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Question: Where do you stand on the decision of Family Guy's writers to kill off Brian Griffin? When the Nov. 24 episode ended without him coming back to life, it hit me and many, many other viewers like a ton of bricks. I'd like to believe this isn't permanent, like the eventual retirement of Mrs. Krabappel on The Simpsons due to Marcia Wallace's untimely death, but Seth MacFarlane, Brian's voice, is still with us and the artists can still draw Brian, to be sure. On one hand, this seems like a masterstroke, getting the audience emotionally involved with drawings, but on the other hand, no more Brian-Stewie time travels or "Road" episodes? It's unthinkable! I truly hope that since this is a cartoon, the producers and writers will take advantage of animated unreality and do something to bring Brian back, perhaps with Stewie's help. — David
Matt Roush: I was as shocked as anyone by Brian's violent and sudden death, but nearly as shocked by how shocked the show's fans were — given Family Guy's penchant for shock humor, which is often as cruel as it is funny. Brian's death is no laughing matter, which may be what makes it so startling and unnerving in the context of a proudly irreverent show that delights in slaughtering sacred cows and offending politically correct sensibilities. If it weren't such an upsetting occasion, I'd almost be amused by this level of "how dare they" outrage, which is only natural when any beloved TV character is offed. But factor in the fact that it's a cartoon pet, one with a distinct comic sensibility that has been ingrained into this show's DNA from the start, and it's almost as if Hanna-Barbera had arranged for The Flintstones' Dino to be mauled and killed by a T-Rex. (At this point, maybe we should be thankful that MacFarlane's planned reboot of The Flintstones never came to pass after all.) My own take is that the writers have every right to make this kind of decision, and I'd normally applaud the boldness of this move — and the genuine emotion the Griffins showed in laying Brian to rest was unexpectedly affecting — but I admit I'm dismayed at how trite the character of Brian's replacement is (at least at first look and listen). I wouldn't put it past Family Guy to miraculously resurrect Brian some day, if only because of the richness of the character if not to appease the bruised feelings of fans, but for now it looks as if we're meant to accept this as a done deal. RIP.
[NOTE: Most of the mail I saw on the subject was like this reaction from Jayson, who writes: "Why would you kill off one of the most loved characters in the series, plus he and Stewie are great for one another. Seth MacFarlane said he did it to 'shake things up.' Well, this is what I would say back to Mr. MacFarlane: You better un-shake things and put Brian back with the Griffins or I am done watching forever."]
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Question: First, thanks for all of your insights to my favorite shows. In respect to Person of Interest, I agree with much of what you have stated in last week's discussion, that killing Carter was a risk but perhaps a needed one. However, I cannot wrap my head around the manner in which she was killed. Do the writers really expect viewers to believe that Carter was smart enough to track, record, photograph HR, bring them down and capture their leader, but not smart enough to wear a bulletproof vest when there were so many folks literally "gunning" for her? A bullet to the head — like what happened to Kate (Sasha Alexander) on NCIS — would have accomplished the same as a more appropriate end to our heroine: in the line of duty, saving another person. I hope the next person to die gets a better exit strategy! Your thoughts? — Gayle
Matt Roush: You have a point, but if she'd died instantly the way Kate did on NCIS, we'd have been robbed of her emotional death scene in John's arms. So there's that. I guess it could be argued that having put HR down, even with Simmons still in the wind, they were enjoying a false sense of security (Carter having apparently missed CBS's promos that someone was going to be sacrificed). I'm still getting mail from fans asking why this had to happen, but I contend that there are worse ways to go than with a hero's death that impacts the survivors on the team. Doesn't look like they'll be forgetting Joss Carter anytime soon.
