Matt Roush


Question: Can we, the viewing ...

Question:
Can we, the viewing public, stop NBC from displaying in HUGE GLOWING LETTERS the name of the show Boomtown? On my set, the letters are 2 inches high and 10 inches long. And against the frequently dark background they glow like neon. (And I thought the giant peacock logo was annoying.) I had to stop watching the program last week because it bothered me so much. I dont think I will watch Boomtown any more. No TV program is worth that much aggravation. — Bob L

Matt:
C'mon, don't hold it against Boomtown. It's hardly the show's fault. All the networks now are culpable in cluttering the screen with logos and schedule information, a reaction to the rise of channel-surfing. (The networks figure if you notice the peacock or even the name of the show, you'll at least know what you've stumbled upon.) It's yet another irritating fact of modern TV life. I suggest you write or e-mail the network with your complaint. But NBC was the first major network to intrude so noticeably upon ... read more

Question: I thought ER was ...

Question:
I thought ER was weak last year, but I gave it another chance this season. I think it has improved, especially now that they are no longer burdened with the two-year death of Dr. Greene taking over the show. (I loved Anthony Edwards, but I really feel like the morbidity factor got a little too high). My question is: Do you see any improvement this year, or once a show goes astray do you feel it's too late to get it back? — Bobby Z

Matt:
I saw definite improvement in the Halloween episode, which seemed like a good old exciting hour of ER, with a nice blend of irreverent humor amid all the harrowing chaos. As in the good old days, the episode seemed to be about revealing character through action, not the mopey soap of the last season or so. The show isn't what it used to be — it's almost impossible for a long-running show to capture our fancy with the intensity of its early years — but it's far from played out. One of the most fascinating aspects of covering TV on a
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Question: Would you agree ...

Question:
Would you agree that Lorraine Bracco's character on The Sopranos has become almost completely superfluous? Dr. Melfi was an essential presence in the series' first 13 episodes, but as the show has evolved into a full five-year series, it seems more and more incongruous that Tony Soprano would continue to be in therapy. Also, many of Bracco's scenes seem contrived just to provide some screen time for her. In the Columbus day episode, Melfi was seen watching the protest on TV with her husband for maybe a few seconds and in the episode where Gloria's suicide came to light, she had one scene with Tony discussing his supposed guilt that made no sense whatsoever. (Stockard Channing may have a similarly skimpy role on The West Wing but at least she's there for a reason). Bracco is a terrific actress, but I think the character has ceased to serve any believable purpose. — Dan G

Matt:
I would hate for her to disappear forever — I loved Tony going to her to try to understand
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Question: What are they ...

Question:
What are they thinking over at ER, turning the soulful Luka into a Euro-trash boy-slut? Get a clue, writers: Luka's humble-yet-confident, chivalrous persona is just what the show needs in the absence of the late Dr. Greene. Do you agree they should ditch the chauvinist pig and get back the Luka we fell in love with? P.S.: Goran Visnjic's English is coming along beautifully, but I hope he doesn't totally lose his lovely accent. — Nancy

Matt:
Character consistency has eluded ER for quite a while, but rarely so obviously as in the case of Luka. I had such high hopes for the character when he first arrived, but the writers squandered his promising relationship with Abby (and what are we to make of her character these days?), and now out of the blue he's an unrepentant cad? I wouldn't want Luka not to have a dark side, but I'd be happier if his personality had multiple dimensions. It seems that Noah Wyle's Dr. Carter, as the only original cast member never to have strayed, ... read more

Question: I know you ...

Question:
I know you considered girls club an "instant dud" (as did I), but were you surprised Fox pulled the plug after just two episodes? — Joe D

Matt:
I was very surprised, mostly because of the clout David E. Kelley has within the studio and the network. I think if there had been even an inkling of media buzz around the show, Fox might have shown a bit more patience. But nipping this one in the bud was the best thing for everyone concerned. I was amused to learn that Kelley has kept one of the "girls" on salary. Chyler Leigh, the dark-haired one, is joining the cast of his ABC show The Practice later this season as a young associate at Lindsay's new firm. That's just what the show needs: another excuse to underuse Steve Harris.

