Keifer Sutherland, William Devane

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Question: Let's talk 24: Live Another Day. What are your thoughts on the season so far? I have to say, I'm loving it! The two-hour opener wasn't the best, and I'm not thrilled about the Chloe with the dragon tattoo, but it's been getting progressively better each week, and it's starting to feel like the 24 that I used to love (i.e., up to Season 5.) By the end of the original series, they had lost what made it great: the intriguing peripheral characters, politics and side-stories, and completely focused on indestructible Jack and his band of disposable supporting players. But this season he's found a worthy sidekick in Kate, we have all the drama around Heller and his team, the Russians lurking in the background, and I'm really digging where they're going with the hipster CIA tech. (Could we have a new Chloe on our hands?) And come on, how awesome was that drone car chase? I think the four-year break and format change has breathed new life into the show. The ratings are down from the original series, but they are still pretty healthy for a summer show (albeit an expensive one). In fact, they're kind of better than just about anything else on Fox even in the normal TV season. What do you think the chances are that we'll see 24 back next year? Also, might we see 24 being brought back into the main TV season going forward? — Andrew, NYC

Matt Roush: Anything's possible, especially now that Fox is undergoing a regime change with Kevin Reilly's departure. But as much as I'm enjoying this London adventure with Jack & Co. — and this question came in, I believe, before last week's best-of-season/classic 24 episode culminating in President Heller's sacrifice — I'm thinking that just as a less-is-more 13-episode season has helped reinvigorate the franchise, we shouldn't get overly greedy about 24's future prospects. I'd like to think this won't be Jack Bauer's last mission, but also hope whatever comes next would be treated in a similar "event" fashion — although you may also be right that, given the network's current misfortunes, they might need it back sooner than later. Still, the timing would be a factor. Getting another cycle up and running even by next midseason seems a bit of a stretch. But should 24 return in whatever form, I wouldn't be surprised if it were more integrated into the regular season to justify the investment (theirs and ours).

Question: It seems to me that we are in a new Golden Age of TV. Shows like Fargo, Mad Men, Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, Orange Is the New Black (to name just a few), so many disparate genres of just flat-out excellent television. All those extra cable and satellite stations are finally putting together great scripted programming that challenges and excites and illuminates. My question (as your recommendations hold a lot of weight for me): What do you see on the horizon that is going to be compelling as great TV programing? With so many shows being made, what stands out as the next generation? — Andrew C

Matt Roush: Seems to me we're already steeped in the next "now" generation of terrific, stimulating programming of so many varieties, with new players like Netflix and Amazon only continuing to raise the game — and new seasons of standouts like Showtime's Masters of Sex and Ray Donovan coming soon, making me think that asking "what's next" is beside the point. You never really know what that next big thing will be until you see it. Example: Fargo, the idea of which didn't really excite me until I went to a screening of the first episode, which absolutely blew me away (and the rest of the series didn't disappoint). I'm trusting that sort of pleasant surprise will happen more and more — although having made it through most of the fall's new and largely underwhelming network pilots, it's probably not going to come from that arena. Until it does.

Question: I'm at a loss to understand the reasoning of submitting "The Children" for Emmy consideration for many of the actors/actresses in Game of Thrones, when by the very nature of wrapping up the season, there were such short vignettes for most of the characters. In fact, Natalie Dormer is being submitted for Supporting Actress and she is not even in "The Children." I feel that actors like Peter Dinklage and Charles Dance never give a bad performance, but I'm not sure I feel their performance in "The Children" is the best of their work this season. Can you shed some light on the strategy of submitting that one episode for all the Emmy nominees? — Ariel

Matt Roush: Welcome to the confusion that is the Emmy nominations process. "The Children" (the season finale) made news for being the only episode the show submitted for consideration in the writing category, but that doesn't apply to which episodes the various actors will submit once nominated. (I consulted with GoldDerby awards guru Tom O'Neil, who knows much more about the process than I do, and he tells me the actors' picks haven't been announced yet. And while they do make an episode declaration during the nominations process, they are allowed to change their pick once nominated, and many do switch, I'm told.) It would indeed be perverse for Natalie Dormer to submit an episode in which she doesn't appear, but that isn't what happened here. And while there's plenty of juicy material this season for Peter Dinklage and Charles Dance to choose from this season, their final scene together could easily qualify as an Emmy reel.

