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Question: [From Twitter] I'm wondering if holding shows like Smash, Good Christian Belles, Awake, etc, to midseason might backfire. If the most promising shows don't debut until 2012, who's to say more viewers won't flee to cable between now and then? — Dennis
Matt Roush: A good and fair question, and one that I imagine may dog the networks as the TCA critics' tour gets underway over these next two weeks. I can't remember a season when the anticipation for midseason replacements has so upstaged the fall rollout, but with a few exceptions (mainly in comedy), it does seem the networks are sitting on many of their best — or at least their most critically provocative — shows until later in the season, when presumably these individual shows can be marketed and promoted more carefully in hopes they don't get lost in the deluge. I understand this strategy where something as unusual and emotionally challenging as Awake is concerned, and I also get the logic in holding Smash back so it can be launched alongside a new season of The Voice, but I am stymied as to why ABC would sit on a show with the buzz and pop appeal of GCB, which has all the hallmarks of a potential breakout. I'm not the sure the drift to cable is a factor in this discussion, though. There will be plenty of shows making noise in the fall — the revamped Two and a Half Men, Fox with Terra Nova and the season's best comedy, The New Girl, to name a few — but this scheduling conundrum does put a damper on some of the normal excitement.
Question: In your recent column about the Emmy nominations, I'm surprised no one mentioned Game of Thrones. I am thrilled beyond belief that Peter Dinklage got a well-deserved nomination, but I am a little surprised that Sean Bean didn't. I know the lead actor category is always very competitive. What are your thoughts? - Catherine
Matt Roush: You probably would have heard more of an uproar if the show itself had been ignored. Thankfully, it wasn't, and HBO's grand experiment in epic fantasy appears to have paid off. (Although given its genre and the competition, it's a long shot to take the drama prize.) Peter Dinklage's nomination was pretty much a no-brainer. The character is a breakout from the books, and he was the only imaginable casting, and more than lived up to expectations. Sean Bean was also quite impressive as the tragic Ned Stark, but the character's grave nobility didn't give him as many showy moments, so given the competition (including a few welcome new faces as well as deserving returnees like the overdue Jon Hamm), I wasn't shocked that he didn't make the cut.
Question: I am very upset and annoyed that they are moving the best show on TV to a new night and time. Are they trying to kill The Good Wife? CBS said they were going to have a huge media push to let everyone know it is moving and how good of a show it is yet they have taken it off the air for the summer. What is going on? — John
Matt Roush: If you've read me for any length of time, you know my answer to any "are they trying to kill this show" question is almost always a "no," and in this case, it's a resounding one. The Good Wife is currently on a break because serialized shows of this sort tend to repeat very poorly, and when it's time for CBS to bring it back in its new Sunday time period, I'm sure they'll use its Emmy pedigree as part of an energetic promotion. The move is all about business, not a reflection on the show, its quality or its future. CBS hopes its new procedural Unforgettable will capitalize on the mega-success of the NCIS shows on Tuesdays better than the rather incompatible Good Wife could. Sunday is a showcase night for CBS, so it's not like they're hiding it. As counter-programming to Sunday Night Football, it makes sense. The main downside to the Sunday move is that for the first half of the season, football overruns will bedevil those of us who time-shift CBS in prime time in the affected time zones. Beyond that, though, CBS is very proud to have an acclaimed and respected show like The Good Wife on its schedule, and it's in no danger.
Question: Will there be more Jesse Stone movies? I love the stories and of course Tom Selleck. Hope he and the dog can show some affection for each other. — MJM
Matt Roush: Under the heading of "what did you do on your hiatus," Tom Selleck went back to the Paradise well and filmed the eighth movie in the series, this one titled Benefit of the Doubt. No timetable for when it will air. As usual, CBS will fit it in when there's an opening, since the network doesn't have a regular slot for made-for-TV movies (less now than ever, since it abandoned the Hallmark Hall of Fame franchise, which will now move to ABC).
Question: Do you think there will ever be a reunion show of Frasier? I have been watching the entire run of the show on the Hallmark channel. (Thank goodness it gives me something to watch on nights when all there is are reality shows. Swamp People, really?) I had forgotten how truly funny and great this show was. To see Kelsey Grammer and David Hyde Pierce as Frasier and Niles again is comedy heaven. The rest of the cast of course was also invaluable. I realize a lot of times reunion shows aren't able to live up to the expectations of what they had done previously, but I would love to see these characters again sometime. — JG
Matt Roush: Wouldn't that be great? At the moment, I'm not aware of anything in the cards, in part because Kelsey Grammer and David Hyde Pierce are both keeping professionally busy: Grammer on a new Showtime series and Pierce very content acting and directing in the world of theater (where Grammer was headlining a season ago on Broadway in La Cage Aux Folles). I can think of few shows and casts whose reunion I'd enjoy more, if just for a retrospective if not for an actual episode (which can be tricky). Frasier is one of the all-time greats, and I'm glad to hear the Hallmark exposure is reigniting the fan base.