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Question: Everybody seems to ...

Question:
Everybody seems to be asking about Firefly, but I want to know about John Doe. Are the ratings like that of Firefly or does it have its own audience? I find the show really neat and I want to get at least a season to learn about John Doe. — Larry S.

Matt:
Generally speaking, John Doe builds on Firefly's depressingly small audience, which should be enough of a motivation for Fox to reward the show with a full season, at least. To me, the mystery of John Doe is a much more commercial concept — not that there's anything wrong with that — than Firefly's weird (but to me engaging) mix of Western and sci fi. My only wish is that the show would surround John Doe with equally engaging characters. Let's hope that whatever Fox does with this show, it won't be axed before we get a few real answers.

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Question: I read from time to ...

Question:
I read from time to time how shows on WB and UPN are usually in fifth or sixth place ratings-wise, but then read that they are really good ratings-wise on those particular stations since they don't have as wide coverage throughout the country as the big four networks. I'm wondering how some shows are doing on those channels. Haunted's ratings look pretty grim, but are they really that bad compared to UPN's ratings in general? What about Buffy? I'm also curious how Charmed and Angel are faring on Sunday nights on WB. I see they are usually in last place, but are their ratings still good compared to other WB shows? — Coni W

Matt:
On the smaller networks, everything is relative. Numbers are analyzed more in terms of who is watching (how many young viewers, male and female composition) as oppposed to how many. Haunted's days are numbered, sorry to say. Buffy is slipping, but still is important to UPN's brand image, and Haunted just isn't holding on to enough of Buffy's
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Question: After watching Good ...

Question:
After watching Good Morning, Miami a couple of times, I'm wondering if you agree with me that, regardless of chemistry, it's been written into a corner from the start. It reminds me of Ed: Guy sees girl, totally changes his life, makes friends with girl, but can never "close the deal." Where can the story go from there? Ed already seems pathetic at this point and Jake on GMM would have to steal the girl from a recovering alcoholic who relies on the woman as his savior. Even if the anchor is a bit of a jerk, Dylan (the girl) would still come off as disloyal. Why do writers have to put their characters in such specific situations when successful, character-driven sitcoms do so much better in an environment that will allow "movement?" — Ann

Matt:
It's the downside of doing high-concept TV. You have a strong hook, but where do you go with it? I'm a fan of Ed, but can't really argue your point. At least that show has a strong ensemble of appealing characters. As for Good ... read more

Question: I did not begin ...

Question:
I did not begin watching the brilliant Buffy until it began its syndicated reruns on cable. But once I started, I was hooked. Now, I cannot get enough of Buffy and would not dream of missing an episode. I agree with you that it is one of the most witty, intelligent, exciting and well-acted shows ever. Here is my question: Charmed is now in reruns on cable. I have caught a few of them and although it is not nearly as smart or entertaining as Buffy, in your opinion is it worth my time to try to get caught up in it as I did with Buffy? — Lisa

Matt:
I think you answered your own question. I freely admit the charms of Charmed are lost on me. I don't go out of my way to disparage it, but I find it to be a little too targeted to the core WB audience (teenage girls) for my taste, and I have resisted ever getting hooked on it. (Falls under my "life's too short" theory.) But I like the fact that it doesn't seem to be taking itself very seriously, and appears to have weathered
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Question: I was amused at the ...

Question:
I was amused at the recent question as to whether you have a life, and I was interested in your answer that you obviously don't watch every episode of every show. On that note, how do you end up deciding which shows you watch — both as a reviewer and as a "common" viewer, if there's a difference? Is it more of just picking favorites and sticking with them? Do you go back to certain shows and catch up on a few episodes in case the quality has taken a turn for the better (or worse)? While we're on the subject of the methods of being a TV critic, what's a typical day like for you anyway? I always had this vision of some poor (?) guy stuck in a room for eight hours a day watching TV the entire time. Anyway, I enjoy the new column and the insights you always provide. I think it allows us as readers to understand much more of your opinions on various shows. — Nat

Matt:
As Evita once sang, don't cry for me. This is a pretty sweet, if relentless, existence. Some days I do
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