Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Dexter: What The Hell?

(The following contains spoilers about Dexter)

I started watching Dexter about four years ago. Early enough where I can catch up to it, but late enough where I can binge watch to a point where I’d get a good feel of what I thought of the series. After just two episodes, I immediately remember thinking “Wow, this show is pretty entertaining.”

The show was very easy to watch. I was hooked on the characters and really thought it was unique. It had the mood of a drama but was more a dark comedy.

It had some fantastic moments early on, culminating with the death of Dexter’s wife in the infamous John Lithgow season (the fourth). It easily moved into my top-five shows (Lost is far and away at the top, although now-a-days, Breaking Bad could challenge depending on the conclusion).

And then things started to turn. The show got a bit more outlandish. I found myself bored at times, looking at the clock midway through episodes. Each season after season four was worse. Yes, it had its moments, but the show certainly was not what it was at its peak.

Dexter finally announced it was concluding after eight seasons, maybe two seasons too late, but still, I thought it could go out with a bang.

Then I watched the series finale. It was the worst episode of any show I had ever seen.

It absolutely boggles my mind that someone would write such garbage. Yes, the final season of Dexter was pretty bad to begin with. They introduced a random daughter to one of the minor characters Masuka, a story that went nowhere. They brought in a woman who was extremely important to Dexter’s past and makeup, and besides her being killed off, was just an annoyance throughout the entire season. It felt as if they were forcing things on the audience with no real satisfaction in the end.

It is extremely ironic, because that is exactly how the finale went. The whole episode snowballed to the point where I was laughing out loud during the final 15 minutes. Let me explain:

-Dexter’s sister Deb was shot and brought to a hospital where she seemed to be doing okay. The doctor’s said no major arteries were hit; there was no real lead up to anything potentially bad. Then completely out of nowhere, her conditioned turned for the worse and she went brain dead. It just felt like another thing that was just force on the audience.

-Dexter – who was leaving the country to be with his girlfriend Hannah and young son Harrison – comes back to be by Deb’s side. Hannah was a convicted serial killer herself who had just poisoned Dexter and his sister earlier in the season. And now Dexter is not only going away with her, but letting his son go with Hannah alone. “I’ll meet you there,” Dexter said to Hannah and Harrison. Who in their right mind would EVER let their son just fly to another country with a serial killer?

-At the hospital, Dexter confronts the killer (Oliver Saxton) he has been trying to capture. He was re-captured in the hospital, which is something I actually bought. But while Saxton was sitting in jail at Miami Metro (Where Dexter used to work before resigning to run away with Hannah and Harrison), Dexter somehow was able to freely visit his jail cell using a lame excuse. Who decided that letting a former employee walk into the prison cell of the man who shot his sister was a good idea? Dexter provokes Saxton to attack him, Dexter then kills Saxton, the two cops he is friends with reviewed the security tape and determined…it was self-defense. Yeah okay, sure.

-Dexter goes back to visit Deb (on life support), and decides to cut the cord so she wouldn't suffer. Now for my favorite part. While all this is happening, the hospital is moving patients due to a hurricane that is coming. Dexter takes Deb from her hospital bed and just wheels her out of the hospital to his boat which is docked. There were probably 40-50 people he walked by without anyone even glancing at him. He continues to wheel out dead Deb and carries her onto his boat. He takes the boat and drives out (with impending Hurricane conditions) and drops her into the water.

-And now for favorite part No. 2: It hits Dexter that he causes everyone he cares about to suffer. So with a son with a serial killer in another country, Dexter decides to seal his fate and drive his boat into the heart of the impending Hurricane (which really looked like something out of the movie The Perfect Storm). The next day, they find parts of his boat destroyed. This into sequence felt like a part out of the movie The Room, which is considered the worst movie of all time. But The Room is so bad, it’s good. This was just so bad though.

-They focus in on Hannah and Harrison sitting. Hannah sees on her iPad an article about Dexter’s presumed death. She barely reacts to the death, wiping one tear away, and then asks Harrison if she wants ice cream. That’s your first reaction? One tear and some Ben and Jerrys?????

