Question: Love your column and hope you could shed some light on an issue for me. As I understand it, TV shows/actors submit one episode of what they feel is their best work (that season) for Emmy consideration. Is this true? If so, don't you think the criteria should require a greater sample size since one episode, no matter the quality, does not necessarily tell the story of an entire season? —Charles
Matt Roush: Actors do submit only one episode to be screened by the voting panel of peers, which is meant to display their best work of the season — which is why we often remark after a standout episode (Homeland's "Q&A" as an example, which both Claire Danes and Damian Lewis submitted) that it feels like a star's "Emmy reel" — but shows themselves are required to submit six episodes for consideration in the comedy and drama series categories. Those episodes are split into groups of two, which are then distributed randomly to judges — which still begs the point of your question that even two sample episodes aren't really enough to give judges (Academy members) a sense of the quality of a full season's body of work. Which is one of many reasons that it's so hard to predict how Emmy voters will swing any given year. You have to hope they bring some context into the process and aren't diving in blindly, and it would be nice to think that these screeners act primarily as a helpful jog of the memory and not as an introduction to the show and/or the actor's recent body of work. But that would be an awfully optimistic view of a flawed system.
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Question: Is Brooklyn Nine-Nine a sitcom simply about the wacky and hilarious situations involving a group of East Coast cops (a la Reno 911), or does it also deal with serious issues in a funny manner like Barney Miller? — Alex
Matt Roush: I'm not sure it's that simple to pigeonhole, but with only a pilot episode to judge from so far (airing Tuesday at 8:30/7:30c on Fox), the emphasis in Brooklyn Nine-Nine — which looks to be the season's best and most distinctive new comedy series — is so far on the wacky side, though it's grounded in considerably more realism than the absurdist Reno, and amid the snark there's just enough heart to make the characters immediately endearing. And having Andre Braugher on board as the deadpan new captain brings a certain gravitas to all of the clowning, so the opportunity is there for the show to confront weightier matters down the road. But this isn't Homicide: The Comedy. It's primarily going for the funny.
Question: What has happened with Dexter? There are two episodes to go and it feels like nothing has occurred the whole season. Never have I seen such a weak, poorly executed final season. Even at its lower points in its run, I've stuck by the show. But this season has been so dull. It started strongly with Deb, her fallout from killing LaGuerta and her broken relationship with Dexter. The introduction of Dr. Vogel also seemed like a real game changer. However, the Deb storyline was quickly resolved and the Vogel storyline fizzled and became boring. Side characters are given huge chunks of the episode for what seems like unneeded padding: Masuka and his daughter, Quinn and Jamie as well as a very shoehorned Matthews. While a new mini arc is introduced every few episodes — Deb's new job, the fake brain surgeon, Zach, Hannah, Hannah's husband, the real brain surgeon, the U.S. Marshal. And Dexter has hardly killed anyone! It's all very predictable and such a mess. I don't like comparing shows, but Breaking Bad's final season has been phenomenal. It keeps you guessing and has been moving the show along with every scene. Nothing is wasted. Both shows are very similar in that they have a questionable protagonist who is likely to end the series dead, on the run, free or in jail. So why is Dexter not pulling out all the stops like Breaking Bad? Why in these final few episodes does it seem like nothing is happening? And do you think the final episode will deliver? — Eric
Matt Roush: It really was a more uneven season than I'd expected, especially considering how strong last year's comeback season was leading into this. The Vogel storyline gave me hope, returning Dexter to his roots (when confronted by the Dr. Frankenstein who helped create Harry's code), but there has been so little urgency to the storytelling in the back half of the season — as opposed to what's happening on Breaking Bad, where every suspenseful second registers as another step closer to Walter White getting his just desserts (or not). Do we really care if Dexter and Hannah get away to Argentina? And what kind of an ending would that be? The "Brain Surgeon" case, and the way it has played out, isn't nearly as epic as you'd like a final mystery to be, and the subplots involving the cops at Miami Metro are even drearier than usual, precisely because they're contributing to stalling the momentum of these last chapters. Maybe the series finale will exceed expectations, maybe not. Dexter was still an awfully good ride for most of its run, and I'd like it to go out with a dark bang.
