Question: With Emmy nominations coming up, I had a few questions about Orange Is the New Black. What effect if any do you think Season 2 airing just around the time of Emmy voting will have on the show? Thankfully, Season 2 seems to have lived up to its predecessor in the eyes of the critics (I thought the season overall might have even been better than the first), and performances by cast members like Uzo Aduba (Suzanne "Crazy Eyes") and Samira Wiley (Poussey) blew me out of the water, but if the season didn't live up to expectations, could it have possibly hurt the show in the nominations process this year as well as next? And do you think the fantastic performances by Aduba and Wiley this season could potentially help them as they try to get nominated for their work on the first season? — Kevin
Matt Roush: The timing certainly doesn't hurt Orange, which has stayed fairly prominent in the media spotlight since the second season was released a month ago. If there had been some sort of backlash, that might have affected the show's current fortunes, but that didn't happen — except for the criticism in some corners (including this one) of the absurdity of nominating this series in the comedy categories when, flashes of dark humor aside, it's anything but. As for cast members scoring nominations, it will be interesting to see who breaks through when the nominations are announced Thursday morning, especially since so few of the cast (with the seemingly slam-dunk exception of Kate Mulgrew) would have been familiar to Emmy voters before the show began. The odds are likely better for the remarkable Uzo Aduba to be singled out in the "guest actor" category, where she's submitted this year, than for Samira Wiley, who faces a tougher, more competitive and crowded field in the supporting actress race. Still, it's fair to assume Orange will be a major contender this year, even in the wrong genre.
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Question: I have been reading a lot of good reviews about HBO's new show The Leftovers. However, in your opinion, if you want answers eventually, is it even worth watching? The co-creator of Lost (Damon Lindelof) mentioned that answers may never be told because the book does not, but then he adds that they are not following the book. I get that he doesn't want another Lost repeat, so he is not saying from the beginning if there will be answers or not, but how long do you think a series can go before eventually all viewers want to know what happened to all the people who vanished mysteriously? - Mike
Matt Roush: If you tune in to The Leftovers for the purpose of learning why the "Sudden Departure" happened, you're asking to be disappointed. Not that the "whys" and "hows" of this cosmic mystery are beside the point, because anytime anyone experiences an inexplicable loss (though likely not on this scale), such questions loom large. But this series is primarily interested in the drama of the aftermath, in the emotional process of coping with sustained grief and shaken faith, in the unraveling of society and human nature when the laws of existence are suddenly upended. Which makes for an intriguing if not always satisfying series — although the upcoming episode focusing on the tormented local preacher (Christopher Eccleston) is a strong one, and Justin Theroux is excellent throughout as a man trying to impose order on a town despite the disorder within his own family. Your question about how long a show like The Leftovers can sustain raises a fair point. I'd be shocked, given HBO's track record with even more marginal series, if this doesn't get a second season. But whether I'll feel compelled to watch depends on how the second half of the freshman season develops. Right now, I'm kind of ambivalent.
Question: Wanted to know your thoughts on the recent shakeup at The View. What do you think of Sherri Shepherd and Jenny McCarthy leaving? With Jenny leaving after only one year, why do you think she didn't fit in so well with the cast and with viewers? Do you blame the recent success of The Talk for producers wanting to try something new? I'm hearing they are even considering adding a man to the show. Doesn't that go against what the premise of The View is all about? What do you think of that idea? I mean, Barbara Walters said The View was meant for women of different backgrounds and political beliefs to have a platform to share their views and beliefs. Especially since men already dominate on TV. Finally, who do you think would be good additions to the show's cast? — Nicole
Matt Roush: With the retirement of Barbara Walters, it was inevitable that there would be some housecleaning on The View, but I was surprised at how thorough this reinvention appears to be, because sustained success in daytime TV tends to rely on a sense of comfortable continuity. I didn't watch enough of Jenny McCarthy's tenure to be able to comment with any authority on why she did or didn't gel, but that casting always felt a bit shallow and cynical to me. The real challenge for The View going forward will be how to shake things up without turning away the fan base. (See: Today.) Seems obvious to me that the success of shameless clones like The Talk has resulted in a sameness creeping into this format, and The View may now feel the need to rewrite the playbook, which could be a great opportunity, but also one that carries a high degree of risk. Adding a male perspective might (or might not) be one of those fixes, and I'm not sure that would necessarily negate the show's initial intention. Yes, males dominate TV in most arenas, but not in daytime talk, where women have lately ruled. As long as the panel is diverse, eclectic and entertaining, that's all that matters. Some of the names I've seen tossed around don't instill a great deal of confidence, but for me, the greatest loss The View has incurred in recent years was the departure of Joy Behar. Find someone, female or male, Latina or whoever, with that sort of attitude — sharp wit, minus self-importance — and that would be a good start.
