Ask Matt: Terriers, Community, Glee, CSI: Miami, Chuck and More!
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Question: Couldn't agree with you more regarding Terriers. This has fast become one of my favorite shows. The problem is that the show is not the show that the promotions (what little there was) showed us. I could have done without the "quirky detectives on the beach" show in the promos, but this show is no more about private detectives than Friday Night Lights is about football. Virtually every scene with Hank Dolworth and his sister (played by Donal Logue and HIS sister!) was heartbreaking. Is it too early to contact DirecTV with a candidate for the 101 Network? — Rick
Matt Roush: Let's hope it doesn't come to that. Yet. I'm hoping FX will decide to give this show a second season and a second chance. There's been quite a bit of fan and critical buzz swelling lately which could work in its favor. In fact, Terriers seems to be getting more fuss, at least in my corner of the world, than Sons of Anarchy these days (although, sadly, nowhere near the ratings). But you've hit on a major problem where Terriers is concerned: Perception. It was clearly a devil of a show to market and promote, and even now, it takes some explaining to get across just how entertaining — and devastating — this show can be. It's not just a buddy romp and it's never merely a caper-of-the-week show. Character-driven hardly begins to describe a show that's original yet accessible, amusing without being silly, suspenseful and violent without being gratuitous or exploitative, and always deeply human. It's the nicest surprise of the fall season. I just wish more people would find and embrace it. But regarding a rescue from DirecTV or any other corner, I find that possibility highly unlikely, in part because the show has flown so far under the radar, for whatever reason.
But the show has generated a fair amount of mail lately, including this question from Michael: "I am happy Terriers is still on FX, and would just like to know if it will be played out entirely through the first season, and how long before we know if it's renewed for a second season? And my biggest question is how long before we find out if Britt is the Baby Daddy or not???"
Let's wait and see on that last question. (No spoilers here.) But the good news about a show like this airing on a network like FX is that regardless of ratings, we're almost always likely to see as many episodes as are initially ordered. (There are three more left, with the season finale airing Dec. 1.) It's pretty rare, though not unheard of (see Caprica), for a cable network to pull a show before it concludes its original run. Can't say how long we'll have to wait for word of a renewal. Whichever way FX goes with this one, it won't be an easy call.
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Question: What do you think about this season of Community and its shift into more absurd storylines, at least during these early episodes? Personally, I've loved this season so far, even if my (probably unrealistic) hopes on the Jeff/Annie front were dashed. (Yeah, I'm a shipper. Don't judge me.) While a part of me sort of hopes that the episodes will get more grounded later, I'm willing to enjoy all of these wacky adventures, no matter how far-out they might get, because I enjoy the characters and writing so much. — Seth
Matt Roush: Another underdog worth cheering. I'm having a ball with Community this season. It is intensely absurd and often berserk, which isn't always the same as funny (see Running Wilde), but more often than not, I'm laughing out loud because of the strength of the writing and the specificity of these hilarious nut-job characters. Is it indulgent? Sure. But thankfully, your question came in just as I was marveling over last week's episode ("Cooperative Calligraphy"), which uses its wacky premise to strip down and lay bare many of the conflicts and quirks these characters have been bottling up all season. It was brilliant. Let's just say it's not damning with faint praise by saying it's by far my favorite NBC comedy of the moment (random genius bits of the increasingly uneven 30 Rock aside).
Question: Earlier this year, TV Guide reported that a new Christian character would be introduced to the Glee cast. Since then, I've been eagerly awaiting this new addition, and looking forward to the perspective a devout Christian character might bring. But I have not heard any further news. Did the producers change their minds? Or is Mercedes now supposed to be the Christian representative? — Shannon
Matt Roush: You're on to something, that the point-of-view represented by Mercedes (and taking us to her congregation) in the "Grilled Cheesus" episode — and the episode itself, dwelling so pointedly on matters of faith — may have satisfied the producers' ambitions for now when it comes to bringing a specifically Christian (or overtly religious) element to the show. For now, there doesn't seem to be any concrete plans to bring such a character on board after all. Which doesn't mean they won't. But the episode did make it pretty clear which characters were of what faith and how strongly they held (or didn't) their beliefs.
