Ask Matt: Relationships on Bones, Fringe, Office, Glee
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Question: After watching the last 10 minutes of last week's Bones play out, I was left disappointed and heavy by what happened (which was a big bummer after watching the wonderful Friday Night Lights finale beforehand). Booth clearly should not have been so presumptuous in proposing, when clearly (at least in my humble opinion) he was doing it to prove to himself that he has moved on and can have a successful, lasting relationship. I understand how he could say the things he said at the bar to Brennan. He was upset. I guess what bothers me most is that this episode highlighted just how off and not fun the relationship between Booth and Brennan has been this season, which has made the show much less enjoyable to watch. It makes me even more mad to read comments by the writers who act like they haven't made a misstep. What do you think about the whole situation? Do you think the tone of the show and the central relationship can be fixed? After reading all the heated comments on the community boards (which I know you advise against), it would be nice to hear a levelheaded assessment. — Amy
Matt Roush: Well, maybe it isn't the best idea to use Bones as a Friday Night Lights chaser. Honestly, I'm not sure what the show's writers could do to please the unruly constituents. They break up Booth and the opposite-of-loved Hannah, and you'd think there'd at least be a cheer for that. They give Booth and Bones a climactic scene of emotional reconciliation at the bar, which incidentally is one of David Boreanaz' most affecting scenes in a long while. It's called drama, folks. That said, I don't think anyone is blind to the fact that fans were more irritated than pleased about the Hannah obstacle, but now that they've fixed it and reset the Booth-Bones partnership with some new shadings of awareness of just what they mean to each other, I'm thinking maybe we can just sit back and enjoy the show again for a while. I don't think the show or certainly the central relationship is irreparably broken, and the numbers (thankfully abetted by the American Idol lead-in) seem to bear that out.
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Question: I love Fringe because it is great escapism, it is the only show to come close to filling the void The X-Files left and because John Noble is delightfully enjoyable to watch as Walter Bishop. However, the Fringe science on the show is more believable then Peter having more than platonic feeling for blond Olivia. Do you think the two have genuine sexual chemistry? A whole dimension's survival hinges on which Olivia Peter will choose. I thought John Scott was Olivia's true love. Human Target aside, why do you think it has never been brought up that there is another John Scott on the other side? How much longer do you think the show will continue with the two dimensions? Why are the producers making the show about a love triangle? It seems like it will shorten the life of the show. I hate "bug" episodes of any show, so it is a testament to how good Fringe is that I am still looking forward to the next episode. Love your insight regarding the shows. — Susan
Matt Roush: I'm loving where they've taken Fringe this season, and if the serial aspects work against it being a bigger hit, well, that ship has pretty much sailed. The dual universe story seems built into Fringe's DNA, so while I haven't a clue about what game-changing note they're planning to end with this season, I don't imagine it will ever go away entirely. And I'm not sure about sexual chemistry, but Peter and Olivia certainly have an emotional bond that I find credible — especially in these last few episodes. Her pain when Peter brought her coffee the way Faux-livia likes it? Ouch. And I totally bought Peter hooking up with the more sexually aggressive (and purposefully seductive) Faux-livia in the first part of the season, because as he told Our Olivia, he felt at the time as if he was turning her into someone new. It's the most twisted love triangle imaginable, and that's perfect for a show like this. Regarding John Scott: Besides the obvious reasons — the actor was otherwise engaged, and maybe it would be just a little tricky to bring the guy back after his real-life relationship with the show's star ended — I figure the two words aren't exact parallels of each other. Where's the real world version of Faux-livia's beau Frank or newly minted team leader Lincoln? But I hear you on the "bug"-show thing. I could barely watch some of those scenes. In a good way.
Question: Do you think that Olivia and Peter on Fringe will ever get back together? Also, are you as upset as me
about the Faux-livia pregnancy??? I feel like they have totally ruined any chance of Olivia and Peter
ever getting together, which I have been waiting forever since the show started! If Olivia was upset
before, when she finds out about this, she will never forgive him. This is the worst thing that could
have happened, and it seems so unfixable. Why would the writers do this to us? They just keep killing
my hope on every episode. — K
Matt Roush: I repeat what I said in the Bones discussion: It's a drama, folks. Which means there's going to be drama. And given the nature of this show, rarely will it lead to an instantly or even foreseeably happy ending. The fact that you're so upset is exactly what the writers want. They're getting a response out of you. What more could you possibly desire from a show like this? This latest baby-trauma complication from "the other side" certainly does complicate matters, but I'm an optimist at heart and do think that eventually the show will give Our Olivia and Peter periods of bliss. But they will be hard earned and won't come easy or, I'm guessing, soon. All I know is that it has made me even more curious and eager to see where the rest of this season is going. And that's a good thing.
