Saturday, November 10, 2007

Dexter Panel...or...attack of the godawful moderator

Wednesday night I went to the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences to attend a panel on Dexter.

I've been to a few of these things and think they're always fun and always worth it...but never quite live up to what you're hoping...and usually for the same reason:

The moderators aren't very good at, you know, moderating.

Which is mostly my way of saying, "I don't mean to single you out, Dexter Moderator Guy, because you're certainly not the only one, but damn, dude..."

He seemed to be channeling Charles Nelson Reilly and Chris Farley's "That was awesome" persona at the same time, which was just...weird.

Especially considering that, if he was as much of a fan as he purported to be, his knowledge of the show was sorely lacking. And that would have been fine. Just don't try to do the superfan thing. He actually asked if

(SPOILER) they would be influenced by slasher movies and bring Rudy back from the dead. Buh-wha? No one who actually watched the show would ask that question. (END SPOILER)

Which again, would be perfectly fine had he not tried to do the superfan thing.

I did learn one important thing about the show, however: it's "devastating." If I was a millipede I might be able to count the number of times he said it on my legs. Maybe.

The most interesting part of the panel was when he addressed the composer, Daniel Licht. To me, the music of Dexter is fascinating, so it was great to hear Licht speak.

According to him, the music is from Dexter's point of view and thus is often slightly skewed, or counterpoint, to the emotions and drama of what's happening on screen. He also tries to imbue it with a sense of wry amusement.

To that I would personally add a sort of dreamlike, ethereal quality that simultaneously draws you in yet separates you from the human emotion of the drama. It comments on the action, rather than reinforcing it, which adds to the sense of otherness Dexter feels.

Licht told us how he got his start in horror and thriller movies, then had to make the strange transition into straight comedy with the Fox half-hour Oliver Beene. Apparently he had to really rethink his approach to music in order to do comedy, because with drama you're constantly upping the tension, but in comedy you can only go so far before there needs to be a release. Otherwise, it's just not funny anymore. And now with Dexter, he feels he's able to use everything he's learned in his career since the show is a combination of each of those genres. Good for him. Even cooler, he found an instrument made of a femur that he's incorporated into the show this season. Creepy sweet.

The other part of the panel that would have been interesting was hearing Romeo Tirone, the DP, talk about the look and tone of the show. I kind of gave Licht credit above, but Tirone is at least as responsible for the dreamlike quality the show has achieved. So when the moderator asked him an actual intelligent question about halfway through the panel, I was psyched...then Tirone began to answer and the moderator almost immediately spoke over him and asked Licht another question. Ouch. What a dick.

I'm sure there were a few other interesting things said as well, but those are the ones that really stuck with me.

Oh, yeah...and they screened this upcoming Sunday's episode for the crowd. :)

A few of the things they're doing on Dexter this season I find uncomfortable and I'm not sure I like, but I'll reserve judgment until the season ends.

One thing they did do, though, was effectively ruin the B-plot Jul and I had for Deb in our spec. It's been dying a slow death for a few episodes now, but I was really, really hoping we could find a way to make it fit...somehow. Now, not so much. Sigh. Such is the life of a TV spec writer.

What really annoys me is that they took her character on the exact same journey we wanted to, but did it far better because they were able to spread it out over several episodes. Ugh. I'm serious, Daniel Cerone, you owe us a B-plot. Please. We'll bring you your favorite food on the picket line =D (Wow, two smileys in this post. I've exceeded my limit.)

Brief follow-up story: After the panel they had a little buffet of cheese and crackers, sandwiches and little desserts. And naturally I was raring to go since I hadn't eaten since 1pm and it was now after 9. So I loaded up my tiny plate with one of every cheese and cracker I could find, then added a small sandwich or two (Actually just one, but it sounds more dramatic if I say "or two." See, that totally worked.) and some kind of dessert. I don't even remember what it was.

My plate runnething over, I gorged myself while chatting with Jul and our friends as we stood outside the building by one of the pillars. Mid-bite, with cracker crumbles tumbling down my shirt and my mouth full of cheese, this random girl in her 20s came over with a really big dude, told us her name and started asking questions. Who were we? Why were we there? Where did we work? etc, etc.

She wasn't jerky or anything, just being friendly and doing the typical LA schmooze thing. Which was fine, except that not only do I normally suck at it, I was eating. Whatever. She put her hand out for me to shake, so I mentioned my name, wiped my cracker-covered hand on my pants and shook hers. Then we stood there for an awkward few seconds while none of us knew what to say to her before she and her large friend moved on. I went back to eating, thinking, "Okay, weirdo, bad timing to try to network." I was sure Jul and our friends were thinking the same thing.

I am often wrong.

While I didn't talk to her because I was annoyed at being interrupted in feeding my fat face and actually having to speak to another person, my friends were at a loss for words because they were trying to place her. They'd knew they'd seen her on Studio 60 and a couple of other shows, but there was something else recently she'd been in, a fairly sizable role...

And while I was still chewing and having the mental realization that she was an actress, they realized where they knew her from:

Yes, it was Julia Ling, aka Anna Wu, the hot asian Buy More chick on Chuck. And I shook her hand with cheesy, cracker-crumb fingers while wondering why the hell she was bothering us.

Because that's just the kind of guy I am.

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