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Ask Matt: The Killing Post-Mortem, Bunheads, Longmire, More

Send questions and comments to askmatt@tvguidemagazine.com and follow me on Twitter! Question: I've been mulling over the ending of The Killing for a week now. Up until the series finale (which is what it should be), I was convinced that the writers hadn't known who the killer would be when they started the series. This was always a pet peeve of mine with soap operas. How can you plot a murder without a murderer? The main problem with this is that the actor playing the murderer doesn't have the background knowledge to act his or her scenes. Though using twice as many episodes as they needed, I could sort of see in the finale how they were setting things up. To truly see if that's the case, I'd have to re-watch the first couple of episodes, which I don't want to do.

Matt Roush
Matt Roush

Send questions and comments to askmatt@tvguidemagazine.com and follow me on Twitter!

Question: I've been mulling over the ending of The Killing for a week now. Up until the series finale (which is what it should be), I was convinced that the writers hadn't known who the killer would be when they started the series. This was always a pet peeve of mine with soap operas. How can you plot a murder without a murderer? The main problem with this is that the actor playing the murderer doesn't have the background knowledge to act his or her scenes. Though using twice as many episodes as they needed, I could sort of see in the finale how they were setting things up. To truly see if that's the case, I'd have to re-watch the first couple of episodes, which I don't want to do.

But I read this week that Jamie Anne Allman only learned she was the killer before the last episode. How can show runners do this? Is it just that they want to keep the actors guessing as well as the audience? If an actor plays a role and shows some nuances that might be guilt, is that so bad? Maybe that's why Columbo was so much fun years ago. Watching the actor play the role and trying not to show guilt was one of the reasons we watched! I liked The Killing, and watched it all, even though I hated the ending of the first season. The actors were good, but the characters left something to be desired. I think Linden and Holder should be allowed to move on. If they're back, I won't be watching. Just wanted to know your opinion. — Myra

Matt Roush: We're definitely on the same page about being willing to let this one move on without us. (If it is renewed, which would surprise me, I'm sure I'd check in out of duty, but the thought doesn't thrill me.) There was some very good acting throughout the run of The Killing — although the great Michelle Forbes was thoroughly wasted until the very end of the second season — and the moodiness and atmosphere carried me a long way past the numerous red herrings, but I'm not sure this is an experiment I'm eager to see repeated again unless the story picked up in intensity without lapsing into such chronic mopeyness. (This would be a setting ripe for a serial killer, but let's not give them any ideas.)

Regarding Jamie Anne Allman as Poor Aunt Terry, whose motive for sending the car into the drink (regardless of who was in the trunk) seemed a bit of a stretch, she really nailed that scene of confession, didn't she? Thinking back on the series as a whole, her caretaking the family can be interpreted as expiating guilt, but like you, I'm not willing to relive any of this to see if there were embedded clues. Like most of the cast, her work was shrouded in an ambiguity — on purpose, I would think — that would allow us to both suspect and empathize with her, whichever way the story went. And I was OK with the fact that there were basically two killers: Jamie just being too inept to finish the deed. (The one twist I loathed was seeing now-Mayor Richmond go back to corrupt business as usual, a cheaply cynical and unearned transition; plus even with connections, Ames would have to be implicated by proximity with Rosie's death after Terry's confession, right? But let's not nitpick.) There was no way a finish after this long and polarizing a build-up would please everyone, and I guess I'd put myself in the intrigued but underwhelmed and unmoved column.

Question: I watched The Killing this year, and wasn't too concerned that we didn't know who Rosie's killer was at the end of last season as it appears many were, and the ending was truly a shocker — at least for me! When will we know if it's been renewed for next year? The two main characters are extremely talented, and their chemistry has started to work (not that I think they should fall in love!) but their teamwork has fallen into an easy rhythm well worth watching. So, I'm keeping my fingers crossed for another season? — Holly

Matt Roush: I haven't a clue when AMC will decide to pull the trigger one way or the other; could be soon, but since the show is clearly in limbo, with ratings down year to year amid a critical and fan backlash, they don't have to make the call until the contracts expire, which according to a Variety story isn't until later this year. My mail is split pretty much down the middle on this one, but for me, I'm satisfied they finally solved this case and would regard cancellation as something of a mercy Killing.

