James Van Der Beek
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Question: What do you think of James Van Der Beek's chances of scoring a supporting actor Emmy nod for Don't Trust the B---- in Apartment 23? Can you think of another instance when an actor was nominated for an Emmy for playing a fictionalized version of themselves? — Michael
Matt Roush: It would be a kick to see this happen. "The Beek" is a scream as he spoofs his quasi-celebrity status on this show's best running gag. But an Emmy nod would also be a bit of a surprise, because the show itself is so new it may not resonate yet with the staid Emmy voters (who can sometimes be at least a year behind the curve when it comes to recognizing all but the most obvious new shows and talent), and there are so many established ensemble comedies to compete against. Still, playing himself may give him an advantage. It's not unheard of for actors playing wacky versions of themselves to get noticed. Larry David on Curb Your Enthusiasm is the most prominent example, but going back further in HBO's history there's the precedent of The Larry Sanders Show allowing guest celebrities to show unflattering sides of their public personas (among those nominated: David Duchovny, Ellen DeGeneres, Rosie O'Donnell and Carol Burnett). More recently, Matt LeBlanc scored a nomination for playing himself trying for a comeback (how meta) on Showtime's Episodes. So it's hardly unheard of, and how fun would it be for "the Beek" to join this august company.
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Question: I really enjoyed your review of BBC's brilliant Sherlock and its amazing cast. It's so satisfying to see a show where everything delivers on all levels and the audience isn't taken for granted and are treated as proper mystery and Conan Doyle aficionados. Do you think the show has a chance for any Emmy nods, especially in the acting category? Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman were at their absolute best with such true and emotional performances. I know it's hip to be a Downton Abbey fan, but Sherlock is so much more fulfilling, mentally and visually (I could also stare at Cumberbatch's face for the whole 90 minutes of the show!). I do hope I hear some Sherlock Emmy nominations come July.
On another note, is CBS really going ahead with its own version of modern-day Sherlock with Elementary? Is this a definite pick-up? I know both Jonny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu are fine actors, but the Sherlock comparisons are going to be persistent. It has already ruined the Sherlock movies directed by Guy Ritchie for me. The only Sherlock and Watson are, in my mind, Cumberbatch and Freeman. What do you think? — Sonal
Matt Roush: Hard to predict with the Emmys, but now that Downton Abbey is putting itself in the drama series race (as opposed to movie-miniseries), that would seem to open the door for Sherlock to get more notice. (The highest-profile nomination last year, well-deserved, was for Steven Moffat's writing.) Cumberbatch and Freeman couldn't be more delightful, and this season the work by Lara Pulver (as Irene Adler) and Andrew Scott (Moriarty) are worth celebrating as well — and for those following the series, this Sunday's episode ("The Hounds of Baskerville") features an enjoyable turn by Being Human's Russell Tovey, whose fear of creatures in the woods is rather ironic given his past employment. Regarding CBS' Elementary: No word yet on whether it will be picked up or not — this network tends to keep these decisions under wraps until very close to the upfront announcement, which will be next Wednesday — but I agree it may be difficult to embrace this show on its own merits unless it's as well executed as this version (which would be a small miracle). To be fair, though, CBS tends to operate on such a mass scale I doubt they're worrying too much about the BBC/PBS adaptation impacting their pilot one way or another. It does seem awfully superfluous, though.