Question: The scene between Michael and Holly at the end of the "Search" episode of The Office was the sweetest moment ever not involving Jim and Pam. The show could have easily made Holly a female version of Michael; instead, she is a nice, normal, albeit dorky woman who brings out the best in Michael. I hope they stay together this time. Steve Carell has given what could have been a one-dimensional character depth and I honestly can't imagine The Office without Michael Scott. Who do you think should replace Michael as branch manager? My vote is for Darryl. Actually, I think they should get rid of Dunder Mifflin and do a bromance show between Darryl and Andy. Those two together are the funniest part of the show these days. It seems like The Office is really shifting the focus off of Jim and Pam. They have done nothing but sit on the sidelines this entire season. I have always admired the show for the realistic way they have handled Jim and Pam's relationship (I like to think of them as the younger, less intense Eric and Tami Taylor), but I feel like their characters have run their course. They have done everything (besides break up, heaven forbid) and there is nothing left for them in Scranton. I think the only thing left for them is to finally leave Dunder Mifflin. Do you think The Office could make it without three major leads? Can The Office really make it past next season? — Amy
Matt Roush: Couldn't agree more about Holly being the best thing to happen to Michael in ages, even if they did push the PDA too far last week. I assume that she will be the catalyst for Michael's eventual exit. Which would at least make sense. Where Jim and Pam are concerned, it reminds me of the recent discussions we've had about Grey's Anatomy's Mer and Der in this column. Once you actually bring a core couple together and marry them off, and in the Office case add a baby to the equation, there's not as much comic or dramatic conflict to be readily mined, unless you choose to make them unhappy or spend an inordinate amount of time out of the workplace with them. Jim and Pam's current vibe feels real enough to me, if lacking in comic edge, which is why I enjoyed their post-lunch Valentine's Day drunkenness, which also seemed like a very authentic response to a life where their nights are no longer their own. I don't sense, though, they they'd be leaving along with Michael. They seem pretty much stuck in Scranton for now.
Regarding the post-Michael Office, I'd rather not speculate on any one scenario. None involving the current cast particularly intrigue me, because much as you feel about Jim and Pam, I feel The Office is mostly played out creatively and this would be an excellent time to call it a day. But this is NBC's biggest draw on Thursdays, so that's hardly likely. At the same time, if The Office can reinvent itself successfully next season, that could be exciting an interesting to watch.
Question: First, let me preface by saying I really enjoy Glee, I look forward to it each week and I am very happy it is a success. But there are so many things that it could do better (especially with writing and continuity) that it could go from a good show to a great one. There is one area that I want to get your thoughts on: Why does there have to be such an emphasis on pairing off almost all of the characters into couples? It was fine in the beginning with the Rachel and Finn courtship, but now it's morphed into a "who's going to hook up with whom" scenario. I know a lot of teens watch this show and that's how some plots work, but I just wish this show (and to be honest, many other shows) would work harder to show friendships among characters. I know it must be easier and more dramatic to write love stories, but I think it would be nice to explore, say, the relationships among the original Gleeks. Do they even like each other any more? It used to be an us-vs-them set-up, but now that everyone is in couples, that seems to have been lost. Your thoughts? — Larry
Matt Roush: On this subject, I was very encouraged by last Tuesday's slumber party scene in which Mercedes told Rachel and Kurt that, being the divas that they are, maybe it would be best for them all just to fly solo a while. Music to my ears, and let it be so. But the truth is, it's probably inevitable that any show of this type (especially a high-school show) will get bogged down in who's-dating-or-breaking-up-with-whom shenanigans. Story has to come from somewhere, and while consistency and continuity are hardly Glee specialties, it's not always going to be about prepping for competition and thwarting Sue. I did think the Valentine's-themed "Silly Love Songs" episode was better than the norm in its inclusiveness of many of the Gleeks, couples and otherwise, and watching Puck woo the unexpectedly resistent Lauren was a hoot.