Question: Can you please tell me why in the world did CBS put CSI: Miami on Sunday nights? I look forward to this show every week. Football went over last Sunday so they didn't even show it. I think it is terrible what they did. CBS needs to move it back to a weeknight. It is almost like CBS wants to cancel it. All the CSI's are great and CSI: Miami is one of the best. They need to put something on after football that nobody cares about. — Susan
Matt Roush: We've tackled this issue before, but I figured it would come up again — vociferously — given the extreme situation of last Sunday, when an hour-plus football overrun caused CBS to pull the show entirely from the Eastern and Central time zones. (Ironically, the following week CBS didn't carry the late-afternoon game and, blissfully, the prime-time lineup went on uninterrupted.) While CSI: Miami fans have every right to be annoyed by this — I was as well that Sunday, as the reality-TV angle made it an episode I was curious to see for myself — there is a very peculiar logic in suggesting CBS should put a show "nobody cares about" in the 10/et slot, which is unquestionably the most vulnerable hour when football goes way long. From CBS' point of view, it makes more sense — and makes affiliates happy — to put a show viewers do care about in that time period. Even with the overruns, die-hard fans are more likely to try to stay tuned to a show like Miami, and that's a win for CBS. Putting a loser show there (not that CBS has many of those) makes no sense whatsoever for the bottom line.
To address the question of why CSI: Miami drew the short straw: The answer has less to do with the show itself than with the network's desire to open up the Monday time period with a new show and try to create a new hit for CBS. Which, more or less, is what happened. (Ditto with moving CSI: NY to Friday to launch The Defenders on Wednesday.) The industry generally sees these as bold moves that look to the network's future as opposed to staying complacent with long-running shows that don't pack the heat they used to.
Question: I'm terribly disappointed in the way Cloris Leachman is used in Raising Hope. She is such a brilliant actor, and her recurring role in Malcolm in the Middle used her talents to great advantage. However, having her perform as an old person in the depths of dementia is not funny. Where's the humor in having her character sit under a table with chocolate drooling out of her mouth? Shame on the producers for wasting Cloris' talent and for making light of a tragic life condition. — Bob
Matt Roush: Nothing is more subjective than what is funny and what is tasteless in comedy that plays to the extremes. Raising Hope is not a polite comedy, to put it mildly (which Hope never does), and I have been both tickled and appalled by the Maw Maw character at various times. I would agree the way she was used in the Halloween episode was one of the show's more tone-deaf moments, but I especially enjoy the bits where Maw Maw is temporarily lucid and still comes off as crazy as the rest of the family. If I thought for any reason that Cloris Leachman wasn't in on the joke and enjoying herself immensely playing this character, I might be more offended myself. As it is, I'm still getting a huge kick out of the show — it's just about the only new network series that has popped for me at all this fall — and trying not to feel too ashamed of myself the morning after.
Question: Do you know if Flashpoint (on CBS) will be renewed for a season 3? If so, WHEN will it air? I love that show — IMO it has a lot of heart — and it's different from other cop shows. As such, I hope it'll be back. — Hannah
Matt Roush: Again, a subject that comes up with some frequency. As of now, CBS has yet to make an announcement regarding the show's return. If the network does pick up more episodes, it will almost certainly air (as usual) as a summer replacement series, in part because the network is doing so well with its current regular-season lineup that it doesn't really need much in the way of fallbacks. Wish I could tell you when CBS will make a call one way or the other, but we may not get a clear read until CBS begins plotting its summer strategy. And midseason comes first.
Question: Do you think that the Chuck writers named Timothy Dalton's pre-reveal character Tuttle as an homage to the classic 1st-season M*A*S*H episode Tuttle, where Hawkeye creates a fictional captain in order to get supplies to Korean orphans? It was sticking in my head during the hour, and then when Dalton says, "there is no Tuttle," it finally clicked with me. — Al
Matt Roush: Great catch! Can't imagine this being a mere coincidence. Makes me enjoy the whole situation even more. Thanks for sharing.
Question: Is the (deserved) success of Tom Selleck's Blue Bloods the death knell for the Jesse Stone TV-movie franchise? It seems unlikely that CBS would endorse Selleck, whose series character is so far rather squared away, continuing to appear (semi-)regularly on their schedule as the distinctly un-squared away, fascinatingly flawed Chief Stone. It would be a great loss, since Selleck has often professed his devotion to continuing and even expanding the movie series, and he has steered the franchise's stories and tone with admirable loyalty to Robert Parker since his passing. — Randall
Matt Roush: Given the success of Blue Bloods, it's in CBS' best interests to keep Tom Selleck happy. And that includes keeping the Jesse Stone franchise alive, which I agree is a very good thing. There is apparently one movie already in the can, Innocence Lost, awaiting an air date — CBS has no regular TV-movie slot, so be patient — and last summer, Selleck indicated a script was being developed for yet another movie, so there's definitely more to come. Just can't say when or with what frequency, now that the star is tied up in what looks to be a long-running new hit series.
