Matt Roush


Question: Do you really think ...

Question:
Do you really think Alias and 24 are the best shows at the moment? If so, why do these two shows have such low ratings? And don't you think that Victor Garber was robbed at the Emmys? He is just perfect as Jack Bristow. — John Q.

Matt:
I do put 24 and Alias on the top of my best-TV lists these days. I think they bring a sense of visual and visceral excitement and fun back to TV. Unfortunately, more viewers seem to prefer more traditional, self-contained drama franchises — endless hours of Law &#038 Order a week, for instance. One of the few rays of hope this fall has been the uptick in ratings for 24, which actually qualifies as a hit on Tuesday, which, along with Sunday, is the week's busiest nights of programming. Alias, I believe, is a victim of a terribly overcrowded time period, in which the audience that would most enjoy it is distracted by or torn between The Sopranos or Fox's comedies or even Angel. As for Victor Garber, he was at least as deserving as all of
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Question: I'm having severe ...

Question:
I'm having severe Lauren Graham withdrawal pains. She was supposed to appear on Late Night with Conan O'Brien on Tuesday, November 5, but was bumped off for the election coverage. Would you know when that particular episode will be aired? She was a blast the last time she was on. Conan's a funny host and they're both a thrill to watch. — Grace

Matt:
I checked with NBC, and was told that a family situation caused Conan to cancel the taping of that episode. But they're as crazy about the Gilmore Girls star as we are, and would love to have her back sometime. So stay tuned.

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Question: There is a nurse on ...

Question:
There is a nurse on ER (I don't remember her name) who last season was a short, overweight black woman, but when she came back this season she had lost a lot of weight. Can you tell me what she did to lose all that weight. She looks wonderful. — Pam

Matt:
You're referring to Yvette Freeman, who has played the nurse Haleh since the show's very beginning. Her weight loss between seasons was very dramatic, and you can find out more about how she achieved this on her personal site, YvetteFreeman.com.

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Question: Maybe you could ...

Question:
Maybe you could shed some light on what remains a mystery to me. There are several rather good new shows out this season, but it seems that networks would rather let them rot in cramped and challenging time slots than give them a chance on a different night. Shows that immediately come to mind are Firefly, John Doe and Haunted. Three of my personal favorite new shows, yet they butt heads with either a monster of a time slot (Haunted vs. Smallville and 24? Come on, that's simply unfair) or a weak viewing night (Firefly's target audience isn't even home on Friday nights.). So I ask you, Matt, why are networks so inflexible once the season gets under way? If you ask me, they're going to lose a few potential hit shows if they don't start thinking outside the box. — Hunter

Matt:
These are excellent points, and it does seem unfair. But there's also an argument that moving a show can make matters worse, as it tends to confuse and frustrate what audience the show already has.
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Question: Why aren't more ...

Question:
Why aren't more people watching The Amazing Race? To me, it's the best reality show out there and this season in particular the teams are so interesting to watch. I like to see the interpersonal relationship between the two people in each team as well as the competitiveness between the different teams. What should CBS do to get more people to watch? — Audrey

Matt:
I couldn't agree with your opinion more, for the precise reasons you articulate. Race's biggest problem this fall has been the surprise success of a competing reality show, ABC's appalling and tasteless The Bachelor, which seems to enthrall people with its shamelessness and warped vision of made-for-TV romance. These shows target the same young audience, and Bachelor is succeeding at Race's expense. Unless CBS decides eventually to move Race to another night, I expect the network will just have to settle for lower numbers until the novelty of The Bachelor fades (I'm hoping).

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Question: I was wondering ...

Question:
I was wondering your opinion on Fox's Fastlane. While the storylines are a bit contrived, it's funny and a nice guilty pleasure. Yet it doesn't seem to have much of an audience ratings-wise. Do you think Fox will stick with it? — Kim

Matt:
This show was one of our "Fall Preview Favorites," but to be honest, I haven't caught it lately, not since its return from baseball hiatus. Like you, I see it as a guilty pleasure: fun junk food that right now I just don't have time for. It's in a tough time period dominated right now by ABC's The Bachelor, which explains the mediocre ratings, but Fox just picked it up for the full season. The network clearly believes more young viewers will get hooked on it over time. (Repeats air on MTV on Sunday and Monday nights, which should help keep the show's profile high among the target audience.)

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Question: Matt, you mentioned ...

Question:
Matt, you mentioned a few times that you believe NBC will move American Dreams from Sunday to Friday when Providence is over. Don't you think it will lose a large portion of its viewership that way? I think its charm is that it's on Sundays, which has traditionally been a family day. If it moves to Fridays, it has the possibility of losing the audience that goes out on Fridays but is home Sunday before the workweek/schoolweek starts again. Any thoughts? — Kim

Matt:
You've got a good point. The notion of moving Dreams is pure speculation right now. It would make sense only if NBC wants to replace Providence — whose cancellation now seems rather premature, given the recent ratings surge — with a similarly family-oriented show. (I'm also thinking NBC could move Crossing Jordan away from CSI: Miami and use it as a lead-in to the compatible Law &#038 Order: Special Victims Unit on Fridays.) I like having Dreams on Sundays as well and agree that Fridays is hardly a hospitable
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Question: I was reading your ...

Question:
I was reading your comments about The Practice, and I don't understand your comment about "that's just what the show needs, to underuse Steve Harris." What, don't you like his character? I love him, and would like to understand your feelings on this. — Ravella

Matt:
I was attempting (perhaps badly) to be sarcastic. I think Steve Harris is a major talent and has been terribly underused on the show for the last several seasons. The idea that The Practice would be better off by adding yet another pretty young face (girls club's Chyler Leigh) irks me to no end. Repeat after me: The age of Ally McBeal is over. Long live Eugene.

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Question: I have read that ...

Question:
I have read that Stephen Hopkins is no longer involved in the production of 24. Everybody credited him for the extraordinary visual quality of the series. Did he depart on good terms with the producers? Will this and Kiefer Sutherland being a new producer affect the series? Thanks. — Lucilla

Matt:
Hopkins was a co-executive producer last season and was nominated for an Emmy for directing the pilot — he should have won, by the way. A spokesman for the series says he left to pursue feature-film opportunities, though the production team would have liked him to stay. For the star to become a producer is a rather common Hollywood practice, and Sutherland has from the start taken a strong interest in the show's creative direction. What impact does all of this have on the show? From what I've seen so far, 24 is still powerfully suspenseful entertainment.

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Question: Should ABC consider ...

Question:
Should ABC consider flipping Alias with The Practice? It seems that would bring in more viewers for Alias with a better lead-in. The Practice is already an established show, and its viewers will most likely follow the time change. Plus, it's a better match for Law &#038 Order: Criminal Intent and a better lead-out from The Wonderful World of Disney. I think ABC's Sunday-night scheduling would progress better from family-oriented to (often family-themed) legal drama to relational espionage drama with more violent and suspenseful elements. While Alias may not appeal to a wider audience, I still think it's capable of better ratings, and it would be great for ABC to further its success and help it earn the ratings it deserves. It would be a shame for Alias not to be renewed for subsequent seasons. — Joyce

Matt:
It's fun to play programmer, isn't it? I'd do anything to get Alias away from that overcrowded Sunday time period, but it might prove even more fatal if Alias lost
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