Question: Wow. Enrico Colantoni is one of the most underrated dramatic actors on TV. While I utterly hated Simmons, that ending to Person of Interest with Elias creeped me out. Have to say the comments re "Endgame" have been very interesting. I am so involved with this show and its characters that my response to Carter's murder was "her poor son" and "Oh God, John" without considering the outer issue of a strong black character being killed off. I am also interested in how the show moves forward from this. One comment referred to Carter as the "moral center" of the show, which I think had become accurate, and now everyone is spinning out of control. Really also enjoyed the focus on Fusco, who often is the butt of the show's jokes, but had his own personal triumph and almost all the best lines. — Sharon
Matt Roush: All good points, and I'm just as curious as anyone to learn just what this "larger fight ahead of us" is that Root is so ominously warning Finch about. I hear it's a doozy.
Question: Is it me, or do writers start going too far out there when they have success and wreck it? Remember My Name Is Earl got crazier and crazier until it crashed in the ratings. With Person of Interest, they have to have the psycho (Root) get crazier and crazier, communicate with the machine and cause so much shattering of relationships moving forward. I see those directions and killing off of Carter as RIP. Give 'em 12 months. — Bill
Matt Roush: Obviously, I hope that's not the case. Person of Interest is hardly an ordinary show, and the wilder the twists that separate it from a more traditional procedural, the riskier it feels on a network as conventional in its formulas as CBS tends to be. But I don't see an equivalent here to Earl's prison misadventures, from which that show never recovered.
Question: The New York Ledger has been seen and mentioned for over 20 years on all the Law & Order franchise shows. So I laughed out loud when a shot panning newsstands during the last Person of Interest showed the front page of The New York Ledger with a picture of Simmons. The format and colors of the front page matched the L&O version perfectly. The show is from a different producer on a different network so I wondered: Was this some sort of in-joke or has the Ledger become an accepted standard, like 555 for telephone exchanges? — Rick
Matt Roush: Good catch. Sounds like an homage to me, and it appears the Ledger has appeared on other shows outside the Dick Wolf universe has well. Keeps them from having to pay user-fee royalties to actual newspapers, I guess, although these days they could use the help.
Question: It's funny you mentioned the ethnicity aspect of Carter's surprise death on Person of Interest. I was thinking the exact same thing about NCIS! Over the last year, Eli David and Jackie Vance were killed; then we lost Ziva. All characters of non-white or non-American ethnicity. They have promised us a Vance storyline, but we have barely seen him. Now with the addition of Bishop, the crew has suddenly turned almost lily white. No non-English speakers. It is really bugging me. I loved the diversity Ziva brought to the team, with her international connections. No matter how great and spunky Bishop may be, I feel like the show has gone vanilla and I don't like it. — Lucie
Matt Roush: A fair observation. As the post-Ziva team starts getting back out in the world, this is something that deserves to be addressed.
Question: Now that Kerry Washington is really pregnant, do you think they will write that into the script of Scandal, seeing how in the last episode Olivia slept with the Prez again? — Laquita
Matt Roush: From all accounts, that is not going to happen. I expect we'll just see Olivia covering up the bump with a series of ever more elaborate coats, jackets and glamorous whatnot in months to come.
Question: I love The Good Wife this season. It's the best show on TV right now. I do, however, have problems with two recent subplots. With all the cunning going on, it's usually been within the law. The first unreal and not legal subplot was the deposition a few weeks back when LG was being sued. One of the associates who left with Florrick & Agos lied during his deposition and then went back to LG because he had done so. Not only was it perjury, but LG basically suborned perjury to get him to switch. Even Diane seemed not to be bothered by it, so against her character. Then last week, Damian basically stole the furniture from Florrick and Agos. Even though it's a new firm, how can they let just one employee cover the entire office? Shouldn't she have asked to see documentation and then call the police when none is shown? And when Alicia realized Damian had done it, shouldn't she have called the police? These subplots were disappointing for such a wonderful series. — Myra
Matt Roush: While I understand it's fun to nitpick even shows we love, can I urge fans of The Good Wife to just step back a bit and let this glorious conflict between the firms play out without parsing it for legalistic realism at every turn? The situation with the turncoat associate was outrageous, to be sure, and no doubt actionable, but given the bad blood between the firms and Florrick/Agos's shaky start, I'm not surprised that both sides just let that one slide. The prank with the stolen furniture, though, did rankle me as being awfully childish, beneath the dignity of this show. I wasn't bothered by the fact that the new firm wasn't staffed up enough to prevent this kind of breach, but it was such a silly stunt that it did temporarily throw me out of the story. A very rare misstep for a show that has been nothing short of wonderful this season.
