Question: I've noticed the last few years that shows that were "summer shows" started bleeding into the fall or having new episodes in the winter. I think season 1 of Damages was one of the first. It started in the summer but did not end until the fall, which made it hard to stay with once the regular shows started up. But now other cable shows are doing this, including splitting their seasons and airing them at other times. The Closer, White Collar, Burn Notice, and now Royal Pains, which started as a fluffy summer show and was good there. But now they are airing it in January? It is not a good enough show to get my attention due to the many good shows on at this time. And it actually made sense to watch a show set at the beach during the summer! I love White Collar, but have the same issue. Too many things on right now. So why are the nets taking our enjoyable fluffy shows of summer and trying to squeeze them into the fall/winter/spring time frame that already has an overabundance of shows to watch? — Mary
Matt Roush: The reason is the same that explains why the broadcast networks keep airing more original programming during the summer (albeit rarely as good as what's on cable). Everyone's in the year-round TV biz these days, and that includes cable networks that were once expected to take a back seat to the networks during the regular season. As they ramp up during other parts of the year, that means more split seasons of fan favorites, often brought back to help launch new shows during various times of the year (and creating plenty of confusion as to when shows come and go on the cable schedules). This is why Royal Pains is bringing some sunny summer escapism to the winter as a way of bringing some attention to the new (and not so special) Fairly Legal. It's true that this tends to add to the clutter on already busy nights, but as is often said in this column, no one making decisions about what goes on in TV is all that concerned about making it easy on those who watch.
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Question: I just watched this week's Fringe. When Walter put on a pair of red and blue glasses, and announced they'd been developed by his "old friend Dr. Jacoby of Washington State," I had to wonder if it was intended to be a nod to Twin Peaks and Russ Tamblyn's character, who always wore similar glasses. Any connection? — Amy W
Matt Roush: Absolutely this is a delightful homage to a groundbreaking show and one of its most eccentric characters (Dr. Lawrence Jacoby), spiritual kin to Walter Bishop, one of the few people who could pull off that look. (And how great were John Noble's scenes with Christopher Lloyd in this episode?)
Question: Just watched Fringe, and I had to write. Wow. I'd forgotten how much I love the comedic elements in this show. They really do take the show to another level. The straight-up drama is good stuff, but the wonderful timing of the comedy makes it really special. Gotta go watch again, Walter is hilarious. — Anna
Matt Roush: Yes, he's a riot. But that's just the icing on a very rich cake. This episode was just as strong for Walter (and Noble) dramatically. His terror of losing his son — again — fueled the emotional core of this hour, and his willingness to risk Peter's sacrifice, thus showing the Observers how much he had changed, is what made the hour most memorable. Noble has a way of piercing the heart with his befuddled anguish while never failing to amuse. How long until the Emmys reward his work with a nomination? (I'm not holding my breath, but seriously, folks, he's way overdue.)
Question: As a fan of Medium since it began on NBC, I was sorry to hear of its cancellation, although I wasn't really surprised given its ratings this year. I was happy that CBS gave it a chance to go out with closure. I sat down to watch the last show Friday evening expecting to be entertained but not really sad. Was I surprised at myself, when in the final minutes after Allison as an old woman dies, her younger 2011 self standing there with the long departed Joe waiting for her, that I found myself with tears running down my face. This scene reminded me somewhat of the old movie The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, although we got to see Allison and Joe have a wonderful final kiss. The show certainly had always been about their relationship and family (the pictures of the girls with their families was a nice touch). Of course showing all of the cast members leaving the studio one by one was a nice gift to the fans who stuck with the show all of these years. Anyway, I am a sucker for an ending like the show had and I thoroughly enjoyed this final episode. I will miss it. — JG
Matt Roush: I loved the breaking of the fourth wall at the end, as all the actors waved goodbye from the set (while showing how much they'd changed, especially the kids, over the years). A treat and a gift for fans. I had mixed feelings about the episode itself, because the imagined court case (which Allison was dreaming in denial of Joe's tragic death) was so ludicrous and clearly unreal, and I would have liked to have spent more of this final hour with the family, which as you and others have rightly noted is what helped Medium stand out. The sentimental finish was hokey and corny, but probably fitting to echo an old classic movie, because who wouldn't want Joe and Allison reunited in the afterlife — while assuring us through a title card that the genuine articles are still alive and well. As JG and other fans wrote in — including Lindlee, who concluded her loving tribute by noting, "I'll miss my weekly dose of Medium, but I am grateful the show is going out on its own terms" — what's most important here is that the show was allowed to fashion its own finale after a long run.
