'You know the cliche about serial killers?" Dexter Morgan asks in his narration. " 'He was quiet, kept to himself, kind of a loner.' There's a reason why it's a cliche." It's hard to be a serial killer if you're always mixing it up in the normal world.

As a new daddy, Dexter's distracted when Showtime premieres the fourth season of Dexter tomorrow at 9 p.m., and if you've ever been a new daddy, you know it's one of the hardest jobs in the world. Very little time for murder.

When he mentions fulfilling his "primal need" at the top of the show, it takes a minute to realize that he's talking about sleep, and not ritual killing.

Another series about a father, Fox's cartoon The Cleveland Show, premieres tomorrow. Fortunately for the Family Guy spin-off, the zillions of viewers who might wish a ritual killing on it will never tune in. Unfortunately, Family Guy fans, largely young men, which makes the show a hot commodity among many advertisers, might find the new series a little tame.

Of course, there's nothing tame about Dexter, with hand-wringers across the land up in arms (can you wring your hands if you're up in arms?) that Showtime would present a series glorifying a serial killer, and that it would actually be popular.

And, of course, the hand-wringers haven't seen the show, which does not glorify its combination forensics examiner and serial killer. And now daddy. It's about the ultimate outcast and his efforts to become human. Like all good drama, it uses heightened characters to magnify struggles we all have.

It does try to look into his mind to examine what makes him tick, and the only minds that come to mind that might be more interesting are those of 16-year-old girls, which, as the CW demonstrates five nights a week, are basically impossible to penetrate with any understanding.

Dexter goes right for the jugular (actually, it's the femoral artery) tonight, when this year's big guest star, John Lithgow, helps a pretty sous chef shuffle off this mortal coil, and you can be sure she doesn't want to go.

The murder may be a little too nude and too gruesome even for Dexter fans, but the producers want to set Lithgow's character, the Trinity Killer, apart as not just a run-of-the-mill evil dude. As the episode progresses, you get more details about his killing marathon, courtesy of special agent emeritus Frank Lundy (Keith Carradine), who may be retired now but is still looking for Trinity, the one who got away.

Lundy got away from Dexter's sister, Deb, a couple of seasons ago after a torrid affair, and it's likely his reemergence will put a big strain on her current romance. Other favorites are back, too: Angel Batista, the diligent sergeant; Lauren Velez, the emotional lieutenant; Vince Masuka, the skeevy forensics expert; Joey Quinn, the hard-nosed detective; and Dexter's wife, who has no idea about what he calls "his dark passenger."

Some of them set sail on journeys that, at first glimpse at least, can only end badly.

Cleveland Brown, the black family guy in Family Guy, sets out on his own journey tomorrow at 8:30 p.m. as devil baby Stewie marvels, "What the hell? He's getting his own show?"

Yup, and it's a little warmer and sillier than Family Guy, with a bear family living next door and a talking toaster, as Cleveland marries his high school sweetheart and picks up a stepdaughter and a wiseguy little stepson to go with his own corpulent teenager.

Like the new Fox sitcom Brothers, The Cleveland Show is full of pubic-hair jokes, and if you don't think that's a laugh riot, you still might want to tune in - once - to see what the cool kids are digging these days.

Contact television critic Jonathan Storm at 215-854-5618 or jstorm@phillynews.com. Read his blog, "Eye of the Storm," at http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/storm/.