Bryan Cranston

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Question: WOW is the main word I use for Breaking Bad so far this season! I am amazed how FAST this season started up and I know it will get better and better! The writing is incredible after three seasons and I cannot wait to see what happens next, especially with Gale's "Lab notes" which was sure a shocker at the end of the 1st episode. Any spoilers regarding how deep the investigation goes from that book?

 — Mike

Matt Roush: It has been intense, right? I've only seen up to the most current (third) episode, but I wouldn't spoil what's to come even if I could. For a hint at the consequences of Gale's lab book landing in Hank's lap, as seen in last night's episode, check out Adam Bryant's interview with Dean Norris. I love the Hank-Walt dynamic, so loaded with subtext and this-can't-end-well foreboding, so I'm excited for Hank to get off his back, as I'm sure Norris is as well.

Question: I was wondering what you thought of the new season of Torchwood. I've actually been very disappointed. I knew it would be hard to top the brilliance of Children of Earth, but so far, Miracle Day doesn't even come close. Although the charming Jack and the kickass Gwen are still awesome, I can't stand any of the other characters. They are all tedious and/or annoying. And where is the witty dialogue from previous seasons of Torchwood? Anyway, since you are able to see future episodes before the general public, I'd like to ask you: Does it get better? — Camille

Matt Roush: I've only seen through this upcoming Friday's fifth episode, which builds to an awfully grim (though for me, not terribly surprising) reveal, and I'm afraid at this point I can't disagree with your assessment. The season's fantastic premise — a world in which no one can die, except the immortal Capt. Jack — still strikes me as an audacious one, but they haven't made the most of it. Seems like they're telling more than showing when it comes to the mass hysteria in the world at large, and as creepy as his performance is, Bill Pullman's serial killer-turned-messiah doesn't make a lot of sense. It's taking too long for the "big bad" behind it all to reveal itself, because I can't believe Torchwood is really going up against evil pharmaceuticals in a health-care scheme. (This Friday's reveal indicates something much larger and uglier is afoot.) Completely agree that the American counterparts are either bland (Esther) or irritating (Rex), and I'm not sure what to make of Lauren Ambrose's giddy Jilly. But we're only halfway through the story, so I'm not giving up hope altogether yet. It does seem clear, though, that doubling the length of the incredible Children of Earth may not have been the best idea.

Question: As with all red-blooded Buffy the Vampire Slayer fans, I'm extremely excited to see Sarah Michelle Gellar back in action on the CW's new fall pilot, Ringer. While the show is generating a lot of buzz, and not just within the Whedon-verse, I'm fairly concerned with how the show will perform. Shows on the CW tend to struggle in the ratings department in general, but with Ringer taking a fairly sizable step out of the usual CW model, I think it's going to have a difficult time finding an audience (or rather, the audience is going to have a hard time finding it).

 In spite of potential problems with ratings, I'm thrilled to see the CW finally take a much-needed step outside the usual network brand. Ringer looks to be more mature and serious than the network's mainstays, which are almost universally aimed at younger women. The CW brand is so well-defined that I worry Ringer may be written off by many potential viewers as being simply another teen soap before they give it a chance. 

Do you think the CW will be able to break out of its self-imposed mold? Do you think they should? Will Ringer really get a fair shake on the CW or was CBS's decision to pass on it the first nail in the coffin? — Lacy

Matt Roush: I'm cautiously optimistic that Ringer will click with the intended audience, and then some. I don't know if I'd call it "mature and serious," though, given that it's basically a lurid melodrama that reminds me of the sort of B-movie potboilers Bette Davis made during a certain phase of her career (look up Dead Ringer and A Stolen Life). But it does fall in an odd place on the demographic spectrum: too young and bizarre for CBS, but a little older and less formula than the CW model of Gossip Girl and 90210. If Sarah Michelle Gellar can lure enough people to watch the pilot, I'm betting they'll be hooked. Even so, the bar for its success will be set much lower on the CW than it would have been on CBS (where it might have failed quickly), so that's something in its favor. But whether it works or not, I'm glad to see the CW expanding its parameters even a wee bit — although I thought Nikita did a pretty decent job of that a year ago. What depresses me is when a network like this settles for just cloning itself, as in the case of The Secret Circle, which feels like a lesser extension of The Vampire Diaries substituting witches for vamps. Lazy programming like that shouldn't be rewarded.

