Hello all, and welcome to the newest forum for my thoughts, Rick's Rants. In this column I'll be discussing the great wide world of Television and the many wonders it has to offer us. No need to beat around the bush, I'll just jump right in. Having just finished watching an exceptional night of television I'd like to give a tip of my proverbial hat to the original series department over at Showtime by dedicating this article to them (I can assure you this is no puff piece, these shows are just that good). In a market that was completely dominated by HBO a few years back, Showtime has slowly but surely become a serious contender when it comes to premium television series. This weekend Showtime will begin their free preview, lasting from Sept. 28th through Oct. 1st, porting the premiere of season 2 of Dexter as well as new episodes of Weeds and Californication to the masses. These free preview weekends have become a staple of Showtime's campaign to gain more subscribers, but apparently this one is the largest they've ever sported with Showtime available in 54 million homes. Since the movie offerings of these premium channels have basically become obsolete (Who is paying $12 a month for Showtime so they can watch Failure to Launch and Farce of the Penguins when we have On Demand at our fingertips?) Showtime is hoping their original series will entice all the viewers out there to sign on up.

I'm here to tell you, as a self proclaimed expert on television, that Showtime is indeed worth the $12 a month and it has nothing to do with The L Word (which I know all you ladies out there love, and I must admit that Shane, the lass who is supposed to be the most masculine of the lesbian troupe, makes my face melt with her sexiness). There are three reasons why Showtime is a must have for avid TV watchers / enthusiasts, and they are, as previously mentioned: Weeds, Californication and Dexter. Let me break it down for you.

Weeds

Related: Californication Adds Meagan Good as Season 5 Guest Star

Weeds has become somewhat of a flagship for Showtime. It most certainly has the widest appeal of any of their shows and really breaks out of the niche-programming problem they've been suffering from (even my parents love it). Weeds is also one of the few shows I've ever awarded the Ascending Seasons Trophy to, an award I hand out to shows who on top of achieving brilliance also manage to get increasingly better with each season (The only other two shows I've ever awarded this mark of excellence to are the new Battlestar Galactica and Arrested Development). After a slow start in season 3 Weeds has yet again proven to be one of the funniest, most intelligent shows on television and should be watched by all.

Last week's episode (spoiler alert for those who missed it):

Monday's episode started off with a rap version of the intro song, maybe the most appropriate iteration of the theme song yet, since the little suburb of Agrestic is getting more and more gangsta with every episode. I was very proud of both Nancy and Shane for standing up for themselves. Shane stood up to his ridiculous teacher who has been indoctrinating the young minds of Agrestic with Christian beliefs about abortion. I've got your back Shane! Don't let little Christian bullies and hussies make you doubt your intelligent thoughts. Only on Weeds would a middle-schooler get beat up for not loving Jesus. Then we have Nancy... After weeks of servitude to U-Turn Nancy pulls the reins of her life back into her own hands. U-Turn's funeral was most certainly a highlight of the episode. Why was U-Turn's body in a hot-tub for the viewing? Obviously because the boat couldn't fit. I'll miss you U-Turn; rest in peace buddy. Nancy, never one to miss a good opportunity, then proceeded to square her debt with Marvin, get rid of the heroine and regain her right to sell pot in the burbs. For all those viewers out there complaining that the show left too many loose ends to tie up in season 2, I think you'll find that all of said loose ends have been tied up pretty nicely (except the cop looking for Peter). Nancy is back to dealing weed in Agrestic sans gang debt, and I would guess Conrad will be back in the picture shortly. Andy is living in the Botwin household once more, so I suspect we'll see more Andy, Doug and Dean side plots, which is wonderful news. I don't know what road the show will turn down next, but I can assure you that it will be a hilarious one, and I can guarantee you'll enjoy the ride.

<strong><em>Californication</em></strong>

David Duchovny started his career with the "Red Shoe Diaries" back in 1992, a soft-core porn that ran on Showtime for many moons. Then he became a big shot on The X Files but decided ultimately to return to his roots... so Dave Duchovny has returned to Showtime to star in Californication. Think about it, would you rather spend your days at work pretending to search for aliens or pretending to be ridden by attractive scantily clad women? I think you've got it all figured out detective Mulder. In all seriousness, Californication is so much more than soft core porn (even though Duchovny's character, Hank Moody, does have sex with at least one woman every episode). The banter is just too intelligent. Would the offer of a menage a trois ever be referred to as a "cosmic get out of jail free card" in porn? I think not. For those of you who have yet to try Californication, the story centers around Hank Moody, a writer who found commercial success, but has since driven off the deep end, pushing his family away in the process. Duchovny really does an amazing job with the character. Under his uber-cool bad-ass exterior we can see a child who desperately misses the one true love of his life. The show has been smart, intriguing, sexy, laugh out loud hilarious and has done a great job of developing the characters. I'll let you know my final thoughts when the season comes to a close, but for now, I'd say Californication should not be missed.

<strong><em>Dexter</em></strong>

First off, let me say Dexter's first season was possibly my favorite first season of a drama in the history of television, and I know that's a lofty statement. Each episode was extremely well crafted, seeping the viewers deeper and deeper into the minds of each of the show's complex characters. With the short 12-episode format there was no room for filler. Every scene of every episode had a purpose, either directly contributing to character development through interesting side plots or giving clues to the mystery we were all trying to solve. I read the book the first season was based on, and I'm extremely impressed by the writer's adaptation. It's so rare that television (or movies for that matter) improves upon the source material, but Dexter succeeds in every way. Non-watchers might think it could be hard to embrace a serial killer as a protagonist, but Showtime pulls it off with flying colors. Michael C. Hall deserves a hefty portion of the credit for pulling off this feat. He should have won that Golden Globe and I can't believe he got snubbed by the Emmys. For those of you who have yet to enjoy this masterpiece the DVD of season 1 is out there to be had. What are you waiting for? If you get squeamish with violence Dexter may prove too much for you, (someone is killed every episode) but if you can get past the violence I can assure you this taut thriller of a show will have you scratching your head long after it's over. Sunday night, Sept. 29th begins season 2 at 9 PM and I can't wait. I still love you HBO, and this summer was great, but I think it's time we had some time apart, I'm spending my Sundays with Showtime now.

Feel free to post your thoughts on Showtime's shows or whatever you feel like writing about. I'll be posting new articles fairly often, so if any fair readers want opinions on a show let me know with a comment. Until next time...

- Rich

Dont't forget to also check out: Dexter, Californication

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