Ask Matt: Reacting to the "Huddy" Kiss, (Still) Worrying About Pushing Daisies and More!
Hugh Laurie and Lisa Edelstein, House
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 was just wondering what you thought about the big House and Cuddy kiss at the end of the most recent House episode. (I know it is dangerous to express an opinion about any of the possible romantic pairings on House, but this is really more about the scene itself than any future romantic possibilities.) I've read some comments calling the kiss "awkward," and I thought (and maybe I'm the only one here) that it being awkward was sort of the point. The kiss was unexpected, raw, a little angry and a little uncomfortable to watch, but it was also passionate and a bit tender. It wasn't "pretty;" there was no romantic music, or carefully choreographed movements. But I've never seen a TV kiss that was so perfectly suited to the complicated characters involved, their relationship and pent up emotions, and the odd, messy situation they found themselves in at the end of this episode. I'm not going to attempt to define what that kiss meant to either character (because that is where opinions get controversial), but I thought that entire last scene, from the argument before the kiss to the awkward goodbyes afterward, was beautifully acted and directed. I'd also like to add that Lisa Edelstein's stunning performance throughout the entire episode was as impressive, and heartbreaking, as Robert Sean Leonard's performance in last season's finale. It is great to see these two fabulous supporting actors finally getting a chance to shine. — Megan
Matt Roush: Got quite a bit of mail on this topic, almost all of it positive and quite often taking a defensive posture against the inevitable knee-jerk "jump the shark" attacks the scene got. As LKB put it: "What happened to just enjoying these moments for the writing, acting and direction without constantly worrying about the potential fallout? My feeling is that the sexual tension between House and Cuddy needed to be explored at some point and what better time than now when House is already vulnerable with Wilson and daddy issues. Regardless of whether one agrees about the timing, it's just getting a little annoying to see people freak out any time anything dramatic happens on any show. Admittedly some of these ideas may not work in hindsight, but I'm not sure what people expect. For main characters to be stagnant? For writers to avoid adding any sense of plot or drama?"
Couldn't agree more with that, and with Megan's analysis that the kiss (which I would have preferred Fox not to have hyped in advance) was indeed meant to be awkward, mysterious, unsatisfying and ambiguous. The fact that it wasn't a sweep-you-off-your-feet romantic catharsis was very much in keeping with these two messed-up characters. It was also beautifully played by two terrific actors, and I hope the show just lets the moment hang out there for a while without having to explain things beyond this one startling moment of connection.
Question: I'm not sure House could ever be with anyone, but I'm beginning to think, if anyone, it has to be Cuddy. Watching her heart be broken like that with the baby thing and then House coming to her and seeing the two of them wounded together really was tasteful. I am really looking forward to the continuation of this storyline but, as a rule, House has to be alone, right? Isn't that something that David Shore & Co. always say? He can't have a relationship with anyone? I wish that wasn't true, only for Huddy's sake. It's seems so right. I used to be what the fans call "Hameron" but that never really felt right, not like this. I've been reading a few comments from the current "Hameron folk" and they have two main complaints that I've noticed: 1) Hugh and Lisa have no chemistry. That just isn't true. He has chemistry with both Jennifer and Lisa. Hugh Laurie could have chemistry with a rock, but it resonates with me, in particular, with Lisa Edelstein. The second complaint is that Cameron is more canon because it was in the first and second seasons and Cuddy can't be real because it wasn't always there. But that's what I love about it; their relationship grew and changed. I don't think there is an "I was here first" rule with TV show relationships. Now, I'm not trying to start fights or say what's best or not. I'm just trying to defend the new storyline, which worried me before, but now I'm beginning to love. I just wish fans could be more open-minded with stepping outside of their "ships" and really just appreciating the stories for what they are and the amazing acting that goes into it. I hope people don't complain to such as extent that Fox commands David Shore to end this storyline before its time. Is that possible? Are the anti-Huddy fans vocal enough to accomplish such a feat? Are network's ears really open to fan complaints? (Assuming they're not accompanied by a ratings dive, which I doubt this storyline would cause.) — Reina
Matt Roush: With all due respect, if the network, the studio or the producers listen to anyone throwing around the words "canon," "Huddy" or "Hameron" and take anything they have to say seriously, I despair for the future of the show. For me, this was a highly charged moment between two fascinating characters, not (I hope) the launch of a new contrived romantic arc, which I think would be disastrous. I agree that Hugh Laurie and Lisa Edelstein have incredible chemistry in their character's playfully combative banter, but that doesn't necessarily mandate a "relationship." And the idea that a show has to conform to some "canon" set of rules is just ludicrous to me. Let's see where it all goes, or (my preference) doesn't go, but if I have to weigh in at all on this "shipper" nonsense, I guess I'd side with whoever would insist that House is a romantic character only in the most tragic sense. This isn't Grey's Anatomy.