Question: I don't know if it's just me, but lately ever since Bones has added baby Christine to the show it seems like she is the center of the show's attention now. Like there is never a scene in the show where they have not mentioned her or her name and it irks me because now I'm starting to lose all interest in my favorite show. Also, it seems like we see less of Brennan in the field and more of Sweets in the field instead. I miss Brennan in the field; also, I've noticed I'm seeing less of Cam, and the writers of the show seemed like they have turned her into this ruthless boss now. I miss the old funny, loving Cam. Also, Angela and Hodgins seem like they've lost all the spark in their relationship too, plus I noticed that we see less of them. Also, we see more of the interns doing Brennan's job and Brennan seems like she is more interested in baby Christine then her job. I think the only thing that has not changed on this show is Booth really. Maybe the Moonlighting curse has struck Bones, but it did it very slowly. I think maybe adding in Emily Deschanel's pregnancy was a bad idea after all. I want to watch my show Bones again, not the baby Christine show!! What do you think? Has Bones lost its mojo? — Marie
Matt Roush: A little patience, please. Bones is only several episodes into this new baby phase for Bones and Booth, and if they weren't doting on little Christine and working out this period of adjustment (with recent subplots including Booth's son and Bones' dad), I can only imagine the complaints I'd hear from fans worrying that Bones is becoming as awful a mother as The Killing's Sarah Linden. Given Bones' temperament, how could she be expected to do anything other than obsess on the baby at this point? (Maybe this week's episode, when she and Booth head to Hollywood to observe a movie based on her books and their partnership, will be more to your liking.) The real issue here is how resistant fans of long-running shows can be to change, and adding babies to a successful formula is almost always a perilous proposition, so I'm hardly surprised to see this sort of backlash. Fans tend to want characters like Booth and Bones to act on their obvious attraction to each other, but once they do, they start invoking Moonlighting, which to me is as empty an exercise as shouting "jump the shark" any time you see something you don't like. I've watched a few (but not all) of the episodes since Bones moved to Mondays with the big birth event, and have not noticed a discernible change in the tone and approach of the show. (Which, to be honest, I don't take terribly seriously; this is pure escapism for me, and one of the better shows of its type.) Maybe the baby will turn out to have been a mistake, but it seems to soon to make that judgment.
Question: One of this season's shows that I didn't get to see when it first started airing was Smash — which I just got around to watching last weekend. I am six episodes into the season and I am absolutely loving it. I've read the reviews on this musical since it first premiered to critical acclaim, and then the critics soured on it. Having not seen the show until now — yet still reading the negative reviews — I was fully prepared to delete the series if it didn't hold up. I don't know what the critics were smoking, but Smash is my favorite new show of the winter/spring TV season. I am fully on board with these characters, and I am enjoying seeing this behind-the-scenes drama of putting on the Marilyn musical. So I ask: Are you still on board with the show, and if so, how do you want to see Season 2 progress? More realistic inside-industry drama, or should the show be more soapy and campy and incorporate characters breaking out into song and dance rather than on the stage or in a character's head trip? — Sean
Matt Roush: Following Smash's first season has been one of the most peculiar roller coasters in recent memory. Musical theater is one of my great passions, so I believe in this show, and even in the clumsiest episodes can usually find some (usually musical) redeeming virtue. But I understand what is driving its snarkiest critics crazy, and much of it has to do with the contrived and often horribly executed soap operatics — most everything to do with Debra Messing's character (and the dullness of her husband and son), though there's plenty of competition (see Dev) — and absurd characters like Evil Ellis and Rebecca the Diva and her creepy entourage. When you get to the finale (which airs next week), you'll see how I'd like the show to proceed — as a musical drama about the making of a musical, which isn't easy to pull off to put it mildly, but the finale hits some heights that haven't been seen much since the spectacular pilot. (Although I'm sure the way it plays out will prove divisive, which won't be such a bad thing.)
The show I envision could be thought of as A Chorus Line: The Series, an upstage/downstage show where the intrigues and rivalries among the ensemble are as important as the squabbling in the front office and within the creative team. Soap opera is a part of any ongoing drama, and show-mances are inevitable in an incubator like Broadway, so I don't mind that sort of thing as long as it stays on point. The point being the making of a Broadway show. The painful stumbles of Smash reveal the dangers of second-guessing the material, fearing that the TV audience wouldn't be interested in a show so intimately focused on the rarefied world of theater. As it turned out, that's the show people wanted to see, not the domestic melodrama better done elsewhere. The things Smash does right make it very special, and for all of its flaws, I'd rather TV make room for shows like this (and Glee, for that matter) than churn out more of the same old forgettable repetitive nonsense. I hope next season can find a more agreeable balance. And for what it's worth, I loved the Bollywood number a few weeks back. I'm all for ripping through the fabric of reality once in a while to make Smash a worthy successor to the giddiest of movie or stage musicals. As long as it's entertaining.
