Viola Davis, Charlie Weber Viola Davis, Charlie Weber

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Question: Thanks for being the voice of reason in the sometimes crazy cluttered world of TV. You're the only person I trust to tell me if I'm overreacting. Because I'm starting to think Shonda Rhimes is getting away with murder. I have been watching her newest "TGIT" hit How To Get Away With Murder, and I realized the other day that it's always sitting in my DVR waiting for me. That's usually the first sign for me that something is not right. I feel like I should love the show. The acting is superb (Hello! Viola Davis anyone?), the plot is twisty and it's Shonda Rhimes, for goodness sake. But when I realized I was forcing myself to watch it, I started dissecting the problem. The biggest issue for me is that I just can't find it in me to root for any of the characters. As much as I love Viola Davis's acting, her character grates on my nerves. When she's in control and in lawyer mode, she's mean. And when she's not in control, she's weak and clingy. Then there's the man-slut, the doe-eyed girl, the overachieving know-it-all and the privileged frat boy. Not to mention the cheating husband and now the unrequited-love-assistants (all three of them including Detective Nate). I really want to like someone, but I just can't find anyone. If you add in the flashback twirling cheerleader that happens at least twice every show and the fact that now we "know" who killed the cheating husband (who I'm actually glad is dead), I'm trying to figure out why I'm still DVR-ing it. I've stuck with every Shonda Rhimes show so I think I'm being dragged along in the wake, but hoping it'll do something interesting soon. So tell me, am I the only one feeling this way? — Kelly

Matt Roush: Not at all, at least not in my circle. Went to lunch last week with two voracious TV watchers/insiders who had much the same complaint. One had given up already, the other was considering it, but like me, was waiting until this week's Big Reveal to decide whether to sign on for the long haul. I'm curious where the show will go when this arc of Sam's murder and the cover-up concludes, but I'm not convinced that likability is all that important when it comes to getting sucked into an outrageous melodrama like Murder, although even a little dash of credibility would help in this instance. And surely some of these irritating law students will cycle out at some point. (Asher makes my skin crawl, never in a good way.) I'm also OK with Viola Davis's fascinating and raw portrayal of Annalise as a barracuda in the courtroom and a basket case in her personal life — again, I'm eager to see what she's like once we get past this Sam mess — and she is surely making the most of this juicy role. Still, now that Scandal has kicked back into full gear, Murder seems the iffiest of the ShondaLand shows on the Thursday lineup, but Scandal also had a rocky first season, so I'm still in wait-and-see mode — and as a guilty pleasure, it will do for now. (Second season will be the trick. That's when I bailed on Revenge halfway through, and once you drift away from ridiculous shows like these, it's rare to get lured back inside the tent.)

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Question: I am so sad that this is the final season for Parenthood. While I'm glad they have been given enough advance notice to wrap up the series, I do not understand why they are wasting even one precious last moment on Ruby, a character who is not a Braverman. I don't have a long-term relationship with her. I don't like her. I'm not interested in her. I don't care what happens to her. Why isn't her screen time being used to tell us more about Haddie! I suppose this is more of a rant than a question, but I get so frustrated with showrunners and writers who have a final season and waste it on stuff that is irrelevant and boring! [Like they couldn't have just ended the final episode of Dexter — SPOILER ALERT — showing the floating wreckage of the boat and letting us all write our own ending about whether or not he escaped. I'll bet not a single viewer imagined an ending that involved a lumberjack!] Maybe it's just as well that Longmire and Glades didn't resolve their cliffhangers. Maybe the endings I imagine are better than the ones the writers would have provided. Maybe it's better to be mad that they didn't get a chance to end it than to be mad because they blew it! Thanks for giving a place to vent. — Sue Ellen

Matt Roush: Hold off on the obituary for Longmire. (More on that below.) But yes, this seems a justified gripe. Our remaining limited time with the Bravermans is precious indeed, and while I understand the desire to flesh out Hank's character as he becomes a more permanent fixture in Sarah's life, this is not the way to do it, when it comes at the expense of time spent with characters in whom we are much more invested. And who are generally way less annoying. (Side note: I can accept the continued absence of Haddie as a budgetary matter, and also because it's not unrealistic for there to be long periods of time when a grown child who is starting her own life on the other side of the country doesn't keep in touch. But we need to see her again at the finale, right?) And the rest of your rant illustrates just how difficult it is to pull off a truly satisfying finale after a long run. Let's hope Parenthood is up to the challenge.