Question: Every time that I watch Grey's Anatomy, I feel like they're making Arizona out to be the bad guy all the time. Like she's only there for being the bad guy. You know what I mean? Even when recently Arizona's character has been kinda redeemed. I've been a huge fan of Calzona (Callie and Arizona) since the beginning and I think they ruined Arizona's character completely, and it's not like I want Callie and Arizona to be together and happy for always but I think that Arizona has so much potential for the show, besides that Jessica Capshaw is an amazing actress and she can deliver so much and her speeches turned out to be some of the best. It's such a shame that they turned her into this person who makes Callie happy or makes Callie unhappy and they didn't show how a person can (or can't) deal with an amputation or a miscarriage. — Cinthya
Matt Roush: I'm weary of this particular conflict myself, but while Callie was without question the injured party in this infidelity story, her rigid lack of forgiveness regarding Arizona's lapse was almost as off-putting. Jessica Capshaw played the instant remorse card well enough that she remained sympathetic even when shacking up (bad idea!) with whichever colorless intern that is, but I'm hoping they all can put this behind them soon.
Question: [Submitted before Sunday's episode aired] The midseason finale of The Walking Dead looks really promising with the Governor's clan and Rick & Co finally going head to head. However, I hope the writers do not backlash from this and repeat Season 3 all over again. What I mean by that is I thought the downfall for Season 3 was escaping the prison story of the main characters, trying to introduce new characters from Woodbury and combining both storylines in one storyline and/or a few episodes. (Do not get me wrong, I love this show, but that was by far my least favorites season.) I personally like the storylines with just Rick & Co more than the Governor's storyline, and while I know we need to follow the Governor's storyline because of the comics, just like so many shows have failed in the past, if you keep introducing more and more characters you start fading away from the core of the show itself. — Mike
Matt Roush: For many fans, the worst season of The Walking Dead appears to have been the long, talky interlude on Hershel's farm in Season 2. It's a difficult balancing act this show has to accomplish, to service (and endanger, and occasionally kill or write off) key core characters while expanding the show's world to create new conflicts and relationships and perils. Contrasting the way Woodbury operated versus the prison "democracy" was intriguing to me, up to a point, but the challenge is how to keep the show going without stagnating if they stay in place for too long, or on the other hand, losing focus by introducing new groups of characters whose stories may invariably feel less compelling that those of our long-suffering heroes. This season, the balance was stronger, taking only two taut hours to catch us up with the Governor's strange journey, but where it goes from here, I happily have no idea.
Question: What were they thinking at Hawaii Five-0 on Friday, Nov. 22, the 50th anniversary of President Kennedy's assassination, by broadcasting an episode that had a possible assassination attempt on the president as one of its major plot lines? — Speros
Matt Roush: Sounds like they weren't thinking, or that they were so excited about having booked Carol Burnett for a sweeps episode that they didn't bother to do the math when it came to the unfortunate and tasteless timing. But I had somewhat the same reaction when I realized that Nikita (same night, same time period) was starting its final season that very Friday, with a storyline in which Nikita has been framed for the president's assassination — although it was actually a suicide, and not the real president but a body double, so in actuality so outlandish a scenario that it's hard to take it that seriously. But given the amount of attention being paid on TV to that historical milestone, it might have been in everyone's best interests to just cool it for a night on the fictional mayhem.
That's all for now. Keep sending your comments and questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, and in the meantime, follow me on Twitter!
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Ask Matt: Deaths on Family Guy and Person of Interest, Scandal, Grey's
Send questions and comments to email@example.com and follow me on Twitter!