Question: I actually watch and enjoy Dancing with the Stars, though I tape Tuesday's results show because of The Mentalist, and because I find it boring. I only want to know who was voted off. Do you think people actually vote for the best dancer? While Cloris Leachman was on, I know that wasn't happening, though I didn't know whether it was a "Vote for the Worst" thing (a la Sanjaya on American Idol) or because people actually liked her. I was glad she did two dances she could leave being proud of, but before that, I couldn't decide whether she was kept because people love to watch something they can complain about, or because people were voting because they liked her personality or merely wanted to stir the pot. I think many shows where the audience is called upon to vote have callers picking the personality just as much as they pick their "talent," and I always hope in the end talent wins out. What are your thoughts? — Dorothy
Matt Roush: On a show like Dancing, where the competition is really more of an exhibition and it's all meant to be taken as fun — the grand prize more a matter of cheesy pride than careers actually being at stake — the voting no doubt reflects the popularity contest aspect of the show as much as it does the talent on display, at least in the early rounds. (I don't think the cynical Vote-for-the-Worst sort of manipulation has much sway with this show's target audience, which skews older than Idol's.) With Cloris Leachman, her staying power had everything to do with personality and novelty rather than merit, but she did bring an undeniable entertainment value to the show that justified her sticking around — until it got to the point that keeping her on at the expense of even marginally talented dancers would have been inexcusable. Last week's ouster of Susan Lucci (despite her popular ABC daytime-soap fan base) showed to me that the voting is beginning to reflect who's actually putting on a convincing and entertaining dancing show. (Lucci looked great, but her dancing was too tentative, and she often looked like a delicate music-box figurine being manipulated by Tony. It's a relief to see her go.) But in anticipating the results each week, I also find myself wondering how much of the voting is in response to the professional partner, some of whom have considerable fan bases of their own by now. Not that you asked, but I'm expecting the final to be between Brooke/Derek and Warren/Kym (unless he continues to decline), in part because I think Lacey is a drag (charisma-wise) on Lance's ticket.
Question: Thanks for your recent discussion about the success, or lack thereof, of Pushing Daisies, a show I haven't yet had time to watch and one I've questioned whether I should. I think I might have a possible answer to the lack of viewers. (Don't laugh. Just hear me out.) Could it be that the premise of bringing people back from the dead may be offensive or just off-putting to religious viewers? I know it's fantasy, but remember all the hoopla surrounding the Harry Potter books and movies? Plus, fantasies aren't for everyone. Which leads me to another point: Will high-quality, unique shows ever find big audiences? By their very nature, aren't such shows aiming to reach just the people who "get" them, which will never be as many people who like to sit around watching CSI? Of course, I still don't understand how blood-and-guts became such mainstream programming anyway. (Sometimes I watch reruns of Murder She Wrote just to get away from the procedurals.) — Sarah
Matt Roush: I would be surprised if religious objections have anything to do with Pushing Daisies' current woes. The show is so fanciful and light-hearted, even at its most macabre, that it's hard to imagine it offending anyone except those who go out of their way to be offended. And it's not as if Ned is raising an army of zombies. The people/victims he wakes from the dead are sent back to their eternal rest in less than a minute, or there are dire consequences. But maybe a little religious controversy would be welcome. The publicity certainly didn't hurt the Harry Potter franchise. Seriously, though, you make a good point that a fantasy this far-out clearly isn't going to be to everyone's taste, and the bigger problem Daisies has is that some who've sampled it appear to find it too precious and wacky, sickly sweet and cloying (an objection I disagree with), too too, if you catch my drift. I'm not sure what the realistic expectation should be for a show as unique as Pushing Daisies, but I fear that if a show like this can't find an audience on a major network, it will be more and more likely that the next creative breakthrough will once again be on cable, basic or pay, while the networks recycle familiar formulas in a desperate attempt to maintain what passes for the status quo.