Question: Overall, I have enjoyed Smash since it began airing. I don't even mind the occasional look into the characters' personal lives — although the more they can try to steer clear of major soap stuff the better. However, as much as Anjelica Huston has been/is praised as an actress, in this part at least, I don't think she can act her way out of a paper bag. I find her wooden and the scenes with her new "boyfriend" make me borderline uncomfortable. Am I the only one that wonders if possibly she is getting more credit then she's due just because of her last name? — Jill
Matt Roush: The "connected" burly bartender is one of many goofy choices Smash has made in breaking stories for its major characters, and Anjelica Huston hasn't been given many favors in the writing and styling departments — consider how many scenes she has to play opposite the odious Ellis (arguably the worst character in all of TV) — but watch these last two episodes, as the embattled Bombshell gets on its feet in front of paying audiences, and Eileen (and Huston) begins to come into her own as a strong, feisty and (at one moment) cheer-able character. The season finale in particular is so strong (almost as enjoyable as the pilot), it at times reminded me why some of us were raving about Smash in the first place.
Question: I have read in TV Guide Magazine that the season finale of Grey's Anatomy is going to shock us, that we will lose a doctor, and the viewers have no idea if Ellen Pompeo and Patrick Dempsey will be returning. My question is why would Shonda Rhimes write an ending that she has said the viewers will find disappointing and sad. — Linda
Matt Roush: Sad I understand. Grey's is fairly well known for being able to deliver an effective tear-jerker when the circumstances call for it — and the end of a season is often the most natural time to introduce a game-changing twist or tragedy. Whether it's "disappointing" (which surely isn't Shonda Rhimes' intent) depends on how attached you are to the character or characters whose lives will be affected by the events of the finale. Regarding the contract situation of the lead actors: That's pretty much out of her control, but the assumption is that the key core characters will be back at least for a while. But as the recent episodes have shown (not unlike Glee with its looming graduation), things are about to change for a number of these doctors, and change doesn't come easy to a show (and fan base) like this.
Question: I've been wondering about Revenge's renewal. I know it's a shoo-in for renewal. But could you shed some light on the matter? How many cliffhangers can they seriously manage to pull off before it's done for good? — Shenelle
Matt Roush: Seriously pull off, I'm not so sure. But Revenge isn't a serious show. It's the sort of guilty pleasure most prime-time soaps hope to become, and the challenge for the writers is to keep upping the stakes with new twists and more lurid cliffhangers. It's still early days for this show, so I wouldn't worry it running out of juice anytime soon — although I do think they offed their best villain (Tyler) way too soon.
Question: I have come to trust your opinion and guidance so much, I must know you think there is something to look forward to this summer. As the regular season winds down, I know True Blood and Drop Dead Diva will return in June, but is there anything new and interesting worth noting at this point? Have you previewed anything that made your jaw drop? — Rob
Matt Roush: I'm still making my way through this very busy season, and haven't actually screened much if anything of the new summer slate. But beyond the return of the usual suspects (Breaking Bad, the final seasons of Damages and The Closer, Louie, So You Think You Can Dance as the best of all reality-competition shows, escapist fare like USA's White Collar and Covert Affairs) and a few new favorites (MTV's shockingly good Awkward), several intriguing new projects have caught my attention and I'm very eager to see them as soon as I'm able. The short list includes HBO's The Newsroom (bringing Aaron Sorkin back to TV), ABC Family's Bunheads (bringing Gilmore Girls' Amy Sherman-Palladino back to TV, with Broadway star Sutton Foster as her new muse), BBC America's period piece Copper, A&E's contemporary Western Longmire — and I admit to a morbid fascination in checking out Charlie Sheen's Anger Management for FX, while my nostalgic side is curious to see if TNT's reboot of Dallas catches on. Plus I'm always open to surprises I don't see coming, which are often the very best kind. (Last summer, that included Awkward and BBC America's tremendous The Hour.)
