Clarke Peters and Taraji P. Henson
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Question: I've decided it's time to ask you how would you like to see Sandra Oh (Cristina Yang) leave Grey's Anatomy. This might come up more often as the season nears an end in May, but I can't stop thinking about it. While I love Cristina and aspire to be as fierce as she is, I think they should kill her off, but not in a mean way — in a way that could build a great emotional arc for Kevin McKidd (Owen). I think they should have one more romp in the sack where she gets pregnant and he convinces her to keep the baby this time, only to lose Cristina during the birth! I know I sound all evil genius right now, but I think that would give Owen more issues than he can handle and I think it will bring all those close to Cristina (especially Meredith) to a level of respecting Cristina's initial decision to never have kids. Just my thoughts. I think her exit will be flawless. Shonda Rhimes is a TV goddess and I'm sure will make us all proud. — Erica
Matt Roush: Yikes, have you considered dabbling in fan fiction, maybe? That scenario sounds pretty mean (and grisly) to me, and while I share your regard for the character — and I would assume the actress — and as I watch this season, I'm haunted by how much I don't want Sandra Oh to leave, but these are precisely the ways I would not want her to go out. I hope the circumstances are more dramatic than the big chill that currently exists between her and Meredith, and the wall she has constructed between her and Owen, but I feel she deserves a triumphant exit, not a tragic one. We've seen that occur too many times before (George, Izzie's shark-jumping illness), and because most fans are aware this departure is in the works, the shock value would just come off as crass and sadistic. Yes, Grey's is essentially a soap with melodramatic tendencies, but I'd like to think Shonda Rhimes will take the high road with a character this important and beloved. I'm sure whatever happens, it will give Kevin McKidd plenty to work with. I just hope the show can recover from the loss.
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Question: Why kill off Person of Interest's one African-American cast member, Taraji P. Henson, who is a very good actress, unless she wanted out of the series? There is too little diversity on the air now. The "Root" character has been written as mentally unstable and evil. The most grounded character on the show was the woman they killed off even after they wrote her revenge against HR killing her friend. She had informed the FBI to prevent a slaughter, again demonstrating her humanity. The sudden love interest with John seems to be the "doom" moment so John can have an episode or more about his "loss and his revenge." In my opinion, it seems illogical and poor decision-making to kill the African-American Detective Carter. — Darlene
Matt Roush: I'll admit that one of my initial reactions, after the shock of Carter's death sunk in — kudos to the show for keeping that twist from being spoiled in advance, by the way — was how bold and risky a move it was to eliminate the show's most prominent minority character. And from what I see in my mail, you're not alone in calling this out. In terms of ethnicities, Sarah Shahi (Shaw) is of Iranian and Spanish descent, and has brought exotic and ferocious new flavors to the show's copious mayhem, but Henson's violent exit does leave a void and imbalance that deserves to be addressed in a show set and filmed in the melting pot of New York City. That said, while I do believe diversity of all sorts (gender, race, age, sexuality) is important on TV, I'm just as concerned with any plot twist's dramatic impact, and killing Carter just as she achieved her heroic goal certainly achieved that, even at the risk of upsetting fans. When she appeared on Letterman's show the night after her final episode, Henson revealed that she knew from the start that Carter's arc on the show would be of limited duration — she just didn't know when her time would come — so for now I'll accept that this was done for creative reasons and to reinforce just how high the stakes are in this deadly game. I agree, though, that the Moment of Tenderness between Carter and Reese on their Warriors-like final adventure was a major "uh-oh" red flag. Let's see where they take it from here. No question Carter's death will resonate in the short (and hopefully long) run, and many actors would kill for that sort of significant death.
Question: I know you were dismissive of Nashville the last time you mentioned it in the column, but I wonder if you've caught up lately. I think the show is on fire. It's relatively grounded and solid soapy storytelling, with some surprises here and there. I really like the cast, and as a non-country music fanatic, I really like the music. It might not have the outrageousness of Scandal, but it's very entertaining stuff. I wish the audience were larger, and so, I guess, does ABC. Any thoughts? — ML
Matt Roush: Not sure I'd agree it's on fire, but it's definitely smoldering, and while I can't explain it, I haven't been able to bring myself to break up with this one yet. I find it a calming tonic after a busy night of watching Wednesday TV. A great part of the appeal is, as you noted, the music, and the setting — when it's telling a good show-biz story, like Rayna's battle with the smarmy new head of the label, it's still got juice. (And Connie Britton's chemistry with Will Chase, as well as Charles Esten's Deacon, even juicier!) I still zone out whenever Rayna's family takes center stage (the boring ex-husband, the jailbird dad, the sullen daughter), and as much as I have come to admire Hayden Panettiere in the often thankless role of the embattled ingénue, this latest storyline about the rich British paramour is doing her no favors. I much prefer Juliette's conflict with the reality-show upstart stealing her spotlight. That at least rings true. So while I still see Nashville as mighty uneven, it's not a lost cause.
