Mike O'Malley, Glee

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Question:
Mike O'Malley's Emmy nod as guest actor in a comedy for Glee is great, but what do you think about mostly dramatic parts being nominated in the comedy categories? — James (from Twitter)

Matt Roush: It's a good question. Some of the best work in the comedy categories is at least as dramatic as comedic. Mike O'Malley's poignant work as Kurt's father is a great performance but is more likely to elicit tears than laughs. He could be eclipsed by the more conventionally funny work being done by his fellow nominees (most notably Neil Patrick Harris from the same show, or Modern Family's Fred Willard, Jon Hamm's comic turn on 30 Rock, and so on). At the same time, the meatiness of the dramatic scenes in these comedy-drama hybrids (a list that includes Nurse Jackie, United States of Tara and even Monk) may give actors like O'Malley and especially Edie Falco an advantage at awards time. I'm certainly not opposed to honoring the dramatic highlights from comedy series, but it's true the line is very blurred in some of these categories.

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Question:
What's your take on the recent news that Javier Bardem is guesting on Glee next season? I love him as an actor and it will be interesting to see what he does on the show, but it seems to me that Glee is announcing guest after guest when it should be focusing more on its already large regular cast. It was already really uneven from week to week in its first 13 episodes but usually came out on top by making us care about these characters, although the back nine were even more scattershot. Comparatively, Modern Family has not been making as much noise about its plans for season 2 yet, but seems to me to deliver a more consistant show (and when they do feature guest stars, have usually used them in a way that is more organic to the story than Josh Groban and Olivia Newton-John popping up in midwestern Ohio). I hope Glee doesn't get too full of itself for its own good (see Heroes, which also had a breakout freshman season and then, well, we all know what happened there). — Jake

Matt Roush: Does a day go by when someone isn't floating some rumor or other regarding who's going to pop up on Glee next season? I agree it's a bit tiring and even exasperating, but that's the nature of the business, and I hope many of the rumors come to naught so Glee can focus on its strengths: its core characters and its music. So while I do empathize with your concerns, I also appreciate the fact that Glee is a big, bold, messy musical comedy, and built into its DNA is the need to keep trying to top itself with show-stoppers and stunts, which by its nature will include attracting big-name guest stars. The Javier Bardem stunt, should it come to pass, will be a one-off that has much to do with Ryan Murphy's professional relationship with Bardem (who he directed in the upcoming Eat Pray Love). Personally, I had hoped to see Bardem in the film version of Nine before he backed out—not sure anything would have saved that film, but still—so am eager to see what he does on Glee. He's not exactly a household name to many of the Glee core audience, so this seems to me the opposite of selling out. I also hope his appearance is more organic than those grotesque Olivia Newton-John cameos. And I'm not buying your comparison to Heroes, which from the start bit off more than it could comfortably digest, and that became evident fairly quickly. Glee has no such identity crisis. As I've said before, judging it for its hype is something I'll leave to the cynics.

Question: In last week's Ask Matt column, you made reference to the "creative risk" Glee represented. What creative risk exactly? Glee is nothing more than an older version of High School Musical put on weekly. It might have slightly more grown-up storylines but nothing more. I especially don't get all the Emmy nods except that jumping on the Glee bandwagon seems to me nothing more than the newest fad. — Teresa

Matt Roush: Hmmm, someone doesn't impress easily. At the risk of becoming Glee's professional apologist (as I have been described on Twitter in recent weeks), I'd just like to point out that weekly musical scripted series are very rare and usually a quick flop. (About the only success that springs to mind is The Monkees, and that was a very different animal.) There were musical-variety series that pulled off weekly production numbers back in the day when such extravaganzas were popular, and there have been musical episodes (most famously Buffy's "Once More With Feeling") that will stand the test of time, but look past the "bandwagon" aspect of Glee's undeniable pop-culture impact and you'll see a network and a studio that took a huge risk in green-lighting something this ambitious in scale and approach. The fact that they could produce episodes of such extravagant entertainment value on a weekly basis is something that deserves respect, even if the content doesn't fit your particular playlist. Yes, the High School Musical franchise opened the door for Glee and showed there was a young audience willing to embrace the form. But the HSM movies, while fun and campy in their own way, have zero emotional heft compared to the kinds of stories and the quality of acting and performance you generally find on Glee. It's much more than a fad, and I'll hold to that opinion even if the show stumbles (which I hope it doesn't) in its sophomore season. And if it is a fad, can I just say that the uninspired new fall season could use a few more of them?

