DEXTER. 9 p.m. Sunday, Showtime.

CBS CEO Les Moonves stirred up the easily stirred Parents Television Council last week when he suggested Showtime's "Dexter" might find its way to network audiences this season.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, Moonves told reporters at a New York media conference that the series about a serial killer with standards "fits in with our crime shows," and that "with some edits," it could be ready for prime time.

Since it's hard to imagine that Moonves, whose grasp of what is and isn't going to work for CBS is generally pretty good, hasn't noticed that most of those CBS crime shows are about people who are trying to catch serial killers, not keep them killing, I'm going to pass this one off as writers strike bluster from a guy whose network could be in trouble.

All those "CSIs" don't write themselves, and when the best you can come up with for 2008 is a winter edition of that ant-farm monstrosity "Big Brother" (for which Moonves' news-division wife, Julie Chen, will once again be pressed into duty), well, it's nice to be able to distract people with bright, shiny objects.

And they don't get much brighter and shinier - and, um, redder - than "Dexter," whose second-season finale on Sunday caps a run of episodes that's significantly advanced the character of Dexter Morgan (Michael C. Hall) from the sardonic sad sack in the Jeff Lindsay novels on which the series was originally based.

This season, the once apparently asexual Dexter has discovered passion, albeit with a character who may be far sicker than he is. And as everything he holds dear is threatened by his possible exposure as the "Bay Harbor Butcher," the man who once formed attachments by rote has discovered that he actually holds far more dear than he'd thought.

All that killing aside, he's an astonishingly hopeful character, if something of an acquired taste.

Should it actually come to trimming "Dexter" to fit broadcast standards, I wouldn't be surprised if CBS found itself hacking through seemingly acceptable material to find space for commercials rather than merely cleaning up crime scenes.

Because as anyone who's seen "Criminal Minds" knows, CBS has a pretty strong stomach.

What it doesn't have, I suspect, is an audience all that interested in detecting the man inside a monster.

'Flood': Yet to come?

Films about people who discover the true meaning of Christmas after Really Bad Things Happen leave me cold, but I can't resist disaster movies.

And no, I can't explain that. Both genres offer a sameness that should be comforting, especially since there's usually a dog or a kid (or both) whose life, like Tiny Tim's, is eventually spared.

Lately, though, there's been a trend toward disaster movies laden with messages about climate change that make the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come - always the scariest part of any version of "The Christmas Carol," including "Mr. Magoo's" - look like no big deal.

The British must be worried, too, since their island is the setting for "Flood," a four-hour miniseries that Ion (Channel 61) will run in its entirety on Sunday, beginning at 7 p.m.

"Flood" stars Robert Carlyle, "Nip/Tuck's" Jessalyn Gilsig and Tom Courtenay as the trio on whom Londoners must depend when a flood comes up the Thames and buries the city.

There's not an impossible-to-predict moment in the entire four hours, but as the waters rise, the fear is undeniable. *

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