Question: I love Glee, but am really getting frustrated with the Sue character. I think they have gone over the edge with her abuse. I know it's a TV show but she would have been gone long ago in real life. Her character is not funny anymore and dangerous. — Linda
Matt Roush: And here's where the excesses that come with the Glee territory become the biggest hurdle to enjoying the show. Sue is only dangerous if you take her at all seriously, which would not only be fatal but tragic. She is the Wyle E. Coyote to the New Dimensions' Road Runner, and there's not a shred of realism to any of it. Sue is best enjoyed in small doses, and in episodes like the post-Super Bowl hot mess, she is so out of control it becomes more aggravating than amusing. I have to say I didn't miss her at all in the "Silly Love Songs" episode.
Question: Is there any news on what's going on with Wilson on House? For the last couple of episodes, he's barely there, and the last episode and the one coming up he doesn't appear at all. It's like he's not even on the show anymore. I've read about him returning to Broadway. Does this mean Robert Sean Leonard is leaving House for good? — Kim
Matt Roush: I wouldn't go that far. At least not yet. My understanding is that Robert Sean Leonard's upcoming late-spring Broadway appearance in Born Yesterday (also starring Jim Belushi) won't interfere with his House duties this season. Beyond that, no one is officially commenting. The timing of the play (which opens April 24) works nicely as a hiatus gig, and it makes sense given how long Leonard has been away from the theater. (The year or so before he joined House, he was a constant stage presence in New York, jumping from Lanford Wilson and Eugene O'Neill classics to brand new work. I have always sensed that, as much as he enjoyed the work on House, he craved getting back to theater at some point.) Depending how long the play runs into the summer, he could conceivably return in time for House's eighth season, depending on how the not-yet-confirmed Season 8 plays out. You're right that Wilson has become considerably more marginalized lately, especially since the breakup with Sam, and this isn't a huge surprise given the season's focus on the House-Cuddy relationship. But House has a history of letting its actors (i.e., Olivia Wilde) pursue extracurricular opportunities, and this would seem a particularly good time to give Wilson a breather. But I would hate to see him leave the show for good. House needs Wilson to bounce off and lean on, and it would be a far emptier House without him.
Question: As a fan of the U.K. version of Being Human, which is coming back for a third season Saturday night, I was skeptical about the SyFy version. I've watched it for four episodes and 0have decided it is pretty good. I only knew one of the lead actors, Sam Huntington, from other things, but it seems Sam Witwer may be familiar to many SyFy viewers and so was a smart casting choice as vampire Aidan. SyFy has sprinkled episodes of Being Human all over their schedule, including bumping my SyFy favorite Merlin on Friday to 10 one week so I wonder how it is doing ratings-wise. I also wonder what you think of BBC America bringing back its version so soon after the launch of the American version. I don't know if I want to watch two versions of the same show at the same time. Is BBCA trying to strangle the baby, or are they hoping for a boost for their show with the attention given to the SyFy version? — Frank
Matt Roush: From what I can tell, Syfy is pleased with the performance of its version of Being Human, but I'm afraid "pretty good" isn't doing it for me. I'm too attached to the original, and hope to post a review later this week of the first episodes of the new season. Watching Syfy's version seems both redundant and unsatisfying (with the exception of Witwer's broodiness, the actors' broad rhythms make me feel I'm watching a strained, shrill sitcom). I was rather surprised when BBC America announced it would be overlapping the current Syfy run with its new episodes. But BBCA has been attempting to air its originals closer in sync with the British broadcasts, so that could explain it. And it doesn't hurt that the show is more visible now to the American audience, so I'm going with the "boost" strategy rather than the colorful "strangle" metaphor.
