Matt Roush


Laughing at Love For The O.C., getting serious isn't an option

Used to be we had a blast hooting at the campy antics on prime-time soaps like Melrose Place and Dynasty. Turns out it's even more fun to laugh with these shows.

Has there ever been a series more self-aware than Fox's The O.C.? "Why wouldn't America be fascinated with the lives and loves of Orange County's rich and fabulous? We're all beautiful and we're all dysfunctional," coos vampy mommy-sneerest Julie Cooper-Nichol (Melinda Clarke). "It's a recipe for a cultural phenomenon."

Pretty tasty, too. Lovable nerd-hero Seth Cohen (Adam Brody) often talks about himself in the third person and reacts to life as if it truly were a TV show. When best bud Ryan (Benjamin McKenzie) started dating a girl who turned out to be related to his surrogate family, the Cohens, Seth chirped: "I think they did a sto read more

Question: I read your recent ...

Question:
I read your recent review of West Wing and largely agree with your assessment of how it's evolving. My question is: Does anyone know, notably NBC, whether the series will continue after this season? I thought I read that the new election (Jimmy Smits vs. Alan Alda) would occur this coming fall as the pivot for another year. That leads me to think that the series will try to continue under a Smits administration, too. I would only hope that Bartlet, Leo and some of the original cast would somehow stick around, even in limited appearances. — Dan B.

Matt:
Here's the situation: NBC is still negotiating, but it's pretty much a done deal that the show will return next season, and around this time next year, the election will occur and a new administration will take possession of the White House. John Wells insists that the producers haven't yet decided if the Jimmy Smits or Alan Alda character will be elected. It is way too early to speculate about who among the original cast
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Question: First off, don't ...

Question:
First off, don't get me wrong. I am enjoying this fresh, revived season of Alias and am not here to bash it. It is certainly more together than Season 3, and a great deal more fun. But I do feel a lack of urgency in its new incarnation. I miss the "double agent" aspect of the show. Sydney's dual duty with SD-6 in Season 1 kept us on the edge of our seats. Irina's indecipherable allegiance in Season 2 had us bewildered. Even lackluster Season 3 had some intense moments with Lauren two-timing the CIA and Sydney trying to figure out what happened to her during her missing years. All three contained revelations of mass proportions and often threw us a curveball when we least expected it. Even though Season 4 is still young, I don't feel the imminent-danger thrills of the earlier seasons or the high-drama moments which called upon brilliant actors Jennifer Garner and Victor Garber to really show off their chops. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that this is the ... read more

Question: I love The West ...

Question:
I love The West Wing's new season. It's fresh, funny, smart and unpredictable. It has been one of the best shows so far this season, not to mention the incredible performances by the entire cast. I think that this year Martin Sheen should carry home the elusive Emmy. Allison Janney won last year, but in this season she actually deserves it. Hopefully, Bartlet's final term will end as nicely as this season started. Nonetheless, I read your latest review and I have to disagree. If NBC decides to move forward with a new president in charge, it will be a risky move but not a total disaster. Every critic in town was appalled by David E. Kelley's choice of changing the entire cast of The Practice, even its leads, and then the man created a wonderful spin-off. James Spader was the best change executed by the fading Practice. I am just saying that maybe John Wells could be lucky enough to build a new White House. Of course the possibility of disaster is always there, but at ... read more

Question: I was wondering ...

Question:
I was wondering what your opinion was of the season premiere of Monk, without Bitty Schram as Sharona, and with Traylor Howard as Monk's new assistant. As someone who wants to be a TV critic herself, I feel that the show was lacking something that it originally had — mainly Sharona. So what do you think? — Elizabeth

Matt:
Sharona is definitely missed, but Monk did a creditable job introducing the new character, and I like the idea that they both sort of need each other. I'm going to watch a few more episodes to see how the relationship plays out before making an official judgment call. Monk returned with high ratings, so fans appear to be willing to forgive, if not forget, letting someone as good as Bitty Schram get away.