-And finally, we pan in on the final scene of some workers cutting down trees. For about ten seconds, I thought it was a preview to some new show on Showtime. Then we see a man walking, and guess what, it’s Dexter! Somehow, he survives driving into the heart of a hurricane. They show him getting into his new home (a lifeless log cabin), and he sits down, he stares into the camera, and end series.

All of this in the final 15 minutes.

Just typing all of this gives me anxiety. People devote hours upon hours of to these shows. I went online afterwards and read that this ending was planned for years. Someone actually had this idea and no one said “Ya know…you might want to change it.”

I learned a lot from watching Dexter. Shows seem to have a shelf life of about 4-5 seasons before things turn. Usually there’s one or two defining moments that turn out to be the peak of the show. Dexter’s moment was his wife’s shocking death.

I also learned that it is never a good sign when a showrunner is replaced midway through a series. The showrunner for the first four seasons left and was replaced by two people. Coincidentally, season five is when the show took a turn for the worse. I actually read an interview with the old showrunner where he stated his thoughts on how he wanted the show to end. And it was far and away better than how it did.

Dexter will always have a soft spot for me. In one breath, it was simple, entertaining, and had some great characters. But it’s a tale of two shows, and unfortunately, the second half put a very dark cloud over what was supposed to be a strong series.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

How to Dominate the Fantasy Football Season

Everyone's favorite sport is here. I've been playing in fantasy football leagues since I was 13-years old. Do I think I am any better than anyone else? Well, yes, I do. So feel free to use this as a little cheat sheet to dominate the 2013 fantasy football season (With season predictions at the bottom).

NOTE: Based off of standard 12-team PPR leagues.


My Top 5
Aaron Rodgers
Drew Brees
Peyton Manning
Cam Newton
Tom Brady

-Michael Vick: Vick is probably the biggest "what if" in fantasy football. What if he stays healthy? What if he recaptures his form from a few years ago? What if everything clicks in Chip Kelly's new offense? Quarterback is such a deep position this year, but after the top five, you have to look for home runs. Vick is that home run. Even if he doesn't play a full season, if you spot start him, he's going to produce some stud weeks.
When to draft: 9th Round or later.

-E.J. Manuel: RG3 and Andrew Luck showed that rookie QBs can make an impact. While Manuel isn't at their level, he still holds a lot of value. The key is in his legs. In college, he rushed for over 300 yards and four TDs in his final season at Florida St. His offense is going to be sneaky good too. The Bills drafted Robert Woods who is an immediate upgrade over (fill in the blank) Bills No.2 WR. They also have a speed guy in Marquise Goodwin who is going to catch a few deep balls. Oh yeah, and don't forget about C.J. Spiller. I think if Manuel is a full-time starter (at some point this year, Manuel is going to start), he's worth the chance. And his latest injury might scare a few more owners off.
When to draft: Final few rounds or pickup as a free agent.

-Carson Palmer: Doesn't it seem like each season, Palmer is rostered by about half your league's teams? I don't think people realize that Palmer has been pretty solid as a fantasy QB in the last three years (Real life? Not so much). Palmer threw for over 3900 yards in two of the last three years, and in 2011, if he played 16 games (he only played 10), he would've been right around that mark. When the conditions are right -- think at home, versus a subpar defense -- Palmer is a perfect fill in.
When to draft: 11th Round or later.

-Russell Wilson: I'm not buying the Wilson hype just yet. Yes, he's gaining a year of experience, but the hype is just wayyyyy too much on him. Forgetting the fact that I think a regression is in order, he's also still without a true No. 1 WR (assuming Percy Harvin doesn't play this year) and still competes in the same division as the 49ers. I don't like paying for guys in a career year, and I think Wilson absolutely overachieved in 2012
When to draft: I wouldn't touch him until the 10th round or until you are in backup fantasy QB rounds.

