Randy Holmes, ABC
Emily VanCamp, Dave Annable

"Brother & Sisters" has become one of my favorite shows, but even I'm a bit worried about how the writers are going to dig their way out of two big plot-point holes they dug at the end of last season.

First, there's another long-lost, illegitimate Walker sibling, which sounds an awful lot like what happened in the show's first season. But, according to executive producer Greg Berlanti, it's not headed in that direction.

"Hopefully, as it plays out, people won't feel that way," he said. "And we certainly aren't designing the story in the same way."

Sunday's season premiere (9 p.m., ABC/Ch. 4) picks up the plotline but comes nowhere near resolving it.

Berlanti also called what happened in the last couple of episodes last season a "byproduct" of the writers' strike.

"Everything was abbreviated. So I don't think we pulled it off entirely," Berlanti said. "But I'm looking forward to this year. I think people will enjoy the way it plays out."

But what about the plotline in which Justin (Dave Annable) and Rebecca (Emily VanCamp) were attracted to each other, then found out they were brother and sister, then found out they're not related and are still attracted to each other? As one critic put it, the "Ewww" factor?

Berlanti said he never saw that reaction coming.

"None of us expected that there would be the contingent of the audience that was as vocal as they were about disliking that story line," he said. "Once we picked that horse, we kind of had to run with it.

"Hopefully, people that have been invested in the show will look at all the other qualities and things that they like.... And, hopefully, they'll reinvest this year and they'll continue to enjoy the show."

Hopefully. But, um, ewww.

· · · · ·

WHEN "DEXTER" STAR Michael C. Hall learned that Jimmy Smits was joining the show's cast for the upcoming season, he had one immediate reaction.

"That I was going to look really short," he joked.

Actually, he took it as pretty good sign that a television star of Smits' magnitude would join a Showtime series about a serial killer.

"That we can attract people of that caliber to sign on to an open-ended, sort of not-entirely-defined commitment is a testament to the fact that our show is appealing to actors," Hall said. "And it's a real shot in the arm when that happens."

"Dexter" is certainly a bit different from the series Smits has done before. This show about a serial killer (Hall) who only kills other killers isn't exactly "L.A. Law," "NYPD Blue," "The West Wing" or "Cane."

As the third season of "Dexter" begins (Sunday, 10 p.m., Showtime), Smits' character — Miguel Prado, an assistant district attorney with political ambitions — and Dexter form an unlikely friendship. He "is really the first adult friend that Dexter has had," said executive producer Clyde Phillips. "And it's new to him.... We get into the whole thing of — how demented is (Dexter) really? And whether that's camouflage or whether it's genuine is something that we continue to explore.

"But as that friendship progresses, Dexter becomes more and more open with the Jimmy Smits character and is able to talk ... for the first time and open up a little bit about who he is. And that's what we're going to explore this year."

If you've only watched "Dexter" when the first season was repeated on CBS, remember the Showtime version is greatly different. It's loaded with blood, violence and adult situations.

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