Question: I like the underdog too, but seriously, Bristol Palin in the finals of Dancing With the Stars? If the public is voting for the BEST dancers, then the last two couples would be Derek/Jennifer and Maks/Brandy. I agree that Bristol has come a long way and is better than she was, but she is NOT one of the best dancers! I don't think the Republican party should be voting for Bristol just because they like her MOTHER!! That's not what THIS voting system is for. Vote for the best and consistent dancing. This should have nothing to do with politics. Actually Bristol deserved to be voted off before Audrina Patridge, Rick Fox and Kurt Warner. I hope the final show will reflect that the voting is back to honesty. — Mary
Matt Roush: And this was one of the most polite rants in my mailbox regarding this hot-button topic. What a hornet's next ABC stirred up by inviting the "Pistol" to the party and then being forced to accept the consequences. This isn't the first time Dancing has brought on a contestant whose notoriety eclipses their actual celebrity (or, more to the point, talent), but usually these novelty non-entertainers are eliminated by the show's midpoint. This time the watercooler strategy backfired. We'll see if the Dancing faithful or the Palin faithful will ultimately triumph when the results are announced Tuesday night. But I'll be glad when this one's over. And if Willow somehow shows up to the American Idol auditions, I may just have to leave the country for a while.
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Question: Have you seen the new reality show featuring the Palins? I have no desire to watch it, especially given that I personally think that actors should stick to Hollywood and politicians to D.C., but then again, Ronald Reagan was already out of office before I ever knew he'd been an actor. Maybe I just don't know what I'm missing. But did the Palins really need a reality show? I was under the impression they'd been on one for two years ... it's called "the news." Every sound bite, misstep, divorce rumor and Dancing with the Stars announcement related to that family has been covered ad nauseum on everything from cable news to network nightly news to my beloved Today show for I don't know how long. So a new "reality show" just seems like overkill to me! — Katherine
Matt Roush: Overkill in the world of reality TV? That could never happen! (I kid, of course.) A show like Sarah Palin's Alaska is probably inevitable, when you combine the self-promotional instincts of the Palin tribe with the history of shameless exploitation on a channel like TLC (which just finished exploiting a polygamist family on the execrable Sister Wives). A marriage made in Nielsen heaven (or hell, depending on your POV), given that Sarah Palin commands a sizable following wherever she turns up—ergo, the detour into "reality" TV, where she can continue to shape her own image. I did watch the first episode, and wish the focus had been more on the natural beauty of the state than on the state of the Palins. But this kind of celeb-reality TV always rubs me the wrong way, whether it's a Palin or a Kardashian, so I doubt I'll be looking in on this one again. You already know if you're the target audience for something like this, and I'm not.
Question: So what did the burn victim whisper to Patrick Jane in the end of last week's episode of The Mentalist?. I watched it over and over again. Could it have been "Tiger, Tiger"? — Connie
Matt Roush: Yes, that's exactly what the villain of the week said in his dying words, sending Jane into a shocked silence. The William Blake poem he was quoting from is a favorite of Red John's, as we've seen, so while we may not yet understand the connection between this killer and Jane's nemesis, we know something big is up. And it's not pretty.
Question: Do you think moving Fringe to Friday nights indicates that Fox wants to give the show a chance and is willing to accept lower numbers on a Friday than on a Thursday? Can Friday night truly become a place for more genre type shows? After all, The X-Files started on Fox on Friday nights more than 15 years ago. Or is Fox simply using it as a dumping ground recognizing that both Sarah Connor and Dollhouse failed there? Can't there be a place on network TV for those of us more into science fiction rather than crime shows? — Faye
Matt Roush: Kind of hard to put a positive spin on this move, since this is the last place a fan of Fringe wants to see it end up on Fox's lineup. In Fringe's favor, this series is more established than many of the shows that Fox has hung out to dry in the Friday graveyard in recent years. And as you suggest, the expectations will be lower than on other nights, and if Fringe can hold on to much of its Thursday audience when it moves to Fridays in late January (following Kitchen Nightmares, not the most compatible lead-in), that could be seen as a win. But this move is hardly a sign of confidence in a show that took a big risk this season with its alternating split-universe structure. To answer your rhetorical question about the future of sci-fi on network TV: It's always a risk, but there should be a place on the schedule of an adventurous network like Fox for cult TV with strong media buzz and loyal (if relatively modest in size) fan support.
