Question: Just when I thought The Good Wife couldn't top Season 5, Season 6 is off to a humdinger of a start! I certainly didn't see Cary's arrest coming, and I can't wait to find out what they have in store for us next. Matt Czuchry is terrific, and I'm thrilled he's getting this opportunity for a meaty storyline. As opposed to a show such as The Vampire Diaries, which tore through so much plot I stopped caring (no one stays dead, so where are the stakes?), The Good Wife earns its twists and turns, and only gets better with each game-changer. I've thoroughly enjoyed it from the get-go, but in the last year, it has vaulted to the top of my can't-miss shows. As we all know, many programs decline after the first few seasons and limp to the finish line. NCIS became a big hit a few years into its run, but I'm not sure it grew creatively. (That's not a slight — I don't watch it, so I genuinely don't know.) I can't think of another show that has risen to such glorious new artistic heights in Season 5 and onward the way The Good Wife has. Can you? — Keira
Matt Roush: It's rare for a show to peak the way The Good Wife has this late in its run, and I couldn't agree more about the sensational season opener. Mulling over your question, shows like Breaking Bad and The Shield came first to mind in terms of getting better as they went and sustaining to the end, but these were series with very defined long-term arcs propelling their main characters toward an unavoidably grim fate, and as The Good Wife took great pains to point out during the last awards season, these cable series produced seasons of much shorter duration, making what The Good Wife does over a 22-episode span within a more traditional procedural format even more remarkable.
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Question: I love reading your reviews and the Ask Matt columns for wonderful insights into many of the shows that I learned about and love because of your recommendations. I have to ask about the Season 6 premiere of The Good Wife. The surprising and shocking direction change of arresting Cary, showing the arrest and jailing process and then cutting him in the prisoner rec room were all very overwhelming to me. I know changing the focus can bring interesting storylines into play, but is the plan to have this be the focus of the show for the foreseeable future? I so adored Season 5, even though they killed off one of my favorite characters, because I could not have predicted all of the twists and turns. I have to say that I'm left with a sour taste in my mouth after the season premiere. I have never watched shows like OZ or Orange Is the New Black because I am simply not interested in the dark, violent stories of jail or prison life, whether it is totally drama or mixed with some humor. If Cary being in jail is to be the focus of Season 6 and I have to wait to see every episode if or when they will shank him to shake things up again, then The Good Wife will no longer be my cup of tea, my genuine pleasure or my can't-miss Sunday-night TV viewing.
I know spoilers are not your thing, but do you have any general insight into the overall plans for Season 6 and if this will be the focus of the entire season? I certainly hope not. I prefer the courtroom trial-of-the-week and the fun but dramatic interplay between the attorneys of both firms and the State's Attorney office. This episode gave me an ugly view into something I'd rather not see each week, so I hope it's only a short-term shake-up and not the season's entire path. — Denise
Matt Roush: As Sunday's episode revealed, Cary is not going to be sporting prison duds all season. Which is a good thing. But from what I understand, Cary's legal dilemma will carry through much of the season, affecting all of the major characters' storylines, while bringing this sometimes-neglected character into the spotlight in the most dramatic way possible. This was never going to be about turning The Good Wife into a "Cary Goes to OZ" horror show, but the threat of his possibly going back to prison remains a very real possibility. Hope you can sleep better now.
Question: I thought for sure Zeek would die in the Parenthood season premiere, but Bonnie Bedelia's facial expressions during the previews for next week make me think it's worth drawing out his health issues. Not so sure about the re-introduction of Hank's family, as I desperately want as much time with the Bravermans as possible. My actual question is related to Amber and the baby. I would assume (maybe misguided) with only 13 episodes, we won't meet the newest Braverman, but is Matt Lauria scheduled to appear before the season ends? I guess I'm holding out hope that Amber will remember life with her own absent father and at least offer Ryan the chance to know their child. OK, thanks for the therapy session. It's going to be a painful 13 weeks! — Jessica
Matt Roush: All things considered, including the series' need to provide closure on multiple fronts, it's hard to imagine Matt Lauria/Ryan not showing up at some point, but I'd prefer to be surprised when and if that happens, because ... (insert reminder that this isn't a spoiler column). I understand there will be a time jump sometime during the season, which makes sense given the game-changing events and the over-arcing theme of mortality, even as we welcome the start of a new generation of Bravermans. Whatever it takes to give us the broadest and most generous amount of story to say goodbye to this memorable family. And yes, it's a good thing my household just made an emergency run to Costco to stock up on Kleenex, because we're all going to need them.
