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What's On

9/22/2006 8:00 PM Eastern

Generation Boom

TV Land

Tuesday, Sept. 26-Friday, Sept. 29 (10 p.m.)

Narrated by Kelsey Grammer (TV's Frasier), Generation Boom is a four-part TV Land original series billed as a “lighthearted” look at the Baby Boomer generation.

Most impressive about the series (the first two installments of which were reviewed) is the breadth of access to celebrities, running the gamut from filmdom's Steven Spielberg to TV's Connie Chung and Tony Danza to pugilist-turned-grill king George Foreman. Some wax sentimental, some glib, others humorous or insightful, but the array of comments covers all aspects of the last five decades of pop culture.

Besides celebrity sound bites, Boom offers little more than dizzying background colors, kaleidoscopic editing and fast-fact pop-up bubbles (such as “Dr. Benjamin Spock is often confused with Mr. Spock of Star Trek” and “Peter Fonda says he was actually smoking marijuana on camera.”).

In attempting to maintain its “lighthearted” tone, the series manages to gloss over the civil-rights movement, Watergate, Vietnam, and many other seminal events, instead favoring “groovier” cornerstones like The Beatles, flower power and the birth of MTV. The final result is more akin to pop-culture tribute shows, such as I Love the Eighties or Kid Stars: Where Are They Now?

Christian Lewis

Dexter

Showtime

Sunday, Oct. 1 (10 p.m.)

Showtime appears to be targeting the same antihero-worshipping audience that embraces rival-whacking wise guys on that other premium network with its new series Dexter.

Except the pathological killer in the Showtime skein — played by Michael C. Hall (Six Feet Under's straightlaced mortician David Fisher) — doesn't have a family life to humanize him and balance out his “hobby,” which is murdering the bad guys he's supposed to be hunting down as a blood-spatter expert for the police in Miami. Dexter's tone is funny-creepy: he gives a pedophile the old Three Stooges fingers-in-the-eyes before he hacks him to death; his boat is called the “Slice of Life.”

Dexter's adoptive father Harry (James Remar) recognized the child's murderous tendencies at an early age. Pop decided rather than seek psychological help for his son, he'd channel the murderous tendencies “for good.” There's apparently a damaging event in the boy's past that will justify his homicides in later episodes.

The violence is mostly implied, but still cringe-inducing. Dexter is into dismemberment, after all. The cast includes Dexter's potty-mouth cop sister (Jennifer Carpenter), trying to work her way out of the hooker heels of vice squad; Sgt. Doakes (Erik King), the only cop who perceives something wrong with the charming Dexter; lustful Lt. LaGuerta (Lauren Velez); and Dexter's rape-traumatized girlfriend Rita (Julie Benz).

Beautifully shot, only time will tell if Dexter can charm the CSI-sated.

Linda Haugsted

September