Dean Norris and Natalie Martinez

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Question: I have watched Grey's Anatomy since the first season and one of the characters that I have always enjoyed watching is Richard. I know that most of the fans are more interested in MerDer, CrOwen and so on, but I am curious to know what you think of the season finale cliffhanger involving Richard and if you think that maybe it is time for him to be written off, considering he had sort of come full circle, or continue to be a part of the show? — Kris

Matt Roush: If I had a vote (which I don't), I'd go with "continue." Should Richard "Chief" Webber have died a hero in the finale by being electrocuted when he turned the power back on, I'd be OK with that if the character is properly mourned — although they've already renamed the hospital, so that particular tribute is out. But I'm partial to the show's original cast members, so I'm hoping he's not a goner just yet. Shonda Rhimes has teased that we'll see James Pickens Jr. again, though she won't elaborate on this particular spoiler (and being spoiler-averse, I'd rather not know). Besides, it's not like the character has really run his course — especially where Richard's relationship with Catherine Avery is concerned — and a show like this needs some maturity and continuity, so let Webber live and there will be no complaints from this corner.

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Question: I've been a huge fan of Burn Notice since the beginning, but want your opinion on something. It seems in the last couple of seasons they got away from the core of the series where Michael and the team help a client as the main plot of each episode while the subplot throughout the season had to do with Michael and his burn notice. Now it seems it's more serialized and the tone is darker. I know they want to shake things up creatively, but it's gotten away from what made it great. It used to be The A-Team meets MacGyver and now it's a dark serial, which I like, but that's not what made Burn Notice great. Would love your thoughts. — Billy

Matt Roush: I tend to prefer my shows more serialized, and often found myself frustrated in earlier seasons of Burn Notice (and other USA Network series) during long stretches of episodes where they would give us just a piece of the arced story at the beginning and end of each episode, filling the rest of the time with a self-contained caper with a pat beginning, middle and end. I'm aware that this episodic formula can be very satisfying to many people, and so is USA, which is why it's used in so many of their shows. But as this particular series approached its end point, it did move away from Michael's hard-luck case of the week, which also coincided with the stakes for the main characters being raised and the tone becoming more dark and perilous. I don't see any of this as a negative, but I also get why it might be a problem for those who preferred the show when it was more of an escapist lark. It's a tension that afflicts many of USA's "blue sky" shows, and I guess I prefer them when the weather gets a bit stormier.

Question: I've watched this part twice on Under the Dome and am still not clear on this point: When the small airplane crashed into the dome it appears to have hit the outside of the dome, but pieces seem to fall straight down inside the dome. Huh? Also the cow being sliced in half the long way was totally cool! — Jimmie Jo

Matt Roush: Agreed on the cow. That moment's going to be hard for this show to top. As for the plane: That incident was better explained in Stephen King's novel — a character was being given a flying lesson, if memory serves — but the bottom line is that the plane was flying inside the perimeter of the dome when it crashed into the barrier. Otherwise, the debris would have fallen elsewhere (although last week's episode indicated that the dome is somewhat permeable to moisture).

Question: I unapologetically enjoy Teen Wolf, flaws and all. I find the characters and actors (especially the talented Dylan O'Brien as Stiles) very appealing. There are glaring gaps in logic (sure, teachers often spend all night at school grading and keep the paper supply in the boiler room!), but I can hand-wave quite a bit when the character moments are emotionally satisfying. For me, last week's excursion into non-linear storytelling really disappointed because the myriad logic hiccups (um, why exactly does everyone need to go to this distant track meet?) overpowered any emotion that might have come from Derek's "death." Scott felt guilty (which was more about his hero complex than mourning Derek), but no one really seemed to truly care. Obviously the savvy audience knew the report of Derek's demise was greatly exaggerated, and the whole thing seemed a pointless and needlessly muddled exercise.

It got me thinking about non-linear storytelling in general, and how it can often be a mess when there's no compelling reason to use it. Lost wasn't perfect, but I think it was a master class in how to create an emotional impact with a non-linear format. Damages also used a non-linear structure to great effect. But I'm drawing a blank on any other TV shows that have used this device with notable success. What do you think about non-linear structures? Do you have any favorite examples of effective use that I'm forgetting? — Keira

Matt Roush: Flashbacks are such a staple of TV storytelling it's hard to know where to start, but it's a fact that Lost played with time more inventively than anyone before or since. And I will tell you that there's one device that aggravates me no end: episodes that begin with a tease and then immediately flash to "seven hours earlier" or "two days before." They really need to declare a moratorium on that gimmick. I'm all about the Stiles as well on Teen Wolf, and agree that the flashback structure in this particular episode was out of character and not terribly effective, but I'm not sure I'd make any grand conclusions from it. Just chalk it up to a botched experiment, and hope for better this week.

