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18. Dexter

Network: Showtime
Stars: Michael C. Hall, Jennifer Carpenter, Desmond Harrington, James Remar, Laura Velez, David Zayas, C.S. Lee
Premiere Date: October 2
Why we’re excited: Dexter has always been a show that completely hinges on its lead actor’s performance; more specifically, the brilliant work of Michael C. Hall, who plays the titular Robin Hood of serial killers with intense complexity and an explosiveness that perfectly complements his calm menace. As for everything else on Showtime’s hit psychodrama, “imbalanced” is the proper word. Last season, Dexter’s inability to maintain excellence around Hall was more palpable than ever, resulting in a 12-episode run that was ultimately pointless; in theory, Dexter could have jumped right from Season Four to here, Season Six.

So will the show’s producers get Dexter back on course? It’s too early to tell, but this year’s new characters all seem promising. Edward James Olmos checks in as a religious nutbag, Mos Def plays an ex-con who’s found God, and Colin Hanks will go against comedic type as an artifacts expert who becomes one of Dexter’s targets. By weaving religion into the mix, Dexter might have finally found something interesting for Hall to do, other than, you know, single-handedly rescuing his own show week by week.

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