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Question: I am really disappointed that Glee is returning to McKinley and that they are adding more characters to fill out their already shortened final season. The last few seasons of Glee have been less than stellar, but the last handful of episodes set in New York were awesome. Give me New York and throw McKinley away for good. Even with the cliché that was Rachel going from student to Broadway star to TV star almost overnight, I enjoyed watching the more adult struggles of these characters. Now I feel betrayed, like someone dangled the proverbial carrot and then took it away. With 12 episodes left, I want them to focus on the original glee-clubbers following their dreams into the adult world. Sigh. Is this a thing with Ryan Murphy, where his shows start strong for a few seasons and then implode at the end? I hated the last few seasons of Nip/Tuck. — Olivia
Matt Roush: Doesn't make a lot of sense to me, either, although the way they told Rachel's story — from appearing in what seemed to be a one-woman version of Funny Girl, then running away from her dream role almost as quickly as she landed it — makes Smash look like a paragon of realism by comparison, so I haven't been all that impressed by the New York adventures, either. What really annoys me about this news is that if they were looking to populate a new generation of New Directions performers, the least they could have done was give us another season of The Glee Project, which was more entertaining than Glee has been in years. While Ryan Murphy gets and often deserves knocks for letting his shows deteriorate over time (Nip/Tuck an excellent case in point), I will say that by all accounts he seems re-energized by the idea of returning Glee to its roots, even if this new/old direction is something of a head-scratcher.
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Question: I have two raves about TV lately. It took me five seasons of The Good Wife before I finally caught up this summer. It is one of the best TV decisions I've ever made. One thing I love about it is that it doesn't rely on big, flashy plot lines to tell engrossing stories. The whole time I've been watching, I can't help but feel like no character is safe in the offices of Lockhart/Gardner. They might not be dying (at least in the first few seasons...), but I feel like at any moment any one of them could be targeted by someone else with a vendetta against them. It makes Game of Thrones (in my humble opinion) pale in comparison. After a while, I've become numb to the endless violence on Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead. Excuse me for clutching my pearls so tightly, but I'm just in awe of The Good Wife. I'm counting the days until Season 6.
The other show I'd like to mention is The Legend of Korra. I'm not sure how many of your readers tune into cartoons, but I've been so impressed with Nickelodeon on this one. Korra is a badass fighter and devoted friend. Asami as her right-hand girl has been a breath of fresh air. It's been amazing to see a teenage girl rely on her math and engineering skills and take down hoards of bad guys. I'm glad the writers have let Korra and Asami take over that show without making them fight over a guy. That is the type of show I hope my kids will be into some day. — Jeffrey
Matt Roush: An example of how it's never too late to get caught up with the best of TV, and The Good Wife certainly qualifies. The closer we get to the Emmys, the more aggravated I get about this show not making the cut for best drama series. And I guarantee this is the first time I've ever encountered someone recommending this and Korra in the same breath — it may be the first time I've received a rave about this series at all. But given the context, and the way Jeffrey frames his argument, I'm tempted to do a binge on this myself (if I only had time this non-stop summer).
Question: I saw the recent video of the third-season highlights and fourth-season preview of Person of Interest. It makes me eager for September to come sooner. Not since The X-Files have I felt like that for a network television program. That said, don't you think the Emmy board is doing a disservice to viewers for constantly nominating the cable programs that not everyone has access to? I believe Person of Interest is accessible and still unpredictable. There are others on the networks that would have been worthy as well. That is my two cents. — Susan
Matt Roush: More like a nickel, at least. I agree that Person of Interest is one of the more stimulating and original dramas out there, but at a time when there is so much great dramatic programming on all platforms, the genre shows — including an action/sci-fi hybrid like this — are almost always going to be taken for granted.
Question: I am wondering about Jonathan Nolan's involvement in the upcoming season of Person of Interest. Having moved up to directing Season 2's astonishing "Relevant," he only co-wrote "The Devil's Share" last season. Looking at the information that has leaked from Season 4, it looks like he will not be writing any of the early episodes of next season. As with Buffy and Angel in the years Joss Whedon wasn't as involved, or J.J. Abrams in almost everything he has been involved in, the loss of the creator of a series usually makes the show suffer. That is not to say for a moment that POI is getting bad, in fact it is probably the best network show on TV, I just feel that a more hands-on creator would improve the series even more. I would be interested to hear your thoughts on the matter. — Dylan
Matt Roush: I can't speak with any authority about his level of involvement in the season to come, but having moderated a POI panel in New York last year with Jonathan Nolan front and center, I have to think that even if his name isn't on many of the scripts, he's still deeply involved in every aspect of the show's development. If I'd noticed any lessening in quality last season, I might agree with you. But much like The Good Wife over the last year, Person of Interest re-invented itself and blew up its premise (while blowing away at least one beloved regular), resulting in what's going to be a very different show this fall. I have to think Nolan and his team won't be taking their eyes off the ball when the stakes are this high.