Question: I have questions about three fall shows that my friends and I will be checking out. Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. looks like a slam-dunk, but will we see any Avengers tie-ins other than Clark Gregg or will it be a find the unknown hero of the week series? Once Upon A Time in Wonderland seems like bad timing to me with the way the original got confusing last season. The last thing ABC needs is a spin-off when the mothership is struggling. Although the news about the 11 episodes in a row then a break and then the next 11 for the original Once seems promising with hopefully easier timelines to follow. Just don't get all Lost on us, OK, ABC? Sleepy Hollow on Fox looks good, but it looks like the pilot will have to sell this one. It looks like Dark Shadows meets National Treasure with an X-Files partnership thrown in. — Richard

Matt Roush: Since we have yet to see the complete S.H.I.E.L.D. and Wonderland pilots — hoping to get a full viewing at the TCA press tour in a few weeks — all at this point is speculation, but it sounds to me as if the new S.H.I.E.L.D. team will be expected to stand on its own (although it's hard to imagine there won't be Avengers shout-outs or maybe even possible "special guest" appearances down the line). As for Wonderland: No argument here. I have yet to make it all the way through the convoluted and less-than-engaging second season of Once Upon a Time. (So much for pipe dreams of catching up during summer; have you ever seen so much original summer TV programming?) Not really looking forward to two hours of this brand a week, although this revisionist twist on the Alice appears to be quite different. I do applaud in advance ABC's strategy of breaking up the next Once season into distinct pods, with a midseason break in between. As for Sleepy Hollow: That's likely to be a polarizing show. I enjoyed some aspects of it, but by the end of the pilot, it had become so preposterous and overly enthused by its own mythology I wouldn't be surprised if it goes the way of Zero Hour and quickly makes room for Almost Human in its Monday time slot (keeping Bones away from Fridays, which I still don't believe will happen, given how many times the network has threatened and reneged in the past).

Question: I recently read your article with Bruce Fretts, "Emmy Awards: Our Dream Ballot" in the July 1-July 8 issue of TV Guide Magazine. I know you are very knowledgeable as far as TV programs, actors and the entire "Emmy" process is concerned, so maybe you can answer a question that truly confounds me: Why is Nathan Fillion never nominated for an Emmy for Castle? In my opinion, he is the best actor on TV, and Castle is the best drama. I realize that the show is not strictly drama, but Nathan is so good that if the type of show is holding him back, then why can't the Emmys create a category that covers a drama/comedy? I think there are others that would fit into that category, or else the drama category should be loosened up so it includes Castle and Nathan, since Nathan has done plenty of dramatic scenes in the show. I think it has been proven that Nathan deserves recognition from the Emmys by winning the People's Choice Best Dramatic TV Actor award. Is it only the fans that recognize talent and not the people selecting the Emmy nominees? I think Nathan would also hold his own against any of the major movie stars, given a leading role in a major move production. I think he is as good as, or better than, Brad Pitt, Johnny Depp, etc. However, for now, I and his other many fans would be happy just to see the Emmys recognize his excellent acting skills. — Charlotte

Matt Roush: Nathan Fillion is awfully good at what he does, that's a given, but what he does isn't the sort of thing that tends to win awards. Popularity contests like the People's Choice, absolutely, but he's working in an arena of light comedic (and yes, crowd-pleasing) drama that is very hard to break through in an era when so many tremendous roles are being written for actors in tougher, rangier, meatier dramas, especially on cable. (And being on a network series, he faces an even higher hurdle of being noticed by the powers that be. Even The Good Wife is having trouble cracking into the best-series race any more, which is absurd.) Is Fillion being taken for granted? Quite possibly, but in this case, success is its own reward, and he's unquestionably popular, and he's making the most of his Castle stardom. Once that show finishes its run — no time soon, I'm sure, don't panic — I'm hoping Fillion will find a niche in a flat-out comedy series, and in that world, he might have a better shot at being nominated and even winning awards.

