John Noble and Joshua Jackson
TV Guide's Senior Critic Matt Roush takes your TV questions. Have a rant, rave or burning question about your favorite show you'd like addressed? E-mail him here!

Question: I am confused why some critics have stated that Joshua Jacksonwas miscast in the role of Peter on Fringe. I couldn't disagree more. Joshua is a good actor and Peter has good chemistry with Olivia. If anything they need to give him more to do than just be a babysitter all the time. They are wasting his fine talents, which is hardly his fault. (However, I must say he would have been miscast in the army doctor role over on Grey's Anatomy! He was too young for that role.) And regarding Desperate Housewives, you recently stated that you find Gale Harold's performance "surprisingly charming." What drives me crazy about his addition to the show is that he is totally wasted. Again, another great actor given very little to do except take off his shirt and beg for attention. It's also more than a bit odd watching the former "Brian Kinney" being the whipping boy for Teri Hatcher. As if... And just for the record, I agree with you about Heroes this year. All this time traveling is confusing, especially with regards to Peter. I can't figure out which one he is supposed to be half the time, and I've been a fan since the first episode. However, I like watching Sylar play the good guy it's amusing. And I must admit to liking My Own Worst Enemy. Perhaps it is because I thought the show would be just plain terrible and surprisingly it isn't. My husband and I enjoy it for what it is. (Plus it is great to get to see Christian Slater on TV every Monday night!) — CB

Matt Roush: I'm not sure who you're reading, but I've got no beef with Joshua Jackson on Fringe. His snarky take on the crisis of the week and John Noble as his cracked dad are the high points of just about every episode. It's Anna Torv's Olivia who, after my strong first impression, I've had trouble warming up to. I'm still trusting the show will work out its kinks and figure out the appropriate mix where all of its primary characters are concerned. (And I have to think that where Grey's Anatomy is concerned, his role would have been conceived way differently from where they've taken it with the terrific Kevin McKidd.) As for Gale Harold: I like the change of pace in making him so sympathetic and vulnerable. He's a supporting player in this ensemble and that's as it should be. We'll be tackling Heroes at length as this week's column continues, but I will say I've had people write in to say I should lighten up where My Own Worst Enemy is concerned. After pre-screening last week's episode, I think I have a better solution. How about I start ignoring it like most of the rest of the world?

Question: I wanted to comment on Connie L.'s recent Heroes diatribe. I enjoy shows with an overarching mythology and a storyline you need to keep track of (such as Lost, Eli Stone, Fringe and others), but there's a difference between a planned story and "what do we do next?" Heroes falls right into the latter category. Right or wrong, the feeling I get watching Heroes is that they're throwing ideas up against the wall to see what sticks. The most obvious example of this is how, in Season 1, it was "save the cheerleader, save the world," and in Season 3 they allow Sylar to get Claire's powers without killing her (how very convenient). This says to me that the writers don't have a consistent plan, and if I don't feel there'll be some kind of payoff down the road that will make sense given what's come before I don't want to be bothered. To me, this is a shame. I wanted to be as wrapped up in Heroes as I am in the shows I mentioned earlier, but given the nonsense that passes for plotting on Heroes, I just don't see the point. — Ed T.

Matt Roush:
Connie's letter really set off the readers this week, some responding at such length it felt like sitting through an hour of Heroes to get through them. Ed's rebuttal was the most succinct and gets to the main point, that for many, Heroes just feels so random that, even when it's compelling, it's far from coherent.

As Katelyn further articulated: "My problem isn't that I don't want to use my brain while watching TV. My problem is that I can't turn it off, and that's why Heroes has become such a mess for me. The characters are consistently acting in ways that make absolutely no sense ... The stakes on this show are a complete joke, as pretty much every person to ever have died has also been resurrected (if that's an exaggeration, it's a slight one). Also, all of a sudden Mohinder is a power-hungry evildoer? And Sylar can be trusted? Don't get me wrong, I love me a good character transformation, but it's as though Heroes wants all the fun "Wow!" moments without earning them emotionally and while ignoring character consistency. I realize that Heroes fans have "answers" to all these complaints, but I've heard them and they require giant leaps of logic, or consist of the sentiment "don't be so nit-picky." I can understand the latter argument, and have no problem if Connie or others want to enjoy it in a mindless, escapist way (even if I no longer can, I'm glad they still get enjoyment out of it). But don't tell me the reason I don't like it is because I don't use my brain. I'd argue the only way to enjoy Heroes is to turn your brain off."