-Ben Roethlisberger: You probably won't find Big Ben on any of my fantasy teams. Everything has been trending towards the downside. He's had four seasons in a row where his yards-per-attempt have dropped. He's missed multiple games in two of the last three years. Roethlisberger also lost his best WR in Mike Wallace and might lose his tight end to a few games in Heath Miller. And he's not so young anymore (31). If I'm drafting a fringe starter/backup QB, I want upside. Roethlisberger just does not provide that.
When to draft: At best, the last three rounds.

Running Backs

My Top 5
Adrian Peterson
Doug Martin
C.J. Spiller
Jamaal Charles
Ray Rice

-Daryl Richardson: I'll throw some numbers at you on Richardson. He didn't even amass 100 carries last year yet had 475 yards rushing. He quietly caught 24 balls as a full-time backup. Everything is just screaming undervalued. And it's stunning to be that he's being drafted as a 7th-to-9th rounder, behind guys like Rashard Mendenhall, Andre Brown, and BenJarvus Green-Ellis. I'll take the guaranteed starter over the question marks.
When to draft: 6th round

-Bilal Powell: Listen, Powell is never going to be a top-five back. I don't think the talent is there. But Powell will make for a nice bye-week stop gap or a fringe starter for a few weeks. Powell will start some games this year (Chris Ivory has played in 12 total games in two seasons). He's also looked a bit quicker this preseason. You could do a lot worse towards the end of your draft.
When to draft: 13th round

-Ryan Mathews: Mathews has burned pretty much everyone in the past. But this is the first year you can count me on board. I think you have to sometimes go against the trend, and this is the perfect case. Two years ago, he rushed for close to 1100 yards and also caught 50 balls. Is it that crazy to think he can do that again? The hate on Mathews has gone waaaay to far. I wouldn't reach for him, but if he's sitting there at the right spot, he could provide some value.
When to draft: 5th-6th round

Names to Stash
Lance Dunbar, Knile Davis, Daniel Thomas

-Frank Gore: I thought Gore would be a complete bust last year, and I am doubling down. Gore's wound up having quite the career, but father time has to catch up to him at some point. There's very little upside to Gore. Plus, the Niners have a boatload of solid RBs. I just don't want to be on the boat when it starts to sink.
When to draft: At best, 5th round

-Rashard Mendenhall: This is another guy who will not be on any of my teams this season. I don't know why you'd even consider making him your RB2. The Cardinals are going to be throwing A LOT this year (why else would you get Carson Palmer) so there will be quite a few games where Mendenhall puts up low single-digits. I have absolutely no faith.
When to draft: 10th round or later as a backup

Wide Receivers

My Top 5
Calvin Johnson
Dez Bryant
A.J. Green
Demariyus Thomas
Julio Jones

-T.Y. Hilton: Love Hilton this year. In his final eight games, he had 26 catches for 506 yards and five TDs.  He also had eight catches in the Colts' lone playoff game. I just feel like he's going to step that next step forward and be a 1,000-yard WR, especially considering I expect Reggie Wayne to take a small-step backwards.
When to draft: 6th round seems like a solid spot, although you may be able to sneak him into the 7th.

-DeSean Jackson: Injuries are obviously the biggest concern for Jackson, who seems to miss at least one game every year. With Jeremy Maclin out for the year, someone is going to have to catch passes for the Eagles. I think Jackson takes the step up. And let's hypothetically say he played 16 games last year and performed at the pace he was playing at. His stats would've been 70 catches for 1017 yards and 3 or 4 TDs. Not too shabby of a season. Feel like he's similar to Hilton in how he's being drafted
When to draft: 6th round.

-Brian Hartline: He's a boring name who had one amazing game last year. But I think Hartline is going to be a perfect FLEX/bench player for your team. Hartline took the leap last year with 74 catches and 1083 yards with an astounding 131 targets. People think that Hartline is going to underproduce with the addition of Mike Wallace, but remember, Reggie Bush and Davone Bess are out of the picture and Dustin Keller is hurt. Hartline's going to be a poor man's Wes Welker.
When to draft: 11 round or when you are up to your backup WRs.

