Question: I've been a fan of Elementary, and I really liked the story arc last season with Rhys Ifans playing Mycroft. His involvement with Watson, moving to New York, opening the restaurant, concealing from everyone that he was MI6: The whole season seemed to give a fresh twist to the Sherlock history and move it forward. This season, however, with Kitty (Ophelia Lovibond), I'm not getting what the writers are doing. I think she's beyond boring, probably because she has no real reason to be there, and she's splintering the energy I used to feel between Sherlock and Watson, and each of them to Bell and Gregson. None of the episodes this year has grabbed me. Is it just me? Do they have a story arc buried in there someplace I can't see? I'd rather they go back to a crime-of-the-week if they can't do better than this. I love your column, by the way! I can't believe how long it took me to find it, but now I never miss it. — Kay
Matt Roush: Never too late, I always say. And while I'm not as down on these new Elementary developments as you are, I agree Kitty isn't adding nearly as much to the show as Mycroft did last season. If the intent here is to give Joan Watson's character room to grow (including new separate living quarters and a love interest — although what a disconnect to see Raza Jaffrey here and on Homeland, where he's using his authentic accent, concurrently), I'm OK with that, but not at the expense of their partnership, which can now come off as forced, depending on the case. (And I rather liked the most recent story involving Sherlock taking on a supposed artificial intelligence.) Kitty herself often feels like an unnecessary interloper, and giving her a dark twisty past like Sherlock's isn't really enough to justify changing the main characters' core dynamic so suddenly and so early in the show's run. (Kind of reminds me of when House sidelined Cameron prematurely, not that Watson is likely to suffer that character's fate.)
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Question: I am a major Karen Gillan fan and not just from Doctor Who (watch her on a talk show and you'll see how talented and charming she is). Yet even I agree that Selfie was painfully bad and deserved its recent cancellation notice. More broadly (no pun intended), is it fair to say that the world of sitcoms rarely knows what to do with special and talented women? At least Karen didn't suffer the horror of having her bad sitcom named after her, unlike Kristin (Chenoweth) or, to show my age, Diana (Rigg). Your thoughts? — Steven
Matt Roush: That's way too sweeping a generalization. From Lucy and Mary (do you really need their last names?) onward, through the more recent reign of Tina Fey, Amy Poehler and the current queen of TV comedy Julia Louis-Dreyfus (who has won Emmys for her roles from Seinfeld to Old Christine to Veep), it's not a problem of TV doing well by its funny ladies but of TV generating strong new comedies in general. This is an especially weak season for new sitcoms, and Selfie was hardly the worst of the batch, although there's little doubt that it didn't capitalize fully on Karen Gillan's charm (or accent).
Question: I am in love with How to Get Away With Murder. It is one of the best shows on TV and of this season, along with The Flash, Jane the Virgin and Gotham. Sam's killer didn't surprise me, I kind of expected it, but the biggest shocker — spoiler alert! — was Annalise being behind burning the body and getting rid of the evidence, as the show can finally show us How To Get Away With Murder. But my biggest concern is where the show can go from here. We know Annalise and her team are really good at their job and they will be getting away with murder, but that could be boring/expected. My bet is that someone will turn on each other. I just don't know how long the show can go along with its title of HTGAWM, but then again it is from the team behind Scandal and they know how to twist and turn around the storyline. Can we give Viola Davis an Emmy already? Speaking of Scandal, do you think that they should have killed Papa Pope before revealing Andrew as the next big villain? I think they should have killed Rowan before his story ran out of steam, let him go when the flames are hot. — Aadil
Matt Roush: I'm not too worried about the next batch of episodes that will take Murder to its early conclusion in late February. The fallout from Sam's death, and what I imagine will be more paranoia and back-stabbing among these characters while we figure out who really killed Lila, should provide plenty of juicy conflict. I do wonder, though, where the show will go in Season 2. Weeding out some of the more annoying students will help — surely the body count isn't finished yet. Maybe a murder within the team itself will spur the story for next year. Like Scandal, the challenge and danger will be to keep trying to top itself without going so far over the top as to implode. As for Scandal, there's a lot more life (and death) left in Evil "Control," so I'm glad even with the new threat to Olivia, that Rowan (the wonderful Joe Morton) is still out there, ready to uncork a bottle of wine and unleash his wrath for whoever gets in his way next.
Question: I appreciated the recent question from Kelly about How to Get Away With Murder. A friend and I have been discussing this weekly about how we really aren't sure we like it and how all the characters seem to be lacking any moral compass. Here is the other thing that this show (among others) that is irritating me: the lighting. I am watching on an HDTV but I am forced to watch in a dark room and I still can't see what is going on — could someone turn on a light? I understand about creating an atmosphere but I feel like I'm being blindfolded. Have you heard this complaint from anyone else? — Mary
Matt Roush: This is probably the most common complaint I get about TV shows, next to the overly loud music. (See next question.) Murder is especially open to this problem because so much of the Murder Night events happened in the darkness, adding to the mood but also to the confusion. It didn't bother me as much on my HDTV with this particular show, but it has been a recurring issue with shows that try so hard to be noir that you sometimes wonder if your TV is malfunctioning.