Question: Glee premiered extremely strong on Fox right from the outset, and now has become an absolute phenomenon (a movie, a concert, countless CDs). My question to you: How come more networks haven't tried to replicate the way Fox handled Glee's pilot? They premiered the first episode of Glee right after the American Idol finale as an event, several months before the official start of the first season. That drew a lot of interest, and when the show finally did premiere in the fall, all of that buzz paid off tremendously. Why doesn't ABC premiere a pilot after the Dancing With the Stars finale and then follow up with the full season later on? Why not NBC after The Voice finale? Or CBS after Survivor? It worked for Fox, so why aren't other networks trying to capitalize on this unique strategy? — Marcus

Matt Roush: If everyone did it, so much for it being a "unique" strategy, right? Seems to me you'd really need the right show to justify a stunt like this, which could backfire if the show in question can't live up to the hype. Fox considered doing this for Terra Nova last May on an even bigger scale, but couldn't get the show finished in time — causing many to speculate the network got cold feet, which is entirely possible given the mixed reaction from early screenings. For all of its faults and controversies, Glee is a pretty rare case study. Few shows can sustain that kind of buzz, and in most cases, I imagine the network's marketing gurus could argue that an early sneak could take the wind out of the sails of the later launch. But there's no question it worked for Glee, so it is rather surprising no one has tried to copy it yet.

Question: I have been completely obsessed with The Glee Project this summer, with my favorites being Samuel, Damian and Lindsay. With just a few episodes left, I am saddened that only one of the outstanding performers remaining will get a role on Glee. There have been some terrific storylines tossed about on the message boards, like OCD Emma fostering a homeless Samuel, or a modern-day take on The Parent Trap with sister Lindsay living in Ohio with her mother and brother Damian growing up in Ireland with his father, with Damian coming to America once his father passes. With all of the craziness going on in the Glee world right now ("There are 4 graduating!" "No, only 3!" "Everyone is staying!" "Chord Overstreet is leaving!"), what do you think the prospects are for these Glee Project contenders? Do any of the rest of the top four have a chance at a role, too? After falling in love with The Glee Project, I am almost sad now that all of the originals are staying past the third season. I was looking forward to some new stories for new characters, played by performers I already know and like. — Amy

Matt Roush: Glee fans have quite the imagination, don't they? (Side note: Over the weekend, dashing from my hotel room at the TCA press tour to run an errand, I nearly ran into, or should I say over, Samuel — quite the double take on my part.) Anyway, I honestly can't predict what will happen to some of the Glee Project also-rans. Nothing this show does would surprise me at this point. But now that these contestants are on the producers' (and choreographer's and casting director's) radar, it may be that after the winner gets his or her story arc, they may decide down the road that they can't afford not to use more of this talent. If Ryan Murphy & Co. are serious about bringing in new blood, why stop at one? Though initially, it would probably seem unfair to do anything to upstage the winner's spotlight.