Question: First, let me say I love your column. And I have some gripes about the Emmys like everyone. My first is that there was no love for Hannibal, not even for main title design, music or even Michael Pitt for guest actor. My other gripe is no love for Mariska Hargitay for lead actress. I thought this past season of Law & Order: SVU was one of its best seasons, and what I love is that she was able to portray Benson in a more vulnerable, emotional state, whether with the William Lewis trial or her latest attempt at motherhood. I was so excited that SVU got a renewal and that the Save Benson saga may have played a part. I think the Emmys should let TV Guide as well as TV viewers such as myself have a say in the nominating process, because many of the best shows (and people) are getting overlooked (i.e. The Americans, Hannibal). I just think there are more shows worthy of awards, but as long as people watch them, that's all that matters.
The second thing is with the recent announcements of canceled shows returning such as The Comeback and Reading Rainbow, is there a chance the parent series of Law & Order will return? I was surprised by its cancellation in 2010, and considering the series has the "ripped from the headlines" approach with relatively no continuing storyline and no personal character development, it could work. Also taking into consideration SVU's renewal and the successes of Dick Wolf's Chicago Fire, Chicago PD and Cold Justice (which I love, it is so good), it could work. Just wondering. — Steven
Matt Roush: I've often wondered whether if Hannibal aired on a cable network if it would still fly below the Emmy radar. Its visual stylishness alone should earn it some attention in the technical categories, not to mention the intense lead performances. Seems a shame that on one of the rare occasions when a broadcast network really swings the bat with something this bold, there isn't any payoff (in ratings or awards). As for Mariska Hargitay: This was a bravura season for her, and she's at least as deserving as several on that list — which, as regards any drama category these days, is so overstuffed with strong choices that it's inevitable many will be left out — but I'm figuring her handicap is the show's longevity and a perception (fueled by dwindling ratings) that its best days are behind it, although she rose to the occasion many times this year.
And while I share your nostalgia for the Law & Order mothership, I'm not aware of any movement that would bring about its return. Dick Wolf is currently enjoying a comeback with his Chicago-based series, which are much more serialized than classic Law & Order ever was (during which time he was a vocal critic against serialized network TV), so I would be surprised if this was a priority for his company at this point. But someday, maybe once SVU is just a memory as well, it will make sense to revive this formula. I know I'd watch.
Question: Mike as leader is not working for me on Graceland. He reminds me of a petulant kid playing cops and robbers. NCIS: LA suffered this same malady when they had the Hetty character as subordinate to the G. character. As soon as they made the switch with Hetty as the leader, the show worked. Laurence Fishburne never quite clicked on CSI because he seemed too old to be a worker bee. The show fixed that when they brought in Ted Danson, not as a worker bee, but as the boss. His character is working better than Fishburne's ever did. Optics matter! So what do you think of Mike? Will the powers that be put him back in place as a subordinate to Briggs? I'm finding the show very difficult to watch. I keep wondering why the other characters are listening to this kid, who's in over this head. As a result, the show is not as much fun to watch as it was last season. — A.B.
Matt Roush: I wasn't that wild about Graceland last year and haven't been keeping up. (Having to be selective in a very busy summer, my current USA shows of choice are Covert Affairs and Suits, and I'm giving Satisfaction a long leash to figure itself out.) But from your description, I would have to agree with your negative assessment of Mike progressing this quickly from rookie to team leader. I'm more intrigued by your wider-ranging discussion of how an ensemble's dynamic can be changed by who they put in charge, or don't. I agree Danson is working better than Fishburne did on CSI, but a lot of that has to do with the concept and writing of the character — because Fishburne is excellent as conflicted FBI agent Jack Crawford on Hannibal, where his moodiness feels more suitable to the show's tone.