Question: Frankly, Matt, I'm astonished, in regard to Heroes, at how you claim that "the reality of the situation is that there aren't a lot of people, even critics, who want to work that hard at watching a show like this." How can you claim this when you, other critics and fans were praising the most recent season of one of the most confusing and twisting shows ever: Lost? Just today, I rewatched the recap episode that aired before the fourth season premiere on my iPod, and I was reminded at how confusing Lost can be sometimes. I realize that with Lost now having a definite end date (something which Heroes probably would benefit from having) Team Darlton can weave the story correctly and in an organized fashion. That may be why critics and fans are more willing to deal with the Lost mysteries than the Heroes mysteries, but Lost didn't always have a set end date and I frankly enjoyed the second and third seasons of Lost, which were panned by critics. Would you be more forgiving of Heroes if they implemented a set end date, or would you still feel the same? — Joel T.

Matt Roush: The real issue here for me isn't when a show is pledging to end or which show is more confusing than the other and requires more work to watch, but which show is more rewarding on a week-to-week basis. And that's where I rate Lost way above Heroes. I've often said you can enjoy Lost without sweating all the details and worrying about how all of the mysteries add up (if they ever do) because the characters are so well developed, the acting and writing generally on such a high level, and the emotional urgency of nearly every episode's individual arc, whether it unfolds in flashback or flash-forward, is so strong and compelling I end each hour satisfied and enthralled. It has more going for it than mere plot, whereas for me Heroes is nothing but plot: some tantalizing, some inexplicable. Though both shows have excellent production values, the dramatic execution is simply on different planets. I have come to peace with Heroes as a comic book brought to life and can enjoy it (within reason) as such. But it was overrated from the start, and now that its flaws are much more exposed, I can't say I'm surprised to see its ratings (as happened to Lost for its own reasons) come down to earth.

Question: Just wondering if you know when (if?) the CW will be bringing Reaper back. It's one of the only shows remaining on the CW that is worth watching (Supernatural being the other). I know that it was mentioned during the CW's upfronts as being a midseason replacement, but is there a more specific timeline in sight? — Patrick

Matt Roush: Nothing has been announced yet - the CW is busy with sweeps month right now - but my sense is that Reaper is likely to return sooner than later at midseason, almost certainly within the first quarter (January-March) of 09. Stay tuned. I'm kind of looking forward to it coming back as well.

Question: I know I have no one to blame but myself for even watching this mess of a TV show, but CSI: Miami is like a freak car accident. You know you shouldn't watch, but you can't help but look, even though every bone in your body is telling you not to. But it has gotten so ludicrous I felt compelled to ask if the show had a budget cut which only allows for one wardrobe per show and requires that the show only be shot during daylight hours. Last Monday night's debacle of a show was absolutely ridiculous. The original crime took place in the morning in a retail store which we all know does not open till at least 10 am. That same day before 7 pm (because it was still light outside when the show ended), they interviewed four different suspects, ran fingerprints, ran DNA, investigated and solved another murder, processed an entire vehicle and had two flashbacks of fights between other characters that also happened that same day. All of the characters were still in the same clothes (all variations on pink and purple and completely wrinkle/dirt free even after processing crime scenes all day). Any person with a hint of knowledge of the judicial system knows it takes at least days if not weeks for DNA to come back and fingerprints don't automatically come up within the first five people they compare it to. How they can track down all these suspects (who just happen to be home when they come knocking), interview them, release them, get them back a second or even a third time all within the same day is preposterous. I guess there is no traffic in Miami, and it is only five miles in its radius. Another gripe is that if these people are all such gifted analysts, then why do they have to explain every single procedure they do to the next person who walks in the door? Is it forensics for dummies around there? I think after this farce of an episode I can finally say I am totally and overly done with this show. Now if only the rest of the 14 million plus others that watch would say the same thing, we may finally get some quality television to pair with the brilliant How I Met Your Mother on Monday nights. — Nanci W.

