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Question: I am still mulling over the finale of The Killing. As expected, there are a lot of people who hate it but I am not one of them. I think it is pretty clear that Richmond was the killer and Linden and Holder caught him. Holder faking the photo does not mean Richmond is innocent. It means that Holder took a shortcut because he was convinced that Richmond was guilty. I thoroughly enjoyed the show — it was like watching a novel unfold. I do like mystery novels a lot and I am particularly fond of character-driven mysteries, which is what we had here. What I am upset about is that I have to wait so long for the next season to begin and find out who Holder was talking to in the car at the end. And to see Linden get off that plane dragging poor Jack along behind her. One of the reasons I was willing to invest in The Killing is because it is a shorter season. I find myself much more willing to watch this kind of thing when it is only 13 or so episodes long. I wonder if the traditional 22-episode season is just too long for really good storytelling? I happen to favor the shorter seasons I get with The Closer, Southland, Burn Notice, etc. It leaves me wanting more. Whereas with the 22-episode season, I am just ready for the season to be over — Supernatural is a case in point as is House and Grey's Anatomy. I like the BBC America shows with the shorter seasons, too. It allows the writer to tell the story and end it, with less annoying filler.
On a completely different topic, I want to say I used to think you had the best job in the world, being paid to watch TV and write about it. I don't think so anymore. I think you might have the hardest job in the world because I can turn off the TV if I don't like something and here you have to watch it. But you do a really good job and I love your column. — Shelley
Matt Roush: Before we get to the topic of the week — the controversial Killing finale, which generated (in my mailbag at least) a pretty even split of support and disgust, weighed a little more heavily and thoughtfully on the former — let me start by thanking Shelley while assuring everyone that I am never less than grateful to have a platform like this. It's anything but "the hardest job in the world," although there are times when it does feel like a job. Which is as it should be. And for those who follow me online, it's one that I'm temporarily putting on hold while I take a vacation, resuming in mid-July. (Happy 4th, everyone!)
Back to The Killing: You make an interesting point about the satisfaction one gets from shorter, tighter seasons — but detractors of The Killing (and they are legion, more now than ever) would argue the show spun its wheels trying to fill even 13 hours, and still wasn't able to give viewers a payoff at season's end. As I noted in my own post-mortem, I wasn't really annoyed by this cliffhanger approach — I had other problems with the episode (and with the season as a whole) — but I completely understand the frustration many viewers (and a few rather hysterical critics) felt. And by the way, I'm not as convinced as you (and at least one prominent critic) that Richmond is the killer. I have to think there's more up someone's sleeve, but I could be wrong. Though I think you're right that Holder believes he's the killer. I'm still intrigued by what The Killing is attempting as a psychological and character-driven mood piece, but find it more affecting in its study of grief than effective as a piece of mystery writing. I also have to say the show's executive producer is doing herself few favors by milking the backlash, likening her stunt to the polarizing finales of The Sopranos and Lost. Which brings me to the next question, which was among the more frequently asked.
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Question: I know there were lots of people (and critics) ready to riot in the streets after the finale of The Killing on Sunday. I was not one of them. I enjoyed all the twists and turns of the season, including the ones in the final episode. I am a fan of shows that take me down a winding path (see: Lost), and I am happy to allow the show runners to tell me the story at their own pace. I don't mind waiting until Season 2 for all the answers, particularly if they are worth waiting for. Viewers were not promised a tidy conclusion with a bow on top at the end of the episode like those found on other shows (see: any drama on CBS). So here's my question: Is Season 2 of The Killing now doomed because of the backlash following Season 1? Will viewers come back and will critics give it another chance if the writing is promising? I would hate to lose a quality show like this one simply because people know how to hold a grudge. — Joanna
Matt Roush: There's no way to predict one way or the other, but I wouldn't be surprised if all the brouhaha might not benefit The Killing in the long run, attracting people curious over all the fuss. And once everyone calms down a bit, I'm betting some of those vowing never to return will at least pop back in for the actual reveal, whenever that may be. But it's also very possible that absence will make the heart grow anything but fonder, and the long breaks between cable seasons may dampen rather than deepen the desire to dive back into this murky and (to many) unsatisfying world. From a critic's perspective, though, The Killing has attracted enough attention at this point that it almost demands being given another chance when it returns — even if it just gives the unimpressed more ammo to blast it. Ignoring it, though, at least up to the point when Rosie's killer is revealed, doesn't seem an option. At least not for me.
And here's a more confrontational defense of the show from Marcus: "I can imagine the majority of viewers are pretty ticked off about the non-reveal of Rosie Larsen's murderer. And to them, let me just say this: Get over it. The Killing is doing something incredibly brave and original in its storytelling, especially when compared to other crime shows out there. If people don't like the pace or the red herrings or the non-answers, they just need to stop watching this show and turn on CBS instead. The Killing is a crazy ride with unexpected twists and turns, the biggest being the final minutes of the finale. We all need to embrace originality, not chastise it."