Question: Blue Bloods is a ray of light on otherwise dreary Friday nights. It's fantastic that CBS not only put a new scripted show on Fridays to begin with, but it's truly a quality show. It's become our new favorite. We hope CBS doesn't move it to a weeknight, although they probably will if it continues to get strong ratings, and I'm sure it would get even stronger ratings during the week. Has any other new show been introduced on a Friday and moved to a weekday and succeeded? We all know the opposite is true with once successful shows moving to Fridays and failing! That's what makes Blue Bloods such a hit. Not every show can thrive on Fridays, let alone a brand new one! — Layne
Matt Roush: To answer your historical question, there is plenty of precedent for a Friday show being moved with great success to another night. On CBS, this happened most famously with Everybody Loves Raymond and the original CSI. But the move also benefited Fox's cult classic The X-Files back in the day. I agree with you that Blue Bloods is a cut above most shows that get scheduled on Fridays (although not quite as distinctive as NBC's Homicide: Life on the Street, a bona fide Friday classic from years ago), but for now I think it's safe to stay where it is, doing blockbuster business on a very challenging night. And it's not like CBS has big gaping holes on its weeknight schedule (with Wednesday probably the most vulnerable at 10/9c right now), although the network's programmers are pretty bold, so you never know.
Question: When Stargate Atlantis was first announced, they said it would be different from SG-1. There would be civilians and military going through the gate knowing they would be cut off with no help from Earth. I was excited about that show because it meant the rules would change. People would be on the brink of death and actually die without a last-minute save. That show lasted less than a season. Now we have Stargate Universe, the show we should have had with Atlantis, and the fans are complaining. I love Universe because it is darker and shows what really happens when you make difficult choices and people die. What are your thoughts about Universe? Do you think it will see a third season? — Traci
Matt Roush: I like Universe for the same reasons you do (although the glut of new season and November sweeps programming has kept me from keeping up with this one lately). I can see why the traditional Stargate fan may not embrace a show this dark and glum, lacking the humorous esprit de corps that characterized the original series. It would be like if an NCIS spin-off started acting more like Rubicon. But I admire Universe for sticking to its more intense premise, if that indeed has been the case. And I'd like to see Syfy support something with a little dramatic meat on its bones (not that I don't appreciate the whimsy of Warehouse 13 and Eureka). As for a third season: Haven't a clue.
Question: I am absolutely enamored with Community, especially after the recent "bottle episode." So after I read that NBC is going to a 3-hour block of comedy on Thursday night with Community still being the opening show, it started to make me think that this might be a good thing for Community? We already know that the 8/7c TV line-up is stiff competition, so does this mean NBC believes Community is holding up? That this show is strong, so they ordered two more episodes, and it will not see the chopping block when it comes time for renewals? — Becca
Matt Roush: The good news for Community is that NBC is in such bad shape overall that I can't see them jettisoning a show that manages to hold its own on a tough night and is building in critical buzz by the week. The bad news, of course, is that Fox has just made life more difficult on Thursdays for all of the competition, but Community in particular, by scheduling the second night of American Idol on Thursday at 8/7c in the new year. Ouch. But where NBC is concerned, all bets are off when it comes to predicting what the new administration will rally behind once the Comcast merger goes through. Still, I'm betting Bob Greenblatt (formerly behind Showtime's resurgence) will recognize a high-quality show when he sees one. NBC has so few of them, after all. I'm cautiously optimistic Community will advance to third grade.