Question: You didn't seem to think much of The Last Ship in your review. However, as an older viewer, I found it refreshing from all the silly sitcoms that flood the airwaves these days. Sometimes, what you call "stodgy" gives us relief from the dribble we have to endure on TV. — Bob
Matt Roush: Well, thanks for assuming I'm a young-ish whippersnapper, I suppose, but I actually thought I was being pretty fair to the show, describing its Tom Clancy-meets-Michael Crichton dynamic in an attempt to suggest that fans of those types of entertainments would likely be satisfied, even if I found the storytelling square, the acting starchy and the heroics a bit hokey. It's the TV equivalent of a summer page-turner, and that's not such a bad thing, just not terribly inspired. To your other point, when reviewing a show like this, I find it best not to use "silly sitcoms" or reality TV as points of comparison, but to judge it on its own merits.
Question: I saw that CBS has scheduled NCIS: New Orleans for Tuesdays. That seems like way too much, even if it might turn out to be decent, which I really doubt. Scott Bakula always plays the same guy, and I haven't liked Lucas Black since Serenity. You don't like the characters, chances are you won't like the show. I'll probably watch reruns of Andy of Mayberry instead. Can you go lower? - Leo
Matt Roush: I'm not a cheerleader when it comes to endlessly spinning off franchises like these, and three hours of NCIS from Monday (where LA is moving) to Tuesday is an awful lot of a similar thing. But Scott Bakula has earned his stripes as a leading man (and I'm not sure anyone who triumphed as Quantum Leap's Sam Beckett can be categorized as generic), and Lucas Black brought some welcome authenticity to his role in the episodes I watched this spring. (And what did he have to do with Serenity, or am I missing something?) So I'll disagree with you on the specifics, while agreeing wholeheartedly that on shows such as these, it's all about connecting to the characters. If you don't like these guys, you may be better off over at TV Land — or perhaps you'd consider seeking out a network series with an original premise. Like maybe Person of Interest?
Question: I'm interested in your take on the reveal in the June 23 episode of 24: Live Another Day that President Heller's death was faked. Unless having Heller alive has some big payoff in the last few hours, saving his life at least cheapened the impact of the previous episode, if it didn't ruin it completely. Particularly since it was a complete Deus ex Machina. I don't remember anything in the previous episodes that even hinted at Chloe being able to intercept and spoof the drone video feeds. If the writers of 24 had done Hamlet, after Hamlet says, "The rest is silence," they would have him stand up as he is being carried off the stage while Fortinbras says, "Good thing I changed the poison on the blade." Maybe it feels good for the audience, but it fails as tragedy. — Rick
Matt Roush: Honestly, when has comparing 24 to Shakespeare, or Jack Bauer to the brooding Prince of Denmark, ever come out well for our intrepid TV hero? I'll admit I was thrown when the ruse was exposed — not unpleasantly, though, because I'm always OK about being fooled (and because I watched Heller's "death scene" in advance while visiting my sister, who's the biggest 24 fan ever, it remains a special memory). It seemed at the time like a classic 24 moment, and while I agree to some degree that the explanation was far-fetched (so what else is now) and blunted the impact of the previous hour, what followed was so perfectly 24 berserk — Jack tossing Margot out the window! — that I've decided to roll with it, much as I have throughout this enjoyable summer season.
