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Question: I enjoy a good soap, which is probably why I've always liked Grey's Anatomy. However, I'm really questioning this whole baby plot. From what I've gathered online, a lot of the lesbian community appears to be truly offended by a storyline that they feel would never be imposed on a straight couple and I can definitely see their point. I've never seen a primetime TV show force a man to deal with a former/current girlfriend having someone else's baby. That tends to be a deal breaker. But my understanding is that Grey's isn't the first show to use this plot with a female couple. I think Shonda Rhimes has done a great job showcasing a diverse cast and attempting to be sensitive to all communities, which is why I'd love to know exactly why she's chosen to tell this particular story, with a man smack in the middle of the only gay couple on the show forever and ever if they're going to share custody of a child. — Jen
Matt Roush: Diversity works both ways on a show like Grey's Anatomy. No matter the gender, race or sexual orientation, everyone's an aggravating mess on this show, and no one is spared the contrivances of this brand of storytelling. I was dismayed by the "Callie's pregnant with Mark's baby" twist not because it put a monkey wrench into an already seriously damaged same-sex relationship but because it's so typical of Grey's. At least, in the twisted logic peculiar to the Grey's universe, the writers laid the groundwork for this one. Callie was so incensed at Arizona's absence she went back to her former bedmate, with the predictable "whoops" consequences. I feel like I've seen this kind of scenario many times on many shows, and that's why I already find it tiresome. But to accuse the show of displaying some sort of anti-gay bias seems a misguided gripe. Be offended because the story is trite, not because it's targeting the show's primary gay couple. Why should they be immune from the wacky twists we've come to expect from Grey's, for better and often for worse?
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Question: What has happened to Peter Cambor's character Nate on NCIS: LA? Will he return to the series? The new characters are extremely annoying. Deeks and the new geek female are awful. I have stopped watching for a while. — George
Matt Roush: You win this week's uncanny timing award. Your question arrives just as Cambor returns as Nate this Tuesday in a special guest appearance. Presumably, we'll get an update on where he's been and what's next for him. He's currently no longer a regular on the show, but it's smart for the producers to at least acknowledge his existence again.
Question: This question pertains to Friday Night Lights, but because I am only able to watch it when I return home from college to visit my DirecTV-enabled home, I don't want to know anything plotwise. This question is purely in regards to its scheduling. With Universal confirming the fifth season DVD release for April 5, I'm wondering what this means for the show airing on NBC. For the previous two seasons shared by DirecTV and NBC, both channels ran the season in its entirety prior to its availability on DVD. Given DirecTV's recent interest in airing their programming exclusively (a la Damages), the bigger question, I suppose, is: Is NBC going to run the final season at all? The numbers for the show are already really low to begin with and I can't see the network gaining much from running a cycle of episodes that is already widely available for fans to purchase or rent on disc, especially because FNL is not likely to grow its audience at this point beyond that core base. Can you find out what the plan is and/or provide some insight into their thinking here? — Jake
Matt Roush: I have been assured that NBC still plans to air the final season, starting in April or May as in past years. But this odd circumstance just underscores how little NBC cares about the show's ratings anymore. There is no gain for NBC as a network — although the company itself could profit from the early DVD release — but also little financial pain, because DirecTV picked up the tab for keeping the production going, so NBC basically gets this show for a song. And airing it during the off-season on a low-rated night (presumably Fridays again) puts them at minimal risk. As has been the case since the DirecTV deal went into place, I will always look at these final seasons as a gift. I get questions every week from frustrated and desperate fans eager to know when NBC will air these episodes, many complaining how unfair it is that non-DirecTV subscribers have to wait. But how much more unfair would it have been to have Friday Night Lights extinguished after just two seasons? That's what would have happened if DirecTV hadn't stepped in. The good news in all of this is that these final hours are worth the wait. I've seen these last episodes to the very bittersweet end, and I envy those who will be getting to spend their summer in Dillon, hopefully unspoiled.
Question: I just wanted to share how much I really enjoyed last week's Castle episode. It was written and performed so well by everyone involved. The driven Beckett, supportive Castle, concerned Martha, strong Captain and determined Esposito and Ryan hit their marks perfectly. This episode should be used as a lesson to other show-runners and writers on how to play with romantic and sexual tension without dragging it out too long. If Bones had done something similar in the past year or two instead of putting up ridiculous roadblocks between the two lead characters and which insulted the viewers' intelligence, I would still be watching that show. I understand Bones writers fearing the so-called Moonlighting curse, which is absurd because that particular show broke down due to actors' egos and poor writing. I admit that I am a Beckett/Castle shipper and that I would like to see their relationship to continue to develop along the lines of Hart to Hart, so I hope that Castle will continue to take us in that direction so delightfully. P.S.: Isn't it great that Fringe is doing so well in the ratings? What a relief! — Sara Anne
Matt Roush: Yes on Fringe and agreed on Castle, although you're probably still going to need to be patient to get the ultimate payoff where these characters are concerned. I especially liked how Castle had to face up to the fact that he's no longer hanging around just for the books or just to annoy Beckett. Something deeper is going on, and the kiss brought that home. Meanwhile, on the Bones front, even as Hannah continues to raise the hackles of many fans, I'm glad that Bones continues to acknowledge the frustration expressed by so many people within their universe (including Bones' dad last week) that Bones and Booth have yet to act on their mutual attraction. Now that Bones is benefiting from its Thursday Idol lead-in, I'd like to see them crank that story up a notch.