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Question: Say it isn't so! I ...

Question:
Say it isn't so! I heard that Boston Rob and Amber were going to be on the next Amazing Race. I can't say that I am looking forward to watching this reality/celebrity couple again; watching them on Survivor was enough. Besides, they've won their share of fame/fortune. Let someone else have a chance! — Jim

Matt:
As a rule, I'm not that fond of stunt casting on Amazing Race, either. The more everyday people, of all shapes, colors, ages and sizes, the better. But unlike Big Brother's annoying Allison, who I was thrilled didn't last long when they dropped her into the race for no good reason, I'm actually kind of intrigued about Rob and Amber showing if they have what it takes to survive in a competition that's less about scheming and manipulation and more about achievement and teamwork.

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Question: Why did CBS pull ...

Question:
Why did CBS pull The Will, and will it be airing on another station? I got interested in it and wanted to know who got the fortune, but they pulled the show. Can you help me figure it out, please? — Eden

Matt:
How's the weather out on that limb, Eden? The Will was universally reviled by critics and almost completely ignored by viewers in its one week on the air. CBS didn't really believe in this disgusting display of greed, either, or they wouldn't have banished the show to Saturdays to begin with. (After a disappointing showing on Thursdays, the derivative Wickedly Perfect is now filling that Saturday void.) Fox has started a tradition of releasing the results of its canceled reality shows on its website, so maybe CBS will do the same if there's really any interest. But there's no way The Will will reemerge anywhere. Over my dead body, as they say.

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Question: I haven't written ...

Question:
I haven't written in before, but I had to comment on the shows you listed as "I wouldn't miss for anything," which included Alias, 24, Lost, Desperate Housewives, The Amazing Race, Arrested Development, NYPD Blue and Without a Trace. I am married, but I feel like you are my TV soul mate. I don't want to sound like a kiss-up, but I couldn't agree more with your choices and I love the fact that you frequently write about these fabulous shows. I am just surprised that you left out one show that I know you and I both love — the incredibly witty and awesomely scripted Gilmore Girls! It is, in my opinion, the most cleverly written show on television. Lauren Graham is so very gifted and fun to watch. I know that you said the list goes on, but please tell me you accidentally left this show out of the "wouldn't miss" lineup! The only thing that I think they could focus on a little more is the Luke/Lorelai love connection. We've all been waiting so long and they have great

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Question: Hey, I love the ...

Question:
Hey, I love the show Life as We Know It, and I was wondering when the show is going to be airing again. ABC didn't list the next episode of the show and I heard it's on another hiatus. Is the show being canceled or what? I love the show and I would hate to see it go. — Andy

Matt:
Sorry to break the news, but the show is pretty much toast. ABC hasn't ordered any episodes beyond the original 13, and I don't know if the last two unaired episodes will even be seen. I'm still baffled about why the network pitted the show, toward the end, against The O.C., which already has an established following of the very same target audience that Life was aimed at.

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Question: Glad to see you ...

Question:
Glad to see you enjoying MI-5 on A&E (or Spooks, as it's known in England). Every person I tell to watch one episode always gets hooked. How can you not, with all the tricks — edgy music, snappy and creative editing, fast-paced dialogue — to add to the drama of the script? I sometimes wish American shows would stick to a 10-to-12-episode season to give them time to put something like this together. I like Alias, but whatever is lacking over there I know I'll be able to fill with MI-5/Spooks. Do you think we could do a show like MI-5 here in America? — Anna

Matt:
Something like MI-5 is probably too dark and cynical to fly in the jingoistic times in which we live. We're more at ease, I think, with the turbocharged spy and espionage thrillers like Alias and 24, which aren't nearly as realistic (sometimes to their credit, sometimes not). And I can't imagine an American series writing out its lead hero as early in the show's run as MI-5 did by contriving such an ambiguous ... read more

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