Question: ABC's Boston Med on ABC is the best show on TV. It is thoughtful, provocative and heartfelt. Is it just a summer replacement, or might it become a permanent fixture on ABC? — Laurie

Matt Roush: Isn't this series terrific? A true highlight of the summer. But for now, that's all there is, an eight-week run culminating in a gripping final episode on August 12 dealing with a face transplant. This is the same format ABC News used in a 2008 series, Hopkins, which won a Peabody Award. Camera crews spent four months following the staff and patients in three Boston hospitals to capture these stories, but it was always conceived as a limited-run project. Which isn't to say there won't be a follow-up series, but probably not on a full-time basis.

Question: Maybe it's me, but in the last several NCIS episodes of the just-completed season, Ziva's role seemed marginalized. It almost seemed as if now that she wasn't a Mossad agent, what were they going to do with her. And when you consider NCIS' track record with female characters (Kate, Paula Cassidy, Jenny, Agent Lee, the Louise Lombard character from NCIS: LA), female agents have been expendable. I was wondering if you'd heard anything about the Ziva character being phased out. — Elaine

Matt Roush: I'm sure that's not the case. The story as the series was building toward its season climax happened to focus heavily on Gibbs, who is after all the franchise. Ziva is an indispensable part of that ensemble, though, and while it's true women aren't faring particularly well on some of the CBS procedurals next season, and NCIS' own track record is a bit spotty, I wouldn't lose any sleep over her immediate future.

Question: Is there any word on whether or not the Marty Deeks character will be returning to NCIS: Los Angeles? I'm a die-hard traditional NCIS fan and I admit I was skeptical when the Los Angeles crew hit the scene, but I really enjoy it and two of my favorite episodes were the ones with Deeks. It reminded me of the change from Sasha Alexander to Cote De Pablo on NCIS: a change for the better. I mean Sasha was great, but Cote brought a new fresh angle and it's the same with the Deeks character. I love the added dimension he brought to the team. — Joy

Matt Roush: Good news. Not only will Deeks be back next season, but Eric Christian Olsen returns as a guest star in the season opener.

Question: As this season of So You Think You Can Dance has progressed, I've found that I've gotten used to the format (how great was it to get that surprise appearance by Katee?) and am enjoying the show as much as ever—that is, until it was confirmed that Alex had to leave the competition due to his heartbreaking injury. [This came in before the bad news about Ashley.] I've read reports that Alex will be invited straight to the Las Vegas round next season. And from the interviews I've read with Alex himself, it appears as though, at least at the moment, he has every intention of coming back. But some fans feel it would be cruel to make Alex go through the grueling audition process for a third time, and others are saying it would be unfair to the next batch of contestants to have to compete against someone who's already had several weeks experience in the finals and has created such a passionate fan base. So here's my solution: bring Alex back as an all-star next year. This way his fans would get to enjoy him for a whole season without having to worry about him getting voted off early. And adding a ballet expert to the all-star rotation would open the show up to letting more ballet dancers like Melissa into the competition and giving them a chance to compete in their own style with a partner who can hold his own. (Alex needn't be limited to ballet, either. In his three weeks of performing he proved himself quite capable at contemporary and, of course, hip hop.)

Since Nigel's recent comments on the show to Jose and Robert proved he spends a fair amount of time trolling the Internet to find out what fans are saying, if you print this question, I will consider this advice passed on to him and hope that he takes it. I also hope he read Katherine's question in a recent Ask Matt column regarding doing a whole all-star season. That would be awesome, and it would give Alex the chance to compete, which he so desperately wants to do. Unfortunately, given his track record, I have a sinking feeling destiny just doesn't want him on this show. — Erin

Matt Roush: The injuries this season are very upsetting, I agree. And Alex in particular, given his past challenges in joining the show, seems especially snakebit. I like the idea of catapulting him immediately to all-star status; if he wants to compete again, I guess I'm OK with that, too. He will come in with an advantage, but at least he won't have to face Kent in the finals next year if he makes it that far. But this show has already done amazing things for Alex's future career, you'd have to think, so getting the title is almost irrelevant. If he were to come back as an all-star, whether aiding the new contestants or competing against his peers, it would be an exceptional showcase for his talents.