Question: As we patiently wait for the news on the amazing Pushing Daisies, I was just wondering what effect its 12 Emmy nominations will have on the future of the show? I know it didn't win any of the big awards for acting, but I would think that 12 Emmy nominations for a nine-episode freshman season would make ABC try as hard as possible to save the show. The network has yet to try a different night/time with the series, and I think it's unfair that they expect a show like this to lead off the night. — Stephen
Matt Roush: I agree that ABC should try to find some way to protect Pushing Daisies with a strong and compatible lead-in, but it may also just be the case that the show will never again recapture the glow it enjoyed a year ago before the strike put it out of sight, out of mind. This promises to be an interesting case study in how a network values a show for its quality and industry buzz, regardless of the cold reality of its terrible ratings. The Emmy exposure is likely to give the network pause before swinging the ax, but at some point you have to expect the shoe to drop. I'm getting a lot of mail from frantic fans of this and other endangered shows who want to know if there's something they can personally do to help boost a show's chances of survival. Mary J wrote in to promote a new fan campaign for Daisies, but these efforts tend to be mostly symbolic. You can write the network, write sponsors, all the traditional methods of showing support, but ultimately, it will be up to ABC to decide if there's a place on the schedule for a show of such singular niche appeal.
Question: I see CBS had a very interesting episode of The Big Bang Theory dealing with Sheldon's sexuality scheduled for last Monday. Lots of people have always speculated whether Sheldon is heterosexual, homosexual, or simply asexual. Do you think the writers are going to finally let us know what Sheldon's "situation" is with his love life? I have always felt he is simply asexual, and has too much else to do to worry about other than dating and romance. Do you think Sheldon is going to get a love interest? I am really looking forward to find out more about Sheldon's love life. — Scott
Matt Roush: This question came in before that hilarious episode aired (to higher-than-average ratings, I might add), and now that we've seen how Sheldon responds to a stalker's attentions, I think it's fair to assume that this self-absorbed genius operates outside the typical straight-gay continuum. It's not so much that he's asexual as that he's basically an alien creature. No normal rules apply. When it comes to dating, he doesn't get it, he doesn't see it, he doesn't want to know about it. The very idea of Sheldon having a traditional, or even non-traditional, love interest or love life does not compute. But boy, is he funny.
Question: I'm so frustrated! How many times do I watch a CBS show at 9 pm/ET on Friday after Ghost Whisperer and it gets cancelled? First, Close to Home, then Moonlight, and now The Ex List. Out of the three, Moonlight was the best, followed by Close to Home. The Ex List wasn't great, but it wasn't terrible TV. To me, it was better than watching Supernanny at that same time. My question is this: When will CBS get a show and leave it there? Why must CBS be so specific about ratings, and dump a show if it doesn't hold Ghost Whisperer's ratings? Is there any way for the suits at CBS to hear us "regular folks" who are actually the ones watching the shows? I just don't get it, but maybe it's because I'm not familiar with the way TV Networks work. It's just very frustrating. It almost makes you not want to watch anything anymore for fear it will be canceled. This 9 pm time slot on Friday on CBS is the worst. But I know there are other shows in danger of cancellation (Pushing Daisies, etc.). Why do they expect so much from "ratings?" — Mary M.
Matt Roush: This Friday time slot is the last tough nut for CBS to crack. (The network finally fixed its Tuesday 10 pm/ET problem, where shows had gone to die ever since Judging Amy packed it in, by moving Without a Trace there.) Simply put, ratings are the necessary evil by which the network business still functions. Even in these technologically transitional times, it's the measurement system by which shows live or die, and Fridays are particularly challenged as the viewing levels on the night continue to dwindle. Finding a show that fits between Ghost Whisperer and Numb3rs has proved particularly vexing, and going the supernatural or romantic-comedy route the last two seasons hasn't met CBS's expectations. (In retrospect, giving Moonlight a second season to develop might not have been such a bad idea.) I keep seeing speculation in the trades that plugging in the summer hit Flashpoint would make the most sense, and I guess we shouldn't expect anything else from CBS beyond yet another procedural hour.