Question: Even though this season of Homeland lacks the same intense plot lines as the last two seasons, it is still enjoyable! The main twist and turns I am enjoying is catching the main people behind the bombing from last season, Saul's wife's lover now spying on them [Note: we just learned he was working for the senator aiming to take Saul's place at the CIA] and with Brody back in the picture, the constant changes keep this show entertaining. With that being said, how much more plot lines and twists do you think this show can handle for another whole season? (I would love it if they did, but may be overboard if not done right.) — Mike
Matt Roush: This has been a tricky season for Homeland for sure, and I look at it now as more of an engrossing psychological drama about the spy trade (as long as the Brody family, especially Dana, is MIA) than as a riveting suspense thriller, as it was when Brody was more of an enigma. This genre does lend itself to outlandish scenarios, and Saul's current play of sending Brody (who was a comatose junkie not so long ago) back to Tehran is a real eyebrow-raiser for sure. Homeland's challenge is that it has to pretty much reinvent itself every season, which to the show's credit doesn't seem like it's on a mission to top itself — which as they learned in Season 2 wouldn't be possible — so while a fourth season is already a done deal, it's a fair question to wonder how long they can keep this high-wire act going. I'd be surprised if it lasts as long as Dexter (or, given the genre, 24).
Question: With NCIS's addition of the Ellie Bishop character to an already geek-heavy team (McGee, Abby and arguably Duckie and Jimmy Palmer), does it seem that they're moving noticeably away from strong "kick-ass" female types (a la Ziva or Kate) to where only the guys, Gibbs and DiNozzo, are there to supply any physical action needed? — Dave
Matt Roush: A fair point, but Bishop showed an awful lot of spunk and a willingness to throw herself into the action in her introductory episode, so I wouldn't rule her out as a potential action figure. She's clearly not as driven or intense as Ziva, and that seems to be a conscious move on the producers' part to not repeat themselves. I'll reserve judgment until she joins the team for good, but she doesn't seem the sort who's going to stay in a lab or behind a computer — which could aggravate Gibbs more than impress him, which again makes her an interesting addition.
Question: It was really interesting to watch Arrow's Black Canary story line and see Sarah back from the dead. But the end of last season and the start of this season has me wondering: Is there any inside line of the story between Ollie and Laurel? I understand they are mourning and hurting over Tommy's death and I see the hit and misses between them when they are together. But will they make amends or try to get back together later on in the plot? It seems a shame because they both seem to show that they have feelings for one another. P.S. Have you seen Almost Human and what is your opinion? Karl Urban reminds me of a young Robert Urich. — Ron
Matt Roush: I prefer not to get ahead of the story in these discussions (and I don't keep up with the source material in the comics world, so could be way off base here), but it seems clear from the way Arrow presents them that Oliver Queen and Laurel are a classic (and gorgeous) star-crossed couple who will never stop circling each other with desire and affection, but circumstances will typically keep them from their happily ever after, no matter how often he saves her from peril. As for Almost Human, you can find my review of the pilot episode here. I feel Michael Ealy is so far upstaging Karl Urban, who's taking the McGruff aspect of his role a little too close to heart, although I get the Robert Urich vibe (and thanks for the nice shout-out to a much-missed TV star). If he lightens up, and the show starts taking itself a little less seriously (see Sleepy Hollow for how it can be done), I'm thinking it could be a keeper, but it may need some patience on our (and Fox's) part.
Question: Will Revenge finally wrap up this season? The show is getting strained with the back and forth between Emily and Victoria. I'm tired of the show but I'll hang in to the end, hoping it is this season. — Barbara
Matt Roush: For many, the Emily-Victoria dynamic is still the main reason to watch, but you may get your wish depending on how things go when ABC moves Revenge to the troubled 10/9c time period on Sundays starting in March. Not exactly a sign of confidence, that.
Question: I love Scandal and enjoyed the questions/answers in last week's Ask Matt column. I'd like to know what you think of the never-ending "affair." I think the "No, I don't want you ... Yes, I do want you ... No, I don't want you ... Yes, I do want you" theme is getting a little tiresome. I'd like to know what you think about this piece of the show. Otherwise, I love the rest and could watch forever. — Janice
Matt Roush: If you're referring to the stormy Olivia-Fitz romance, I get where you're coming from. That angst has been well and perhaps too often explored, but given that the President is not likely to publicly divorce the First Lady (and how fabulous is Bellamy Young!) to run off with Olivia while he's still in office — at least not in his first term — it probably won't subside, either, not as long as Fitz still has tricks up his sleeve like last week's "dream house" getaway. (Pretty swoony, that sequence.) I accept that theirs is the love story driving the rest of the outrageous action, and Kerry Washington and Tony Goldwyn do have remarkable chemistry — his looks of longing are especially profound — so yeah, just like I swallow the insanity of the show's plotting, I'm OK with this, too.