Question: When is CBS going to do something to get its Sunday schedule into the 21st century and actually air shows when they are slated? Sunday football regularly plays havoc with the prime-time schedule, causing the evening's shows to air nowhere near their regular time. I've been DVR'ing since The Unit aired and was frequently annoyed to find the device had only recorded half an episode because the show was airing late. This year it's Undercover Boss that I'm trying to view. Of the 8 or so that have aired so far, only 1 has been on time. (The 1st season was pretty good and had some heartwarming moments, but the only season 2 episode I saw just tried to generate lame humor by watching the executive blunder his way through menial tasks, but that's another matter.) C'mon CBS, get with it! Other networks air sports and still stick to a schedule. Figure something out. It's not the 1970s anymore. Everyone is not watching live TV. I'm not going to your website to catch missed episodes, so you're hurting your Sunday night programming. — Chris
Matt Roush: CBS's problem on Sundays is that it's locked into a block of four hour-long programs that, unlike Fox's animation block (which vamps with repeats or expands the post-game coverage until 8/7c), can't be shortened or altered. 60 Minutes is still so lucrative for the network that dropping a segment or two really isn't an option, and unless the overrun is so long that an entire show drops out, as happened to CSI: Miami a few weeks ago, there's really no alternative. (And as always, my advice to fans of any CBS Sunday show is to DVR the show following the show you want to watch so you can catch the whole thing.) The most logical fix would be for CBS (like Fox, essentially) not to program a first-run show until the 8/7c hour. But 60 Minutes is an enduring tradition, and the rest of the lineup performs solidly. So while it's a pain, I don't see the situation changing in the foreseeable future.
Question: I understand the reasoning for CBS moving CSI: Miami to Sunday, but why can't they put it behind 60 Minutes? That way if the football game runs over then we will still get to see it. Talk about being upset when I waited up to see the program and CBS chose to drop it! — Claudette
Matt Roush: The simplest answer to this scheduling question is that CBS still sees CSI: Miami as being the most potent show it can put in that troublesome 10/9c hour on Sunday night. Miami has always been a draw at 10/9c, and while it might do even better at an earlier hour, pushing the reality shows to later in the night would probably result in a lower tune-in, and CBS' affiliates wouldn't appreciate that. Another reminder that this is a business, and the decisions the networks make usually aren't designed to make our lives or choices easier.
Question: Is there anything you can do to get Terriers a second season? :) I love the show so much, and it's one of the few new shows this year—or maybe the only one—that I fell in love with so quickly in such a short period of time. (I really like Boardwalk Empire, The Walking Dead and Justified, but I don't love them yet, and Caprica and Rubicon, two flawed shows that I have a soft spot for, are already cancelled.) It's so odd, too, because it seems like such an accessible show. It has great stand-alone stories that technically qualifies it as a "procedural" show, but on top of that it also has great ongoing arcs for the season, great writing, emotional and really hilarious at the same time, awesome characters, and really interesting relationships between those characters which makes it easy for people to get attached to it. But knowing how abysmal the ratings are, and that TV is a business after all, is there any possible way that FX could renew the show? This year hasn't been a strong year for new shows, and I hate to see the strongest new show to get axed. Hmm, maybe just to cheer me up, are there any past examples where a show has horrendous ratings but gets a second (or third, or fourth) season despite it? — Belly
Matt Roush: As I noted in last week's Q&A, whatever call FX makes regarding Terriers' future will not be an easy one. If it doesn't get renewed, I'll be unhappy—and I agree with you that the show is easy to watch and enjoy without being simplistically formulaic—but I can't say I'll be surprised. To answer your first question, there's nothing I can personally do to save the show beyond urging people to watch, as I have been doing pretty relentlessly since at least the show's midpoint, when it became clear Terriers had something more going for it than the frothy diversion I positively reviewed at the start. To answer your last question, HBO seems unwilling to cancel almost anything these days regardless of how few people are watching (this applies mostly to the network's dismal comedies, but also to In Treatment). And then there's Friday Night Lights, which had the good luck to be rescued by DirecTV when it was on the brink of being canceled by NBC.
Question: I was just wondering if you have heard anything about another season of the great BBC series The Choir. What a wonderful show it was. If anyone saw it and didn't get a little sniffly at times during the hour, boy those people must be grinches. Any information would be greatly appreciated. — Peter
Matt Roush: BBC America has aired everything that has been shot regarding Gareth Malone and his musical adventures, and there's no news on new chapters at this point, I'm told. I'm with you, though. Wherever and whoever he leads, I will follow.