Question: Just watched the premiere of Gotham and thought it was great, but at the same time found myself wanting a little more, which I believe stems from watching a series in the world of Batman without Batman. I fear this may be the show's downfall (though I reserve that fear for the future) and wonder if the show might benefit a little with a flash-forward at the end of each or every couple of episodes, so that the creators get to keep their pre-Batman world but all the fans out there get a little taste of what we all know is to come. I know shows have done it in the past with mixed success, but I feel like the material here sets up very nicely for it. I know you also liked the show, but what do you think about my idea or is it just overkill? — Brandon
Matt Roush: This is the greatest concern, that by not featuring Gotham City's most iconic character — who at this stage is but an orphaned poor little rich boy, although one (as we see repeatedly in the next few episodes) who is already mapping his heroic destiny — Gotham could be seen as a show without a compelling center. Especially since Det. James Gordon comes off as such a humorless, self-righteous drudge. (The police stuff is my least favorite aspect of the show at this point.) But one of the best things about Gotham is that the audience knows what's to come in this universe, and foreshadowing is built into the show's DNA, so I'm not sure flash-forwards would be any more necessary here than they would have been in a show like Smallville. The real juice of Gotham, at least in the three episodes I've seen so far, is in its depiction of a chaotic underworld in violent flux, with colorful characters like Fish Mooney and Penguin/Oswald jockeying for position as the establishment looks the other way (with the exception of Gordon and earnest young Bruce Wayne), opening the door for dangerous vigilantes to add to the mayhem. That's plenty of material for a show to play with, even without Batman at large.
Question: Am I the only person on the planet who was thoroughly disappointed with the first episode of How To Get Away With Murder? After all the hype this series was given prior to its premiere, you would think it was going to be the next Breaking Bad. I found the main storyline to be pretty flat, and I thought the majority of the supporting characters to be shallow, for the most part unlikeable, and therefore, pretty much unwatchable. Viola Davis, who I thoroughly enjoy, has one great line — and it's the same line the whole world has heard in every ad for this series for the past three months. Shonda Rhimes may be producing it, but she probably should be writing it (or getting her Scandal writing team to give it some help), as the writing on this series doesn't come close to Scandal. Have you seen more than the first episode? Does it get any better? — J S
Matt Roush: Some perspective (although I will say this is the most negative take on the pilot I've encountered so far, though it's early days). Look back at the first episode of Scandal. You'd never guess it would turn into the outrageous sensation it is from that modest start. Same, to a lesser degree, with Grey's Anatomy, which took a while to hit its soapy stride as well. I had the complete opposite reaction to Murder's pilot, which I found to be great if ridiculous fun, and I wasn't surprised it launched with boffo ratings. True, the students aren't Pollyannas, (why would they be?), and they don't seem destined to become BFFs like Meredith's crew on Grey's, but the cutthroat law-school pressure cooker is understandably less collegial, and at the very least, young Wes (Alfred Enoch) seems an agreeable enough protagonist. When you refer to the main storyline as "flat," I presume you mean the legal case of the week, which couldn't have been more beside the point (except to show how far some of Annalise's acolytes would go to curry favor). Because the big-picture storyline of the murder and cover-up is a pretty terrific hook. If you like that sort of thing. If you don't, that's fine. But no one was ever pitching this show, at ABC or in the media, as the next Breaking Bad. It's a romp, not to be taken terribly seriously (as I can't imagine you would be taking Scandal, for that matter, which isn't exactly high art). And right now, like everyone else, I'm working off first impressions from the pilot alone. Although given ShondaLand tradition, I'm expecting Murder to get wilder, if not better, although I felt it got off to a pretty confident start.