Question: This doesn't seem like the sort of question you usually tackle, but after watching last week's episode of Bones, I had a sudden realization: We've never met anyone from Hodgins' family! In fact, we don't really even know anything about his family members except that they are filthy rich and basically own the Jeffersonian. I am thinking that Hodgins is somewhat estranged from his family because they have different philosophies about life, but I could be making that up. Now that I've noticed this, it seems like a huge gaping hole! We've met family members for everyone else on the team (Brennan's father and brother, Booth's grandfather and brother, Angela's dad, Cam's sister.) Hodgins has had some fairly major events happen recently; you'd think getting married and expecting a child would be something his family would want to know about. Is there a particular reason that they aren't even mentioned? — Sarah
Matt Roush: Being something less than an encyclopedic reference on this topic, I went to the source, the show's creator/executive producer Hart Hanson, who responded back via Twitter: "We established early that Hodgins had no more nuclear family," and I'll take his word for it. "BUT," he adds enigmatically, "We have a storyline waiting for a particularly choice cast availability," so make of that what you will. Maybe there's more to Hodgins' backstory after all.
Question: With a lot of new shows out this past year and new year (and a lot I did not like or watch because my DVR cannot hold all of them!), in your opinion is The Chicago Code worth watching or eventually watching on my DVR? — Mike
Matt Roush: The Chicago Code premieres Feb. 7, the night after the Super Bowl (and is already getting plenty of promotion on Fox during post-season football), and yes, it is very much worth watching. It's not as dark as Shawn Ryan's masterpiece The Shield, but it's good and twisty as it follows Chicago police — filmed on location, which is a big plus — as they battle murderous corruption within the city bureaucracy while tending to violence on the streets. Solid cast, including Jason Clarke and Friday Night Lights' Matt Lauria as the primary detectives, Jennifer Beals as the embattled police chief and Delroy Lindo as her adversary, a cunning and powerful alderman. If the initial tune-in is strong — and all of this promotion can't hurt — I'd be surprised if it doesn't hook the audience pretty quickly. It's one of the few distinctive shows from a network midseason that's already shaping up to be as disappointing as the fall.
Question: I know that The Good Wife is at risk of cancellation, but in my very lowly opinion, I think it is the only show on all four of the networks that deserves an Outstanding Drama series Emmy nod (I'm counting Friday Night Lights as a cable-esque series here). Do you think that its critical acclaim can help its shot at renewal, or will it be replaced by another procedural, which would certainly garner higher ratings? And do you think that we'll see an all-cable set of nominees for drama series any time soon, or will the respective academy hold at least one place for the networks? — Erin
Matt Roush: I agree with your contention that The Good Wife is the most Emmy-worthy drama on any broadcast network at the moment, but I don't know where you get the idea that it's in danger of cancellation. It may not have the blockbuster numbers of some of CBS's biggest hits (including the two NCIS shows that precede it), but neither does almost any show on any network in the increasingly precarious 10/9c time period. CBS knows it has raised its game with this quality series, and is proud of the many awards, nominations and accolades Wife and its cast have amassed in its first two seasons. The fact that it challenges the audience more and panders less than most CBS procedurals helps account for it being a more modest hit. But no way should this be considered a "bubble" show. It's too good, and CBS knows it.
Question: Love reading your Q&A column; first and foremost, I am shocked to see the amount of people upset with the Good Wife episode of Jan. 11, as referenced in your last column. I have seen more than a few such comments (ie: I'm no longer watching the show!), with the brunt of the anger directed at the ethical breaches by the lawyers and the misogyny of Blake. I LOVED the realism and can't stand it when viewers make petulant threats. It drives me nuts. If watching a show that doesn't push the envelope is what one wants, there's always Hawaii Five-0. I just hope these people don't ruin it for the rest of us. These are the same people who will "no longer watch the Golden Globes" because of Ricky Gervais' (apparently) "abhorrent behavior." Give me a break.
Anyways, aside from my own petulant rant, my question surrounds this past week's episode of The Good Wife. I thought it was fantastic, very fresh. My interpretation of the ending was that the episode was about misdirection. They made us focus on the minutiae and the details and we just assumed (as always) that Lockhart-Gardners' client was not guilty. I think the writers were trying to tell us that we can throw the best money and legal teams, etc., into a defense, but sometimes the defendant is, in fact, plain and simply guilty. However, reading some comments on different sites, many people had very different interpretations - or was that the point? Help! — Munir
Matt Roush: Your interpretation sounds pretty good to me (as do your reactions to people threatening to quit a show when they don't like a way a character behaves in a single episode). I tend not to read comments or message boards so as not to pollute my own opinions and reactions, so I don't know what others have been saying, but for me, the power of the courtroom half of that episode lies in the simplicity of the moment when the juror (on whom the phony "guru" was so fixated) cuts to the chase, summing it all up to Alicia by shrugging, "He did it." The rest, as you note, was just window-dressing theatrics. I was just as fascinated, though, by the interpersonal dynamics in the struggle for the future of the firm, as Will and Diane allied themselves against Bond's machinations. And, of course, Kalinda's triumph over the arrogant Blake was satisfying. Lots of layers to this show, which is why it's so satisfying.
