Kevin McHale and Robert Ulrich
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Question: What the heck is institutionally wrong with NBC that they can't seem to handle transitions with any class or make a choice and stick with it? I can remember the first Today show debacle when they pushed out Jane Pauley and put poor Deborah Norville in her place, only to abandon Norville to take the brunt of the backlash for their bad decision. Jump ahead to the next century where they push Jay Leno out before he's ready to go, but won't completely let go of him because they can't make up their minds. They put Leno where he's pretty much guaranteed to fail in prime time and then give up on Conan O'Brien before he's really had a chance to grow into the job. Again, treating both performers pretty shabbily considering what they'd contributed to the network.
Now the same old same old with poor Ann Curry. After 15 years of loyal service to the program, they toss her aside in the rudest way possible. They let rumors fly on the Internet and then give her a few minutes to say goodbye, pack her stuff and get out. Why are they willing to lay out millions and millions for contracts with people they obviously have no confidence in? Curry, like Leno, appears to be a company [wo]man, willing to stick with NBC instead of taking the buyout and waving goodbye. But I have to wonder, is a lack of class, loyalty and common sense a requirement to work in upper management at NBC? — Cynthia
Matt Roush: You'd think so, wouldn't you? NBC has such a track record of mismanaging its legacy franchises you almost marvel when a transition goes smoothly (like Tom Brokaw handing Nightly News over to Brian Williams). Ann Curry's tearful and abrupt goodbye on Today's co-anchor couch was embarrassingly awkward and painful to watch — read our analysis of the situation here — and much like the Leno-Conan mess, it's no way to treat such a loyal team player, even if the gig wasn't the best fit for her. By not even saluting her with a clip reel of the sort of accomplishments she is expected to continue in her new "at-large" role, it felt so dismissive, and I pity anyone who was watching who doesn't keep up with industry gossip and reporting, because her goodbye came out of nowhere, and if you missed that 10 minutes, you'd never have known it was a pivotal day for her and the show. Business as usual, and carrying on in the next hour like it had never happened, there's no good way to spin something that coarse and clumsy. That said, I think she'll do just fine in her new role, which lets her do what she does best — empathetic reporting in the field on major stories — but there's no question uprooting her from the Today team leaves a hole and an embarrassing black mark just as the new "family" heads to the Olympics.
Question: Am I the only one who hopes Glee doesn't get a Best Comedy Emmy nomination, but that The Glee Project does get a Best Reality Show nod? — Dennis
Matt Roush: You're hardly alone. Glee absolutely deserved the attention for its breakthrough first season, but in the successive seasons, not so much — and if it does get nominated again, it will be for its overall production values, which remain impressive, not so much for its content, which remains wildly erratic. The buzz has dimmed considerably, which could open the door for some of the year's strong new contenders (Girls, New Girl) as well as shows like Louie and (less likely, sadly) The Middle that have yet to crack the top category. And I couldn't agree more about The Glee Project, which is among my very favorite reality competition series of the moment. It will be hard to break into a category so dominated by mega-produced network power players (and cable staples like Project Runway and Top Chef), but this one has so much heart and talent that I'd like to it competing next to So You Think You Can Dance (the crown jewel for me, and a show I would like to see win over The Amazing Race someday). But a note of caution to The Glee Project: I hope that whoever wins gets more to do, and is able to do it better, than either of last year's winners (both upstaged by runner-up Alex Newell).