Question: Is it just me, or is the background music in many shows (mostly on CBS) so loud that the dialogue is lost? While I enjoyed watching Hawaii 5-0 mainly for the scenery, I have stopped watching because the music is soooooo loud! I also notice that Blue Bloods doesn't have the loud music. The power of Tom Selleck? Just wondering. — Susan P.
Matt Roush: Despite getting questions/complaints about this issue nearly ever week, I rarely address this problem because, well, I'm looking out for you my readers, who no doubt feel we cover too much of the same ground many weeks anyway. Yes, the volume of the music is almost as bad as that on commercials (not that I see all that many in this DVR age). But I've heard enough griping about Hawaii Five-0 in recent months (not a show that's part of my regular rotation these days) that I'll single it out — although for me, the worst offender has always been Grey's Anatomy, with its blaring soundtrack often obscuring what everyone's saying (especially when they're wearing surgical masks). My take on this particular question is that H50 fancies itself more of an action series, which is why they rev up the music so loudly, while Blue Bloods, though not without its scenes of urban mayhem, sets a more restrained tone in its storytelling, hence a quieter soundtrack.
Question: I love your column, and wanted to come to you for an answer to my burning question. Is last week's Sleepy Hollow the only episode where we will see Abbie and Jenny's mom, Lori? I hope not, she was great and so was the episode. — Camille
Matt Roush: I agree it was one of the better episodes this season because of the personal story it was telling, and Aunjanue Ellis as the ghost of Mad Mama Lori was very affecting. Seemed to me that they resolved many of her spectral issues and she got some supernatural closure with her daughters, but it was a strong enough storyline that I wouldn't be surprised to see them returning to it, and to her, in a future episode. I haven't heard anything regarding her return yet (and I don't pursue spoilers), so for now let's wait and see, and hope.
Question: I'm with you that the final season of Sons of Anarchy has been dragging a bit and is way over the top in its cartoonish violence with zero attention being paid to it by law enforcement. That said, last week's episode reminded me of just what a great actor Jimmy Smits can be. The scene where Nero is learning about what Gemma did, and without saying a word, you watch his entire outlook and personality shift was really powerful. In a mostly forgettable season (from an acting standpoint), I hope that he gets some recognition. — Chip
Matt Roush: I will say that the last few episodes of Sons have been way more impressive, now that the tragic enormity of Gemma's lie about Tara's murder has begun to sink in. Still, the grisly demise of Moses (payback for Bobby) and his crew would have had a lot more impact if there hadn't been almost a weekly massacre — and really, no one's mourning any of those fallen ladies of the brothel, except maybe Nero? Couldn't agree more about Jimmy Smits, who nailed that scene of quiet horror, as he realized what a Medusa he'd been squiring. Have you ever seen more man tears shed during a single hour of TV? Sons has never been taken very seriously by the groups that give out awards, but given Smits's history with groundbreaking drama (L.A. Law, NYPD Blue), it's not out of the question that his superior work could get noticed.
Question: Holy moly! I thought I might be imagining it at first, but I definitely saw some sparks and major chemistry between Voight and Benson on the Law & Order: SVU/Chicago PD crossover! I know the chances are slim to none, but do you think the writers would ever consider venturing down the path? Other than Severide and Lindsay, which is easy since it's Fire and PD, I don't know that I've ever seen two separate shows try to have a romance between their two main characters. Facebook was booming with positive comments about the chemistry and a potential relationship between the two of them! I don't think I've seen chemistry between Mariska Hargitay and any of the men that have been "interested" in her character outside of Christopher Maloni/Stabler, but it was definitely there with Jason Beghe/Voight. I'd hate to see "the powers that be" not even pursue that a little as a long-distance relationship, or at least flirt with it a little, when they've struggled to find a good fit there and it just fell into their lap. Plus, like I said I've never really seen it before, so that would make it even more interesting! — Maleah
Matt Roush: Sounds like you have a future in fan fiction. Go for it! Logistically and realistically, it's hard to imagine this kind of long-distance TV relationship ever happening, even or maybe especially between such strong personalities. (Myself, I think she could do much better.) If PD were set in New York, maybe. But the Chicago shows and casts will only cross over during Very Special sweeps stunts, and it's almost certainly going to stay that way.
Question: I've never written to you before, but I'm really P.O.'d at TNT for not renewing Perception. It is one of the few shows I watch religiously, and Eric McCormack may be the best actor (not to mention one of the nicest people) on TV. Any chances another network with more sense will pick it up? — Andrea
Matt Roush: The answer is, as almost always is the case (the Longmire resurrection — yay! — aside): Probably not. I suppose Disney, as the show's production company, could try selling and landing it somewhere — your original question was aimed at USA Network (an honest mistake), which would be the likeliest other home for this kind of offbeat procedural — but it seems a stretch. What you're seeing happen at TNT right now, with a cascade of cancellations (including Dallas and Franklin & Bash), is a network undergoing a brand reinvention, as a new leader (former Fox head Kevin Reilly) comes on board. Casualties were inevitable. And while this wasn't my favorite of his roles, I also hope Eric McCormack finds his way back to TV soon. Given his track record, I imagine it won't be long.