Question: I don't know if you'll be able to answer this, but after watching the sad defeat of the Jets, I was happy to be brightened up by an hour with Hawaii Five-0, and I'm wondering two things. First, did CBS choose to air this because it's a hot show and they wanted to keep the audience, much like the shows the networks run after the Super Bowl (if that's the "why"). And two, though I enjoyed the episode — always do — this time I was disappointed that it seemed to end so abruptly, and wasn't sure whether that was because of time or just the way they intended it to cut off, with everyone surprised that the money Steve took somehow returned. And, oops, guess there's a third: Are they ever going to fill us in on how that $10,000 suddenly reappeared? — Dorothy
Matt Roush: Yes, CBS made a very calculated decision — and promoted the heck out of it — to give Hawaii Five-0 this special gigantic platform after what turned out to be a very highly rated game. The show is doing well, if something short of the blockbuster CBS may have imagined, so anything to boost its profile in its freshman season is a smart idea. And that game was the closest CBS is getting to the Super Bowl this year. As for the storyline: The abrupt twist at the end was meant as a cliffhanger, and there's no way we're not going to see them follow the money trail to figure out what's going on here. That's how these shows work. They won't just drop it.
Meanwhile, on another front, Nanci from Houston writes: "Why doesn't anyone wear a seatbelt on Hawaii Five-0??? I'm not an activist type by any means, but this seems to set a very bad example." I don't have an answer to this, but the jeer is duly noted. And you're right. Even in paradise, safety should come first.
Question: Just recently Fox has been doubling up episodes of Human Target, and I realize now as I look at the schedule for the next two weeks, that it is ending its second season at only 13 episodes in just a few weeks. With such a short season, and ending so early, does that suggest that Fox isn't going to pick it up for a 3rd season? When I googled "Human Target series renewed" to see if that information was already out there, I noticed in a discussion about the pick-up of season 2 that the 13-episode order might be extended to a full season later on. Should we assume that the lack of an extension to a proper-length season suggests that Human Target is not long for this world? Or, going in totally the other direction, could they decide to extend the 2nd season this late on, even as they've billed the Feb. 9th episode as the "2nd season finale?" And when are they likely to make such information known? Thanks for (hopefully) satisfying my curiosity! — Jane
Matt Roush: There are a couple of ways of looking at this, none of them especially promising, and it applies as well to Lie to Me, which is also getting an early send-off tonight after a 13-episode season. As you noted, Human Target is being shuffled off after airing a special episode this Monday, with another this Wednesday and the season finale the following Wednesday. It's the kind of scheduling that challenges all but the most ardent fans. The real problem here is one of inventory, and with American Idol about to go into overdrive with two-hour performance shows once the contestants are chosen, and midseason shows like The Chicago Code on the horizon, there's no room for Human Target on Wednesdays or elsewhere for most of the rest of the season — and trust me, you don't want to see it go to Fridays. (Fringe for now appears to have beaten the Friday odds, but this show probably wouldn't be as lucky.) Taking the optimistic approach, you could say that Human Target has performed its job this season (ditto Lie to Me) and both are officially contenders for next season. But given the way Fox has scheduled Target in particular, with back-to-back episodes and then throwing an episode on Monday this week with little fanfare, it looks to me like they're burning it off. Extending this season appears to be out of the question. Its future probably depends on the success of Fox's development for next season. I'd like to see it come back — this show is good escapist fun, and I love the cast — but Fox has done it few favors this season.
Question: Why are the critics so opposed to Harry's Law? It's awesome: hilarious and "so" David E. Kelley! My friends and I love it!!!!! It's funny, poignant and preposterous at the same time. For what it's worth, I hope it goes on for several years. — Aby
Matt Roush: Don't worry about the critics this time. Harry's looks to be a bona fide hit (and NBC could sure use one). As the Brittany Snow character said at the end of last week's episode, it looks like they'll be here for a while. The audience that has been missing Kelley-style shenanigans since Boston Legal went off the air turned out for this one, and came back the second week. And not to speak for other critics, but the reason Harry's Law took some hard knocks in many reviews is the same reason you embraced it: "It's 'so' David E. Kelley." We've seen it before, and often done better, and while some of us may feel he's treading water here, it's obviously a pool many of his fans are eager to jump back into. So who are we to argue?