Question: Is there any indication on how current hospital dramas Black Box and The Night Shift are doing? I am really enjoying both and I need some good news after last year's cancellation of Monday Mornings, a great show. Also, your opinion on why A&E and Lifetime buried a great drama with Those Who Kill, and why would LMN broadcast every episode but the last one? Is it because it contained another cliffhanger, and A&E and Lifetime did not want to chance any reaction to this after last year's The Glades fiasco, even though it would be a much lesser one? Also, why do some shows of this genre have great success such as Criminal Minds but others such as this one do not? — James
Matt Roush: A piece of good news for you: The Night Shift, which benefits greatly from an America's Got Talent lead-in, has been picked up for a second season, presumably as a summer utility player much the way Rookie Blue operates for ABC. But I wouldn't count on Black Box returning. As for Those Who Kill, even by cable standards, that was an instant non-starter. Reviews were mostly terrible, and viewership puny. Hence quickly shuttling it off to the relatively obscure LMN. I wasn't aware that the final episode never aired, if that's indeed the case, and haven't a clue about its content, but perhaps like The Assets (pulled again from ABC's summer schedule), sometimes a show is such a dud the network finally has to cut its losses. Regarding your question about why some shows click with viewers and others don't, that's tough to pinpoint and depends on so many factors: the network that airs it, the scheduling, the promotion, sometimes even the quality. It might help if I could fathom what it is about Criminal Minds that has kept it running for a decade.
Question: I have really enjoyed the NBC summer series Undateable. I find it to be funnier than any of the NBC sitcoms that ran during the fall-spring season. What was the history of this series? Was it ever seriously considered for the past season's lineup or is it strictly a summer "burn-off" situation? Is there any chance the series will get a second season? I would love to see that. — Steve
Matt Roush: Without dwelling on what a low bar NBC set with its in-season sitcoms (excepting About a Boy, which I'm glad is returning), I agree the network could have done better by Undateable, which has an enjoyable ensemble (although I found Chris D'Elia as their swaggering love guru tiresome) and lately has generated a surge of positive comments in my mailbox. The show was announced last year during NBC's upfront presentation, so was definitely in contention for a midseason slot (pairing it with About a Boy might have been the way to go), but given how Undateable was burned off, with its final episodes airing in a batch the night before the 4th of July (not exactly a high-viewership scenario), it seems unlikely we'll get a second date with this one.
Question: I was in the minority of people who watched Crisis. Why would NBC, knowing that the show was canceled, still have an ending to the series that could be considered a cliffhanger? NBC could have cut out that last 30 seconds. — Scott
Matt Roush: Being among the majority of people who bailed on Crisis way before its hastily scheduled end, I can only advise you to forget that the final 30-second tag (whatever it was) ever existed and pretend the story came to whatever close it did. Sometimes writers like to put a question mark on their "happily ever after's," thinking it provocative. When a show like this has no future, however, such gestures tend to be mostly annoying.
Question: The fans of NBC's Revolution are not happy and are doing everything they can to get another season by any other network out there. What are the chances of this ever happening? Has this ever happened with any other show right after it was canceled by its home network? — Sue
Matt Roush: Such an occurrence happened just last week, when Yahoo stepped up to give Community a sixth season after NBC canceled the cult comedy. There are other notable examples — most famously, CBS rescuing JAG from NBC's neglect after one season and taking it to new heights (and eventually spinning off the NCIS franchise), but also DirecTV giving new life to Friday Night Lights (NBC again) and Damages (from FX, a rare cable-to-satellite transfer), and Netflix resurrecting Arrested Development some seven years after it ended its run on Fox. So it does happen, but it's rare. And typically requires the cooperation of the studio (in this case Warner Bros., one of TV's busiest shops) to make financial concessions of some sort, which may not be easy for an action-oriented show like Revolution. I wouldn't say a resurrection is impossible (see also: CBS and Jericho), but the more time passes without any actual movement and the participants move on to other projects, the less likely I'd think it would be.
Question: Is it just me, or have others asked, after watching Under the Dome's season opener, how the outside of the Dome can have lush vegetation after a nuclear blast burned everything within the last two weeks? — Gary
Matt Roush: Good point. It's probably not just you, but are reality checks really the best way to approach this increasingly silly series? Besides, haven't you learned by now that when issues like this arise, it's always better to ... Ask The Dome. The Dome Knows. The Dome Has Answers. Except when it doesn't.