Question: I don't understand how Justified was showered with so many acting nominations but still fell short of a Drama Series nomination. Still, at least the show is on their radar now, which is a vast improvement over last year, so maybe it will break through in season 3 — assuming they actually manage to find a way of matching or exceeding season 2, which was fantastic.
Regarding the other hot topic in your mailbag over your absence: I don't so much have a problem with Glee graduating characters eventually, but what's setting off alarm bells for me is the idea that more of the original cast is leaving than is staying, as Ryan Murphy said in the same article where he confirmed the three star exits we know about already. Friday Night Lights is the most recent example of a high school show I can think of that dealt with this transition, and I thought they pulled that off brilliantly. That show did not graduate the entire cast at once, so there was always someone you were familiar with on the show. And when a bunch of new characters came into season 4, they made sure that the new people had storylines with the old people: Becky with Tim, Jess with Landry. So by the time Tim and Landry left in season 5, you were completely wiling to watch storylines with the characters they left behind because you built an attachment to them while the old characters were around. By insisting on graduating so much of its cast at once, that means Glee will be coming into season 4 with almost an entirely new student cast except maybe Britney, and I'm not sure that's going to give me much of a reason to watch. Also, FNL always had the Taylor marriage as its anchor; in the case of Glee, I'm not nearly as invested in Will and Emma's dull will-they-or-won't they, or Sue's cartoonish crap. It would seem a lot more prudent to me to ease the new characters in the same way that FNL did — gradually. Instead, I can basically treat season 3 as the final season of Glee, and then next year there will be a spin-off that might or might not be interesting. What do you think? — Jake
Matt Roush: Agreed on your Justified sentiments. I'm sorry it didn't crack the Best Drama category, but all of those well-deserved acting nominations are a terrific consolation prize, and maybe a win or two (Margo Martindale!) will spur more of the TV Academy membership to take notice.
Now on to Glee: If you've been following the Glee coverage from Comic-Con over the weekend, you may now feel that all this premature hand-wringing was a mite overblown. That's the danger in this spoiler-ific world we now live in. We're way too eager to know about and judge what hasn't even happened yet, and while I'm eager to see how the show deals with graduating some of its most popular characters, I never thought it would really shut the door for good on such major players this early in the run. You make excellent points about how Friday Night Lights handled this transition and also about how Eric and Tami Taylor grounded the show through all of its changes in a way none of the adult Glee characters are likely to be able to do. But high school setting aside, these couldn't be more different creatures, and I can't imagine even its most ardent fans would expect Glee to be able to echo the emotional realism of FNL.
Continuing this discussion, a very skeptical Karen writes in to observe: "A high school career can drag on forever on TV and still be believable, because the average viewer does not equate an academic year to a 26-episode television season. I have to wonder if Ryan Murphy and company are putting the proverbial cart before the horse in an effort to drum up interest in what most loyal viewers hope is a new and improved Glee. ... Let one or two Glee Project kids enroll at McKinley High, but let's not yet lose these characters we've come to love. Glee without Lea Michele's goosebump-producing singing? Not gleeful. So here's my question: Do you think that this might just be pre-season hype that, in whatever twisted way, is supposed to produce new interest in the show but won't actually materialize? The writers have, after all, changed horses in the middle of the stream before."
Matt Roush: Given the signals emerging from Comic-Con, the Valhalla of hype, I think Karen's suspicions are justified. This is clearly going to be a transitional season for Glee, but perhaps not as revolutionary as Ryan Murphy indicated earlier on. I guess we'll see — and maybe know more during Fox's day at TCA in early August. But in terms of viewers not equating a season with a school year, Glee has tended in its first two seasons to build toward sectional, regional and national competitions as tentpoles, and while continuity is hardly this show's greatest virtue, it does make sense for the students to progress year to year and not stay faux teens forever.