Question: I thoroughly enjoyed the season 2 premiere of White Collar; however, I noticed a (lens?) distortion every time Tiffani Thiessen was on-screen. Do you know what's up with that? Also wanted to get your take (and any news, if you please) on the new season of Warehouse 13. — Christen

Matt Roush: In these first episodes of White Collar, they're shooting around her pregnancy, so that's what you may have noticed. (Don't remember a distortion in my advance non-HD screener, but I do remember being aware they were clearly going to extremes to keep her baby bump from showing.) Regarding Warehouse 13, look for two new recurring characters to be introduced in this week's episode: Paula Garces, as a local veterinarian in "Univille" (the warehouse's setting) who catches Pete's eye, and Nolan Gerard Funk as another local who bonds with Claudia. The first week of August features a cross-over with Eureka, as Fargo and Claudia cross-pollinate each other's shows. And look for more of Jaime Murray as H.G. Wells as the season progresses, along with other guest stars including Lindsay Wagner, Rene Auberjonois and, in another recurring role, Tia Carrere.

Question: I'm sure I'm not alone in extolling the virtues of the wonderfully written, marvelously acted Friday Night Lights. I am in shock that the powers-that-be at NBC actually had the smarts to air the new season after it was on Direct TV. Is there any chance that there will be a new season after this one? — Barbara

Matt Roush: As a matter of fact, Friday Night Lights is just wrapping its fifth and final season, which will begin airing on DirecTV in the fall and will show up at later on NBC. After that, though, it will be time to leave Dillon for good. But we got to stay there much longer than anyone expected. Thanks, DirecTV, for rescuing this gem—and thanks again, Emmy voters, for finally recognizing Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton. I'm still happily amazed.

Question: I watched Covert Affairs last night and will watch again. Good cast and GREAT music. Can you give me the names of the songs from the first night show? There are lots of questions posted asking about the great music. — Sandy

Matt Roush: Because the show's new and there's so much buzz regarding this year's new crop of cable series, I looked into this. (For the record, I am not a music expert and am not traditionally the go-to guy for this sort of info.) According to USA, the primary songs from the pilot were "The Dog Days are Over" by Florence and the Machine (from the skydiving sequence) and "Before it Breaks" by Brandi Carlisle at the end of the episode.

Question: I watched and enjoyed the series Merlin when it was on NBC last summer. I was terribly disappointed when I realized it had aired a second season on Syfy. Luckily, I watched an all-day marathon and saw the second season in its entirety. I loved it. Are there plans to bring it back for a third season? — Nellie

Matt Roush: A third season of Merlin is in production, but Syfy has yet to announce a pick-up. I'd be surprised if they pass, though.

Question: I am disgusted with Warner Bros.-Telepictures' cancellation of The Bonnie Hunt Show, and I don't even watch most daytime shows. I don't believe WB-T realized what a gem they had in this program. Hers was a breath of fresh air in a landscape that definitely needed it. Her warmth, humor and compassion are perfect, and it's obvious from comments I've seen on her show's website that many viewers feel the same way. What surprises me the most is, in the past few months, the number of viewers who say they recently found the show by accident because they didn't even know she had one, due to the local stations not promoting it, and are startled to learn it's been canceled. There's no excuse for not promoting a show, especially one that was as good as Bonnie's. She, her crew and her show—and her viewers—deserved better. Is this the fault of Warner Bros.' promotion department, laziness on the part of the stations, or what? — Lee

Matt Roush: It's a shame this one didn't catch on, but I'm not sure there's any single entity to blame. I'm a longtime fan of Bonnie Hunt's, including her various sitcoms, all of which have been fairly short-lived as well. She's a great talk-show guest and was, from what I saw (sporadically, not being much of a daytime watcher myself), a pretty delightful and natural host. According to trade reports, the reason her show lasted even this long was because NBC-owned stations signed a two-year deal to carry it. The cancellation was a business decision and hardly a surprise. Unfortunately, it never made much of a dent in the ratings, especially compared to Ellen DeGeneres' show, which it's the closest to in tone. It may just be a case that Ellen owns the daytime niche devoted to light comedic talk and there isn't much room for another. I'd love to see Bonnie try to resurrect this format on a demographically compatible cable outlet, where the expectations aren't as high. But for now, it's just another lost opportunity.

That's all for now. Keep sending in those questions, add comments below if you wish, and in the meantime, follow me on Twitter

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