Question: I had such high hopes for Dads, with Giovanni Ribisi, Seth Green and Martin Mull, but each week got more and more stupid (the only word I can think of) and I can no longer stand Peter Riegert's delivery of every single line in the same manner, like it will someday be quoted. Giovanni Ribisi deserves better. I hope he finds it. And The Millers is going too broad with the cast. They should get rid of Beau Bridges and the sister and family (Jayma Mays is sooo underutilized anyway and no one cares about her husband or daughter) and concentrate on the dynamics between mother and son and best friend. They should then change the name to S'Mother. As for Sean Saves the World (sigh) I absolutely love me some Sean Hayes, but Linda Lavin as his mother delivers her lines in the same fashion as Peter Riegert, as if every one is a pearl, and it's just not so. Bring in Megan Mullally as a guest character and let's see how they do together. Their onscreen chemistry is amazing and I'm sure they can find a rhythm in whatever characters they play together. I guess these weren't so much questions as thoughts. What do you think? — Louis
Matt Roush: I will not miss Dads when it goes on indefinite hiatus in February, let's put it that way. Can't argue about the broadness of The Millers, either, but I gather CBS is thrilled with its post-Big Bang performance, so don't look for any adjustments there. That's not going anywhere, and neither is its cast (although if the sister's family were any less developed, they'd be played by stick figures). I'll part company with you on Linda Lavin, who for me is Sean's sole saving grace. She's very theatrical, true, but it gives this squishy show a necessary jolt of sass whenever she appears. (I do wonder if the show will make it to the end of its season without enlisting Megan Mullally for a guest shot, although she already plays a recurring character on Parks and Recreation.) Wow, this item is a potent reminder of what a sorry season this was for new comedies.
Question: This is my first chance to write to you after being an avid reader of your column for years. Your taste reflects mine in so many instances, I count on your recommendations every season. I had to say that I stuck with Revolution last season pretty much wondering why. I thought the characters were poorly written and unlikable (particularly Elizabeth Mitchell's Rachel, whose motivations seemed to bounce around like a pogo stick) and the plot plodding and incoherent. Whereas I would have normally written the show off and moved on after two or three episodes, I guess I saw some promise so I continued to watch and gripe about it and even thought I'd give the second season a try. Am I glad I did! The show improved by leaps and bounds: better writing, more intense and cohesive storylines and the characters made sense! It's gotten to be one of my favorite shows and now the ratings aren't nearly what they were when it sucked. Now that I care, I'm afraid it will go the way most of the shows I really love go, to cancellation heaven. Say it ain't so, Matt! And what do you think of this season of the evolved Revolution? — Karen
Matt Roush: I watched the first few episodes this season and as I wrote at the time, was impressed that Revolution had grown a more compelling narrative spine — also liked how they toughened Charlie up, and the weirdness of the whole Titus Andover arc was startling to be sure. But was it enough to keep me watching? I'm afraid not. Some things have to give when there's so much to keep up with, and I'm afraid NBC's scheduling the show into obscurity made it easier for this one to fall off my radar as well. Apologies. But for the record, most of the buzz in my mailbag about the show has been on the following topic.
Question: I'm a fan of Revolution but it is frustrating trying to watch a show that seems to shoot its nighttime scenes with a 40-watt bulb. I realize there's no electricity in the show, but some of the scenes are so dark it makes it impossible to tell what's going on. Is it just me? — Nick
Matt Roush: Definitely not just you, because around the time you wrote this, Michelle weighed in with this gripe: "I get that this show is all about the lights being off, but does every scene (especially the action-packed ones) have to be so dark that you can't see a thing? It's gotten to the point where I find something else to do while I listen to the show because I can't watch it."
The only complaint I hear more frequently than "this show is too dark" is "the background music is too loud."
Question: I don't think I've caught much on your thoughts on Witches of East End. I like witches, so I knew I'd be checking it out long before it aired, but what I'm enjoying most about it is how funny it is. I don't think I expected so many comedic attributes. It's funnier than many so-called comedies on the air right now. Agree or disagree? — Jeffrey
Matt Roush: Disagree. (See review here.) I found much of the show laughable, but not in a good way. The cheesiness way outweighed the levity, but I did enjoy Madchen Amick, who made me laugh (in a good way), outshining the rest of the family from what I saw. Shows like this are generally critic-proof, so be glad that Lifetime is pleased enough with its performance to have just renewed it for a second season.
That's all for now, as I give thanks to my readers for providing such provocative questions all year long. Happy Thanksgiving, and keep sending your comments and questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. And follow me on Twitter!
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