Question: Is Ziva getting replaced on NCIS? They need another female besides Abby to balance out the cast. — Susan [via Twitter]
Matt Roush: Most NCIS fans (at least according to my mailbag) would immediately fire back that there's no "replacing" Ziva or Cote de Pablo, but yes, as the season progresses, the plan will be to add a significant new female team member on a full-time basis. But first there will be the emotional task of saying goodbye to Ziva in the first episodes, followed by a series of guest-star agents — not unlike the squint-erns on Bones or (reaching further back) the rotating secretarial pool on Murphy Brown — before the newbie comes in to try to fill the Ziva void.
Question: I loved the ending of Luther. To me, at least, it was completely unexpected, but in retrospect it was the perfect ending. Does this mean that Luther is over for good, or do you know if there is still talk of another series? And while we're on the subject of BBC America, I am loving Broadchurch. It is everything I expected The Killing to be and much, much more. Even though everyone in the village seems to be becoming a suspect, there is no feeling these are just red herrings designed to pad out the story; they all feel organic to the development of the plot and the characters in the village. And the acting is uniformly excellent, particularly David Tennant, which leads to an unrelated question:
Of all the actors who played the part, why has Tennant been able to so quickly (and successfully) leave the Doctor behind? I can't remember any of the past Doctors being in anything this high profile (and un-Doctor like) in their subsequent careers. (I suspect this will not apply to Peter Capaldi since he was so good in so many other different parts before becoming the Doctor.) — Rick
Matt Roush: I enjoyed the final scene between Luther and Alice, but the climax was otherwise way too cartoon-like for my taste. Still, I know I'd watch more if they made it, and the latest word is that they're aiming to continue the Luther franchise on the big screen, with a prequel to the original series in which characters like Zoe, Ripley and Ian Reed would still be in Luther's world. Sounds like fun. I agree with all of your points on Broadchurch, especially that the false leads (aka red herrings) don't feel like cheap tricks and wasted effort as so often happened in the first seasons of The Killing, which really is a testament to the writing and acting in this series. And David Tennant is brilliant, right? I can't speak with any authority on the careers of past Doctors and how well they were able to emerge from the character's shadow, and I certainly hope Matt Smith will go on to more great things with his customary wit and panache, but Tennant was demonstrating his range and ambition — Hamlet, anyone? — well before leaving the dream role of the Doctor behind. I was familiar with him before he was the Doctor from shows like Blackpool (aired here as Viva Blackpool), so it doesn't throw me to see him tackling new characters with similar verve and integrity. And I'm sure you're right about Capaldi, who has enjoyed a pretty marvelous career already, so while taking on the Doctor may be a high point, it won't necessarily define him and it surely won't limit him in the future.
Question: This is regarding the superb FX show The Bridge. After reading the reviews, it is revealed that the Sonya character has Asperger's and that is why she acts the way she does. After watching all the episodes to date, it has never been revealed that she has Asperger's. Other personal things were talked about, but not that. Or did I completely miss something? If it was mentioned, would you be able to tell me what episode so I could catch it? It's a great show and I hope it comes back for a second season. Also, is the excellent Ripper Street returning? Love that show! Really enjoy your comments/reviews — a longtime fan of yours! — Anne
Matt Roush: The Bridge has never specifically addressed Sonya's condition, except obliquely as we see how protective her boss, Hank Wade (Ted Levine), is of her glaringly obvious social and behavioral quirks, which seem also connected to the traumas of her past. FX highlighted Sonya's Asperger's tendencies in the press materials critics received before reviewing The Bridge, but the show's producers have taken great pains not to spell it in their scripts, which some have criticized — especially considering how polarizing the character is for many (me included). Regarding Ripper Street: A new season will begin airing on BBC America on Dec. 1, so yay for that. And finally, thanks!