Question: The problem with Outlaw was simple, and I can't understand why no one has seen it yet. THE SHOW WAS NOT ORIGINAL! Yes, that's right. If you watch the pilot, it's easy to see that, after accounting for a change in character names and locale, this show was a rewrite of Shark, which ran for only two seasons on CBS. I'm pretty certain that it was even pitched this way to NBC executives. The network could have moved it to another night before deciding to kill it, since Shark lasted two years with basically the same premise. But NBC needs hits, so it's either stand and deliver, or face execution. — Richard
Matt Roush: Some might argue (OK, I will) that the execution of the insipid Outlaw also led to its execution. But there's no question the show was derivative as well, and Shark was just the most obvious of its forerunners. A flamboyant maverick taking on hot-button cases with a team of earnest and/or feisty associates? Yeah, I've seen that a few times in my years on the job. And almost always done better than this one.
Questin: I have thoroughly enjoyed the three episodes of the new Sherlock on Masterpiece Mystery. The talent of the two lead actors playing Sherlock and Dr. Watson make the show more than just another crime-solving series but a real gem in terms of the heart and humor of this fantastic new take on a beloved literary figure. Do you know if there are more of these Sherlock stories in the works and if we will get them here in the States on Masterpiece Mystery? I look forward to seeing more of this modern Sherlock and Watson. — JG
Matt Roush: There will definitely be a second batch of Sherlock movies, and I would look for them in the next season of Masterpiece Mystery! in 2011. (Too early to suggest a ballpark air date.) I bring this up again to cushion the blow that there were only three movies in the delightful first series, and they've all already aired. But it also gives me an excuse to once again mention Benedict Cumberbatch (Best. Name. Ever.), who was pure magic as the 21st-century Sherlock, matched at every step by Martin Freeman as his long-suffering Dr. Watson. Easily one of my favorite shows of 2010.
Questin: In your November 8 Ask Matt column, the topic of the new characters on Grey's Anatomy (April and Avery) was discussed. The reader seemed to be really annoyed by two characters who, as you pointed out, are not really fleshed out. I find it weird that the fans can be so annoyed by two characters that have really not pulled much focus from our core group. It's because he's not well developed (and, I admit, pretty) that I LIKE Avery. I feel like the writers are taking their time establishing him (and now April, who was missing for a good chunk of last season) as part of this group. They weren't instant friends last year, and yes the trauma has brought them all closer, but other than them moving into Meredith's (which did feel forced) I feel like they are slowly being weaved into the fabric of the show. They remind me of Alex in the first season or so: more or less on the fringe of the group, but the occasional fact or characteristic is presented so as to build story later.
Okay, but my REAL observation is: Would the "fans" rather have new characters of long-running series be shoved down our throats? Or is it actually possible to create interesting fleshed-out characters that are truly brought in slowly? With the exception of fascinating guest stars who became regulars, most of my favorite "non-original" characters started like April and Avery: supporting players who eventually became more dynamic (or if they didn't, they faded away). For example, on Lost Juliet was very peripheral for some time, and I didn't really care one way or the other until a season or two of slow development. But by the end I was crying to see her go! I guess I just want to say that while I don't need these characters to anchor story anytime in the near future, I'm happy to have them around and to see what happens. — Kathryn
Matt Roush: Some very good points here, and an infinitely reasonable approach to continuing to enjoy this particular show, which is having a strong season so far. (Though I am now beginning to worry that they're playing out the Cristina breakdown a bit too long. The teaser for this week's episode — SPOILER ALERT — that showed her tending bar was not promising.) As I noted last time, neither new character annoys me to the point where it's getting in my way of enjoying the show, and Jackson in particular is growing on me because of his current insecurities. (April still comes off as awfully shrill much of the time.) But to be honest, both have had it pretty easy compared to the fan vitriol that assaulted Kim Raver's Teddy Altman when she arrived on the scene.
That's all for now. Keep sending in those questions to email@example.com, and in the meantime, follow me on Twitter!
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