Question: I know you like Men of a Certain Age. Were you surprised at it being cancelled? Why do you think it was cancelled? It was one of TNT's best shows. I don't know what the ratings were, but from the fan response at TNT's website it obviously had a fan base. It is a shame that something like Franklin & Bash will end up having a long run while a quality show like MOACA is being cancelled (P.S.: Have you gotten to preview Against the Wall yet? If so, what do you think of it?)! — Dee
Matt Roush: I can't say I was surprised about Men of a Certain Age's unhappily short-lived fate, given its struggle in the ratings, but I was disappointed TNT didn't try harder to protect and promote this quiet Peabody-winning gem. Perhaps on cable more even than network TV, shows that don't fit the brand face a daunting challenge. Men is unlike anything else on TNT, and needed a more powerful lead-in than the puerile Franklin & Bash to sell it to a mainstream audience. Splitting the season in two was also especially damaging to this show, which more than most needed nurturing so its wry charms could grow on the audience. It is the saddest cancellation of this summer season to be sure. Regarding Lifetime's Against the Wall, a new drama (premieres Aug. 31) about a female detective who defies her family of cops by taking a job in Internal Affairs, I've only seen the pilot, which underwhelmed as a one-note premise, but at least there's a hook to it, which is more than I can say for Lifetime's even more mediocre The Protector.
Question: I have a question concerning Combat Hospital. I have read that some people believe the airbase being used is Nellis in Las Vegas. Do you know if this is true and is the entire show is filmed there? I am an Army Medic vet, so I enjoy the show. — Foster
Matt Roush: Glad you like it, but the reality is that the series is filmed in Toronto, and here's ABC's description of the set: "The series is being shot on an expansive 185,000 square foot (17,187 square meters) indoor and outdoor set. It is one of the largest standing sets ever built for a Canadian original production and is modeled after the real Canadian-led NATO Role 3 Hospital at Kandahar Airfield. The set is a meticulous re-creation of a portion of the hospital compound and the vast Kandahar Airfield, including the helicopter landing zone, boardwalk area and barracks, which housed over 15,000 military and civilian personnel." If they fooled you, they must be doing something right.
Question: I love ABC Family's Switched at Birth. I feel they are doing a superb job with portraying the conflicting emotions with Bay's parents but not so much with Regina. Regina's character only seems concerned with Daphne and her well-being, treating Bay like a distant relative. I feel a mother would love the child she raised but be more drawn to and curious about her biological child, who would have similar physical characteristics as well as artistic ones. No matter how much parents deny it, in ways big or small we live through our children and their accomplishments and similarities to us. That said, do you feel Regina should have more interest in Bay? - Kristel
Matt Roush: I like this show, too, but I haven't been keeping up lately (travel and other summer distractions), so if there have been recent significant twists on the home front, I'm a little out of the loop. But my initial take on Regina's relationship with Bay and her family was mostly focused on the class differences between these families and Regina's defensiveness and protectiveness regarding Daphne and the way they've coped with her hearing disability over the years. There's an awful lot of baggage to deal with here, including what I imagine would be the emotional insecurity of possibly losing control over the daughter you raised, so that might explain there being less of an instant rapport between her and Bay (who isn't always the most sympathetically portrayed character — or maybe that's my lingering antipathy to the actress from her days as one of the worst plot devices ever on Gilmore Girls).
Question: I like Harry's Law. The show is somewhat unique, well-written, and of course, Kathy Bates is fantastic. Unfortunately, NBC has moved it to the 9/8c Wednesday time slot when it returns in the fall. As a result, it goes up against Criminal Minds on CBS and Modern Family on ABC, both ratings juggernauts. I don't know who made this decision, but I'm betting it was the person that decided to cancel the original Law & Order and simultaneously create a spin-off of it for Los Angeles. Do the powers at NBC have a death wish for all their dramas? I give Harry's Law until Christmas before it's canceled. — Carl
Matt Roush: I'll give you the "Kathy Bates is fantastic" part, while agreeing that Harry's Law has its work cut out for it as NBC builds a mostly new Wednesday schedule. Harry will get no help from its comedy lead-ins. Up All Night isn't bad, but it should be on the Thursday lineup, whereas the so-called comedy (Free Agents) that airs directly in front of Harry is one of the more toxic duds of the new season. So Harry will have to be a self-starter, as it was on Mondays last mid-season. The good news is that there seems to be a sizable contingent of David E. Kelley fans who love the sort of absurdist vibe he perfected on Boston Legal and which he attempts to continue here. So as counter-programming on a night that's going to get even tougher with the arrival of The X Factor, NBC may just let Harry practice for a while with lowered expectations — which is hardly unheard of on this embattled network.
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: Midseason TV, Emmys, The Good Wife, Glee, Jesse Stone and More!
Send questions to email@example.com and follow me on Twitter!