Question: If one of the new ABC comedies quickly fails, could ABC schedule Suburgatory for a full season? — Chloe (from Twitter)

Matt Roush: You mean "when," not "if," right? From all accounts, Suburgatory was renewed for a full season's worth of episodes, so consider it for now to be a utility player, not unlike how CBS is treating Mike & Molly (not on the fall schedule, but ready to go the minute one of the network's new comedies flops). I won't lay odds just yet as to which ABC comedy is most likely to crash and burn — the survival of The Neighbors (albeit on Fridays, where it belonged all along) is evidence enough of how bad the likes of us are at handicapping such things — but on CBS, if We Are Men makes it to the November sweeps, with Mike & Molly still on the shelf, I'll be flaggergasted.

Question: I usually like the series that FX broadcasts, but I don't understand the formatting for the new series, The Bridge. The pilot episode is scheduled to run 1 hour, 31 minutes, a gimmick that's grown old and annoying. And the second episode will run 1:13! FX has lost me before the series has even begun. If it makes it to the end of the first year, I'll watch it on DVD from my local public library, but certainly not live. — Mari

Matt Roush: You don't explain exactly why the extended time of these episodes — hardly a rarity for FX dramas, especially its pilots (and USA Network pilot episodes also often run longer than an hour) — is such a deal-breaker. Is 11 pm/ET past your bedtime? Is it a recording issue? At least the network isn't hiding the fact that the episodes are longer than the norm, so where's the confusion and/or problem? From the network's perspective, being flexible on the length of episodes is a concession to creative needs — although I suppose there's an argument to be made that less can be more (see the Netflix revival of Arrested Development as a case study in overindulgence). I admit I'm baffled at the notion that an FX fan would be so turned off by this issue.

Question: What happened to Lauren German? She was in the re-booted Hawaii Five-0 in the second season and then left. Did she have contract problems with CBS and/or the producers? Why was she replaced this season by Michelle Borth? One more question: The actress who plays Scott Caan's character's daughter in the series (I know she's young), does CBS have plans of bringing her back in recurring episodes? — Jon

Matt Roush: The easy answer to what happened to her is that after she was written out of Hawaii Five-0 in the second season, Lauren German didn't stay unemployed for long and is now saving lives as the lesbian paramedic on NBC's Chicago Fire. As for what happened on Hawaii: That appears to have been a creative decision in rethinking the second female lead, which resulted in promoting Michelle Borth's character to a series regular for the third season. As for Danno's daughter: She's always been a major part of his storyline. I don't know why she wouldn't be back when the story calls for it.

Question: This is my first time writing to you, and my question is about Rookie Blue. I happen to love this show and don't know why it is not on for the entire year. I have to wait all year just to see it. It may be cost-prohibitive since it is filmed in Canada. My question is: Do Andy and Sam get back together? They are the main characters and this back and forth is disturbing. They have some great chemistry, and if the writers would have them work together as a team, I think the show would be so much better. They are reducing the main characters and bringing in other characters that are just not interesting. Do you have any info on this show? — Susan

Matt Roush: Far from being cost-prohibitive, Rookie Blue airs the way it does and for the duration it does because it's so cost-effective, being in effect a Canadian acquisition for ABC (which isn't a producer but a purchaser). The episodes air concurrently in Canada and ABC, and each season to date has been capped at 13 episodes. It's actually a perfect summer filler for ABC, lessening its reliance on repeats of its regular-season serialized shows (which tend to perform terribly in the summer). All in all a win-win, and if it were asked to compete during the regular season, it might not look nearly as successful. Regarding Andy and Sam: Even if I knew where they were heading, I wouldn't spoil. But this is a classic example of characters who are meant for each other but being kept apart for dramatic reasons. Have faith.

Question: Since I can't seem to get an answer elsewhere, I thought I would see if you could answer this. In NCIS's "Shabbat Shalom" episode, Director Vance's wife is killed in crossfire. Why has this not been mentioned on NCIS: LA? He is their Director as well. There is no way L.A. doesn't know. Something should have been mentioned, IMO. — Viki

Matt Roush: I don't keep up enough with the spin-off to know for sure that this tragedy was never referenced on the other coast, but you make a good point. The two shows and teams do co-exist, and while Rocky Carroll's Vance character isn't a regular fixture on L.A. the way he is on the mothership, he has appeared in their world and this was a big enough deal you'd think maybe Hetty at least might have brought it up. Maybe next season.

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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