Question: I am an unapologetic Glee fan, and while I recognize that it was hip to hate on Glee for most of Season 3, I still found the show to be one of my favorites. I found lots to like, but even my enthusiasm for the show can't overshadow that Season 3 was an occasional hot mess (the Puck/Shelby storyline). I've read a variety of interviews involving Ryan Murphy and they suggest there were some creative battles behind the scenes on music selection and production — I guess Fox wasn't as enamored with the West Side Story aspect (I loved it and found those episodes dealing with the musical and how they incorporated it into the "real" life of the kids to be some of the stronger episodes) and wanted the music focus to be more pop and Top 40. Maybe this led to such an uneven season? But it makes me wonder what the fourth season's show-within-a-show will really entail and if it can be successful in rebooting the series. There is no doubt that there is a fan base for those characters that graduated, but can Glee be successful in trying to stay true to its high-school roots while trying to follow those that have left McKinley behind? What are you thoughts on the new concept and for that matter the new time slot for Glee? — Chris
Matt Roush: It's definitely going to be a different Glee, that's for sure. Which isn't necessarily a bad thing, although it sounds to me more like two different shows than a show-within-a-show, so the real question is how they'll balance these elements, which is going to be a challenge. I'm more worried about how they re-energize the high school half of the show, having lost so many key players, than with the New York adventures of Rachel and Kurt, which should feel fresh because the show will be breaking new ground there. As for the new time period: I get the strategy of stacking four sitcoms on Tuesdays and using The X Factor's results show as a musical lead-in to Glee, but logistically and selfishly, the last thing I need on Thursday is yet another show to keep track of and try to watch live on an already very busy night, so that part annoys me. But I imagine it will do OK there.
Question: You addressed the scheduling of Warehouse 13 and Eureka in your June 11 column. I'm wondering what your thoughts are now that it's been confirmed that a second wave of 10 episodes of Warehouse 13 will air in April 2013. Technically, yes, they'll still air all 20 episodes within a year, but with a huge gap in the middle. And since Season 4.1 will wrap up in June 2013, I'm assuming that means no Season 5 next summer. Any thoughts on why they're doing it this way? Is it just cost cutting? "Two seasons for the price of one?" Personally, I'm disappointed, but not surprised after watching how Eureka was treated. I just find it hard to understand why Syfy keeps doing this. I know I should be grateful that we're getting any episodes at all (and I am), but going from 13-episode seasons to what is effectively 10-episode seasons is a bit of a downer. — Jodi
Matt Roush: Since its debut, which coincided with the rebranding and renaming of the network, Warehouse 13 has been Syfy's highest-rated summer show — at least that's how they've always touted it — and a signature show, so I don't know why they would want to mess with that. And who's to say that even if the second half of Warehouse's season bleeds over into next June that the next season won't premiere in late July as it does this year? I've learned to live with the cable practice of chopping up a show's season into several parts, but there should be a rhyme or reason to it. On the plus side, a 20-episode season does seem to give everyone more bang for their buck, however it's scheduled.
Question: Is there any way the fans can get Jill Flint back on Royal Pains? The reasons the writers gave for firing her are just wrong. Getting rid of her because she is not a doctor and Hank can no longer date her? Since when did that matter? And the writers never even tried to give her any good storylines outside of Hank. In addition, how is it that they can suddenly no longer write for Jill, but the pretty blond who does nothing for the show but play Evan's future wife gets not only full-time status but absolutely no storyline, yet she is still on the show? I am angry and I want Jill Flint back. Until then Royal Pains is off my DVR! — Nancy
Matt Roush: I assume you're responding to this interview with the producers, who don't appear to have made the decision lightly. Clearly there's no answer that will satisfy fans of the actress or Hank-Jill "shippers," but it makes sense to me (as a very objective observer) that since Hank is the focus of the show and they want to keep him single for now and seemingly for the foreseeable future, it was getting harder not to marginalize her more than they already had. When a show gets to a certain age, producers tend to try to shake things up a bit, and that often entails dropping characters who were essential to the initial premise. That's what happened here, but I suppose if the fan backlash were vocal enough, it might give them reason to rethink things — maybe closer to when it's time to wrap things up, which they're obviously not in any rush to do.
Question: After watching last week's episode of Drop Dead Diva, I have to say: When is Grayson gonna get some love? Heartache, longing, obstacles to bliss are all perfectly fine plot devices when a romantic entanglement needs to be strung out over the life of a series, but seriously, how much longer can this go on? Plus, sweatiness in a suit? Who knew that could be a look worth having? (Is Jane completely oblivious?) Since it seems some portents of doom are much less subtle than others, should I assume that Owen is not long for this world? Or am I reading too much into his aches and pains? (This would rather neatly transfer the relationship-related misery from Grayson to Jane, and provide an opportunity for her to weep on his shoulder, also a useful cliché.) Still not a fan of the new angel; I want Fred to come back! — Anna
Matt Roush: I won't speculate on spoilers, but from other reactions I've read to the latest turn of events on the show, it seems to me one of the charms of Drop Dead Diva is the way it upends our romantic-comedy expectations — in this case, having the dreamboat pining for the big girl. The longer a show like this runs, the more danger there is in frustrating the viewer who longs for a payoff. So here's hoping for some happy endings for somebody. And while I also miss Fred, I wouldn't want anything to endanger the actor's availability to Mad Men, because Ben Feldman's performance as the irrepressible Michael Ginsberg was one of the brightest spots on the show last season.