Matt again: There probably ought to be a middle ground between the predictable CBS formula and this kind of willfully provocative tease — consider the way Damages played out, season by season, for instance — and while I respect Marcus' passion, I've learned over time that telling others to "get over it" rarely works. Which brings me to a sampling of some of the more negative responses I got.
From Gene: "The ending of this slooow moving thing that lasted 13 weeks was terrible. AMC really laid an egg on this one. I hope they don't attempt any more." [Matt again: Well, there will be at least one more season. It would have been worse if AMC had pulled the plug before we got a real answer, no?] And here's a very representative response of viewer frustration, courtesy of Ruth: "Thirteen hours with no payoff at the end is TOO MUCH to ask of a viewer. At the very least, this storyline should have been finished, rewarding those of us who did watch each episode. I feel betrayed."
And I'll end this discussion for now — you're welcome — with a rant from Marla, because she at least has a sense of humor about the whole mess: "Remember after Rachel's particularly bad break-up with Ross on Friends, her famous departing words: 'It's NOT that common, it DOESN'T happen to every guy and it IS a big deal!" Here's my farewell parting shot for The Killing: 'Rolling over and falling asleep suddenly is NOT a shocking season finale, neglecting personal life for crazy work hours is NOT a noble obsession meriting endless self-pity (it's what most working people HAVE to do to survive in this economy), and it NEVER rains that much (even in Seattle)!!!'"
Question: With Emmy nominations coming out next month, I'm sure it goes without saying HBO's Game of Thrones should get its fair share, but can Maisie Williams, who does a brilliant job playing Arya Stark, nab a best supporting actress nod or are there just too many shows and women to fill out the category? She's my favorite character along with Peter Dinklage, whose Tyrion Lannister is a shoo-in for a nomination." — Jeffrey
Matt Roush: Couldn't agree more about Peter Dinklage, whose witty scene-stealing bravado has Emmy bait written all over it. I'm curious if the show itself made enough noise in the industry at large to crack the best-drama ranks, especially given the Emmy voters' typical aversion to the fantasy genre. (Although there has never been a TV fantasy epic of this scale and quality before.) As for little Maisie: Love her, love Arya, but the Emmys have an even bigger blind spot when it comes to young performers, so I think that's a real long shot.
Question: Ryan Murphy has given some interviews in the last couple of weeks regarding the seemingly mass exodus of characters from Glee. While I understand that the high school journey usually only lasts four years, I am still very concerned. At least four characters will be leaving next season (Rachel, Finn, Puck & Quinn) and I would assume that almost all of the others will "graduate" the following year. Ryan Murphy stated in one interview that he looks to the acceptance of Chord Overstreet (Sam) as proof that the audience will accept new characters on the show. I do love Chord; however, we didn't lose eight to ten characters in a two-year period to get him. Do you think that this many actors going out in such a short period of time will devastate the show? I also remember the character of Jesse going to college and "majoring" in show choir, so is it impossible to think dual storylines between McKinley High and a local community college where the original New Directions could land would work? I kind of thought it would be cool if the team wins nationals (here's hoping!), decides to stay together and takes a no-name college in Lima, Ohio to the big leagues. Now, I am willing to eventually let a few of these characters go, but the entire original "student" cast? That's a killer! — Amy
Matt Roush: There's no question Glee will be at a crossroads if Ryan Murphy sticks to his guns and graduates a large percentage of his core original cast at the end of next season. But I find it hard to imagine the show will completely write out so many indelible characters all at once. At the same time, it's hard to imagine characters like Rachel and Kurt sticking very close to Lima, Ohio after graduation and having it be believable — not that Glee is all that worried about credibility most weeks. Your community college idea isn't the worst option I've heard, but this also may be the opportunity the show needs to reinvent itself, which may not be a bad idea even after only three seasons. Few shows have burned as bright as Glee, but that often comes at a cost. I'll be very curious to see how this transitional season plays out. In the meantime, I'm obsessed with The Glee Project — which at least is a start at repopulating New Directions.
Question: Is Noah Wyle old enough to believably play a father of a teenage boy on Falling Skies? I guess the beard makes him appear older, which was a good choice on the director's part. I hope the show is something special because we have seen so many shows come out with similar plot lines. I enjoyed Independence Day because it had a great cast and the good guys won at end. Sometimes these new shows hit too close to home to watch every week with wars (and natural disasters) going on all around us. That is why I have always enjoyed the Star Trek type of show, because they were still dealing with human emotions but you didn't have to see the things you know be blown to bits every week. Does that make sense? What do you think of Fallen Skies? Is it a good show and worth watching? — Susan
Matt Roush: I've watched the first month's worth of episodes and found Falling Skies to be a solid and entertaining piece of popcorn TV. (The early ratings were promising, so that's good news for its future prospects.) I especially liked the fact that, in a departure from movies like Independence Day, this show spares us clichéd stock footage of exploding monuments and picks up well after the invasion. While humans are the underdogs in this battle for now, I don't find the tone to be despairing or downbeat. If anything, the show has been knocked for its wide streak of Spielberg-ian family sentimentality. And I didn't have any trouble believing Wyle to be a youngish dad. That's happening a lot these days. (For instance, ABC's new comedy Suburgatory casts Jeremy Sisto as the father of a teenager, and for some reason that really made me feel old.)