Matt Roush: If memory serves, last week's episode was a repeat, and I sure hope that wasn't the second time you put yourself through that torture. A little unreality check here: Even the best procedurals (well, maybe not Homicide: Life on the Street from back in the day) are basically crime-solving fantasies, compressing time and weeding out the more boring aspects of police/forensics work to give viewers an escapist experience with (usually) a tidy ending as each hour wraps. That's why the genre is such sure-fire comfort food for so many. With its mannered acting and hyper-stylized look, CSI: Miami is just more heightened than most, and is certainly fair game for ridicule, so thanks for entertaining me with your rant. This is the point where people tend to write in to say, "If you don't like it, then stop watching." Nanci seems to have finally reached that point. To which I say: Congratulations. May I suggest getting hooked on Chuck instead (which you can play back after recording earlier, if that works for you).

Question: Of all the complaints I've heard regarding Pushing Daisies, the one that I've heard the most often is the one that makes the least sense. I keep reading comments about how the premise of two romantic leads who are unable to touch does not lend itself to longevity. Huh? To me, the premise only succeeds over the long term. The beauty of the show is that they can't touch: not that they can't touch for a month, or a year, or even a really long time. It's that they can never touch. Now of course I'd like the satisfaction of seeing a finale seven years from now that finally breaks that rule, but the satisfaction of such a moment relies upon the audience having endured years of the same painful barrier that Ned and Chuck face. A quick pay-off does this story a disservice. Of course "enduring pain" as an audience could so easily make for bad television, but that's the trick of this wonderful show. Even without physical contact, there is such an inherent sweetness to the characters and their world that sustains Ned and Check (and we loyal viewers) until our ultimate emotional pay-out has been earned. Not a complaint, more a rant, I know, and I could go on for pages and pages. So what do we have to do to keep a gem like Pushing Daisies on the air? — Nick

Matt Roush: I like your arguments, and also find Ned and Chuck's relationship much more affirming than frustrating. There is so much joy to be had in Pushing Daisies that I can't believe more people aren't savoring it. I wish I had an answer to your final question, but the most positive spin I can put on the situation is that I'm glad to see that ABC, for now, has indicated in its initial sweeps release that Daisies is scheduled to run through the entire month (with a pre-emption of the entire Wednesday lineup Nov. 12 for the CMA Awards), a sign that the network will continue exercising some patience.

Question: I am concerned regarding the ratings for Pushing Daisies and the very real possibility of this show being canceled. While there are no shows on this year that will cause me agony like Moonlight's cancellation did last year, I think Pushing Daisies is a really unique show unlike anything else on television. What do you think of its chances to at least make it for a full season? As I mentioned, I still mourn the loss of Moonlight. While my love of the show was always about the whole show and not a particular actor, I have noticed that Jason Dohring will be on a new HBO show. What is going on with Alex O'Loughlin? CBS signed him to a talent contract and he was supposed to be working on something, but there's been no mention of anything recently, particularly from CBS. Do you know anything? With all his fans, CBS is making a major mistake not getting him on something. — Faye

Matt Roush: Right now, I'm just hoping ABC will air all 13 of the Pushing Daisies episodes that were initially ordered. I'll worry about the rest later, but I think you have to consider it a long shot to make it to the end of the season, let alone beyond, unless someone high up is really looking out for the show. As for Alex O'Loughlin: Haven't heard anything, but to me, an even bigger mistake than not yet having announced his next project would be to rush him into a project before they've found the right one. (And while the early demise of The Ex List no doubt has the I-told-you-so'ers chomping for a Moonlight comeback, that's beyond unlikely.) TV is always at its worst when it's more about the deal than the show, and locking a star into a show if it's not the right fit for either the star or the network is a recipe for disaster. But make no mistake: Alex O'Loughlin is a major TV star waiting to explode, and given the success Simon Baker is finally having with The Mentalist, it should be only a matter of time before O'Loughlin finds a suitable vehicle to take full advantage of his undeniable charisma.

Question: I had to agree a bit with Sarah's recent comments, in that I've found myself blah over many of my returning favorites, and I have to wonder if terrific summer shows like The Closer, Eureka, Saving Grace and Mad Men have really upped my expectations. My fall bright spots are quirky shows like Pushing Daisies, Eli Stone and Chuck. One exception, though: I'm pleasantly surprised by how much Grey's Anatomy seems to have regained its stride this year. It's one of the few traditional dramas that I'm eager to see each week. I was wondering if you'd managed to keep up with the season so far, and if you felt it had regained some of its past luster? — TaMara

Matt Roush: I actually felt Grey's was getting back on track in the episodes after the strike hiatus last season, so haven't had to be won over that much this year. I'm enjoying it quite a bit, Bailey in particular — some things never change — although I grew weary very quickly of Callie's sex obsession/phobia in her new relationship with Erica (the resolution of which, courtesy of McSteamy, was maybe the filthiest bit of sex comedy I've seen this side of Californication this season). Glad that's behind us. And I am very encouraged by the addition of Kevin McKidd, both for romantic (go, Cristina!) and dramatic reasons. So all in all: I'm still a fan.

