Nick Nolte, Anna Gunn and David Tennant
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Question: I was wondering if you have seen Fox's Americanized version of BBC America's Broadchurch, now called Gracepoint? I watched the BBC America miniseries and therefore I already know who did it. Now I am sure the American version will have a different person, but how different can these shows really be? Even David Tennant is in it, playing the part he played on Broadchurch. Your thoughts? — Amy
Matt Roush: I'm still making my way through a batch of episodes Fox only released at the very end of last week (the first seven of 10 episodes), and find myself unusually conflicted in terms of how or if to recommend Gracepoint. I put the shattering mystery-drama Broadchurch very high on my list of Best Shows of 2013, and watching this new version — which in the early going feels like a beat-by-beat copy, delivered with a heavier hand — was unsettling for me in all the wrong ways. If you never saw Broadchurch (which Fox loves to remind us applies to most people in the U.S.), I'm sure this intensely emotional story about the impact of a terrible crime on a small community will be very affecting. Some of the acting, especially by Virginia Kull as the young victim's mother, is terrific — although watching Tennant tackle his same detective role, while squelching his natural accent, results in an oddly flat and disengaging performance which often throws me out of what is otherwise an engrossing experience. (In other words, not the best idea.) While we've been told the ending will be different, having made my way through more than half of the series already, and seeing very little difference — and what small changes and additions I've noticed I wouldn't call improvements — I can only truly recommend viewers seek out the original on DVD or online. I can't imagine Gracepoint topping the way Broadchurch ended, and for the life of me, I can't understand why they've even tried.
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Question: Regarding your discussion from last week about James Garner possibly not receiving a special salute at this week's upcoming Emmy Awards, I feel it would be such an injustice to this fine actor and film and TV icon. Yes, Robin Williams deserves the recognition he will receive. He didn't really change the face of TV comedy, because there was no one like him before or afterwards. He was truly a unique talent. But so was Garner. For me, as a young kid growing up in Detroit, I knew on Sunday nights, if I was feeling down, Bret Maverick would come on and all would be right with the world. He was the first TV star I ever really noticed. I stayed a fan of his always. To not give him a separate tribute on the Emmy Awards would be far worse than last year when Cory Monteith was singled out and Jack Klugman was an afterthought. I guess there is no way to do these things so that everybody is pleased. One further note: Last week on MeTV, they showed a Rockford Files episode guest-starring Lauren Bacall as a tribute to Bacall (who passed away the day after Williams's death). Also on that program was actor Ed Nelson, who died a day or two after Bacall. So the episode ended up as a tribute to Bacall, Nelson and, of course, the great Mr. Garner. — Charles
Matt Roush: Good heavens, I'm going to have to look up that Rockford Files episode. Sorry I missed it. What an incredible, and rather macabre, coincidence. And while we're about to see how the Emmys will honor Garner and other fallen stars from the last year, you're absolutely right — not just in your appreciation of Garner, but in acknowledging that they're never going to please everyone in situations like these.
Question: Do you have any scoop on Covert Affairs, especially on Annie? I can't believe Langley suspended Annie after she risked her life over and over for the CIA and her country. And desk work isn't for her, she was made for the field. By the way, what's with Joan having a skeleton in her closet? Have you got anything on her secret? — Tara
Matt Roush: Time for another reminder that this is not and never will be a spoiler column, and even if I knew what was in store for Annie and Joan beyond the upcoming summer finale, I wouldn't spill. But I'm more than happy to discuss Annie's suspension and whether it played credibly. Which I think it did. There was a fair amount of sorrow in Joan's demeanor (if not Calder's) when they lowered the boom on someone they greatly admire, especially regarding her prowess in the field. But Annie was not only putting herself at risk, she was endangering her missions and everyone involved in them — and what good is adding that kind of conflict to a show if there aren't going to be consequences?
