of the show than anyone except the two leads, Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles.  He plays Bobby Singer, a blue collar demon hunter and old family friend of main characters Sam and Dean’s family.  Over the course of the show, Singer shows the boys countless tricks of the trade for dealing with the supernatural, and becomes a father figure to Sam and Dean.

Beaver was busy elsewhere while appearing on Supernatural.  He was in five episodes of the one season Taye Diggs led Daybreak, and in eight of one season David Milch far out HBO drama John From Cincinnati as Vietnam Joe, a pot grower who helps Mexican illegals cross the US border.  He was in three episodes of Big Love and one of Criminal Minds.  He was a main cast member in 2008-09 CBS 13 episode horror/thriller murder mystery miniseries Harper’s Island, playing the sheriff of the titular island, Charlie Mills.  The gimmick of the series, which sounds kind of zany and possibly worth further investigation, is that at least one character, and as many as five, are killed every episode.

Shelby Parlow

Next were single episodes of Psych, Law & Order: LA, The Mentalist, Lie to Me, and Love Bites.  Then, he appeared in two episodes of Breaking Bad, as gun dealer Lawson, selling Walter White guns in episodes Thirty-Eight Snub and fifth season premiere Live Free or Die.  He was in an episode of Dexter’s most recent seventh season, playing Dexter love interest Hannah McKay’s lousy dad, Clint.  He’s also played an important recurring role in Justified as now Harlan County Sheriff Shelby Parlow, appearing in almost every episode this season.  Keep up the good work, Jim Beaver.

Ranking the Shows That I Watch – 2012 edition: 30-28

4 Feb

Moving along.  Check out the intro for the details of what qualifies for the list.  30, 29, and 28 below.

30.  The League

TheLeague

The show can be so one-note and stupid to sometimes be painful, but at its best, there are actual laugh out loud moments which make the ridiculous and often predictable plotting and poor character development worthwhile.  My friend has recently advised me to view The League through the Family Guy lens, which means don’t even worry about the characters or the plot, and realize that a bunch of the jokes won’t work, but focus on the few solid jokes that The League brings in almost every episode.  I haven’t tried watching yet with that new attitude, but hopefully that will address my issues, or at least put them to the side.  The League falls into a lot of plotting traps, trying to outsmart itself and be Seinfeld or Curb Your Enthusiasm in terms of plots that weave together, and sometimes it goes for way too far over the top ridiculousness in its attempt at humor.  Honestly, though, systematically, I’m not sure there’s a guaranteed way to filter what works and what doesn’t; I think often a lot of the ideas seem very similar on the page, and while I could pick out a few losers right away, some just click, and some don’t.  I think the show has definitely lost a little bit of freshness since the first season, but there’s no serious serial elements or narrowing of subject matter that would lead to the show naturally getting tired quickly.  I think this is just what The League is; you watch it, you get some funny here and there, and try to just not worry about the rest.

29. Dexter

Bloodwork

A few more shows left in my ambivalent tier.  Dexter was pretty great in its early seasons, and even when it was great I wasn’t quite as big a fan as many, though I certainly wholeheartedly recommended the show to others.  This period ended with its excellent fourth season.  The fifth season was a notable step down, and the sixth season was out and out bad; if I had assembled this ranking early in 2012, Dexter would be even lower.  The seventh season was a comeback, but a relative one; Dexter may not be out and out done yet but it will never be the show it once was.  Many people think the seventh season was better than the fifth, but I disagree.  The season actually started out fairly well, and credit to Dexter’s writers for finally changing the status quo with a major storyline change at the very end of the sixth season which leads to change the dynamic for some of the characters.  That said, the season had a tremendous focus issue, a problem Dexter usually doesn’t have, since he’s usually paired against a major antagonist for the length of each season.  The most intriguing outside character was  strangely eliminated from the season just over halfway through, and took away a lot of the momentum the season had been building.  The other major developments were interesting but somewhat ham-handed in the way they were handled, and I’m just not as emotionally invested in the show for the big moments to mean as much as they would have to me, seasons ago.  All in all, I’m going to finish it out, but it’s a show that’s not on its A game, and really hoping to just finish out with its B-game.

28.  Veep

TV's Joe Biden

After I watched the first episode of Veep, I wasn’t sure I was going to continue.  After I watched the second episode, I wasn’t sure, nor after the third episode, either, until the fourth, when I pretty much decided it I was in for the season.  That wasn’t just because I had already gone almost halfway through the season, though that played a part, but it was also because the episodes did improve in quality as they went on and as the relationships between the characters and their banter seemed to build.  I”ve watched most of The Thick of It, Veep creator Armando Ianucci’s similar BBC show about the British government instead of the American one, and Veep is very similar in style.  The only downside is that Veep doesn’t have a proper equivalent to The Thick of It’s best character, the foul-mouthed spin doctor Malcolm Tucker.  While the schtick is more or less a version of similar incompetence and inappropriate language amongst our high-ranking political officials every episode, it was still frequently funny, though not as often and not as laugh out loud as I’d like a show of this tenor to be. It’s enjoyable enough to watch but I think there’s room for it to be a little bit better with all the same basic ideas in place with simply tighter writing and just knowing the cast’s strengths better after watching them for a year.

