Not ready to say goodbye to Dexter? Then get ready to overreact to this news.
After revealing that Showtime had signed a "rare" two-year overall deal with Dexter showrunner Scott Buck, network president David Nevins was asked whether a spin-off series was still being considered.
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"Of course," Nevins told reporters at the Television Critics Association fall previews Tuesday. "We announced a deal with Scott Buck today. Draw your own conclusions."
Pressed for details after the panel, Nevins clarified that nothing is actively in the works and that no deals with cast members have been extended. (The Hollywood Reporter previously reported rumblings of a spin-off centered on Jennifer Carpenter's Debra.) "We have a deal with Scott and we're going to develop a bunch of different things with him," he said. "All options will be explored. We're really not dealing with it at all until we're through this season and maybe for a while thereafter. It's all about the satisfying ending to the show."
To that end, Nevins said the Dexter series finale doesn't necessarily set up the possible spin-off. "There's always things that can be done [after]," he said. "I think [Dexter] ends with great satisfaction. I haven't seen it yet, but I have read it and I think it's quite brilliantly built."
Get sneal peek at the new fall shows
Other highlights from Nevins' executive session:
January Premiere Dates: Nevins announced that Episodes will return for its third season in January with House of Lies and Shameless. All three will premiere on Sunday, Jan. 12 with Shameless at 9/8c followed by House of Lies at 10/9c and Episodes at 10:30/9:30c. Californication, which traditionally launches alongside those shows in January, will be held for the spring, when it will be paired with the return of Nurse Jackie.
Some Dreadful casting: Nevins also announced that Josh Hartnett (Pearl Harbor, Black Hawk Down) and Eva Green (Casino Royale, Starz's Camelot) have been cast in the new horror series Penny Dreadful, which is set to premiere an eight-episode season in 2014. Hartnett will play Ethan Chandler, a "charming American who finds himself trapped in the darkest corners of Victorian London," while Green plays a "seductive and formidable beauty full of secrets and danger" named Vanessa Ives. The series is created by John Logan (Gladiator, Hugo) and executive-produced by Sam Mendes (American Beauty, Skyfall).
Bye bye Borgias: Responding to online petitioners seeking more of Showtime's canceled historical drama The Borgias, Nevins said the network did consider wrapping things up with a TV movie. "We looked hard at doing a two-hour finale," he said. "The economics didn't make sense so we didn't move forward. We felt it came to a good stopping place."
Homeland scoop: 8 spoilers about Season 3
Will there be a No-Brody backlash? Nevins said he isn't concerned that the first two episodes of Homeland's upcoming third season don't feature Emmy-winning leading man Damian Lewis. "How do you keep it authentically compelling and the best version of itself? You can't keep it the same dynamic, and you have to be willing to change it up," he said. "I've never been afraid of change. Seasons 1 and 2 were founded on the fulcrum of trust and mistrust between Carrie and Brody. That still exists in Season 3, but the characters are extremely estranged."
More genre series? Since Showtime greenlit Penny Dreadful, which reimagines classic literary monsters in Victorian London, could more horror or genre shows make their way to the network? "We want to offer a broad portfolio of programming," Nevins said. "Whether Penny Dreadful works or not is not going to tell the tale of future genre programming on our air. We're trying to do something with psychology and depth. I think it's going scare the sh-- out of people."
Is Showtime threatened by Netflix? Nevins said he pays attention to the online streaming service and likes some of its shows. But he feels Showtime can offer a better viewing experience. "The way we offer programming is the best of both worlds," he said. "You can save it up and binge [on-demand] or you can watch it one at a time. I still believe in the pleasure of giving them out one at a time. The water cooler chatter ... is meaningful and valuable. As for Netflix's choice not reveal its ratings? "Netflix is playing an interesting game," he said. "Who knows who's watching what, but for me, ratings numbers are a function of showmanship. It's meaningful when I can say Ray Donovan is the biggest first-year show we've ever had."
Other Development News: Nevins announced Showtime has cast Luther's Ruth Wilson to star opposite The Wire's Dominic West in the pilot The Affair. Wilson will play a woman whom West, despite being a married father of four, believes to be his soul mate. Elsewhere, Nevins said The Vatican pilot starring Kyle Chandler just wrapped shooting in Rome and that casting continues for newly announced comedy pilot Trending Down, which stars Philip Seymour Hoffman.
(Full disclosure: TVGuide.com is owned by CBS, which also owns Showtime.)