Ask Matt: SNL, Castle, Fringe, Glee, Being Human and More!
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Question: What is up with Saturday Night Live? Who are all these people?? There are so many people in the cast that I simply can't connect to them. Back when SNL started, the Not Ready For Prime Time Players was a cast of 7 and you really "knew" them. You knew their characters, their skits, you looked forward to Roseanne Roseannadanna and Belushi's Samurai. Now with a cast of thousands (it seems), no one really cares. I, like so many others, watch the opening, fast-forward to the musical guest (maybe), watch the news, then erase. The best thing the PTB could do would be to trim the cast, keep the ones we really like (Wiig, Kenan, Samberg, Hader, Meyers) and start writing for them, not just writing to fill the time. — Deb
Matt Roush: But then where would the next generation of SNL players come from? Because there's always going to be a next generation, and most if not all of the current cast who you consider your favorites started out in a "featured" status until they earned their stripes. That's how it works on this show. Of the current "featured" players being nurtured, Vanessa Bayer (of the killer Miley Cyrus impersonation) and the so-far sorely underused Jay Pharoah seem to have some real potential. But every evolving cast has its standouts and its dead weight, and that kind of unevenness is even more evident in the writing than in the performing most weeks. But I'm with you that the best way to watch SNL (though it's hardly unique to this season) is with a heavy hand on the fast-forward.
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Question: I have a different sort of "relationship" question regarding Castle. The big thing always seems to be the potential relationship between Castle and Beckett. But honestly, the parts I rewind and watch again and again are the scenes with Castle, Ryan and Esposito. I adore their interactions and reactions. Do you think there is any chance those scenes might be expanded? For me, they make the show. — Renee
Matt Roush: It does seem like they've developed the sidekick characters a little more this season, which is probably a good thing, because I've always wondered how these detectives (and those on The Mentalist, for that matter) earn their keep when they're upstaged on almost every case by the amateur "consultant" in their midst. If these guys are popping for you in their scenes with Castle, it's a sign of good ensemble chemistry. But they're still very much co-stars to the leads, and I doubt that would change significantly on a regular basis.
Question: We are big fans of Two and a Half Men — not necessarily Charlie Sheen, but the writers and the other actors. We really don't see why it couldn't go on with Ryan Stiles' character breaking up with Judith and moving in with Alan and Jake. If you would please suggest this to CBS, and with the money they save, they can give us an incentive check. We'll split it with you, of course. — Johanna
Matt Roush: Thanks, but I'll let you keep it. I've heard worse ideas for how the show might continue on without Charlie (fictional and actual). And while it would be a good and believable twist for Judith to have two ex-husbands — seriously, who could live with that shrew? — it seems to me the comic premise of Two and a Half Men, however it might have to adapt, has a lot to do with the "odd couple" pairing of polar opposites. Alan and Herb seem cut from the same nerdy cloth. I think the producers will have to shake things up a little more than that.
Question: Just wanted to give two big thumbs up to Anna Torv's "channeling" of Leonard Nimoy (as William Bell) in Friday's episode of Fringe. I could have watched her do that for two hours instead of just one. From the graveled hoarseness in her voice to the arching of her eyebrow, she had Leonard down pat. I have no idea if Leonard Nimoy would have watched this impersonation of him, but I hope if he did, he appreciated it as much as the rest of the Fringe fans. This reminded me of what David Duchovny did on The X-Files in the "Small Potatoes" episode where he had to behave like the little shape-shifting guy Eddie Van Blundht trying to masquerade as Mulder. Granted a little more complex role, but nonetheless the same kind of quirkiness that made The X-Files such a treat to watch, and Fringe can do the same (as does Supernatural). Of course Anna Torv does a great job throughout the series being her alternate Olivia, but this was a step above. Keep up the good work, Anna. — JG
Matt Roush: Wasn't she great? I especially got a kick out of the more playful moments: Bell-Livia remarking on how binding a bra was, or creeping Astrid out with her/his flirting. And the final moment, when the church bells brought the dormant Olivia back to the surface for a fleeting panicked moment, was just chilling. In the first season of Fringe, I found Anna Torv's performance the show's greatest liability. This season, with her pulling double duty as Alt-livia in the parallel world and now this inspired twist, she's among its greatest assets. Nicely played indeed. And comparisons to The X-Files are very apt these days. Fringe is that good.