The Zeljko Ivanek Hall of Fame: Julie Benz

30 Nov

(The Zeljko Ivanek Hall of Fame is where we turn the spotlight on a television actor or actress, and it is named after their patron saint, Zeljko Ivanek)

Not yet 40, Benz has already compiled an impressive career on television.  Her first role was in brief two season show Hi Honey, I’m Home! in 1991, whose first season aired during ABC’s TGIF block, and which had a concept far more interesting than most failed sitcoms.  The sitcom was about a family composed of fifties TV archetypal sitcom characters rescued from cancelled shows, who are now living in the real world.  Benz played popular daughter character Babs Nielsen and was the only actor from the show to experience any significant later success.  Next, Benz guest starred in a Married with Children episode as a girl who strangely wanted to lose her virginity to Bud.  In the mid-90s she participated in a number of television movies, including Hearts Adrift, Crosstown Traffic, Empire, The Barefoot Executive (as “Sexy Woman”), Veronica’s Video, and A Walton Easter.  She appeared in episodes of Hang Time, High Tide, Step by Step, Boy Meets World, Diagnosis Murder, The Single Guy, Sliders, The Big Easy, and Fame L.A.

She had a recurring role in the short-lived Ask Harriet, about a male sports journalist who pretends to be a woman in order to write an advice column (previously mentioned in the Willie Garson column). Around this time, in 1997, she also got one of her biggest roles as Darla, on Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  Vampire Darla was intended to be a single episode character, but her role was expanded greatly.  Darla was one of the primary antagonists of the first season, as the main henchman to The Master, and died in the seventh episode, when it was revealed that she had a long-term relationship as partner in crime and lover as well as maker of Angel.  She rose from the dead in the last episode of the first season of Angel Season 1 as a human as part of evil law firm Wolfram and Hart’s plan to turn Angel evil again.  The plan didn’t work, but they turn Darla back into a vampire, and she and Angel fight before she eventually becomes pregnant with Angel’s baby, and kills herself, leaving the baby alive.  Over the course of her role as Darla, she appeared in TV movies Good Guys/Bad Guys, Satan’s School for Girls (another sign TV movies have the best names), and The Long Shot and in episodes of The King of Queens, Conrad Bloom, Glory Days and She Spies and in TV miniseries Taken.

Benz was a recurring character in the first season of Roswell as FBI agent Kathleen Topolski and she was a main cast member in one season CBS show Payne, starring John Larroquette and based on Fawlty Towers, moved to California.  She continued her TV work in the mid-00s, with TV movies Lackawanna Blues, Locusts: The 8th Plague, Circle of Friends, Held Hostage, and Uncorked.  She was in episodes of NCIS, Oliver Beene, Supernatural, CSI:Miami, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, and Law & Order:  In 2006, she got her biggest role to date as Rita Bennett in Dexter.

DEXTER SPOILERS BEGIN

Rita is serial killer killer Dexter Morgan’s boyfriend at the beginning of Dexter.  He feels damaged and thinks she is a good match for his psychological baggage because she suffered serious emotional trauma from sexual and physical abuse from her ex-husband Paul.  Paul returns and attempts to reassert his place in her life but Dexter frames him and has him sent back to prison.  Eventually the relationship between Dexter and Rita becomes more serious as she is able to get over some of her issues, and they get married and have a child, Harrison.  Shockingly, in the fourth season finale, Rita is murdered by the trinity killer.

DEXTER SPOILERS END

In 2010, Benz had a recurring role in five episodes of Desperate Housewives.  She plays Robin Gallagher, a former stripper, who wants to be a teacher.  She initially stays with Susan and Mike but moves in with Dana Delany’s Katherine Mayfair.  Later, it is revealed that she is a lesbian, and she and Mayfair begin an affair, eventually leaving Wisteria Lane together.  In 2010, she starred in ABC’s No Ordinary Family, about a family who gains super powers after being involved in a plane crash.  Benz, married to Michael Chiklis, is the mother of the family and gains the power of super speed.  Though heavily promoted, the series was cancelled after one season.  She was in an episode of Royal Pains in 2011 and can now be seen as a main cast member in CBS’s A Gifted Man, starring Patrick Wilson. Wilson is a talented but selfish surgeon who now interacts with the ghost of his ex-wife.  Benz plays his sister, a single mother who has trouble taking care of her unruly teenage son.  She’ll also be appearing in TNT TV movie Ricochet this fall based on a novel by Sandra Brown.