Question: I just finished the season finale of Louie. It took me a while to appreciate how the show had become a little bit more serious, but I think this was probably the best season yet. What did you think? — Tom

Matt Roush: I'm not sure it was his best, but it was certainly the most unexpected, controversial and unpredictable season Louis C.K. has yet delivered. (For the record, I was much more satisfied with the third season, with the Parker Posey and Late Show/David Lynch arcs.) There were many episodes I enjoyed this season — including the "fat girl" interlude, with that remarkable guest performance by Sarah Baker — but just as many others (including the extended storyline of Louie's romance with his short-term Hungarian neighbor) which tried my patience, although in retrospect, since much of the season seems to have dealt with Louie's inability to translate (sometimes literally) the needs and desires of the opposite sex, it's likely that this batch of episodes will be studied, argued and debated for quite some time. Which isn't such a bad thing. Louie is the opposite of disposable sitcom TV. It's very much a comic artist's vision, fascinating to behold, even when we don't always approve of the dark places and behaviors it reveals.

Question: In your review of Fox's new crime drama series Gang Related, you say that the show is a "burn-off" show from the network, yet the brass at Fox waited until May until they gave the show a full series order. I think that the powers that be at Fox intended to make this a summer show, not a "burn-off," if they waited until the end of the regular network TV season to give this show a full series order. What's the difference between a "burn-off" show, and summer shows on other networks like ABC's Mistresses and Canadian imports Rookie Blue and Motive, and CBS's Unforgettable (which originally ran on the network's regular schedule until it was briefly canceled and then uncanceled and put on the network's summer schedule) and Under The Dome (which was originally intended to be a miniseries until the network renewed the show for a second season to make it an ongoing show)? And speaking of summer shows, have you seen NBC's new summer show The Night Shift and CBS's upcoming new summer show Reckless yet, if their episodes were available for you and other TV critics to review? - Chris

Matt Roush: The reason I considered Gang Related a summer "burn off" (which is an unfortunate term I'm now thinking of retiring as the nature and volume of network TV's original summer fare continue to evolve) is because the network included the pilot episode in its fall screener mailings a full year ago. I interpreted that to mean the show was at least once considered as a possibility for airing during the regular season. But I should try to keep more of an open mind about the prospects of network series premiering this time of year. They tend not to be very inspired — The Night Shift, the ultimate in clichéd medical melodramas, a case in point — but as a summer place-holder to air after America's Got Talent, NBC has done worse, and it's possible a show like this could have a long, Rookie Blue-like future in the off-season. It is getting harder to tell the burn-offs from the shows specifically designed for summer viewing, like Dome and Extant on CBS, and ABC's various imports and remakes. So as I try to do the rest of the year, I shouldn't pigeonhole these entries as predestined losers (although many of them are). And no, I haven't seen Reckless yet, but hope to check it out before this weekend's premiere.

Question: Is Shawn Ryan trying to relive his glory of The Shield, the only show he created that hasn't been canceled thus far? If so, then he is doing a bad job at it. Do you think that he needs to go back to the drawing board again? Gang Related is not only full of clichés from other cop shows, but it also has The Shield written all over it. The era of The Shield has come and gone, why can't he put Vic Mackey or some Vic Mackey wannabe to rest? - Marques

Matt Roush: That seems an awfully ungenerous way to look at Shawn Ryan's oeuvre, which includes some admirable, noble failures (Terriers, Last Resort, etc.) — and for the record, The Unit made it to four seasons before being canceled. And while Gang Related is far from perfect, the premise of a good cop compromised by his family ties in the gang culture is solid enough, though I agree the central character here is nowhere near as compellingly conflicted as Vic Mackey. If Ryan wants to continue playing in the dark margins of the law-enforcement trade, I see no reason to discourage him any more than you'd look at the current mediocrity of Steven Bochco's Murder in the First and tell a legend like that to stop trying.

