Matt Roush


Ask Matt: Scandal, Walking Dead, NCIS, Elementary, Brooklyn Nine-Nine

Joe Morton

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

Question: I started watching Scandal from the start, when it was simply a problem-of-the-week plot mixed in with a little soap opera with Olivia and the President. They lost me a little bit last year when they temporarily dropped that element to completely focus on the soap opera element when the president was shot. With the addition of the B613 storyline (and possible new Harrison storyline), I feel the show has lost its focus. I was highly enjoying Lisa Kudrow's story and performance only to have the show dragged down by B613's machinations and apparent manipulation of Quinn. I get the fear the show could be the political Love Boat where the guest stars get all the meaty storylines, but I watch shows like Strike Back for my spy action and adventure. Have these writers learned nothing from the mistakes countless shows including Alias and recently Revenge have made with these over-the-top secret maniacal agencies? — Brian

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The Weekend Playlist: Amazon's Alpha House, Almost Human

Alpha House

There's another serious new player in the ever-expanding universe of online original-content providers (see: Netflix and Hulu) — and happily, Amazon's entry into this suddenly cluttered marketplace is not just seriously funny, but it's as bracingly timely as the latest exasperating political headline.

Alpha House (three episodes bow Friday on amazon.com, with future episodes available to Amazon Prime subscribers) is satire at its most blistering and biting, delivered by a master of the trade: Doonesbury's Garry Trudeau, whose contempt for political cynicism, venality and hypocrisy doesn't keep the jaded protagonists of this bawdy, brazen comedy from being great company. The setting is a Washington, D.C., row house, home away from home for four Republican senators, led by the fearlessly outrageous John Goodman as a good-old-boy/former football star who's outraged to discover he won't be able to coast through his next election. (His new opponent: a legendary Duke coach. As someone observes: "You're like a retired god. He's active.")

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The Thursday Playlist: Ground Floor Works the Sitcom Formula

John C. McGinley, Skylar Astin

The "upstairs downstairs" framework we've come to love on Downton Abbey translates fairly well to the world of corporate workplace romantic comedy in TBS's Ground Floor, a likable if decidedly modest bauble from sitcom vets Bill Lawrence (Cougar Town) and Greg Malins (Friends), working in the too-often-disparaged mode of traditional multi-camera comedy. (The first two episodes air back-to-back Thursday starting at 10/9c.)

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Ask Matt: Good Wife, Sleepy Hollow, Spinoffs, S.H.I.E.L.D., Chicago Fire

Nicole Beharie, Tom Mison

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

Question: Last Sunday's "Hitting the Fan" episode of The Good Wife lived up to the hype. It was a game changer, but I guess it left me feeling slimed. Alicia has always taken a righteous position and walked a fine ethical line. On Sunday, I feel like she fell off a cliff — not only was she a party to trying to download files which I'm not sure is illegal but certainly not ethical (notwithstanding the ends-justify-the-means argument), but she also seemed gleeful about Peter using his political position to her gain. As Will seemed so right to point out, she seems to have no idea how bad she has become. This is not the good wife that I have been watching. What were your thoughts? — Megan

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The Thursday Playlist: Sundance's Haunting Returned a French Halloween Treat

Clotilde Hesme and Pierre Perrier

You were maybe expecting monsters on Halloween? Less than a week after NBC so disastrously attempted to "re-imagine" Dracula, cable's Sundance Channel scores again — in a year that has already given us the exceptional Top of the Lake and Rectify — by subtly yet audaciously flipping the zombie thriller in the eight-part French import The Returned (with English subtitles). In this quietly creepy and profoundly unsettling supernatural mystery (Thursday, 9/8c), the undead are portrayed not as Walking Dead-style flesh-eaters but as deeply and unmistakably flesh-and-blood human.

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The Tuesday Playlist: War of the Worlds at 75, Women of Interest, Naked Vegas

Orson Welles

Today's history lesson: You shouldn't always believe what you hear. Long before TV, let alone social media like Twitter and Facebook, the medium of radio held sway over the public consciousness — and more to the point, the collective imagination — in a way that now seems hard for many to fathom. One visionary who understood its potential and power was Orson Welles, "prodigy and provocateur," who at the astonishingly precocious age of 23 triggered a Halloween eve panic in 1938 with his innovative and infamous CBS Radio adaptation of H.G. Wells' The War of the Worlds.

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The Monday Playlist: Hostages Goes Crazy, HBO's Cannes-Do Attitude

Dylan McDermott and Toni Collette

Simplicity can be a helpful thing for an effective thriller — and that, sadly, is an attribute CBS's overwrought, underwatched Hostages (Monday, 10/9c) lacks altogether. The more complications this show introduces, the sillier it threatens to become. It's hard to imagine a subplot of less interest than the money problems of foxy hostage-taker Sandrine ...
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Ask Matt: Remakes, "New" Mike & Molly, NCIS Spin-Offs, Castle

Mark Harmon

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

Question: Curious for your take on this. NBC just announced a remake of Murder, She Wrote with Octavia Spencer. They recently cancelled their re-imagining of the ...
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Weekend Playlist: Best Good Wife Ever, Worst Dracula Ever, OWN's Bridegroom

Josh Charles and Julianna Margulies

Can't they all just get along? Perish the thought.

Few spectacles are more exciting and satisfying than watching a great series reinvent itself with bold strokes and high drama. In its five seasons, CBS's The Good Wife has never played it safe in boardroom, courtroom or bedroom — but nothing could have prepared us for just how explosively entertaining the war within Lockhart/Gardner was going to be.

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The Thursday Playlist: A Scandal-ous Friend, Runway All-Stars

Scandal

Once upon a very different time, Lisa Kudrow owned Thursday night along with her other TV Friends during NBC's now-distant era of "Must See" supremacy. She's back on the same night, on a different network, but once again she's landed on the buzziest show of the moment: ABC's Scandal (10/9c), where she begins a recurring role as Josephine Marcus, a Democratic Congresswoman — and outspoken critic of the Grant administration — who tangles with First Lady Mellie (the awesome Bellamy Young). What drew Kudrow back to network TV? May have something to do with her longtime friendship and working relationship with producing partner (and guest actor Emmy winner) Dan Bucatinsky, who plays Cyrus's excitable partner James on the show. While she's reason enough to tune in, the Pope & Associates subplot also sounds like fun, as they take on as a client a politician notorious for snapping photos of his unmentionables. (Sound familiar?)

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