Matt Roush


Ask Matt: Outlander, Orange and Emmys, Shonda Times Three, and More

Caitriona Balfe, Sam Heughan

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

Question: I was wondering if you've had a chance to preview the Outlander series, based on the books by Diana Gabaldon. I'm a big fan of the books and I'm hoping that the series will be faithful to the story. Do you have any insight you could share? - Elizabeth

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Thursday Review: SundanceTV's The Honorable Woman and Rectify

Maggie Gyllenhaal

If SundanceTV's The Honorable Woman were any timelier in its geopolitical drama, most specifically of the Israeli-Palestinian variety, it would bleed newsprint. But it's the emotional intricacies of this rewardingly complex and brilliantly acted eight-part miniseries (Thursdays, 10/9c) that resonate timelessly, grounded by Maggie Gyllenhaal's impassioned, extraordinary performance as the title character, idealistic Anglo-Israeli philanthropist and newly appointed Baroness Nessa Stein.

Gyllenhaal brings layers upon layers of crisp elegance, prideful steel, profound sorrow and ultimately an aching vulnerability to Nessa. We share her angry despair as her lofty goals — most notably, wiring the West Bank in a lucrative but controversial contract for high-speed Internet as part of her family foundation's crusade for reconciliation — are steadily shattered by shady compromises and sinister secrets stemming from her mysterious abduction in Gaza eight years earlier.

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Weekend Review: I'll Take Manhattan

Manhattan

Remember when nostalgia used to signify a comforting escape into the past? It hasn't been the same since Mad Men took us beneath the surface glamour to expose the grim consequences of chasing and selling the American dream. WGN America's bold new period drama Manhattan (Sunday, 9/8c) goes even further, eschewing the romantic veneer altogether in a gritty story of scientific mavericks operating in extreme circumstances. Looking back at a bygone time (World War II) with a jaundiced eye, the ambitious Manhattan is far more serious in intent than the channel's more recent effort at historical-fiction original programming, the lurid Salem.

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Critic's Notebook: Fox at TCA

Jada Pinkett Smith, Robin Lord Taylor

Gotham City to the rescue? Fox certainly hopes Gotham, its dark and stylish noir set in the corrupt, broken pre-Batman metropolis, will revive the fortunes of a network undergoing one of its most significant leadership transitions. (The architect of this fall's schedule, Kevin Reilly, stepped down in late May, and Dana Walden and Gary Newman, the Fox Studio heads who will take over network oversight in a more streamlined operation, won't start their new positions until the end of the month.)

The Gotham panel was the first and most impressive new-series presentation on Fox's day at the TCA press tour. (For more Fox news, go here.) With its revisionist twist on Batman mythology as it spills out origin stories featuring various supervillains-to-be, Gotham is the buzziest show on Fox's fall slate — airing on Mondays alongside breakout hit Sleepy Hollow won't hurt — but it's not without risk. read more

Ask Matt: Men Getting Married, 24, Blacklist, TNT Shows and the Emmys

Jon Cryer, Ashton Kutcher

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

Question: I have never been a fan of Two and a Half Men (tried to watch it years ago, but the only thing I found funny was Conchata Ferrell) and never understood how it has stayed on the air for so long. I saw that creator Chuck Lorre is planning on the main storyline next season to be about the two main characters (Walden and Alan, both heterosexual) "marrying" each other in order for Walden to achieve his goal of adopting a child. To me, I find this appalling on so many levels. Gay men and women (and their straight allies) have fought for so long for equal marriage rights, so having two straight men "marry" just seems like a mockery for those fighting for marriage equality. I am a little ashamed of Lorre even coming up with this idea (particularly as his biggest star, Jim Parsons, on his biggest show, The Big Bang Theory, is gay). Your thoughts? — Tim in Atlanta

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Critic's Notebook: The CW at TCA

Grant Gustin

The broader the better. Give it to The CW, the little network that could be forgiven for having had a Rodney Dangerfield complex in past seasons, as it enjoys a rare moment of critical goodwill. You'd almost think we were back in the glory days of The WB — whose sole remaining remnant on the current slate is Supernatural, which brought its stars out for a 10th-season victory lap. Though The CW is only launching two new shows this fall (in October), they're two of the very best... read more

Critic's Notebook: CBS at TCA

Dean Winters, Josh Duhamel

When at first you do succeed: do it again. Imitation, not innovation, was the prevailing takeaway when CBS presented its fall prospects (and one notable midseason contender) at the TCA press tour on Thursday.

Not that the network's entertainment chairman Nina Tassler had any apologies for doubling down on what works — not when a franchise like NCIS (launching its second spinoff in September) can achieve what she called the "creative holy grail" with its global dominance, or when syndication and/or streaming deals with outlets like Hulu, Amazon and WGN add to the bottom line for shows including the acclaimed The Good Wife and Elementary and the sci-fi hits of the last two summers. "These [new] platforms aren't replacing each other. They're complementing one another and enhancing the value of the content as it moves from window to window."

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Review: USA's Rush and Satisfaction; FX's Un-RomComs

Matt Passmore

It started with the swearing, a not-so-subtle indication that USA Network's "blue skies" credo was welcoming some adult turbulence into its programming. Its shows of recent vintage, including the sleek, sexy and casually profane Suits and the gritty undercover drama Graceland, have started to move USA into edgier, bolder territory. Two new Thursday dramas, Rush (9/8c) and Satisfaction (10/9c), are furthering that evolution, threatening to go over the top with their shock-value content in what looks like a bad case of FX/AMC envy. The results are decidedly mixed.

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Critic's Notebook: ABC at TCA

John Cho, Karen Gillan

The verdict is still out regarding ABC's middling batch of new shows for the fall — as often happens, many of the network's more tantalizing projects are being held until midseason — but as ABC stepped into the TCA press-tour spotlight on Tuesday, the vibe was unusually positive because of one overarching hot-button issue: diversity. (For more ABC news, go here.)

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Ask Matt: Emmy Snubs, Sweden, 24, Dome and Extant, and More

Juliana Margulies, Tatiana Maslany

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

Question: Once again, this year's Emmy nominations are predictably boring. What was the bigger snub: No Good Wife nomination for Best Drama (especially with a weak Downton Abbey season in its place) or no nomination for Tatiana Maslany for her web of roles on Orphan Black? (I already know the answer: Both snubs were egregious.) — Erin

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