Question: I was watching what appeared to be the last episode of Flashpoint last week. Will it be back on this summer or maybe this fall? The way it ended it kind of left you hanging, so I thought maybe it was coming back on but was wondering when. I really enjoy the show. — Roger
Matt Roush: This gets a little confusing, so bear with me. The June 17 episode was in fact a season finale — of the third Canadian season. CBS plans to air more original episodes through the summer, though it will be scattered with repeats. And at some point, the ION network (once upon a time PAX) will begin airing first-run episodes from the next season of Flashpoint as well. (CBS's association with the show beyond this summer has yet to be determined.)
Question: Actually, this is more of a jeer — to CBS for its bewildering burning-off of Chaos. It's not a serialized show, but the character arcs have continuity. Or at least, they would, if CBS would air the episodes in the right order. Last weekend, we got to see Rick meet Adele, which means it should have been the second episode, as they've been becoming friends and started dating already (although not in that order — which isn't a comment on their love lives, but another consequence of CBS's randomization). This show should come with a road map. — Jon
Matt Roush: I would normally say to consider yourself lucky that these episodes aired at all, given how quickly Chaos was yanked from the spring schedule. But clearly no one's paying attention to quality control. You're not the only one complaining. Read on.
Question: Why do networks show series out of (production) order? I've been watching Chaos this summer (I know it's canceled), but the episodes are so out-of-order from the show's chronology that watching the episodes is very disjointed and disappointing. CBS also had issues with showing $#*! My Dad Says out of order. Can you explain any rationale the networks have for doing this? Or are they just making mistakes? One of my pet peeves is when I feel like network executives seem to think we're stupid and won't notice these kinds of things. — Erik
Matt Roush: In the case of Chaos, I think it's fair to say the network probably doesn't care. If they do (but I can't imagine why), then they're being incredibly sloppy about it, and I'm sure the show's creative team and studio aren't happy about this, either. But in some cases, a show's episodes may be aired out of production order if the network feels a certain episode is particularly strong and promotable — this most frequently happens during a sweeps period — although there are executives from both the studio and network side who are supposed to be keeping an eye on matters like continuity. There have been shows (the most infamous example being Joss Whedon's Firefly, whose pilot episode didn't even air first) that have been irreparably damaged by this practice, and it's almost always the network's fault.
Question: Bravo has given a plurality — at times, a majority — of its prime-time schedule to its Real Housewives franchise. How have the ratings been for the network? Is this comparable to CBS' reliance on its CSI franchise and procedurals in general? — Howard
Matt Roush: The numbers aren't commensurate; by Bravo's niche standards, Housewives is a success, especially demographically, but its numbers are puny compared to what CBS gets for its crime dramas. Botoxed apples and autopsied oranges, of course, when it comes to this kind of comparison. What it really illustrates is the creative poverty at the network and cable extremes, as programmers find themselves unable to resist the impulse to clone a successful franchise to death.
Question: I was wondering if you had seen the new ABC Family show, Switched at Birth. I stopped watching the shows on this channel long ago, but I tuned into the premiere of Switched at Birth out of nostalgia for the early '90s movie of the same name. I fully expected to watch the premiere, enjoy the melodrama and never tune in again. Imagine my surprise when the episode ended and I was looking forward to the next week. Three episodes in and I'm still hooked. I think what keeps bringing me back is that the show doesn't keep the focus on the "switched at birth" premise. Instead, it uses that premise as a starting-off point to explore more interesting issues. The most interesting one being class types and how that influences parenting styles. (One of the girls, Bay, went home with a wealthy family, which has money along with the arrogance that can sometimes bring. The other girl, Daphne, was raised by a single mom in a working-class neighborhood. Oh, and Daphne's also deaf.) None of the characters are perfect but I like all of them. Each one is doing their best to adjust to this new situation. But these families have extremely opposing ideas of what is right and how their daughters ought to be raised. And while some conflict has been resolved rather quickly to fit into your typical TV hour, there is still a lot of friction. I don't see these two families becoming The Brady Bunch anytime soon.
And there's so much more going on. Who is Bay's dad? How did this mix-up happen in the first place? Educating Daphne's birth family (and the audience) on her deafness and the deaf culture. I'm just crossing my fingers that the show continues to explore these more interesting real issues instead of being sucked into the melodrama, because so far I'm loving this show. — Lindlee
Matt Roush: If I were to watch any ABC Family show this summer, it would probably be this one. (I hope it doesn't share the fate of my favorite ABC Family show of last summer, Huge, and be punished for not being a ludicrous cheesefest like some other shows I'll leave unnamed.) While Switched at Birth is very conventional in many ways, the culture clash of the two families and the dimension added by Daphne's embrace of the deaf world sets it apart. It's also unusually well cast for an ABC Family show. So chalk this one up as a non-guilty pleasure.
That's all for now — and also for the next few weeks. But keep feeding your questions and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org, and we'll continue the conversation in July.
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