Question: I don't think I've ever been frustrated by a TV show quite in the way that I'm frustrated by Glee. At this point, I'm not even talking about the bipolar nature of the show, but the constant public relations disasters that seem to surround it. Chord Overstreet isn't returning! Oh wait, he might be returning, oh, nope he's not returning at all. Cory, Lea and Chris are graduating next season and won't be in season 4 at all! No, that was just a rumor... even though it was a direct quote from Ryan Murphy. I'm really annoyed at everyone involved with Glee after the whole controversy at Comic-Con, and I don't know who handles press for this show but they're doing a pretty terrible job. Seriously, doesn't anyone that works on Glee talk to anyone else that works on Glee? Why can't the producers learn to just shut their mouths if they're not sure about something yet, or at the very least, get their stories straight with each other? I know we live in a world that feeds on spoilers, but should we automatically just ignore anything that comes out of Ryan Murphy's mouth? — Alex

Matt Roush: We can only hope that Ryan Murphy has learned his lesson after this most recent debacle — if he sticks to his pledge not to tease the media with sketchy, faulty info — but he's long been a loose cannon, so I'm not sure the buck stops anywhere but at his desk in this current mess. Best advice where all spoilers and hype are concerned: Believe it when you see it.

Question: I really like The Closer and will be sorry to see it end this season. I think the cast is great but wonder if they couldn't keep the cast, minus Brenda, hire someone like Alana de la Garza to play the female lead and name it Major Case Squad, or something like that. Kyra Sedgwick can't be actually replaced, of course, but it seems a shame to let such a great cast go without trying something else. Has anyone thought of this before or is it just wishful thinking on my part? — Judy

Matt Roush: Actually, you're pretty close to the mark. When The Closer in its current form signs off a year from now — this final season is being split in two — the intention is to directly transition into the spin-off titled Major Crimes, starring Mary McDonnell in her current role as the antagonistic Capt. Sharon Raydor. The new show will continue to be set in the LA Police Department, so while we don't yet know the circumstances of Brenda Leigh Johnson's departure, it seems likely that at least a few of the talented Closer ensemble will stay put.

Question: I just read that on CSI: Miami, Horatio's dead wife is going to appear on the fall premiere, and I read earlier that Mac Taylor's dead wife is going to appear on the fall premiere of CSI: NY, and I got annoyed. Can't that franchise come up with an original idea? One dead wife returning was an interesting twist, but two? Now are they going to have another dead CSI'er make an appearance on the Thursday show — oops, now it's moving to Wednesday. I like CSI most times and watch all three, but admit I'm only catching CSI: NY during the summer repeats, and here I am a New Yorker, though I know it isn't shot here anyway and it's opposite something else I watch. Now I know, or think, the writers/producers/et al are different for each show, but isn't this a bit much? — Dorothy

Matt Roush: This is definitely a case of overkill — or, given the flashback nature of these stunts, over-resurrection. For shows within the same franchise to copy each other so flagrantly just looks sloppy. I'd never pretend to be a current fan or frequent follower of either of these spin-offs anymore, but at least CSI: NY has a legitimate purpose (the 10th anniversary of 9/11, which claimed Mac's wife) to give us our first glimpse of the late Claire Taylor. For CSI: Miami to follow suit is just another indication of how creatively impoverished that show has become.

Question: Switched at Birth is one of the best shows on TV. After the Season 1 finale airs, please tell me the show will be back on again before next summer. I can't wait that long for more episodes! — Teri

Matt Roush: You can relax, Teri. Your wait won't be too painful. You'll be seeing teenagers Bay and Daphne sooner than expected after Season 1's Aug. 8 finale. ABC Family has just ordered 22 more episodes of Switched at Birth, more than double the first season's run, and the show is set to return in early 2012.

Question: Will James Callis return to Eureka at some point? Dr. Grant was a great character. — Linda

Matt Roush: Nothing on the horizon. Definitely not during the current season 4.5, and apparently not yet in the fifth season, now in production. Which isn't to say he won't ever return, given the extraordinarily flexible nature of this show.

Question: I loved seeing Peter MacNicol on Grey's Anatomy last season. Are there any signs that he will be back as Dr. Stark next season? — DP

Matt Roush: Not in the two-hour premiere, and that's as far as anyone's willing to reveal right now. But as in the previous question, never say never.

That's all for now. Keep sending your comments and questions to askmatt@tvguidemagazine.com, and in the meantime, follow me on Twitter!

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