Question: Why do some producers like David E. Kelley feel the need to interject their political views into their TV shows; i.e. Harry's Law? TV is supposed to be entertaining. It's a shame because I like Kathy Bates as an actress, but it's time for me to turn the channel. — L. Jeal
Matt Roush: Now this really does seem like old times. I lost count of how often during the run of Boston Legal I fielded complaints like this. Fact of TV life: If you choose to watch a David E. Kelley melodrama, you're going to need a high tolerance level for soapboxes. He's not exactly subtle about it, and whether you agree or not with the politics his straw men (and women) spew, the debate is often laughably (or sadly, depending on your standards) lopsided.
Question: How is Better with You doing? This is a whole family show around here. Mike & Molly is in my opinion not as good and most assuredly "raunchy." Not appropriate at all for anyone under the age of 18. It is actually starting to get annoying. I feel sorry that someone as talented as Melissa McCarthy has been reduced to such crass scripts. I never thought I would wish to not see Swoosie Kurtz in anything, but that time has arrived. Better With You to me, like Modern Family and The Middle, are clean fun that can be watched by all. I just hope that Better With You is doing well enough to stay around. — Dan
Matt Roush: The good news/bad news on Better With You is, starting with the good, that ABC is sticking with the show for the time being. When Mr. Sunshine joins the Wednesday lineup next week, it bumps Cougar Town and not Better With You as some might have expected. But when ABC recently gave early renewals to its Wednesday comedies, the only show not given a pickup for next season was Better With You, which means the jury's still out. While I can see how Better fits with the family-friendly ABC comedy brand, it's also a lot more generic than either Middle or Modern Family, and hasn't created much buzz, especially critically. So its future probably depends on how ambitious ABC is in expanding its comedy presence next season. If ABC sticks with comedies on Wednesdays only, it's probably in trouble. If ABC tries to launch a comedy block on another night, the network may need even a middling comedy that has some recognition factor to help support the new shows. Regarding Mike & Molly: I hear you. The offbeat love story has been so derailed by off-color jokes (plus grotesque caricatures like Swoosie as the boozy mom, and like you, I don't enjoy not enjoying her work) that I've pretty much bailed on it this season.
Question: In your review Roush Review on Thursday programming, you gave a critique about Perfect Couples including this mention of "uptight wife Leigh (Olivia Munn, surprisingly flat)." Really, a surprise? I know G4 isn't even a "basic" cable network, but she started on Attack of the Show on that network where I coined the term for her "The Black Hole," because anything funny going on disappears when she gets on the screen. She has no real presence and NO sense of comedic timing or phrasing or anything. Also see her LAME work on The Daily Show. So really, were you surprised to find her performance flat on this cookie-cutter show? — Liz
Matt Roush: OK, you've got me there. I probably should have phrased it to note that her fans might be surprised at how flat and unfunny her character is on this generic sitcom. I have never been wowed by her personally — but she does have a following, so I guess I did expect more. But no, I suppose I wasn't actually surprised. Nothing about Perfect Couples surprises me, which is the problem.
Question: Now that February sweeps is upon us, I've been thinking about a popular sweeps stunt: crossover episodes. I know that crossovers generally take place within a TV franchise (CSI, Law & Order, etc.), and with the nature of the TV business, any other kind of crossover would be difficult and unlikely. However, I've often thought that a crossover episode between Bones and NCIS would be fun and certainly more plausible than some of the more forced crossovers we've seen in recent years. The shows have a similar, quirky tone and don't take themselves too seriously. Both shows are set in Washington D.C., and Gibbs already has an established relationship with the Director of the FBI. It seems completely reasonable that they stumble upon a case in which Ducky needs the assistance of a forensic anthropologist to examine the bones of a Marine. I would love to see Brennan and the rest of the squints working with Ducky and Abby. I also think it would be a hoot to see Tony's reaction to Brennan while Booth tries to explain her personality to the NCIS team. The characters on these shows have a lot in common but could also serve as great foils to each other. I know this would never happen since these shows air on different networks and are owned by different companies, but it's a fun idea to consider. Are there any pairs of shows in any genre (past or present) that you would like to see do a crossover episode, even if, as in this case, it could never happen?
By the way, I've been reading "Ask Matt" for years and look forward to your column every week. There have been many excellent shows over the years that I never would have watched and enjoyed had it not been for your suggestions... most recently Downton Abbey. — Pam
Matt Roush: Ah, Downton Abbey. How I'll miss that show (and how I'll look forward to the second season next year). In fact, wouldn't a crossover between that show and the reconstituted Upstairs Downstairs (which airs on Masterpiece in April) be fun? And thanks for answering your own question about why an NCIS-Bones crossover is unlikely anywhere but in the fan-fictionverse. As for crossovers I'd like to see, the first one that comes to mind is how much I'd enjoy seeing the Fringe team cross paths with Mulder and Scully in an X-Files comeback. Or take the Hoosier family of The Middle on a road trip that lands them in Pawnee for a visit to the land of Parks and Recreation and see how those distinctly different comic styles would mesh. Or not. (Submit your own crossover hopes and dreams in the comments below.)
That's all for now. Keep sending your questions to email@example.com, and in the meantime, follow me on Twitter!
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