Question: I don't watch many of the Emmy-nominated cable shows and am disappointed at the nominations of the same people and shows every year. I wonder what you think of the shows on USA Network that aren't getting any recognition, such as Suits, or on TNT, such as Perception, where I think Eric McCormack is exceptional. Also, what are your thoughts on The Goldbergs? I find that show very funny and all the actors doing a terrific job! — Helene
Matt Roush: To your bigger point: Just because you don't watch the shows that tend to get nominated doesn't mean that most aren't worthy. They may just not be to your taste. (But yes, I also get tired of the same shows and stars being nominated year after year, especially when some shows, like Mad Men, failed to live up to their reputation last time out. And while my admiration for Breaking Bad is limitless, I'm not thrilled that it gets to be nominated twice for a final season because of the craven way AMC scheduled it over two years.)
I'm mainly addressing this question so I can give a shout-out to Suits, which just wrapped one of its best runs yes, especially involving the magnificent work by Rick Hoffman as Louis Litt (this actor's role of a lifetime), whose performance in last week's summer cliffhanger as he confronted Jessica left me gasping. I can't wait for it to return — but that doesn't mean I'd consider a show this slick and melodramatic to be a natural Emmy contender. (Hoffman, on the other hand, I'd nominate without blinking.) Perception I've never really bought, though it's no fault of McCormack, who really delivers any time I've watched (while rolling my eyes). And The Goldbergs, though a bit shrill for my taste some weeks, I'm glad to see moving to ABC's Wednesday family-comedy lineup, where it should have been airing last season.
Question: First-time writer, long-time reader. I really enjoy your column. The new USA series Satisfaction, I gave it a shot because of Matt Passmore. Yes! I am an angry Glades fan. However, it has now been deleted from my DVR. For one thing, it got more implausible and utterly ridiculous as the weeks wore on. It was not the exploration of emotions and a marriage in trouble they promised. Instead it is a married couple finding themselves in more absurd adulterous situations week after week. I guess USA Network thought that soft porn would be enough to keep the viewers locked in. One casting gripe: Grace, although I think she's very cute (physically, not her character), I don't understand why they would cast someone whose accent comes out so thickly at times to play the sister of a totally American-sounding girl. Do things like that annoy you, too? Have you watched this series? What are your feelings? — Mary
Matt Roush: Wouldn't surprise me that Glades fans would not embrace Passmore gladly in this new role, given how the last one ended. And while I championed the Satisfaction pilot, which I found an intriguing change of pace for USA, subsequent episodes have mostly left me cold, primarily because they seem so unfocused, as if the show were afraid to commit fully to its offbeat and risky premise. I've fallen a bit behind (a common refrain this busy TV summer), but I understand that they did add some reference recently to explain why Grace may betray traces of a French accent — although otherwise I find Stephanie Szostak rather refreshing. (Once again, how odd for a show on a network called USA to feature as their not-quite-loving couple an Australian actor and a French actress. Only in America.)
Question: To paraphrase a Bond line: "Once is happenstance, twice is coincidence, three is a pattern." This is actually a complaint more than a question: I'm upset with the pattern emerging in shows produced by TNT. First with Jada Pinkett Smith on Hawthorne, then Julie Gonzalo on Dallas, and now Angie Harmon on Rizzoli & Isles. A strong female character in a traditionally male profession (medicine, big oil, law enforcement) has had her pregnancy end, not only tragically but in an over-blown way (beaten by a patient's husband, literally blown up, shot and beaten by a criminal). In Tess Gerritsen's Rizzoli novels, Jane does have her baby, a daughter named Regina; however, as soon as the character's pregnancy was revealed in the Season 4 finale, I immediately guessed (given TNT's track record) that her TV counterpart's pregnancy would not end well and we'd never see Baby Regina on TV.