Question: I know you don't usually go too much into the business side of things, but I was wondering about your take on Netflix's apparent foray into original programming with House of Cards. It seems to match the model put forth by HBO (start as a content consolidator and then become a content creator), except that Netflix will be creating a TV show that many people may never see on a TV. Given the success of YouTube as well as web-based programs, the definition of "television show" is getting rather blurry (indeed, Dr. Horrible made many critics' top TV list for 2008, though it never aired on TV). What do you think the ramifications of Netflix's original programming will wind up being? Will it be just another cable outlet, albeit one that's entirely "on-demand," or will the inclusion of original programming that people can access without cable, a dish, or even a TV cause ripples throughout the industry? — Erin
Matt Roush: This may well be seen as a watershed moment in the ongoing evolution of how we consume TV. But for now, it's only one series, and much as I don't prejudge anything on network, cable or (these days) satellite, I don't want to read too much into this. Yet. Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog is another excellent example of someone skirting the usual distribution system with a landmark piece of entertainment, but the way that was produced (during a writers' strike, with everyone deferring payment until it hit the DVD market) was unusual to say the least, and since then, has anything made for-Internet-only had the same sort of impact? The real question here is how deeply Netflix and its peers will invest in original programming. Because the best stuff doesn't come cheap. (Just look at HBO.) I'm happy for any new entity to come along that will invest in and support the production of high-quality long-form scripted programming. Even if House of Cards turns out to be a winner — and the original British miniseries it's based on is still regarded as one of Masterpiece Theater's very best — do I think it's going to make the networks, cable and satellite method of watching TV obsolete? Probably not, and certainly not immediately.
Question: It's been over 24 hours and I'm still in awe of the kiss scene between Blaine and Kurt on Glee. I really think 40 years from now, this will still be on anyone's top-100 TV moments of television's first 100 years. Do you think last week's episode will be one of those episodes we will be talking about for decades to come? — Rob
Matt Roush: It was a big moment for sure, and for fans of Kurt — who's the definition of a breakout character — and anyone interested in the portrayal of gays on TV, there's some real pop-cultural history going on in that scene and episode. For all of its flaws, Glee is the ultimate watercooler (or should we say nowadays, Twitter) show, and I imagine the next time TV Guide or anybody puts together a list of memorable TV kisses, this will probably rank alongside Ross and Rachel's first smooch on Friends.
Question: I am a huge fan of the always adorable and roguishly charming Mark Valley. My husband and I are big fans of Human Target. I fear it's going to be canceled just like his other great show Keen Eddie. Fox has not done much promotion for Human Target. It also doesn't help that they kept changing the day and time. They might as well have called it Moving Target. With that said, this show would do great on the USA Network or TNT. It would be a great companion for Burn Notice or White Collar, or TNT's Leverage. Any chance of that happening? — Lynne
Matt Roush: Pretty slim to nada. These networks already have a full slate of successful series, and more in development, and I would assume Human Target would take a sizable budget cut if it moved to cable, so it might not even feel like quite the same show. I agree that Target would be a good fit with the escapist romps on these channels, and TNT is part of the corporate family that includes the Warner Bros. studio, so that would be the more likely scenario. But still, a very long shot.
Question: How do you feel about a Season 4 of Being Human (British version) without Aidan Turner? There's a possibility that he may not return. I know what happens and I don't want to spoil it, but do you think the show could go on without him? The chemistry between the three main characters is what I love about the show, and with Aidan no longer around I don't know if I want to continue to watch. (I will, of course. It will just take some getting used to.) I would really like to know how you feel about this. — Mariamne
Matt Roush: I don't know what's going to happen on the show, and I don't want to know, but what I do know is that Aidan Turner (the vampire Mitchell) has been cast in the new version of The Hobbit being filmed in New Zealand, and that could conflict with his participation in the next season of Being Human, whenever that should be. So without knowing what the show may have in mind, I can only presume that he'd be sorely missed, and I know I'd miss him. The show hinges on the relationship of these three supernatural characters, and if Mitchell is absent in the next season for whatever reason, I imagine they will be able to develop some powerful drama out of that. But it's not a scenario I'm particular keen on — although as we all know, in this genre it's hardly unheard of for undead characters to be resurrected after long absences.
