DEXTER & BURN NOTICE: Fun in the Sun? Or Something Much Darker?

And now, a little overthink for those of you who prefer it when your cortexes go ka-blam!

Miami Justice: Two Sides of the Same Coin – by Ben Adams

Why do we punish? And why is it so much fun to see punishment doled out? From crime procedurals like Law and Order to superheroes dominating the box office inThe Dark Knight Rises and The Avengers, we seem to have a collective fascination with the punishment of wrong-doers. But where does the urge to punish come from? Why are we so insistent that the wicked suffer? Because that’s the key question – punishment, but it’s very nature, is generally backwards looking. Punishing the murderer doesn’t bring back the dead. What good does it do anyone to inflict further suffering, even if it seems like someone “deserves” it? My colleague Matthew Belinkie has explored the legal side of punishment at length, so I’m going to turn my attention towards the extra-legal side of punishment – the vigilante.

In the real world, punishment is the exclusive domain of the state – finding and punishing wrong-doers is arguably what makes a government a government. Preventing individuals from enforcing the law themselves is a vitally important part of maintaining order. In pop culture, though, the vigilante is often seen as a viable – if not preferable – alternative to governmental punishment. There’s nothing we like more than to see one man, alone against the criminal underworld.

Why do we punish? And why is it so much fun to see punishment doled out? From crime procedurals like Law and Order to superheroes dominating the box office inThe Dark Knight Rises and The Avengers, we seem to have a collective fascination with the punishment of wrong-doers. But where does the urge to punish come from? Why are we so insistent that the wicked suffer? Because that’s the key question – punishment, but it’s very nature, is generally backwards looking. Punishing the murderer doesn’t bring back the dead. What good does it do anyone to inflict further suffering, even if it seems like someone “deserves” it? My colleague Matthew Belinkie has explored the legal side of punishment at length, so I’m going to turn my attention towards the extra-legal side of punishment – the vigilante.

In the real world, punishment is the exclusive domain of the state – finding and punishing wrong-doers is arguably what makes a government a government. Preventing individuals from enforcing the law themselves is a vitally important part of maintaining order. In pop culture, though, the vigilante is often seen as a viable – if not preferable – alternative to governmental punishment. There’s nothing we like more than to see one man, alone against the criminal underworld.

In two different long- running TV shows, Burn Notice and Dexter, audiences tune in week after week to see an attractive white male in his 30s run around Miami and take the law into his own hands. Both characters have deep seated psychological issues stemming from their fathers, have loose ties to the government, and will not stop narrating. This isn’t all accidental – both characters relationship with their fathers are indicative of the deeper ties between our fathers and punishment (See also: Batman, Superman, Iron Man, James Bond, etc.) The tropical setting provides a stark contrast to the darkness of the crimes being fought, and the constant narration keeps the audience rooting for the protagonist, even when his actions would normally have us dialing 911 and calling for them to get sent to the electric chair.

Dexter always kills his victims, while Michael Weston sometimes just scares them away or gets them arrested, but the two men are still fundamentally the same – they have both decided that the government is falling down on the job, and that justice demands they take the law into their own hands. What truly separates the two men is why they do what they do. To understand these two vigilantes and their appeal to the TV audience, we need to explore the reasons that anyone would want to punish someone in the first place.

Read it all

Love & Money Dept – TV Writing Deals for 10/23/12

 

“Anyway you wa-ah-ah-ah-ant me, that’s how I will be-e-e-e…” (Aaron Schroeder & Cliff Owens w/some interpretation by a kid named Elvis)
  •  Dean Koontz’s series of Frankenstein novels (Prodigal Son, City of Night, Dead and Alive, Lost Souls, Dead town) are being made into a series for TNT. (No writer is set so, you know, jump on this…now!)
  • Frank Darabont (THE WALKING DEAD) has sold an as yet untitled series based on John Buntin’s book to TL.A. Noir: The Struggle for the Soul of America’s Most Seductive City to TNT. (And we think any series called SEDUCTIVE CITY would have to be a hit.)
  • Manny Coto (DEXTER) is writing the pilot for an ABC cop series, THE DEFECTIVES, about a female internal affairs investigator who won’t be played by Mary McDonnell. (Um, that means there’s not much reason to watch it, but maybe that’s just because we have this thing about Mary M.)
  • Jennifer Love Hewitt’s  book, THE DAY I SHOT CUPID, is being developed as a series called FINDING LOVE for Lifetime by Matt Hastings (ALPHAS). (Just between us, THE DAY I SHOT CUPID is a much more inviting title although definitely not in the Lifetime style – which is yet another plus but we won’t go there right now.)
  • Speaking of stars, Andie McDowell is starring in Hallmark Channel’s first scripted series, CEDAR COVE, based on the book by Debbie Macomber. Bruce Graham (ANASTASIA, ROSEANNE) wrote the TV movie that served as the pilot. (How many TVWriter™ ers will be watching for this one? Sorry, can’t see your hands…oh…right…)

Ever Wonder What Network Press Releases Look Like?

Well, here’s one we got yesterday:

Hello and a Happy Monday to you!

With the adventures of DEXTER and HOMELAND continuing last night, there’s a whole lot more in store for us to chat about this week!

Will Carrie be proven right about Brody? Re-experience a vital scene from last night’s HOMELAND where Carrie finds “Courage Under Fire,” racing through an apartment to prove she’s right. Watch the clip here and feel free to share with your readers:

We’ve also got a DEXTER clip from last night to share with you! After learning the truth behind her brother, Deb simply asks Dex to “Trust Me.” Do you think Deb can live with Dex’s secret? Watch it here:

To get a hint for what’s to come, tune into the next episode of behind-the-scenes podcast for DEXTER. Dexter’s Dad Harry Morgan, aka James Remar, joins the latest episode of DEXTER Wrap-Up to discuss the season thus far. Check it out on iTunes now, with new episodes of the podcast available after each episode: http://s.sho.com/V6VRYx

You can also continue to test your DEXTER knowledge with the brand-new trivia game based on your favorite killer, Dexter’s Disciples. Check it out now with new questions after each episode: apps.facebook.com/dextersdisciples

Don’t miss a replay of the HOMELAND premiere tonight (9PM or 11PM ET/PT) as well as DEXTER (8PM or 10PM ET/PT), or watch both now on Showtime on Demand!

As always, please let me know if you have any questions about anything above and if you would kindly shoot over any coverage from your site, Facebook, or Twitter that would be kindly appreciated.

Thanks!

[Redacted]

We love these and think everybody should be on the list for them. Especially everybody who writes about TV because, let’s face it, copying other people’s writing and claiming it as your own is soo darn easy. (Makes you wonder how many times a day you read things like that without even knowing, doesn’t it? Well, it makes us wonder anyway.)