I'm especially annoyed with TNT because the network's competitor, USA, has had In Plain Sight's Mary McCormack, Covert Affairs' Kari Matchett and Royal Pains' Reshma Shetty all play characters with similar professions (law enforcement and medicine again), and their characters all not only successfully carried their pregnancies to term but also did so while continuing said careers. Yes, I know McCormack's and Matchett's pregnancies were real and that miscarriages can (sometimes) be important plot devices, but when it gets to the point that whenever a pregnancy is introduced on a particular network, the viewers can roll their eyes and collectively say, "Yes, we all already know how this will turn out, again," shouldn't the network change its pattern, especially when the opposite is working for a competing network? Or does TNT just want to be known as the "Miscarriage Network" aka "None of our characters will ever successfully have a baby"? All I can say is, thank goodness TNT only airs Castle reruns while ABC produces the show, otherwise I'd fear for Baby Caskett's fate when that finally happens! (P.S. Where is the blowback on Jane, anyway? In real life, wouldn't she be held up as an example of exactly why pregnant cops are supposed to be on desk duty?) — Jennifer
Matt Roush: Keep in mind that these shows all come from different producers, so I doubt there's some great conspiracy going on here, but the coincidence of these storylines all playing out on the same network mainly underscores how clichéd this sort of plot twist has become. Excellent compare-contrast with the USA shows, by the way, although Joan's baby on Covert Affairs has become such an afterthought that I'm always startled when there are scenes of Joan and Arthur at home cooing over the infant.
Question: First, I want to say how much I enjoy reading your column every week. I enjoy the show Unforgettable, but for some reason the tone seems different this year. I have always liked the way the character of Carrie Wells, as she was intelligent, thoughtful and also has a good sense of humor. This year, though, her character seems coy and kind of silly. The way she flirts with almost every man she meets makes her seem less professional and less like the person she started out to be. I have to admit that it has diminished my enjoyment of the show. Do you think I am reading her character this year completely wrong? — Laurie
Matt Roush: I bet you're not, but in this case, I'll have to take your word for it. This is not a show I have felt compelled to follow in its mostly summer-only existence. It's not that I've, um, forgotten that it's on, but choices must be made, and even the original version of Carrie never made much of an impression on me. (Which could be why they may have broadened her personality, in a manner of speaking.)
Question: BBC America's The Musketeers is so sharp and well-written. I love the whole concept of being a Musketeer. Hopefully you have had a chance to watch. What are your thoughts? — Vamrse
Matt Roush: I watched the first month's worth of episodes that BBC America sent out in advance, and thought it was a fun enough romp, so I totally get you wanting to run off and join these rapscallions. And how about Peter Capaldi's range, in his segue from Cardinal Richelieu to Doctor Who.
Question: I know they did a Bionic Woman show a couple of years ago, and I was wondering will any networks revisit a remake of this show? — Aleana
Matt Roush: Give it time, but not anytime soon. I assume you're aware the short-lived most recent version in 2007 was a remake of the more renowned late-'70s original (itself a spin-off of The Six Million Dollar Man). Since NBC's botched comeback flamed out so badly and quickly, I'd be surprised if anyone went back to that well for the next decade or so. But high concepts like these never entirely die, so there's always hope. If that's the word.
Question: I am greatly concerned that A&E has decided to have a shortened season for Longmire. As only one of two scripted shows on the network, it appears they only want duck people, hoarders and bounty hunters. Does this short season indicate that they are giving up on this beautifully crafted show? I would feel so much better if it belonged to FX or TNT, networks that respect the well-written characters dramas. What can we fans do? — Diane
Matt Roush: After the unexpectedly sudden (and still not adequately explained) demise of The Glades a year ago, I understand fans have cause to be skeptical about A&E's commitment to its very few dramas (though more are in the pipeline) — especially when you consider what constitutes so much of the rest of the network's schedule. But 10-episode seasons appear to be the norm for A&E (Bates Motel, a much buzzier show, has averaged 10 its first two seasons), so Longmire's 13-episode second season may have been an aberration. Regardless of episode order, Longmire seems to be doing pretty well (with precious little assistance) for A&E, so I'm cautiously bullish for its future. Especially because after The Glades, for A&E to axe yet another long-running show without providing adequate resolution would be as terrible a show of faith as you could imagine.
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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