Question: I have enjoyed your columns for years and now am happy to have a chance to participate. Syfy's Being Human just got renewed!!! I have never seen the original BBC series, but I am really enjoying Syfy's Being Human. At first I was on the fence, but as the episodes have progressed, I have become really engaged by the characters and the storyline. I was wondering if your opinion on this show has changed since it first started? — Rob
Matt Roush: Welcome to the party! I'm glad you're enjoying Syfy's version, and I wasn't surprised that it was renewed. It's a terrifically entertaining premise, and I can see how anyone could get hooked. But I got hooked on the original (and to me, superior) version, and now that it's back on BBC America with new episodes, I don't have the time or inclination to watch both, especially as I don't find the Syfy cast or the production as a whole nearly as compelling. And I'm sticking with that opinion.
I find myself agreeing with Elaine, who wrote in with this critique: "I have watched the BBC version of Being Human since the start and am also into the Syfy show, but the problem is instead of doing NEW shows Syfy is just redoing the BBC ones. When watching a show, I feel like: been there and done that. They changed the names of the characters, couldn't they at least not use almost the same stories? Last week, I already knew the kid was going to get hit and turned into a vamp."
Question: I was wondering if you might weigh in on my favorite on-the-bubble show Chuck, which is still a steady, if not great, performer. With the cancellations or not-so-great prospects of several NBC shows like Undercovers, Chase, The Cape, The Event, etc., do you feel it bodes well for the chances of renewal as well? — Scott
Matt Roush: Chuck really is the little show that could, isn't it? There will never be a time when Chuck doesn't live on the proverbial bubble, but it has the great fortune of enjoying the sort of fan and (in some corners) media buzz that NBC lacks nearly everywhere else. So you're right that NBC's continued ill fortunes in prime time very likely means Chuck could get that all-important fifth season — although at that point, I think it will be time to call it a wrap. One argument working against its renewal: There's a new programming team in place at NBC, and depending on how drastically they want to wipe the slate clean, Chuck could be more vulnerable than we think. But if I had to bet, I'd say Chuck gets one more season, and then that's it.
Question: I have become a recent fan of V and really enjoyed the mind-blowing finale. My concern is that if the series is not picked up for another season, will we get some kind of closure in the form of a special episode or TV movie? — Betty
Matt Roush: Doubtful. As I wrote last week, the big juicy moments in the finale were probably too little too late. Unless the studio felt it was worth its while to be able to sell a self-contained TV-movie wrap-up on the international and DVD market, it wouldn't make financial sense to produce something on this scale for the sole purpose of giving the show's small following on ABC (by network-TV standards) a payoff. It would have been nice if the producers had given us a few more payoffs during the season. For me, V was just one long, disappointing tease.
Question: Do you know anything about the new show The Killing? I am very intrigued by it and am wondering if you've been able to screen it yet. I'd love to hear your take on it. — Rachel
Matt Roush: My review can be found in the current issue of TV Guide Magazine (NCIS: L.A. on the cover), and I'll be posting a version online closer to the air date. (The series premieres April 3.) I've seen the first few hours, and was instantly hooked by the moody atmosphere of this season-long murder mystery set in Seattle. The acting is tremendous, including a star-making performance by Mireille Enos as the pensive lead detective and the always dynamic Michelle Forbes as the victim's shell-shocked mother. What really stands out for me, in this age of cookie-cutter procedurals, is how The Killing dramatizes the devastation a violent death has on a family, a community, on the people involved in the investigation. Nothing about this show is routine. Can't wait for others to see it.
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