Question: If Mariska Hargitay is not going to make room for Kelli Giddish's character to be developed so we can share her journey into the often harrowing stories of Law & Order: SVU, is there a chance we will see Giddish in something else? Seeing her go from the lead in Chase to playing second fiddle to an unsatisfied actress who has presumably found she can't get as much money anywhere else is an insult to her and her fans. — Windy
Matt Roush: Ouch. As someone who found Giddish much the best thing about Chase and her previous, even shorter-lived series Past Life and pegged her as a star to watch, I think she's doing just fine as part of the new SVU ensemble — which has always focused on the leads (Hargitay and Christopher Meloni) much more than the rest of the squad. With Hargitay staying on — because without her, there probably wouldn't still be a show — she is naturally the focal point of most episodes, with Danny Pino and Giddish very much as co-stars, followed by the rest of the gang. I'm betting she's just glad to be on a show in a role that's guaranteed to last more than a season. (I'm just sorry she wasn't able to juggle this with her provocative scene-stealing on The Good Wife.)
Question: I am a big JAG fan, and was wondering with the success that the show had, why are there not more military shows on? NCIS and NCIS: LA are kind of military but not really. I also loved The Unit for the few seasons it was on. — James
Matt Roush: It is curious, because we always hear the networks are looking for shows that might draw a more male-concentrated audience, and this genre would seem to qualify. (Army Wives is a military-themed show geared to an entirely different audience, clearly.) The real issue here is probably that it's hard to pitch and sell an entertainment series set in the military when we're currently engaged in war operations. Witness the difficulties of FX's timely Over There, set in the Iraq War, which didn't make it past a single season. But let me recommend to you one of the fall's more exciting new series: ABC's Last Resort (from the producer of The Unit), about the crew of a nuclear submarine that goes rogue. Reminds me at times of cold-war thrillers like Fail Safe and Seven Days in May, and it's one of the few pilots this season I'm very eager to see more of.
Question: Truth: What are the chances of the Emmy brass giving the well-deserved Sandra Oh an Emmy nod this year? Her work was impeccable this year, the best of her tenure on Grey's Anatomy. Please say it's gonna be so, Matt. — CO
Matt Roush: Truth: She has the best chance of anyone on Grey's to make the cut. It would be her sixth, but her first since 2009. Cristina suffered greatly and memorably last season, and Oh always delivers. But the supporting categories in drama are overstuffed with worthy ensembles (not just The Good Wife and Mad Men, but this year including Downton Abbey and the mighty Maggie Smith), so I won't be surprised if this show, which is very easy to take for granted these days, has a tough time getting noticed. Still, if anyone breaks through, it's likely to be her.
Question: Is there any chance a cable network might pick up Missing? I really loved the show and I thought Ashley Judd did a fantastic job. They left the end open and I would love to find out what happened to her character. — KF
Matt Roush: Very unlikely. Missing's greatest asset was its wide-ranging location filming, making it hard to imagine that a cable network would have the budget to carry this forward — and if one did, to produce it on a comparable level.
Question: Regarding the cancellation of GCB: Any chance of saving this awesome show? It's soapy and over-the-top, but it's great entertainment. Plus they left us with a lot of unanswered questions. — Shelly
Matt Roush: Again, hard to imagine. (But you never know; CBS just uncanceled Unforgettable, though it will now be a summer-only series.) One consolation if you're a fan of this sort of soap: ABC may have passed on Devious Maids, the latest from Desperate Housewives' Marc Cherry, but Lifetime picked it up, so maybe this will fill the campy void.
That's all for now. And for the next week, as I'll be taking a few days off after the 4th. But July is shaping up to be a very busy TV month, so keep sending your comments and questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, and in the meantime, follow me on Twitter!
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