Question: Castle will enter its seventh season Monday night, but what are the chances this could be the final season for the ABC drama? Nathan Fillion's contract expires at the end of this season and seven seasons marks the end for many series. Andrew Marlowe has stated the story doesn't need to end once the two main characters get married (whenever that happens this season), but I'm not sure Castle can pull off a Bones scenario. — Emily
Matt Roush: I don't see why Castle couldn't continue the way Bones has, with its central couple happily married (though not without the usual complications), but I can't see Castle continuing without Castle — so if Nathan Fillion doesn't renew his contract (although I expect he will, after the usual back and forth), that would be it, and I hope that decision would get made early enough for everyone to plan a grand finale for such a long-running crowd-pleaser. In our Returning Favorites issue, Fillion takes a "We'll see" stance regarding his undecided future. Read into that what you will. (I read it as, "Make it worth my while and I'll be back.")
Question: First, I just wanted to register that my impressions of two new shows are slightly different than yours. I actually found myself liking Scorpion, in spite of the formulaic script. To some degree I agree with you that the show is "forgettably cast," but I found the main character, Walter O'Brien, played by Elyes Gabel, to be compelling. I hope the writers develop more his interactions with Paige's son, which to me were among the most interesting parts of the show. On the other hand, I am struggling to remain interested in Forever and already find tiresome the idea that whenever Dr. Morgan needs to solve a problem, he merely needs to kill himself and everything will be all better. These two shows, by the way, continue the recent trend of hiring excellent British actors, who now seem to have a hugely disproportionate presence on American TV shows. I have absolutely no problem with that, but I am surprised, considering how many good American actors must be available.
The main reason I wanted to write to you, though, is my reaction to the season premiere of The Good Wife. When Cary Agos first got arrested, I thought to myself, "Thank God! They're finally giving Matt Czuchry something to do." And then, as the episode went on, I realized that even though the plot centers around his character, he still got less screen time than most of the other characters. I find Czuchry to be an intriguing actor, who seems capable and deserving of a much bigger role. Based on your viewing of this season's episodes so far, do you think the writers will be giving him a more central place in the show, especially with the loss of Josh Charles? — Paul
Matt Roush: Regarding Matt Czuchry and Cary, I absolutely see this storyline as a way to give him more prominence, both in terms of face time and, more critically, in tying his fate in with everyone else's. I agree that Walter O'Brien (the real person and this fictional representation) is one of the best things about Scorpion. I just wish they hadn't surrounded him with such obvious and clunkily played stereotypes, and Katharine McPhee is the real deal-breaker for me as the boy's mom — and, as of tonight's episode, apparently some sort of instinctive psychologist when it comes to dealing with twitchy geniuses. I look at Scorpion and Forever as harmless, generally enjoyable diversions, and while Forever's formula could become too predictable, I enjoy its tone and approach more. And when it comes to importing actors, that's nothing new — lots of British and Australian stars all across the spectrum — but I am overjoyed they're letting Ioan Gruffudd use his own accent instead of American-izing him.
Question: I know it's still very early, because it's only the first week after all! But Forever was so good! (What did you think of it?) I can't wait for the second episode. I know some people might be indifferent to this show, but I hope it's a success and does well. Anyway, have you got any scoop on Forever? Will the mystery-man be a season long arc? Or will it be solved in a couple of episodes. Also, is Henry going to tell Jo about his immortal secret? Personally, I hope they form a closer relationship so he'll tell her. Any scoop will be fine either way! — Tara S
Matt Roush: I may be able to get some of these answers when I moderate a Forever panel at New York's Comic Con on Oct. 12, but for now, it's safe to assume that "Adam" will remain a mystery for a while, and I'd be surprised if they didn't keep teasing (without confirming) Jo's suspicions about Henry as long as they can get away with it. There's no doubt they'll exploit the star's chemistry, because it's that kind of show. (See my review here.)