Question: In naming The CW's Jane the Virgin as one of "5 Shows to Catch Next Fall" in your post-upfront report in TV Guide Magazine, you said you think the story of a young woman being "artificially inseminated by accident" is funnier than it sounds? It would almost have to be if it's even remotely funny, because it sounds appalling, not appealing. I wonder if any female reviewers agree with your recommendation of a "comedy" about the ultimate definition of accidental pregnancy? Oh well, no one can force me to watch it, thank goodness. — Virginia

Matt Roush: I haven't tallied female critics — and how reverse-sexist is this accusation, by the way? — but anecdotally, several of the women in our office who've watched the Jane pilot were similarly charmed. Keep in mind that many were initially offended a handful of years ago when ABC announced a show with a similar telenovela-inspired tone because of its title: Ugly Betty, which of course turned out to be a delightful celebration of inner beauty amid wacky plot mechanics. Jane (Gina Rodriguez) is an enormously appealing heroine caught up in an outrageous situation not of her making, surrounded by a colorful array of over-the-top characters. Taking any of these comically soap-operatic elements seriously would be a mistake. My advice: lighten up, or (as you no doubt will) watch something else.

Question: I love shows where pirates are involved. Starz's Black Sails was not too bad: costumes, scenery, visual and special effects pretty realistic. Plus the acting was good, and I liked pretty much all of the characters. Will Black Sails be back? However, NBC's Crossbones is terrible. Whoever thought that John Malkovich would make a realistic Blackbeard? I don't believe pirates, and others during these times, were as clean-shaven, sharply dressed with perfect teeth, and speaking as educated Englishmen. I am still waiting for a TV series that will interpret more accurately these wild and interesting characters and give them the respect they deserve, since they (the pirates) were a very colorful part of our history. One more thing: I actually enjoyed Dracula with Jonathan Rhys Meyers. I would take to watching that show again in a heartbeat. — Janice

Matt Roush: As is Starz's habit, Black Sails was renewed for a second season before the first even premiered. I thought both it and Crossbones were pretty dreadful, but I agree NBC's is the more laughable of the two (which might be why if I were forced to watch one, I'd probably opt for the silly one). I got a laugh when Chip wrote in to describe Crossbones as "quite the load of hot garbage. Every time I see Malkovich on screen he seems to be thinking the same thing: 'There must be more respectable ways to spend a day on the beach.'" Thinking positive: While they're not pirates, if you're looking for an hour of swashbuckling action that won't insult or bore you, give BBC America's The Musketeers a shot.

Question: I think The Michael J. Fox Show is a great show. It was one of my favorite comedies of the year. It's too bad that it has been canceled. I would like to know if NBC will still air the remaining episodes in the summer? They already aired the rest of Believe and Crisis. — Daniel

Matt Roush: When the show was pulled this winter, there was some buzz that the remaining seven episodes would be burned off (that phrase again!) this summer — but as of now, NBC has not announced any dates. It would seem like a proper thing to do on behalf of a star they went to such lengths to court.

Question: I am in love with Graceland on USA! Great characters and I love that it's not your typical procedural. Each episode is a part of a bigger picture and they have a handful of characters to learn about so viewers aren't bored. I feel like Chicago PD (which I also love) has the same set-up where it doesn't really feel like things get resolved and there's a few stories to keep track of. Do you think this is a trend for cop procedurals? I hope so, as I'm getting a little bored with my Castle and NCIS where everything is always wrapped up in a nice little bow at the end of every episode. — Rina

Matt Roush: Let me introduce you to CBS's Person of Interest if this is your sort of thing. The fact that it's succeeding on CBS, the breeding ground of so many formula procedurals, gives me hope. Even more conventional whodunits like NCIS and Castle tend to have ongoing relationship arcs and big-picture intrigues that thread throughout a season, but their tendency to tell self-contained stories most weeks makes them very desirable to large portions of the TV audience — and even more important, makes them hugely profitable in U.S. and international syndication. But the trend in this genre is to tell bigger, more complex stories, so you're joining the party at a pretty good time. 

Question: Regarding Mistresses: I have never seen a show where the cast spends so much time horizontal. Is the subtitle American Pie Primetime? — Phil

Matt Roush: Um, you're watching a show called Mistresses. What were you expecting, Ozzie & Harriett?

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