Question: Please tell me there are no antisocial, Asperger's, autistic savant leads, sidekicks or M.E.'s on the fall schedule. Seriously! We have wayyyy too many characters who don't seem to understand human emotions but are brilliant at their jobs. Bones did this years ago, peeps, and yes, I'm talking to you, Rizzoli & Isles, Hannibal, The Bridge (ugh, love the show, but the lead female was done a disservice by writers who, ahem, thought they were being original). — Denise
Matt Roush: Hey, you forgot Perception, or as I like to think of it, "Heard the one about the schizophrenic FBI consultant?" Couldn't agree more with your fun rant. We've reached a saturation point with "damaged" cops and quirky crime-solvers, and the good news is that new procedurals aren't a prevailing trend on network TV this fall, and the closest thing any show comes to qualifying for your list is NBC's woefully ridiculous Ironside reboot, where the title character's handicap doesn't involve a wheelchair as much as his incredibly arrogant and over-the-top attitude.
Question: I've seen some of your recent posts mention the lack of good summer TV shows this season and I definitely agree with you. For this reason, I've spent the summer catching up on shows that I wanted to watch throughout the fall and spring but didn't have time to check out. I've watched the first season of The Americans (really enjoyed it) and watched Orange Is the New Black on Netflix (loved it!). I also checked out the first season of Bates Motel and was really impressed. I felt like the performances, especially Vera Farmiga's, were really solid and the show has just the right amount of creepiness and intensity to it without verging into American Horror Story territory (I'm with you on that show, not a fan). I was curious if you have any insight/opinions about where the show will go in its second season. I'm assuming, first and foremost, it will address the season-ending cliffhanger with Norman and his teacher, which literally made my jaw drop, but I'm curious to see what other storylines emerge since the Norma storyline involving Jake Abernathy and Detective Shelby was kind of wrapped up by the end of the season. Also, what did you think of the first season? — Rachel
Matt Roush: Actually, I thought this was a pretty robust TV summer, with terrific series like Broadchurch and Ray Donovan joining longtime summer staples, and as previously discussed, these final hours of Breaking Bad are dynamite, but you definitely found some good uses for your time. As someone who holds Hitchcock's Psycho in the highest regard, Bates Motel was an unexpected treat (although I found Hannibal an even more compelling spring surprise, in case you're still looking for discoveries), and I was tickled when the Emmys singled out Vera Farmiga, who is so ferociously entertaining as Norma. From the news that was reported over the summer from Comic-Con and other sources, the second season of Bates Motel will further Norman's descent into the future Psycho-path following Miss Watson's murder, while he and his mom get new love interests (Alias's Michael Vartan appears to be next in line for Norma, so he should watch his back) and we'll meet Norma's brother (Kenny Johnson), who it was revealed molested her as a child, so expect some fireworks there. All told, something to look forward to.
Question: I heard well over a year ago that Sony and CBS were looking to reboot Bewitched. Since then there has been no news. While I am very skeptical that a Bewitched reboot would even work today, especially with the movie treatment that flopped, I am still curious as to whether or not CBS is still pursuing this venture. — Russell
Matt Roush: Thankfully, wiser heads apparently prevailed, and nothing seems to have come of it. (Perhaps my primal scream on behalf of preserving the memory of the great Elizabeth Montgomery scared them off. Or maybe they watched the Nicole Kidman version.) Nearly every year during the development process, some network thinks about reviving an old title under the theory that it's easier to launch something most people have heard of. The downside being that the remake almost never holds up, and even if modestly successful (like CBS's current Hawaii Five-0), they rarely have the cultural impact of the original. This fall's Ironside is a good example of how badly these "re-imaginings" often turn out.
Question: Not to pester you on the abrupt cancellation of The Glades, but exactly what happened? Also, is it expecting too much from a cable channel or broadcast network to allow a multi-year series to have a proper resolution or ending? Lastly, is there any chance another cable channel — like sister LMN or USA or TNT or even Netflix — picking up The Glades up for a fifth season or two-hour wrap-up episode? — Jim
Matt Roush: Cancellations like these are basically business decisions that involve a calculus of slipping ratings, cost analysis and the network's future goals (as in, maybe A&E is developing something that might be a better fit with Longmire). But these tough calls also involve a creative component, and someone really dropped the ball here by allowing the show, if it was seen as being in any ratings jeopardy, to end the season on such a downbeat cliffhanger. It's inexcusable. As far as I can tell, there's no news about the producing studio shopping the property around to other channels, and I'd think it unlikely to be picked up elsewhere (such things happen very rarely), so the best hope is that A&E has a change of heart and decides to film a wrap-up of some sort. But until you hear of such a thing happening, assume that it won't.