Question: This is not actually a question but a comment that I wonder about your thoughts on. Forever is a not very well disguised remake of New Amsterdam. And, if the pilot is any gauge, not a very good copy. I was annoyed when New Amsterdam was canceled, and I think I'm even more annoyed with this pale imitation. — Rick
Matt Roush: The similarities between the shows are numerous and unmistakable, but my foggy memory of New Amsterdam is that its tone was darker and gloomier, whereas Forever is (for all of the dying) much more upbeat and escapist. As often happens in these cases, the series creator disavows having ever seen New Amsterdam — but even weirder, Forever is also the name of a Pete Hamill novel, published in 2003, about an immortal man (although not a crime-solver) who lives in Manhattan for centuries, and there were reports a while back that it was being developed into a TV series. So the premise may not be new, but to be fair, why would anyone want to remake a show that only lasted eight episodes the first time around? Forever is hoping for a much longer life, and as long as it continues to improve ABC's fortunes in that troublesome Tuesday time period, it may get one.
Question: I watched the NCIS Season 12 premiere, where they mentioned Ari as a friend of Sergei, the Big Bad guy this season. Do you think that by them mentioning Ari several times and his connection to Sergei and to Gibbs in this episode, that it'll open the door for Ziva to come back, even if it's only for guest appearances? I would love to hear your thoughts on this, and whether you think it was the right thing to do, bringing in Ari, when the fans know his connection to Ziva, as she was his handler and sister, but also ultimately the one who killed him. — Marla
Matt Roush: Are we really going to go there again so soon? I wouldn't expect to see Ziva return to NCIS in the near future. That chapter is over — at least for now. For one thing, Cote de Pablo is filming a CBS miniseries, The Dovekeepers, in Malta (seemingly no hard feelings with the network), so that will tie her up for a while. Which isn't to say she won't ever return, since she's still very much alive in the world of the show. But you're right that if they're going to explore Sergei's connection to Ari any more deeply, not mentioning Ziva would be bad continuity and bad form. Even if we don't see her again in this context, they shouldn't act like she doesn't exist.
Question: Just wondering what the deal is with Lauren German's Leslie Shay being killed in the first episode of Chicago Fire Season 3. While I am grateful my faves, Casey and Dawson, were spared, I simply cannot understand why the showrunners would terminate such a fantastic character like Shay. Any insight into the situation would be appreciated. — T C
Matt Roush: These sorts of decisions are never lightly made, as this story makes clear, but in an ensemble series about a profession this dangerous, if no one is ever sacrificed to the story gods, then where are the stakes? From what I gather, choosing to kill off Shay was a way to shake things up in a way that would effect the greatest number of characters (and, it would seem, fans) most profoundly. If you're this upset, it looks like they did their job.
Question: Following in the footsteps of Without a Trace, The Unit and CSI: Miami, the original CSI now makes its move to CBS's Death Night for Dramas, where it's subject to competition in my house from PBS's Masterpiece, and to being pushed late (making recording difficult) or even off the schedule by Sunday afternoon NFL overruns. Let's see how long it lasts. The Good Wife, which also took that plunge several years ago, thanks perhaps to an earlier time slot, is apparently still going strong. — Hal
Matt Roush: The best way to look at any show that CBS schedules in the 10/9c hour on Sundays (you left out The Mentalist — which I should note, because I'm constantly being asked about it, will return later in the season, not necessarily on Sundays) is as more of a utility player and place holder. The network is all too aware of the complications from Sunday football overruns in the Eastern and Central time zones — this is nothing new, although every fall, I field complaints as if we've never been through all of this before — but for all of the aggravation, it's still a prestigious night for CBS, with 60 Minutes the gold standard of TV newsmagazines and The Good Wife holding its own against stiff competition. Despite the aforementioned scheduling headaches, this might actually be the best place for The Good Wife to air, because more might be expected of it ratings-wise on one of CBS's more robust nights (like airing behind a mainstream goliath such as the NCIS franchise). With CSI inheriting the Sunday late slot, it's probably not wrong to interpret this as a sign that it's getting ever closer to the end of its historic run (as was the case when Without a Trace and CSI: Miami played out their final seasons there) — but with its loyal fan base, it could eke out a few more seasons on Sundays before it's time to make that call.