Matt Roush


Weekend TV: Silicon Valley finale, Halt and Catch Fire Premiere

Silicon Valley

Computer geeks rule this Sunday, as HBO's hilarious Silicon Valley wraps its first season on a triumphant high, while in the very same time period (10/9c), AMC launches the intriguing new drama Halt and Catch Fire, flashing back 30 years to the early days of the 1980s PC revolution. The best bet, as it has been throughout its eight-episode freshman run, is Silicon Valley, introducing an ensemble of such endearing quirkiness that even a decidedly low-tech soul such as myself hangs on every word as timid visionary Richard (Thomas Middleditch, a marvel of quaking anxiety) prepares to unleash the fruits of his "compression algorithm" through an upstart company named Pied Piper.

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Wednesday TV: Don Rickles Tribute, NBC's Snowden Scoop

Robert De Niro, Don Rickles

Insults never sounded sweeter than when Don Rickles was hurling hilarious barbs at his targets, whether innocent ringside onlookers or the rich and famous on a celebrity roast dais. At 88, though stooped and using a cane, he still gives as good as he gets, a fact brought home with delightful wit and genuine lump-in-the-throat sentiment in Spike TV's One Night Only: An All-Star Tribute to Don Rickles (Wednesday, 9/8c).

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Ask Matt: Finales (Castle, Mentalist), Penny Dreadful, Cancellation Fallout

Simon Baker, Robin Tunney

Send questions and comments to askmatt@tvguidemagazine.com and follow me on Twitter!

Question: Last week, you wrote about how producers "often — too often, to be honest — try to end their seasons with a bang ... in hopes of stimulating interest for when they return several months later." I understand the reasoning, and it definitely worked for me with Person of Interest — it was game-changing and left me very curious to see how it goes, but satisfying. However I had the opposite reaction to Castle, which looked to be heading for a good place to pause with a minor game-changer (Mr. & Mrs. Castle), even got some nice wedding emotion going, and then threw in a ridiculous "dun-dun-dun" moment which had zero emotional impact as no one believes Castle could be dead. Most of these cliffhangers now seem to me like cheap tricks, a shyster trying to "buy" your viewing next fall, while moving the story to a new level seems a legitimate way of keeping interest and far more likely to have a good payoff in terms of the story next year. Anyway, it led me to wonder are there any "cliffhangers" of the past that you remember with pleasure and/or satisfaction, or is it only the game-changers that stand out in your mind? As always, thanks for an interesting column. — Elle

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Weekend Review: HBO's The Normal Heart

Mark Ruffalo, Taylor Kitsch

The heart breaks while tempers violently flare in HBO's The Normal Heart (Sunday, 9/8c), Ryan Murphy's emotionally and politically explosive film version of Larry Kramer's provocative stage drama about the early response, within and outside the gay community, to the '80s AIDS crisis.

Teeming with anger, sorrow, passion and purpose, this powerful and harrowing movie is part tragic love story in plague times, part agitprop manifesto and tribute to tireless activism. "We're not yelling loud enough!" bellows Ned Weeks (an engagingly abrasive Mark Ruffalo), the story's pushy moral conscience, a belligerent scold who refuses to play nice when so many lives are at stake.

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Ask Matt: Cancellations, Louie, Finales (Person of Interest, Castle, Blacklist, More)

Louis C. K. and Sarah Baker

Send questions and comments to askmatt@tvguidemagazine.com and follow me on Twitter!

Question: I am sure many people were disappointed by the cancellation announcements this year. I was especially sad to see Trophy Wife taken too soon. But it left me wondering why ABC didn't try a different time slot, and then I realized overall it seemed as though none of the networks moved shows around the schedule like they have done in the past. Do you think this strategy helps or hurts shows struggling to find an audience? — Rob

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Weekend TV Review: Good Wife Finale, Lifetime's Zero

Michael J. Fox, Matt Czuchry and Julianna Margulies

The gloves come off in a sensational finale to an incredible season of CBS's The Good Wife (Sunday, 9/8c), one of the best and hands down the most purely entertaining drama series anywhere on TV. The intrigue is riveting as rival law firms (Florrick/Agos, Lockhart/Gardner) go for broke, using any means necessary — including possibly illegal electronic eavesdropping — to get the advantage on the other in what now seems a fight to the death. Partners battle partners between and within both teams, and when Christine Baranski (the embattled Diane) faces off with Michael J. Fox (ruthless interloper Louis Canning) for control of the firm she built with the late Will Gardner, the fireworks are as awesome as the surprising fallout.

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Critic's Notebook: The Network Upfronts

Robin Lord Taylor, Benjamin McKenzie

A curious rite of mid-May: Even as the broadcast networks are wrapping their regular seasons with a flurry of cliffhangers and finale events — farewell, Cristina Yang, and a toast to those soon-to-be-newlyweds Mitch and Cam — all eyes in the industry are already looking to the future, with a just-concluded Upfront Week of noisy presentations in New York in which new series and schedules are announced with a fanfare that probably beats the alternative: blowing taps for all the failed series announced last year at this time.

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Ask Matt: Cancellations, Mindy, Superheroes, Scandal, Person of Interest, CSI, More

Chris Messina, Mindy Kaling

Send questions and comments to askmatt@tvguidemagazine.com and follow me on Twitter!

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Question: I heard that Fox canceled its freshmen sitcoms Dads, Enlisted and Surviving Jack! While I never watched and didn't care for Dads, I did watch (and loved!) both Enlisted and Surviving Jack. What puzzles me about the cancellations of all of these shows were that their ratings performed with the same numbers that Fox's other sitcoms New Girl, The Mindy Project and Brooklyn Nine-Nine, yet those shows all got renewed for another season! Why is it that The Powers That Be at Fox would cancel three shows that had the same low (or modest) ratings as the other three shows that got picked up for another year? It doesn't really make sense with me! - Chris

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Weekend TV: Rosemary's Baby, Penny Dreadful and Remembering Murphy

Zoe Saldana

The devil made them remake it. What other excuse can there be for NBC's glossy but laborious two-part revisiting of the Ira Levin supernatural classic Rosemary's Baby (Sunday, 9/8c, concludes next Thursday)? Perversely scheduled to begin on the evening of Mother's Day, this unnecessarily expanded miniseries version owes a huge debt to The Omen for many of its telegraphed shocks.

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Monday Review: The Return of 24 and Louie

Keifer Sutherland

A day in the life of Jack Bauer would go so much easier if anyone would just listen to him when he barks commands like, "Stop that couple!" Fat chance when what seems like half the armed personnel of the CIA's London bureau have guns pointed at the good guy instead of the fleeing bad guys.

Will they never learn? Apparently not. Which is no doubt exactly the desire of the fans who've been waiting four long years — that's roughly 35,064 hours in real time — for 24, one of TV's most electrifying thrillers, and Kiefer Sutherland as its beleaguered yet seemingly indestructible hero to snap back into action. The novelty — and thus, a bit of the edge — is gone as Fox's 12-part 24: Live Another Day seeks to prove that less is more, slowly revving up the comfortably formulaic engine while visceral split-screen editing once again intensifies the literally explosive twists. And yet, because a sad, mad, badass Jack Bauer is the only Jack we've ever known, there's something grimly satisfying when he mutters bleakly to one of his few allies, "I don't have any friends."

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