Question: I've returned to the States recently and have been watching Longmire on Netflix. Is there any hope we will see more episodes? I think it is one of the best shows I've seen in quite a while. — Paula

Matt Roush: Funny you should ask. (Actually not so funny. I've been receiving questions/letters/complaints every single week since A&E's abrupt and maddening cancellation.) Over the last week, reports have surfaced that Netflix, which as you already know has rights to the previous seasons of Longmire, is in negotiations to produce a fourth season. For the sake of my bulging e-mailbag, and also because I happen to value this show and think A&E made a huge mistake in scrapping it, I really hope this happens. (Cautionary coda: Don't expect Netflix or its competitors to come to the rescue of every show that gets canceled. Even here, it's not a done deal yet.)

Question: I'm really saddened by the recent death of Carol Ann Susi, the voice of Mrs. Wolowitz on The Big Bang Theory. She was sometimes kind of broad, but she did a great job on a show I'm still watching. My question is: How is the show going to treat it? Jokes about Howard's mother could be really tasteless now, but they've already got episodes in the can, and I'm not sure if they'll censor the jokes, or whatever. The show will probably do something nice as a sendoff, but should we brace ourselves for offensive jokes in the near future? — Kenny

Matt Roush: Too soon to know yet how they'll address this very sad situation, which is always tricky, because the aim will be to honor both a memorably hilarious character and especially someone who was a much loved member of the ensemble family. One thing you can count on, given the nature of that show, is that they won't censor or soften any jokes and material that have already been produced. The funnier the better, I'm sure the late Carol Ann Susi would agree. But beyond that, it's premature to speculate on whether they'll retire the character or find some other way to deal with Howard's mother — although replacing the actress seems unlikely, given how long she has been associated with this never-seen yet very vivid performance.

Question: Regarding Supernatural's 200th episode, a musical done-by-a-girls-school version of a prophet-written series of poorly received paperbacks about the Winchester brothers who hunt things that go bump in the night. As a musical? No, it wasn't exactly Andrew "Floyd" Webber. As a tip of the hat to "watchers?" No, it wasn't exactly as much of a valentine to the fans (TV viewers, fan-fic writers, artists, 'shippers, i.e., the formidable "Destielers") who've kept the show on the air for 10 seasons. No it wasn't exactly what anyone thought it would be. But ... As a 200th episode? It was exactly what keeps us coming back to watch Supernatural. It was about family — whether you're in the cast or in the audience. So, kudos to everyone concerned. — Deana

Matt Roush: What a blast that episode was: so clever, so funny, and it seems to me that the most loyal and passionate fans couldn't have asked for a more playful, affectionate and tuneful valentine to celebrate this milestone. Maybe this meta smorgasbord didn't quite hit the heights of Buffy's classic "Once More With Feeling" musical episode, but what could? I think my favorite joke, which says more about me than it does the show, was less about Supernatural and more about musical theater, when one of the theater nerds said, "Did he just quote Rent?" and the other responded, "Not enough to get us into trouble." Hee. All together now: "Ghost Facers!" And really, what a gorgeous cover of "Carry On Wayward Son."

Question: I've recently seen an ad for NCIS which points out that it's No. 1 around the world, and that got me to thinking: Do networks consider viewership outside the States these days when deciding whether or not to cancel a show, or is it all about U.S. viewership? — Janine

Matt Roush: It's mostly about U.S. viewership, but if a show is making money from international sales, that could help its domestic survival even when it's not doing great in the U.S. market. This is especially the case when a show is owned by the presenting network's parent company — but in the case of a powerhouse like NCIS, which is so successful here and abroad, the show's global success is icing on the cake (said icing being green, made of money pouring into CBS's coffers). A more modest example would be something like The CW's Beauty and the Beast, a marginal player by any measure, but apparently its international fan base helps keep it afloat (barely) here.

Question: I have been watching Gracepoint on Fox, and it appears the show is following the same trajectory as Broadchurch. I thought the creators said that they would avoid a carbon copy of Broadchurch, which was executed much better. Watching up until this point, it feels exactly the same. My question is: Have you gotten a preview of the finale, and if so, does it satisfyingly differ from Broadchurch enough to keep watching? I don't want to watch the entire series and see an end exactly as it did on Broadchurch. And does Fox plan to do a Season 2 as Broadchurch did? I hear the numbers don't support it, but I don't want to get invested for the same thing all over again. — Steve

Matt Roush: Unlike with Broadchurch, which was able to make all eight of its episodes available for preview a year ago (one of my most memorable and emotionally exhausting daylong binges ever), I was only able to see up to episode 7 of the 10-episode season of Gracepoint before weighing in on it this fall. (Fox has made this week's Episode 8 available, but I haven't watched yet.) There have been a few deviations from the original story by now, but not enough to really matter — or to get past the fact that this is a sub-par remake of a modern classic. We have been led to believe that Gracepoint will have a different ending, but it's hard to imagine it will be as satisfying and shattering as the original, but hard to say until we see it. As for a second season of Gracepoint: Very doubtful. This hasn't been a success, critically or in the ratings, and while I hope Fox and others continue developing limited-run series like this, I'd prefer if they tried something original next time. (Actually, given how Broadchurch Season 1 ended, I would have been at peace if the Brits had decided against a sequel, though I am of course curious.)