Question: I'd like to say I really enjoy reading your columns. They're always informative. My question has to do with Fox's "event series" Wayward Pines. I have been trying to find out when it's going to debut. I know it was supposed to happen around the same time as 24. Apparently not. Now it's being grouped with all of Fox's shows for next season. Do you know when it will debut? Is that Fox telling us they have no faith in it? How are the fans who were looking forward to it going to hold our interest in seeing it for so long? Does this happen a lot? Does it kill any chance of it getting another season? — Nathan
Matt Roush: At this point, the earliest I'd expect Wayward Pines to air would be early 2015 (once Gracepoint, another limited-run "event" drama, finishes its run), but I doubt we'll know anything for sure about how to answer your various questions until we see how Fox's new fall lineup shakes out and the network's new leadership team gets established. It's hard to believe the network has great confidence in anything it has left on the shelf this long, but it's also possible they want to give the best promotion and platform for something this genre-bending — unless it turns out to be just another Twin Peaks rip-off. Can't say. Haven't seen any of it yet myself, just the mysterious clips.
Question: I agree Murder in the First has been "meh," with its formulaic Murder Victim TV Execs Think We'll Care About All Season (you know, pretty Caucasian woman). But tentatively, depending on Monday's first-season finale, I do give them kudos for keeping the promise (stated or not) to reveal The Killer by season's end. Yes, The Killing, I'm looking at (but not post-first-season watching) you! That said, if come Monday, Murder in the First pulls a "you thought he did it, but maybe he didn't!" cliffhanger, then woe to any future extended-arc crime show, no matter how highly praised, because its first-season followers won't include this fool-me-twice viewer! Sigh. Counting the days until The Good Wife returns - Marla
Matt Roush: If there's any ambiguity after Monday's finale, which I don't expect there will be, I imagine fans would have every right to scream bloody murder. And I'm waiting impatiently with you on that Good Wife bandwagon.
Question: I must be in the minority of TV viewers who really enjoy shows like Murder in the First where I get to sit back and enjoy getting to know characters while unraveling a mystery. I feel viewers have become so impatient they can't just enjoy the buildup and the storyline. Like with The Killing, I find viewers want to solve the mystery right away and not enjoy the ride. There is so much more to these kinds of stories than the "whodunit." The backlash of the Rosie Larsen murder spilling into the second season of The Killing really disappointed me. So what if it didn't get solved? We get more of the mystery. I was so excited to see more of Michelle Forbes, Billy Campbell and Brent Sexton. While I wanted to know who killed the girl, it was secondary to all of the character development. I can understand people being upset with Veena Sud because she said it would be solved, but to not watch the second season because it wasn't solved is really too bad.
With Murder in the First, I'm enjoying seeing San Francisco (I lived there for 10 years) and a glimpse into the life I used to live. While the characters aren't as strongly developed as on The Killing, I'm enjoying the story. They solved the mystery of Erich Blunt pretty quickly, but it only peeled off a layer of the onion. I just feel the writers have so much more to share. So my question is this: Do you think MITF will be renewed? Will the fact they settled the mystery before the finale help or hurt it? I'm really enjoying it and hope TNT gives it another season. I'm really impressed with TNT's shows like The Last Ship, Rizzoli and Isles, Leverage, Major Crimes. They have all been quality. — Elizabeth
Matt Roush: But that's a lot of quantity on one network as well, which could hurt Murder's chances for renewal if it's deemed not up to par — and being a relatively uninspired example of the season-long mystery, and having not been included in the most recent round of renewals, I'd have to put its odds as iffy at best. I agree with you that the Killing backlash was overstated, though understandable, and that when considering a truly great mystery series like last summer's Broadchurch (which from your examples I'd bet you would really enjoy — and I'd recommend it over Fox's upcoming remake, Gracepoint), the power of the storytelling goes beyond the whodunit to the emotional connection we make with the characters. And returning to the subject of The Killing, having just binged the six-episode final season on Netflix, it makes a great case for the return of the classic miniseries. Less really can be more, and this taut final chapter makes up for many of the show's past sins.
Question: I'm so glad you liked and wrote a good review of Outlander. I saw the first one and you were exactly right. I have been a bookstore owner for 20 years and have sold more books of that series than any other. I always tell the customer to be sure to read at least 50 pages and they won't be able to put the book down. It is a slow start. Hope it goes on for a long time. — Dede
Matt Roush: I'm betting it will, maybe even as long as the book series itself. I've now seen the first six episodes, and it gets stronger as it goes, and even in its slower moments, it's grand and gorgeous escapist entertainment. And if the luminous Caitriona Balfe isn't this summer's greatest star-is-born TV discovery, I'll be shocked.
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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