Matt Roush


Up, Up and Away Taken: A Cosmic Story On A Giant Canvas

Call it hubris, but Taken is Sci Fi Channel's equivalent of reaching for the stars.

Attempting what too few networks even dream of anymore, this mammoth 20-hour enterprise is a spectacular reminder of what a major miniseries used to promise: a sprawling story with a sensational hook, produced on a scale that demands an unusual commitment. (See "Close Encounters," page 48.)

Airing for two weeks over 10 weeknights (December 2-6 and 9-13, 9 pm/ET), Taken may ask too much from all but the most ardent sci-fi buffs. Episodic, repetitive and often painfully earnest, this multigenerational saga of alien abduction, family drama and government intrigue is at its sporadic best a gripping mix of The X-Files and read more

Roush Rave

After a fall season where genuine laughs are in woefully short supply, the return of Fox's cheerfully absurd Andy Richter Controls the Universe (Sundays, 9:30 pm/ET) is an occasion for great cheer. A worthy successor to ABC's faded Drew Carey Show, this inventive and irreverent comedy about a goofy shlub (former Conan O'Brien sidekick Richter) and his coworker pals bursts with sidesplitting blackout humor. In the December 1 premiere, political correctness takes a pounding as Andy inadvertently offends a new minority hire, but not for the expected reasons. The show is sardonic, silly and very smart. Welcome back, Andy. read more

Question: I know you are a ...

Question:
I know you are a big fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. (I am, too, and agree that every time it gets snubbed for an Emmy is craziness.) I wonder how you feel about all of the men in Buffy's life. Who were your favorite couples? Buffy and Angel? Buffy and Riley? Buffy and Spike? — Lisa

Matt:
You always remember your first (undead) love, so I guess I lean toward the Gothic romance of Buffy and Angel, though her torrid affair with Spike last season revved my jets as well. As for Riley: nice guy, but he's no match for those brooding vampire studs.

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Question: I really like Fox's ...

Question:
I really like Fox's Grounded for Life. It is a very underrated show (though the decision to buy a bar was a mistake). I think it came on once this season, and hasn't been seen since. Is it coming back? — Mark B.

Matt:
Fox grounded the show for November sweeps — not exactly a ringing vote of confidence, is it? The network figured that the more popular That '70s Show would do better in back-to-back episodes — although the second episode is a repeat — and provide a stronger lead-in for 24. Fox says Grounded will be out of detention as of Dec. 3. This show barely got renewed, and given the network's current treatment of it, I think it will be lucky to survive past this season.

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Question: I was wondering if ...

Question:
I was wondering if you could tell me if Patrick Labyorteaux, who stars on JAG, is actually missing a leg. Thank you. — Rita

Matt:
This seems to come up just about every week. Yes, it looks real, but no, the actor still has both of his lower extremities. It's just a story. (And Paul McCrane's arm wasn't lopped off on ER, either.)

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Question: What happened to ...

Question:
What happened to Jessalyn Gilsig on Boston Public? It hasn't been explained on the series why she isn't a teacher in the third season. It seems she just disappeared without a trace. They don't even explain her character's absence on the show (whether she quit, got another teaching job, etc.). What's going on? — Annemarie

Matt:
There's no good answer to this one. Sounds like a case for the Without a Trace task force. She was dropped between seasons, but awfully abruptly. I've heard one of two references to her in recent weeks, but no explanation as to why she left or what Lauren Davis (her character) is up to. It makes no sense that someone who once was so central to the show would be jettisoned without explanation — though last season, it was clear the writing was on the wall after the producers supplanted her with a new blonde, Jeri Ryan. I give the show's producers an "F" on this subject.

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Question: Gilmore Girls is my ...

Question:
Gilmore Girls is my favorite show of all time. I just watched the latest episode (the dance marathon) and was totally upset about how Dean broke up with Rory. It completely took me by surprise, but she did have it coming. I was wondering if you had any idea what's going to happen to Dean now? Will he leave the show? I hope not because I really liked him, but I don't see any other way he can stay on.

Matt:
As of now, Jared Padelecki is still a series regular, though for a while he'll obviously be seen less often. I'm told there are a few touching reconciliatory "let's be friends" scenes in the offing, so those of us who side with the nice guys (over James Dean wannabes like Jess) can at least look forward to that. I'm still dismayed at how the writers lost interest altogether in such a promising romantic character, who once fell asleep with Rory reading Dorothy Parker and went on to build her a chariot. Whatta guy.

Editor's note: For more on Rory's love life, read our

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Question: I was really ...

Question:
I was really disappointed when I found out that Kim Delaney's character on CSI: Miami, Megan Donner, was going to be written off the show. The statement the network made, that her character was becoming less integral, doesn't make any sense. She was one of the main investigators on the show. Some articles have said that Delaney's personal issues contributed to her dismissal from the show. What do you think? Is it really possible that after only 10 episodes the producers realized that her character was not needed, or could there be other issues at hand? — Andy L.

Matt:
If you've been watching the latest episodes (in particular the Nov. 18 episode, about the massacre of an entire family), you may have noticed how marginalized Delaney's character has become. I think her dismissal can be chalked up to a mix of personal and professional reasons. I can't comment on the personal stuff — not my area of expertise — but can't argue about the professional side. I've received a lot
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Question: I loved the Oct. 31 ...

Question:
I loved the Oct. 31 episode of CSI — a clear tribute to the original Manhunter (the Michael Mann movie recently remade as Red Dragon). I detected at least half a dozen salutes to Manhunter and its sequel, Silence of the Lambs, including having good-guy William Petersen face off with bad-guy Tom Noonan. (Plus the black panther, the moth, the bad guy's half-mask, etc.) Have the producers commented on the making of this episode, including the fact that it aired just a few weeks after the premiere of Red Dragon? Has this episode been in the works for a while? Very clever, whatever the thinking behind it. (And a nice tip of the hat to those of us who enjoyed the first movie.) — Alison

Matt:
Great catch all around, and these are fun observations, especially for fans of the superior Manhunter. From what a source associated with CSI tells me, the casting of Noonan was purely serendipitous and the episode wasn't really intended as an homage to Red Dragon or Manhunter, though it
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Question: I just watched the ...

Question:
I just watched the most recent episode of Frasier, in which we discovered in the last scene that Niles has a serious heart condition. The way that was dropped on us almost gave me a heart condition! And then the promo for next week's episode just makes it a must-see. Do you think that Frasier is starting to find its briefly lost creative voice (as I do), or is this storyline just a November ratings stunt? Also, what's that song that NBC plays over the Frasier promos? I like it. — Stewart N.

Matt:
Didn't the promos tip you off that you were in for some "very special" sweeps episodes? I enjoyed Lilith's (Bebe Neuwirth) return in the bar mitzvah episode — seemed like old times — and thought Martin (John Mahoney) was quite funny covering for the lousy new housekeeper (Saturday Night Live's Ana Gasteyer) in the most recent episode. I haven't given up on Frasier yet, but I still feel the show is terribly uneven these days, and I wish it had closed shop when it was still on
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