A grim week of highlights includes the fourth-season finale of "Dexter" and two top-notch crime documentaries jumping from the film festival circuit to TV.

For those who have been tracking the ups and downs of "Dexter" -- the series based on Jeff Lindsay's novels about a crime-scene spatterist who avenges unavenged murders -- Season 4 has been mostly upbeat. Oh, sure, people are still dying hideously, and no, Dexter (Michael C. Hall) should not have entered into holy matrimony with anyone, let alone his doe-eyed, sometime girlfriend Rita (Julie Benz), who has no clue about his morbid moonlighting.

So what has brightened the mood for "Dexter" fans? Two words: John Lithgow.

As Arthur Williams, a family man with a double life as a serial killer (and therefore Dex's worst nightmare), Lithgow has been given yet another opportunity to show why he is an American Michael Caine, an actor who brilliantly handles anything thrown his way. As the pious yet perverse Arthur, Lithgow has been chewing up scene after scene, including a nuanced Thanksgiving episode which would have felled lesser talents.

This in turn has given the show's writers some breathing room with which to construct a multiepisode maze of near-misses and turned tables, leading to a final, delicious confrontation between Dex and Arthur. At the end of last week's setter-upper, we saw where the showdown was going to take place: right there in the Miami crime lab where Dexter works, during office hours. Arthur strolls in, unhurriedly regards the ID badge of his tormentor and purrs, "Hello, Dexter Morgan."

How exactly does the killer's killer escape this? I'm assuming he must, because Showtime has already green-lighted a fifth season of "Dexter."

--Early in that episode Dexter says, "We all have our public life, our private life, and our secret life," and those words could apply to the three people involved in the real-life love triangle chronicled in "Talhotblond," a true-crime tale of cyber-deception with not one but two unexpected twists at the end.

Tell me if you've heard this before: a middle-aged man goes online and becomes a young, handsome stud. Well, we know something went terribly wrong for Thomas Montgomery, because early on we see he's giving his interview from the Attica pen. What makes "Talhotblond" so shocking is that, without warning, it introduces a character who deceives the deceiver, whose fantasy is even greater, more heinous and, arguably, more despicable than the one that put Montgomery behind bars. When you're done, you find yourself in the same position as those parents of the Missouri girl who killed herself in the MySpace case: You start to see how virtual crimes can be worse than physical ones.

Director Barbara Schroeder even gets in on the act with a little deception of her own, involving the narrator of the film. All I'll say is that I forgive her for using the trick to maintain the suspense that's crucial to the payoff of this sordid story.

I've said often how annoying it is to turn on a so-called news channel on weekends and holidays and not see any news. MSNBC was showing prison documentaries the last two Thanksgiving weekends, glossing over the Mumbai attacks and the Tiger Woods mess. Truth be told, though, CNN and Fox News aren't much better most weekends, and "Talhotblond" at least is giving a dedicated filmmaker a nice-sized audience, even if some fairly obvious edits were done to fit this 83-minute film into a one-hour broadcast window.

-- "Every (Bleeping) Day of My Life" was the response Wendy Maldonado gave to the 911 dispatcher when asked how often Aaron Maldonado, the husband Wendy had just bludgeoned to death in his sleep, had abused her. Tommy Davis' unflinching documentary follows Maldonado of Grants Pass, Ore., as she shares in excruciating detail her 20-year ordeal during her last four days of freedom before going to prison.

While "Dexter" and to a lesser degree "Talhotblond" toy with the viewer's ingrained notions of victims and perps, Davis' film -- which won numerous festival accolades under the title "One Minute to Nine" -- goes one further. It argues that Aaron was an all-but-homicidal nut who had beaten his wife and oldest son to unconsciousness multiple times, but had covered his tracks enough to elude an indifferent police force. That left Wendy, with her boys to protect, to serve as judge, jury and executioner. Was she right? Davis leads you into a crawl space where everything vanishes except cruelty and helplessness. When you emerge, you have to ask yourself if justice was served twice -- or once.

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