There's another change of showrunner for Dexter's sixth season next year, as Chip Johannessen steps down for Scott Buck to takeover. Buck, a former writer of Six Feet Under, has been involved with Dexter since season 2, becoming an executive-producer by season 4. He's also been the right-hand man of former showrunners Clyde Phillips and Johannessen, so it's been decided he's the natural replacement.
This is great news, I feel. Buck's episodes are often amongst the best of each season, and it's believed he has a better rapport with the writing staff than Johannessen (who, to be fair, was kind of thrown into the mix for season 5, fresh from working on 24.) But I'm sure having Buck in charge will go down well with the writers he's worked with all these years, and he undoubtedly knows the show extremely well.
I'm not sure why Johannessen had decided to leave, or if he was asked to step aside. Season 5 was Dexter's most successful year in terms of ratings (averaging 5m per episode), but it received mixed reviews because of its creative awkwardness. Maybe there was a feeling behind closed doors that Johannessen's ideas and direction wasn't working? It's obviously a tough show to break new stories for after five years, but hopefully Buck will rise to the challenge.
I still think the best news would be Showtime agreeing to set a fixed end-date for the series, allowing the writers to work towards maximizing the impact of Dexter's vigilantism being exposed to the world. That's undoubtedly a storyline they can only do for the final season, so there obviously needs to be some pre-agreement in place, because at the moment the show tends to get renewed the week its current season's finale airs.
I like to think a cable network like Showtime (traditionally a place for quality over quantity), would be more willing to ensure one of their top shows doesn't dwindle and die, but that's probably naïve. What Showtime really needs is a new show to overtake Dexter's popularity, so they can retire Dexter without feeling like they're shooting themselves in the foot.
What do you make of Buck's appointment as the big boss? Will it really make a difference, or are the problems with Dexter insurmountable if you're constantly asked to tread water instead of attack the natural end-game of a show with this premise?