Question: Do you know if Warner Brothers has any intention of reevaluating their decision about posting episodes of their shows online? There has been a huge backlash from this with many fans blaming ABC, but they only have the air rights. I think V is a great show and is getting better and better. I know the ratings would be higher if the online viewing of the episodes were made available. Surely, Warner's knows this is hurting the show. It is all over the message boards. V is a great show that deserves a third season. I am so hoping that it will still happen. Also, what are your thoughts on the show if you would like to share that. I think the addition of Jane Badler has been wonderful. — William
Matt Roush: I get questions all the time about online availability of shows, and you're right that in the case of V, it isn't ABC's call. It's the studio that decides whether to make a deal for online or Or Demand sharing, and Warner Bros. is the most reluctant to give much of its product away for free. (This also applies to Warner Bros. shows airing on CBS, including The Mentalist and The Big Bang Theory, which are much bigger hits than V.) There is an argument that limiting a show's availability forces viewers to watch or record it, enhancing its on-air and potential back-end value, and I wouldn't assume just because people gripe about it on message boards that the numbers would magically rise if V were available online. Sci-fi serials aren't the easiest sell these days. (See Fringe.) This is a tricky subject, and I don't pretend to be an expert on distribution, in part because I don't enjoy watching shows on a computer screen except under duress — watching On Demand on my actual TV is another story, and I do appreciate that convenience.
As for my own thoughts on V: I'm still watching, but I feel more like I'm rubbernecking at a disaster. This is the slowest alien invasion I've ever seen, and the cartoonish posturing of heroes and villains has reduced some very appealing actors to stock and predictable cliché. I loved the idea of Jane Badler reprising her role of deposed queen Diana, but this whole madwoman-in-the-cellar act is kind of a waste, and her scenes with Morena Baccarin have been more laughable than sinister. I'm not sure even if the studio relented and beamed the show through every portal (which I don't see them doing) that it would enhance the show's chances.
Question: I gave up on a lot of shows this year just because I do not have time and my DVR is filling up quick! One show I kept up with is No Ordinary Family, unlike Heroes and The Cape (which I game up quickly because I was just bored), this superhero show has everything: humor, great casting, drama, and overall excitement. I like the fact that it never takes itself too seriously because that is where Heroes dropped the ball. Anyway, wondering if you know when the season finale will be, any scoop and please tell me it has been renewed for a second season! — Mike
Matt Roush: The season finale date hasn't been set yet, but it will be in mid-to-late spring, unless ABC does something drastic and pulls it from the schedule early. This show is very much on the bubble, I'm afraid. We won't know if it's coming back until the fall schedule is set in May, but airing opposite juggernauts like NCIS and Glee has proved every bit as difficult as you'd imagine. I drifted away early on, finding the tone a little too ABC Family for my liking, more precious than provocative. But I get your point that it's a more coherent, cohesive and satisfying experience than Heroes turned out to be. On the urging of others, I checked out this Tuesday's episode in advance, and it fulfills the show's promise about as well as you could hope. Lots more action and suspense (much of it involving a very devious shape-shifter), and it's about time. If the numbers don't budge this week, I'd be concerned. So enjoy it while you can.
Question: I have a dilemma. I feel horrible for criticizing a network that is only trying to resurrect a once-great genre: the standard traditional sitcom. I felt like I had warped back into the 1990s with Hot in Cleveland, which felt a little stale but was anchored by three classy, strong performances — and Valerie Bertinelli. Then comes Retired at 35, which has set us back a further decade and looks like something that fell off the 1980s sitcom back-burner. I applaud TV Land's enthusiasm for trying to bring back the "traditional sitcom" format and also bringing in some truly great comedy vets (Betty White, Wendie Malick, Jane Leeves, George Segal, Jessica Walter) but do I ever feel sorry for them sometimes having to be reduced to such mediocrity. Cleveland isn't so bad, but it isn't very good, either, but Retired is just dreadful in every possible way. Still, TV Land should be applauded for giving it a go, in a climate where sitcoms have to be too "sophisticated" (hello, NBC) and unless you're on CBS, it's rare to see a good old traditional sitcom filmed in front of an audience. TV Land is trying, but is Retired at 35 really the show to resurrect this genre? And does the show have to be that bad? That stale? And that outdated? — Chris
Matt Roush: There really is no excuse for Retired at 35. That's the kind of stinker that nearly killed the form of comedy you revere, and which I also respect when done right. Hot in Cleveland is harmless enough, and the actors sell the retro vibe effortlessly even when the writing is cringe-worthy, but as TV Land embarks on a new wave of development, I'd like to see them aim just a little higher. It doesn't have to be the next Frasier, but elevate the tone just a bit, please. I feel like TV Land took the wrong message from Cleveland's success last summer, part of the Betty White tsunami. Retired is so lazy and inept it's as if the network felt they didn't even need to try, and that's not the way to make a name for oneself.
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