Question: As we approach the annual barrage of year-end Top 10 lists, I'm dreading the fact that one worthy, excellent TV show will be overlooked by most critics: The Vampire Diaries. Don't get me wrong, I love Breaking Bad and Game of Thrones as much as any sane person, but I also think TVD is one of the most expertly paced, perfectly plotted shows on TV right now. Unfortunately, I don't think many professional critics bother to watch it, though they'll analyze lesser shows like True Blood and The Walking Dead just because of the networks they air on. Even if critics don't think The Vampire Diaries is Top 10 worthy, I think it at least deserves to be part of the year-end conversation. Why is it so hard for a show like this to be taken seriously? — Donnie
Matt Roush: I like Vampire Diaries and probably give it more consideration than ...
Is he a good Santa or a bad Santa? Sounds like a case for Brenda Leigh Johnson (Kyra Sedgwick), and in a very campy Christmas episode of TNT's The Closer (9/8c) — one of many holiday episodes we'll be weighing in on this week — the Santa is ...
First, a few words about fairy tales, one of the more unexpectedly hot trends of this TV season ...
Always a popular (if sometimes contentious) topic in my Ask Matt forum, Fox's Bones refutes any notion that its heart isn't in the right place in this week's ultimately touching episode (9/8c). Ralph Waite (forever Papa Walton to many of us, though nowadays better known as Jethro's dad on NCIS) makes a welcome return as Booth's grandfather, bearing some unwelcome news that has the very pregnant Bones (Emily Deschanel) wondering how best to reach ...
Comedy is very hot this TV season — thank ABC's best-of-class Wednesday comedies (all in repeats tonight), CBS' Monday blockbusters, NBC's cult faves and Fox's giddy New Girl — but two lousy new sitcom arrivals buck the trend, leaving a sour aftertaste.
Normally I'd celebrate at any circumstance that shrinks The X Factor to 90 minutes, but in this case, it opens the door for Fox's unpleasant I Hate My Teenage Daughter (9:30/8:30c), which traps two gifted comedians — My Name Is Earl's Emmy-winning spitfire Jaime Pressly and two-time Tony-winning scene-stealer Katie Finneran — in no-win roles as shrill moms who used to be ugly ducklings and are now cowed by their bratty offspring (forgettably rendered by Aisha Dee and Kristi Lauren), who are turning out to be the sort of spoiled mean girls who tormented the moms back when they were in high school.
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
TNT is going by the book in its approach to launching what the network is calling Mystery Movie Night, reviving a classic genre of TV by leaning heavily on best-selling brand names in the first wave of six titles airing through December on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
Send questions to email@example.com and follow me on Twitter!
Question: Now that we are about at the mid-season break for shows, I have been thinking about which returning shows are having the best, most satisfying seasons. Fringe, Castle, Community and Bones are at the top of my list, but I have to single out Parks and Recreation as the best returning show. I wasn't sure Parks and Rec could sustain the consistently funny run it had last season, but it has easily lived up to the expectations of Season 3. I think what has made this season even better ...
Taking advantage of the networks' post-sweeps lull, TNT roars back in a big way this week, with tonight's winter return (for five episodes) of its two biggest hits, The Closer and Rizzoli & Isles, and starting Tuesday for the next month, a weekly series of first-run mystery movies on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. (More on that later this week.)
The Closer (8/7c) and Rizzoli (9/8c) each have similar starting points for this ...
Some selective highlights and mini-reviews to get you through the long holiday weekend:
Last week, she was a hapless office assistant on Up All Night. Tonight, in the same time period on a different network, she's an insufferable sibling who makes Thanksgiving a chore, as Saturday Night Live vet Molly Shannon shows off her range, playing Frankie's demanding sister Janet on ABC's The Middle (8/7c). A holiday visit to Frankie's mom and dad (Marsha Mason and Jerry Van Dyke) becomes a recipe for disaster: "Stir in one broken toy, one passive-aggressive sister and let stew overnight ... Take unresolved issues and soak in alcohol." Frankie insists that "Everybody in one house is what makes holidays special," but anyone who's ever spent the festivities sleeping on an air mattress will relate to this first-rate episode.
Things finally started to get dramatic on Fox's The X Factor last week, and could get even more so with this week's first double elimination — but really, show, why stop at two? (If they'd just crown Melanie Amaro already, it would save us all a ton of time.) And here's a thought: Should the decision become as contentious as it was in last Thursday's showdown between the erratic Stacy Francis, who desperately wanted to stay, and petulant little "Astro," who was so disgruntled at being in the bottom he almost couldn't be bothered to "sing for his life," next time the judges should force a tie so the act with the lowest viewer vote totals is sent packing.