Question: Last season I wrote to you about how much I love Eli Stone but how I feel its excessive need to shove politics into episodes drives people away. You responded that, while you could kind of see my point, you felt that was a necessary byproduct of a courtroom drama that revolves around a do-gooder fighting for the underdog. (Obviously I'm paraphrasing there.) In reading your response, I realized that I hadn't managed to make my point effectively and having just watched the Katie Holmes episode, I thought I'd try again, because it's a perfect example of what I was trying to say. In it, a father and mother were at odds over how to bury their son, who was a soldier, given he'd joined the military to please his father and never felt comfortable in the role. As is usual with the show, that seemingly unrelated issue devolved into a monologue on the Iraq War. Even though it was utterly unnecessary to the plot (someone can not feel they fit in as a soldier without it being a referendum on the war in Iraq). That was the point I was going for originally.  I understand that a show like Eli Stone will occasionally have to broach politically sensitive topics. What bothers me are the cases where it's completely unnecessary. In this case, the monologue was shoehorned in to what was otherwise an utterly charming episode. I come from a family of conservatives and it drives me crazy that I can't share what is otherwise a delightful, uplifting show with them because the show itself goes out of its way to attack their values in just about every episode. Even more than that, it drives me crazy knowing the show may not be around much longer because it's driven away viewers (I still think largely because of its inability to check its political bent at the door). — Tom C.

Matt Roush: Sorry, I'm not buying the Iraq War as being dramatically off-limits in a storyline like that (which seemed entirely germane to the emotional situation at hand), but it's pretty clear that the war is an unpopular subject matter for any entertainment property, movies or TV. I do agree that Eli Stone's strength is in its heart, its wit, its charm and its soul, and not in any particular political leanings - this week's episode, dealing with Jordan and the firm and Eli's torn loyalties between his mentor and a crusading case against lead poisoning, was admirably non-preachy. Eli Stone isn't a soapbox show like Boston Legal, nor should it be. But ultimately, if anything will sink Eli Stone, as with many of ABC's ambitiously heartfelt shows, it's the audience's seeming indifference this season toward anything that dares to go off the expected path and asks people to embrace hope or magic or anything positive. I suppose that if Eli somehow began to take on serial killers or sex offenders every week, maybe it would be a hit. It's all very discouraging.

Question: I recently heard the news about the CW wanting to do a show about a pre-Robin Dick Grayson as an acrobat in his parents' circus. As a comic book geek, at first I was really excited about this. Then I thought about what kind of story they could tell, and I realized that this really is a terrible idea. If the CW wants a companion/replacement show for Smallville, why this? They passed on an excellent Aquaman pilot (which was the #1 sold TV show episode on iTunes for a while, I might add) and fans have wanted a Green Arrow show with Justin Hartley which has great potential. So why are they choosing this? Considering the best part of Dick Grayson's life is actually after he goes by Robin and becomes Nightwing, I really need to (yet again) question the CW's intentions. Are they trying to drive the network to extinction? They got rid of WWE Smackdown, which won the ratings every Friday night in their target demo, and now this? Isn't it bad enough that they have every other show with teenage angst, but now they want a show about Dick's life in the circus? I like to think I'm optimistic, and maybe after seeing the pilot I'd change my mind, but tell me that this doesn't raise some serious eyebrows. Maybe they'll finally realize they're literally sitting on a gold-mine idea with a Green Arrow show. — Joel

Matt Roush: With all due respect to self-confessed comic-book geeks who have a vested interest in seeing their favorite heroes immortalized in a show of their own — and I have absolutely no opinion on the relative merits of Aquaman or Green Arrow — let's just see if or how this one turns out before passing judgment. I'll admit I'm a bit skeptical of this premise, not ever having been particularly fascinated in Robin's origin or myth before he teamed with Batman. But then, I was more into Smallville back before it became Metropolis or whatever it is now, so I'm not disinclined to watch a revisionist action series about the making of a young superhero. I can't blame the CW for wanting to relive past glory by trying a new version of Smallville with another origin story, but it does sound a bit of a stretch.