The Zeljko Ivanek Hall of Fame: Geoff Pierson

23 Nov

(The Zeljko Ivanek Hall of Fame is where we turn the spotlight on a television actor or actress, and it is named after their patron saint, Zeljko Ivanek)

Today we spotlight Geoff Pierson, who got his start in the 1980s, watched his career progress in the ’90s and who has been active as ever in the ’00s.

Pierson’s first role was in 1980 TV movie The Mating Season.  He then appeared in eight episodes of Texas, a daytime soap which existed only in the early 80s and 15 episodes of soap opera Ryan’s Hope as Frank Ryan, a district attorney.  He was just dipping his toe into the television waters in the 1980s, which he finished out with appearances in The Equalizer, Search for Tomorrow, Married with Children, Kate & Allie and Days of Our Lives, and in TV movies Necessary Parties and Mutts.

The ‘90s began with more bit roles, including one episode stints in Alien Nation, Against the Law, Another World, The Adventures of Pete & Pete and New York Undercover.  He was in two very early Law & Order episodes, two of Party of Five, and in TV movie Murder in Black and White as “Father with Boat.”  The rest of the ‘90s were taken up by his two biggest roles.  In 1994, he began a recurring role in Brett Butler’s Grace Under Fire, appearing in 30 episodes over the course of the show’s five season run as Grace’s ex-husband Jimmy.  Jimmy was alternately a trouble-maker alcoholic and a clean romantic intent on winning Grace back, and while that didn’t happen he managed to befriend Grace and deal amicably with their kids.  A year after Grace Under Fire began, Pierson began starring in WB’s Unhappily Ever After, a show about a dysfunctional family which lasted for five seasons.  Originally intended to showcase the mother, portrayed by Stephanie Hodge, within a few episodes the show was changed to focus on Pierson’s father character, Jack Malloy, who was a schizophrenic alcoholic depressive who frequently interacted with a talking rabbit, Mr. Floppy (voiced by Bobcat Goldthwait) who only he could see.  The talking rabbit was one of the only two things I knew about Unhappily Ever After, along with Nikki Cox, who played daughter Tiffany and became the breakout character who took the lead along with Pierson.  The other kids were played by Kevin Connolly, who went on to play Eric in Entourage, and Justin Berfield who later played Reese in Malcolm in the Middle.

After Unhappily Ever After ended, he appeared in episodes of Cosby, The Divison, Becker, three of Nash Bridges, two of Popular, and one of Friends.  He was in two of Sabrina the Teenage Witch and then appeared as a regular in the short-lived That ‘80s Show as R.T. Howard, the father of two of the other main characters, who owned “Videx” a small company which sells personal fitness equipment.  His son is portrayed by Glenn Howerton, now best known as Dennis Reynolds from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.  The show lasted 13 episodes.  After its failure, he was in episodes of The District, Touched by an Angel, The O’Keefe’s, and The Drew Carey Show.  In three episodes of The West Wing, he played Senate Minority Leader Wendell Tripplehorn, who briefly ran for the Democratic presidential nomination before withdrawing.  He appeared in Comedy Central original movie Windy City Heat and TV movie Deal and episodes of Monk, NYPD Blue, and Eyes.

He was in 18 episodes of 24 as President John Keeler.  In Season 3, he is approached to help blackmail President Palmer so that he would have an easy road to the presidency, and after Palmer withdraws, he is president at the start of Season 4.  His reign is short-lived as Air Force One is fired at while he is on it, killing many of the passengers,  He survives but is in critical condition, and Vice President Charles Logan takes over his duties.  It is never revealed if he died or was just too injured to serve again.  Next, he was in episodes of Desperate Housewives, Criminal Minds, NCIS, Numb3rs, and Medium.  He was in two episodes of Veronica Mars as Stewart Manning, Meg Manning’s father who was abusing Meg’s younger sister Grace.  He was in TV movies The Poseidon Adventure, The Valley of Light, and Sweet Nothing in My Ear.  He was in three episodes of Rodney, two of Life and one of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia as a prison warden.

Around this time, he began his recurring role in Dexter as Deputy Chief Tom Matthews, showing up in 25 episodes.  Matthews is an officer who was best friends with Dexter’s father Harry Morgan and buried the fact that Harry’s death was a suicide.  He constantly battles with Maria LaGuerta, fighting over credit and blame, haranguing her over her affair with Angel, and being blackmailed by her to be promoted to captain in the most recent season.  Pierson has over the course of Dexter also appeared in episodes of The Mentalist, Better Off Ted, Fringe, In Plain Sight, Glory Daze and Castle.  He appeared in two episodes of Rules of Engagement as David Spade’s character’s wealthy father and so far in three episodes of Boardwalk Empire as Senator Walter Edge, based on a real life senator from New Jersey.