Question: After sampling several of the networks' new offerings this fall, I am struggling to find a favorite that I feel passionate about. Then I realized that the program I most look forward to watching is not in prime time at all. It is The Bonnie Hunt Show in daytime! Bonnie Hunt is such a breath of fresh air every day— innately humorous, self-deprecating and quick-witted without being nasty. She is such a natural talent, and she is "real." There does not seem to be a phony bone in her body. I think she has finally found the vehicle that perfectly suits her talents. — Rob R.
Matt Roush: Bonnie Hunt and Ellen DeGeneres, two refugees from the world of many an unfairly failed sitcom, are the main reasons I wish I had more time to wallow in daytime TV. They're both fresh and funny, absolute naturals, and I am thrilled that Bonnie has finally found an outlet that suits her so well. For years, she has been the perfect talk-show guest (especially with Letterman), and all along many of us suspected she'd be right at home on the other side of things.
Question: I wasn't a big fan of the CW's recreation of Beverly Hills 90210, but the news that a Melrose Place 2.0 may happen next year compelled me to write in protest. Melrose Place was last decade's best guilty pleasure, and it truly deserves a place in history. It may not have been the smartest show, but it certainly was a lot of fun. It's an insult and an outrage that a network is disrespecting precious memories, just to make buzz and a few headlines. Aaron Spelling was a master of television, and no one (no matter how talented) should be able to reboot his work. What's next, Friends 2.0? Maybe a new version of Buffy, or Sex and the City, just not in New York? Television is great when we are able to witness the birth of true original series (Lost, CSI, Felicity), not old concepts with a new cast. As an audience, we deserve respect, credit, new proposals and creative arguments, not old stuff dressed with a new shiny dress. Hopefully this CW trend will end after 90210, and Melrose will remain true to its original concept. I'd love to hear your thoughts on this topic. — David
Matt Roush: I'm not sure I'd put Melrose Place in the pantheon of classics (even in the guilty pleasure subcategory) whose shrine could be tarnished by an inferior remake. There were a few seasons when it was an absolute gas, I agree, but by the time it limped off the air, those memories were already plenty tattered. The bigger issue here is the creative poverty of a network like the CW, which is reduced to wringing whatever nostalgic juice it can out of brand names that long ago helped put Fox on the map. This is just sad.
Question: I need some clarification regarding NBC's Chuck and you're the man that I think can help. I just read on your Web site that NBC is developing a one-hour buddy-cop comedy with Ice Cube. How do you think this will effect my second favorite network show behind Friday Night Lights? Without knowing anything beyond what was initially reported, it would seem like they might be competing for the same audience. Could this be a sign that NBC might be looking to replace it or am I just in panic mode? Also, what do you think the chances are of getting another season of Chuck and Friday Night Lights next year? I don't think I could handle losing one or both of those shows. — Dave S.
Matt Roush: It does sound a little premature to panic about a show that hasn't even got a full green-light yet, and there's no reason to think it's being developed as a replacement. (It would be nice to think of any new action-comedy as a complement to Chuck.) But it would also be disingenuous to think, despite Chuck's early full-season pickup, that our favorite spy comedy is assured a third season at this point. It's struggling in a very challenging time period, and I have no idea if NBC will try moving it in what promises to be an extremely busy and pivotal midseason. As for Friday Night Lights, which I'm enjoying immensely in its DirecTV run, it sure feels like a valedictory (as in final) season to me, with lots of satisfying closure for a number of major characters. Its future has everything to do with whether DirecTV will continue its investment in the show, which is all that's keeping it alive at this point. If Friday Night Lights is allowed to go out on its own terms, I could be at peace with that, much as I'll miss it. Chuck's failure, though, would be equally frustrating, because that show feels to me like such sure-fire mainstream entertainment and a missed opportunity. My fondness for Chuck may not go as deep as my affection for Friday Night Lights, but I enjoy them both and hope at least one of them will still be around a year from now. Won't be easy.