Question: As I was watching The Cape last week, I began to wonder how long are they going to run with this premise? If beyond miracles it lasts five years, certainly the writers are not going to wait that long before his wife and son learn that he is alive (or even the Cape)? It would only be natural that they both move on with their lives, especially the wife. Or do the writers anticipate this and are setting up a Faraday-Orwell relationship? I also want to know how are they going to keep this plotline from becoming stale. I mean, the show does have a unique cast of characters, but The Fugitive it is not. — Don
Matt Roush: Fugitive? It's not even The Green Hornet. Sorry, I'm still laughing at the thought of The Cape lasting five years. "Stale" is a pretty good word to describe this premise. The only part of the show I enjoy is the circus element, and that's mainly because of Keith David as Max. Everything else is so hackneyed and derivative. But your question does bring up a standard I often apply when judging a pilot. I often ask myself: Can I imagine still being involved in this show five years from now — or five months — or five weeks? The Cape failed for me on each count. I may give it five weeks, but it won't be easy. As to projecting what will happen in the long haul (if there is one): I imagine eventually the son, and then the wife, would become aware he's alive and acting as The Cape, and then would have to keep his secret. That's the way these stories tend to work, but I'm not sure we'll get to that point by the time The Cape takes his final swish.
Question: [From Twitter] Do you think that singling out Jim Parsons from a group ensemble will have the Suzanne Somers ripple effect? — Laura
Matt Roush: I think not, and I hope not. Sheldon was designed to be a breakout character, and Jim Parsons' genius in the role ensured he would eventually get rewarded for it. (You have to imagine the SAG Awards will someday catch up with the Emmys and the Globes and take notice. It's appalling that he's not even nominated this year.) The cast is now being compensated handsomely for the show's success, and that includes the supporting actors striking lucrative deals as well. Every time I've seen the cast in public (at Paley Center forums and TCA press tour sessions), they play well together and seem genuinely delighted in Parsons' and their own success. Which doesn't mean there aren't bruised egos, given that this is Hollywood after all, and anything that burns this bright is bound to generate some backlash along the way. But I'd like to think this could be one of those charmed shows that enjoys a happy history from start to finish, in the manner of one of my other favorite modern classics, Everybody Loves Raymond.
Question: I almost didn't tape Harry's Law after reading your review in TV Guide, but I decided to give it a shot since it was David E. Kelley and his shows are usually quirky. My husband and I really liked it because it was fun and entertaining. I'm so tired of dull cop shows and CSI-type shows that don't have entertaining characters. This show is no Boston Legal, but it is fun and did not deserve a 1 out of 10. — Carol
Matt Roush: I'm glad you found it, and I'm glad you liked it. But I'm not apologizing for being hard on it. For the record, I disliked this week's second episode even more than the pilot. There's a fine line between quirkiness and forced wackiness, and for me, Harry's Law crosses it repeatedly and the ludicrous results make me cringe. I'm hardly alone in that critical opinion, but even if I were, it's an honest one and have no regrets in expressing it. And I don't expect the loyal Kelley followers to agree with me, especially those who feel Boston Legal was his high-water mark. I miss the Kelley of the early years of The Practice and the heyday of L.A. Law and even Picket Fences, where Kelley's trademark quirkiness was grounded by some truly compelling and original storytelling and characters with at least an iota of dramatic integrity. I admired much about Ally McBeal (though hardly blindly), but now think that show may have ruined him, encouraging his most sophomoric and cutesy excesses. For the record, I got a fair amount of mail taking me to task for my negative review of Harry's Law, which didn't surprise me. I figure those who agree with me kept their silence because, having been burned before, kept their distance. I did not have that luxury, but rest assured, I won't belabor the issue. We can just agree to disagree on this one.
Question: I know you tend to only talk about prime time shows, but what has happened to FitTV? It used to be a really nice fitness channel, and since OWN came on, the Discovery Health channel has swamped FitTV with all their pregnancy/hoarding/medical examiner shows. FitTV was unique in the fact that it was dedicated to workouts and health, and now FitTV is anything but about fitness. There is a small block of fitness from 6-9 am and nothing else. Is this the way the channel will be from now on? — Cecilia
Matt Roush: Afraid so. Come February 1, the channel will even get a new name: Discovery Fit & Health. And despite "Health" getting second billing, it does look as if the Discovery Health programming will be most prominent, except for the mornings, which will be occupied by FitTV's workout shows. This is what happens when niche networks collide. Neither FitTV nor Discovery Health was probably robust enough on its own, so combining the two — a move precipitated by OWN displacing Health — should ensure their long-term future. And in keeping with the fitness vibe from this question, RIP Jack LaLanne.