Names to Stash
Cordarrelle Patterson, Chris Givens, Jeremy Kerley

-Mike Wallace: Everything here screams bust. Even when Wallace is at his absolute best, he'll have one great game followed by one clunker. Looking at his situation, he moves from Ben Roethlisberger to Ryan Tannehill. That has to already downgrade him by at least 100 to 150 yards. But looking closer at the stats, Wallace's total receiving yards have dropped each of the last three seasons despite an increase in targets. Wallace will have a few big games, but I'd be stunned if he was anywhere near a Top 20 WR.
When to draft: 8th or 9th round (Torrey Smith area).

-Stevie Johnson: Johnson has been a solid, consistent WR since he became a starter in 2010. He's never really made any kind of leap, but you know exactly what you are going to get. I think he's hit his peak though. But I think a lot of that success was due to Ryan Fitzpatrick. Listen, Fitzpatrick was not the greatest QB, but he moved the ball down the field. The Bills offense is drastically changing though. Enter E.J. Manuel, a running QB with not a great arm. Enter an offense focused on getting the ball to C.J. Spiller. I'm going to go out on a big limb and say Johnson becomes unstartable by midseason.
When to draft: Completely avoid at all costs.

-Eric Decker: I'm scratching my head over why Decker is drafted as a 4th-5th rounder. It's no knock on Decker's talent, but West Welker was signed to take on most of the targets that went Decker's way. They also added Monte Ball, which should continue to make the running game an underrated focal point (Denver runs the ball a lot more than people think). I think we average Decker's 2011 and 2012 stats and you end up with his 2013 stats.
When to draft: Avoid

Tight Ends

My Top 5
Jimmy Graham
Rob Gronkowski
Jason Witten
Tony Gonzalez
Jermichael Finley

-Delanie Walker: I'm really picking a flier here in Walker. I've always been a fan of him. Feel like his talents were never used properly in San Francisco. Solely as a backup the last three years, he combined for six total TDs. He also had his highest yardage total in 2012 at 344. Moving to Tennessee, he is now THE tight end. That offense isn't exactly packed with stars, so I expect Walker to have a sneaky solid year. He's a perfect matchups guy as well as a bye week fill in at the cost of a late pick.
When to draft: Last round

-Brandon Pettigrew: After improving in year's two and three, Pettigrew took a big step back in his fourth season. He had some nagging injuries that cost in two games and the Lions offense seemed like a complete mess at times. I think Pettigrew is primed for a bounce-back season. Detroit is going to throw the ball and with Calvin Johnson continuing to draw attention on the outside, Pettigrew should continue to get opportunities in the middle of the field. The only drawback with him is touchdowns, as his highest season total is five. But if he can approach the 83 catches he had in 2011, you have yourself a nice starting tight end.
When to draft: 12th round

Names to Stash
Julius Thomas, Tyler Eifert, Fred Davis

-Greg Olsen: It's not that I don't think Olsen is talented, but explain to be the difference between Olsen (drafted in the 7th round) and Pettigrew (drafted five rounds later)? Olsen also had eight games with single-digit fantasy points and just four games where he scored a touchdown. There's just no difference between Olsen and the rest of the field.
When to draft: 10th round

Season Predictions

AFC East: Patriots
AFC North: Ravens
AFC South: Texans
AFC West: Broncos
Wild Cards: Colts and Bengals

NFC East: Redskins
NFC North: Packers
NFC South: Saints
NFC West: 49ers
Wild Cards: Seahawks and Falcons

MVP: Peyton Manning
Offensive ROY: Cordarrelle Patterson
Defensive ROY: Jarvis Jones
Surprise Team: Cardinals
Bust Team: Steelers

AFC Divisional: Broncos over Texans
NFC Divisional: 49ers over Packers
Super Bowl: Broncos over 49ers