Question: I was shocked, once again, that Hell on Wheels killed off the church lady Ruth. It was a great story that made you think she was going to be saved, but alas another great character has died. They also killed off another lady last season or the season before who got close to Cullen. Did they kill Ruth because the actress (Kasha Kropinski) is now on the show Strange Empire, shot in Canada as well? I also loved Common and his character, but I did know that he left on his own to pursue other interests. Also, on Homeland, is Brody really dead and is there talk of him returning to the series? We miss him and they teased us. — Donna
Matt Roush: From what I can tell, killing off Ruth was purely a creative choice on the part of the show's writers, to give the character a dramatic and memorable sendoff. And given that Hell on Wheels is nearing the end of its run — with the final season airing, as has become AMC's annoying pattern, with a split schedule of 14 episodes airing over the next two years — I'd expect the body count to continue to rise. As for Homeland: Brody is (as they sing on The Wizard of Oz) not just merely dead, but really, most sincerely dead. During that moment of hallucinatory resurrection on drugged-out Carrie's part, there was a second or two in which I worried the show had gone back off the deep end itself. If ever there was an earned death on a show, it was Brody's. The show is better off by moving on — and I'm not convinced this wouldn't be an even better show if it allowed the CIA to acknowledge once and for all what an unstable basket case Carrie is, and made Quinn and Saul the leads. Regardless, these last few episodes have been exceptionally intense and enjoyable, and they didn't have to bring a character back from the dead to achieve it.
Question: I've been DVR-ing two shows and I'm wondering if you'd share your opinion. I watched most of the first season of American Horror Story and liked it at first but was completely bored by the end. I didn't watch Seasons 2 and 3. But based on buzz, I've been recording Season 4. From what you'd seen so far, would you recommend it? I'm guessing I know the answer to this one as you haven't been talking about it at all, but I'm wondering what your opinion is on the new Transporter series. I've been recording it but I'm not sure if I should devote eight hours to it. — Jen
Matt Roush: I have a longstanding love-hate relationship (minus the love) with American Horror Story, including this season. I love the notion of the show (big horror fan from way back), and much about the period look of this series, not to mention another tremendous ensemble cast, is first-rate. But in execution, it is all such preposterous, campy and incoherent nonsense, and with this year's outcast/freak/misfit theme, laboriously pretentious to boot. The show often mistakes being disgusting (casting Matt Bomer in a cameo just to slaughter him in his underwear) with being scary, and I've never bought it. So no, if you're not inclined to watch, erase it. And I'll leave your decision about Transporter up to you, as I have no opinion. This was an acquisition by TNT, which never sent it out for review. And since I was about as interested in watching it as TNT was in promoting it, I never bothered during a very busy fall season. Again, if you're interested enough to record the show, give it a look and then decide if it's a keeper.
Question: So here's a really random question for you: Why do actors get tattoos? Obviously, they're free to do what they want, and there are actors where tattoos won't make a difference and works in their favor (Weevil from Veronica Mars, for example), but for a standard actor, their bodies are a huge part of their career and getting a tattoo can affect it. It seems that recently there's been an increase in actors getting tattoos. I find it so distracting and takes me out of the moment when I see what is meant to be the nerdy high schooler with a wrist tattoo or an actor with a quote on their ribs that has nothing to do with their character. Or worse, a poorly covered-up (by makeup) tattoo that can still be seen on camera.
I remember reading an interview with Jonny Lee Miller when Elementary came out saying that he missed out on a lot of jobs because of his full arm tattoos, and the show was the first one to accept it. Similarly, I read another interview with the make-up artist and costumer for Teen Wolf, who both seemed rather annoyed that their job was made harder thanks to Tyler Posey getting numerous tattoos during production on his torso, arms and legs. The writers had to shoehorn one of his tattoos into the plot of the show, while the make-up artist had to come in earlier and had her workload doubled to cover up the remaining tattoos, and the costumer had to find new clothes to make sure they covered up some of them and Posey hasn't been seen shirtless since, which in a show that is known for constantly parading around shirtless men seems rather glaring when their main actor doesn't. Posey has also now decided to remove the one on his ribs because it's becoming an issue. Surely, if it's going to cause so much grief to those involved with the production of a show and can cost actors gigs, why would they even consider getting one? Any insight? — Kevin
Matt Roush: A truly odd, but not unfair, question. And to address it, I will expose what I imagine is my own generational and cultural bias, because I can't imagine what would compel a professional actor whose image is his or her currency to do anything that would cause a permanent blemish on any body part. My reaction is almost never "Oooh!" but "Ewww!" when I see excessive ink on a performer, and while I can accept it as a personal expression, I also consider it in most cases (excepting athletes and rock musicians, specifically Adam Levine) to be professional folly. I was aware of Jonny Lee Miller's situation, and I'm glad Elementary's conception of Sherlock can accommodate his indulgence, but hadn't heard about Tyler Poser. Kids today!