Question: In response to the talk recently in your column about the endgame of Once Upon a Time: Isn't it a bit early to be talking about that? The show is still new, and I'm still thoroughly enjoying it on a regular basis, so I don't really find myself itching for Regina to be taken down just yet. I trust that the writers have some kind of plan here, and I'm perfectly happy to enjoy the ride for the time being. I think it's also a mistake to assume the show is over when the curse is broken; remember how everyone initially thought Lost would be over when they got off the island? Lost was always extremely successful at taking the story in a new direction when the viewers least expected it, and I'm sure the Once writers learned a thing or two from their time on that show.
Off the top of my head, I wonder what breaking the curse even means. If/when everyone becomes aware of their previous lives, what happens if some of them like this life better, or don't want to leave? What about Emma and Henry, who don't really have a place in the fairy-tale world? Even for those who do want to return to their old life, it probably won't be that easy to snap their fingers and go right back to the way things were before the curse happened. Let's just let this sort itself out. I'm going to be watching the show next year no matter what they do, and that's what matters here. They've entertained me this year and I see no reason to doubt their ability to do so next year. — Jake
Matt Roush: Of course it's too early in a successful new show's freshman season to be too worried about the ultimate end game, and your desire to just go along with the ride for now is the best option. But it's fair game to acknowledge the growing pains of any show's first season, which for me with Once involves many things involving Storybrooke, in part because most of the characters are only living half-lives there, as opposed to the richly realized revisionist doings back in fairy-tale land. Once Upon a Time is especially well suited to reinvent itself when the time comes, depending on what happens with this curse. (Which doesn't necessarily have to be the last curse, especially if we go back to a world of magic.)
Question: This is a question not so much for you, but for your readers. All of the actors on Fringe are amazing and worthy of high praise, but John Noble has knocked it out of the park and into another universe this season. My question is, what's the best way to get a campaign started to get him his much-deserved Emmy? Are there already ones out there, and if so where do I go to lend my support? — Dan
Matt Roush: In this case, we may need to be content that campaigns to save Fringe have paid off, and we'll get the final fifth season they and we deserve. This show flies so far below the industry radar that no matter how often critics put John Noble on their own Emmy dream ballots, it never seems to make a difference. Not sure how fan efforts could penetrate the closed (and often close-minded) shop of the TV Academy, although pooling resources to take out trade ads has worked in the past. I tend to keep a necessary critical distance from fan campaigns in any regard, but I'm sure you can find some element of the Fringe and Walter/Walternate fan brigade that is already beating the drum. As we critics who love Fringe have never stopped doing in our own columns. Nothing would make me happier than for him to break through — and Noble did have an awfully good season, as both Walters — but given the strength of the drama field from Breaking Bad and Mad Men to Game of Thrones and The Good Wife, it's always going to be an uphill battle.
Question: My question is about the fate of The Killing. I am probably one of the handful of viewers that is enjoying the second season. I don't feel let down or betrayed over the fact that the killer of Rosie Larson wasn't revealed during last season's finale. I think it adds to the richness and complexity of the show. Also unlike many other viewers, I enjoy the other storylines of Mitch and city councilman Richmond and I feel that all of these storylines will all come together in one edge-of-your-seat season finale. Regardless of this, do you think that the fans' dissatisfaction with the current season and the fact that AMC has yet to renew the show for a third season means that the show's fate is already sealed? — Marques
Matt Roush: I doubt AMC has made up its mind yet. A lot may have to do with how satisfied we are with the way this season is resolved. Those who quit the show will probably never come back. Those who've stuck with it — and even a few who came back out of curiosity, despite their annoyance — seem to be warming up to it again, though not without serious reservations at times. Whatever AMC decides, I'll probably be OK with it.
That's all for now. Keep sending your comments and questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, and in the meantime, follow me on Twitter!
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