Question: What gives with Arrow this season? It feels like so much of what made the show work for me — Oliver/Felicity/Diggle working together as the core team, Oliver/Felicity, Quentin Lance, etc. — has been pushed aside for some very scattered focus. I'm not sure how all the pieces are supposed to fit together in the big murder mystery (obviously I'm not supposed to yet), but I had solid dynamics I could look forward to each week. I get that shows have to evolve and change, but it feels like Arrow changed everything and now it's just ... missing something. What do you think of the new feel of the season so far? (P.S. Love Face Off! It's one of the only "reality" based shows I watch and look forward to with every new season.) — Jane

Matt Roush: I'm still enjoying Arrow — the Felicity-and-her-mom episode (demonstrating that Charlotte Ross is still a knockout) was a special treat — but it's true I'm more enamored with The Flash these days, which I tend to watch the night it airs, while I often find myself playing catch- up with Arrow (also a testament to the amount of Wednesday TV I'm consuming). I can see where some elements this season could be off-putting: the death of Sara, a stronger focus on the polarizing character of Laurel, a less compelling flashback framework now that Oliver is off the island, a less urgent sense of menace with Slade no longer around (something's obviously brewing, but so far it's a slow boil), and I'm still not over the loss of Moira (Susanna Thompson), so there's that. But I figure the season is building toward something, so I'll stick with it. Now Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., that's a show I wouldn't be able to muster an argument for these days. (And always glad to hear from another Face Off fan. To watch it is to love it.)

Question: I was absolutely shocked and saddened to find out that my new favorite show Bad Judge had been canceled. I have fallen in love with the show since the pilot, so I don't understand how it was that bad that NBC gave it the ax. I would agree Sean Saves the World, The Michael J. Fox Show and Welcome to the Family were all disasters and had no future. I forced myself to watch those shows and got no enjoyment out of it. So now NBC has this really hilarious show that I look forward to every week, and I'm super bummed it won't last. Were the ratings really that bad, and if not, why did NBC decide to cut a really great show with a lot of potential? When is NBC actually going to give a full season order for a comedy? — Trevor

Matt Roush: NBC isn't alone in having difficulty landing new hit comedies this season, but I feel compelled to note that Bad Judge was not at all well received in the critical community, and with such a cynically off-putting title and premise, the odds were stacked against it ever breaking through on NBC's ailing Thursday lineup, especially once NBC paired it with another newbie (the blander but sweeter A to Z) instead of using an established show to launch and protect it — but then, outside of Parks and Recreation, NBC doesn't really have any substantial prime-time comedy assets to speak of anymore, and that one's wrapping up its act this year. So NBC is basically starting from scratch in its comedy department, and like last season, the new stuff isn't cutting it (with the possible exception of Marry Me, which isn't really to my taste, either). But you're not alone in mourning the judge.

Question: I have to tell someone how disappointed I am about the cancellation of Bad Judge. My husband (who has never liked Kate Walsh before) and I love it. It's irreverent broad comedy, which I think is at least partially why the network TV audience didn't embrace it. I don't think The Biggest Loser is the right lead-in for it, either. It probably would do well on FX or Comedy Central. Any chance a cable network might pick it up? — Colleen

Matt Roush: The answer to this question (the possible Longmire resurrection aside) is almost always no. FX in particular isn't known for picking up others' castoffs, and this would have had to develop much more of a cult reputation to get Comedy Central interested — although the involvement of Will Ferrell and Adam McKay's production company could prove me wrong, but I doubt it. And critically speaking, where you see "irreverent" and "broad," many saw "vulgar," "predictable" and "unfunny."

Question: Do you know if ABC will make the Selfie episodes available for purchase online (such as on iTunes or Amazon video)? — Rylie

Matt Roush: At this point, I don't even know if ABC will air the remaining episodes, now that the network pulled the one scheduled to air this week, with more pre-emptions ahead during November sweeps. (I'd bet some if all not of the rest will be burned off during the holiday weeks in December.) As for online availability, that's out of ABC's hands. Selfie is produced by Warner Bros., not Disney, so that will be a studio decision, one that may not be made clear until ABC is altogether finished with the run. A shame about Selfie, really. It was growing on me, and with that cast, could have developed into a modest sleeper — but not all by itself on Tuesdays against such stiff competition. C'est la tweet.

That's all for now. Keep sending your comments and questions to askmatt@tvguidemagazine.com, and in the meantime, follow me on Twitter!

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