Question: What are the actual chances that Joel Kinnaman gets an Emmy nomination for The Killing? I think he's fantastic on that show. — Chad [from Twitter]

Matt Roush: I agree; he and Mireille Enos (who was nominated last year) often rose above the material, and he was especially strong this season. But to be realistic, the show got such a bad rap in the second year it's hard to imagine even its best assets being considered very strongly. Kinnaman faces a particularly steep challenge, because the supporting actor drama field is so strong, with multiple contenders from shows including Mad Men, Breaking Bad, The Good Wifeand Justified, to name a very few.

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Question: I was wondering what your thoughts are on Bunheads. I am watching it because I adored Gilmore Girls. While Bunheads isn't bad and far better than a lot of summer programming out there, it also makes me realize how special the combination of Lauren Graham and Alexis Bledel were. I always thought that the banter in lesser hands would be irritating, and the cadre of ballet students has proven that. Sutton Foster and Kelly Bishop together are fine (though Foster seems to be channeling Lorelei a little much), and I loved seeing Stacey Oristano (though her character is Truly annoying) and especially Ellen Greene, but any semblance of rhythm seems to come to a screeching halt when the kiddos are on-screen without an adult to work with. They make me appreciate the chemistry of Rory, Lane, Dean, Jess, Paris, Louise and Madeline all the more. — Erin

Matt Roush: I liked the pilot, which I screened in advance, but the second episode made me cringe quite a lot, including (but not limited to) the forced banter among the ballet kids, when what they should have done was rally immediately to Madame Fanny's side instead of blathering on and on about their own insecurities for two-thirds of the episode. I'm a big Sutton Foster fan, so am happy to see her be the surrogate Lorelai — and a bit more of a lost soul, so I don't think she's entirely a clone here (thought the rhythms of Amy Sherman-Palladino's writing are unmistakable) — and I adore Kelly Bishop, though her frantic memorial planning was so overdone in the second episode, my patience was sorely tested. I'm pretty sure the Truly character is irredeemable at this point, and when Ellen Greene mentioned Wicca in her first anecdote and nude sculpture in her second, the cutesy twee factor had me pining for the relative subtlety of her work on Pushing Daisies. So right now, I'm looking at Bunheads as a work in progress, and letting my affection for the lead actors and residual admiration for the best years of Gilmore Girls carry me past the flaws for now. I want to see how Michelle (Foster) and the "bunheads" bond, which I'm assuming will be the core of the show, but I'm not expecting the magic we had with Lorelai and Rory. Certainly not yet.

Question: I'm not sure what I'm missing. I loved Gilmore Girls and was looking forward to Bunheads. Then I saw it. In one episode we had characters named Hubbell, Fanny Flowers, Truly and Boo. Someone gets drunk in Vegas and marries a near-stranger. Nearly everyone is nasty to each other, and the most likable of these characters then dies in an off-screen accident. All in 24 hours. It's virtually every writers' cliché there is and I'm assuming another dumb gimmick will be used to explain why she would stay in this town. Yet everything I've read has everyone raving about it. There is absolutely nothing good in the premise of this show. How did this get to air? What am I missing? — Edward

Matt Roush: True, the quirkiness threatens to be suffocating, and Paradise on first glance is a pale imitation of Stars Hollow. But I was actually on board for the tragic twist that fuels Bunheads' premise. It took me by surprise, coming on the heels of Michelle and Fanny's detente on the bar dance floor. To describe Michelle's situation as "someone gets drunk ... etc." is unworthy (to me) of the way Sutton Foster played her showgirl's discontent, her grasping at any way out, her surprise in being so disarmed ultimately by Hubbell that she just about lost her heart to him before she lost him for good. (And I will say that my reaction while watching the pilot was a disbelief that they would lock her down so quickly with Alan Ruck, no slight on his talents or personal appeal.) So what you may be missing is a willingness on some of our part to give these actors and writer(s) a bit of slack to work through the growing pains. If it lives up to its promise, it may be the second ABC Family show (along with Switched at Birth) I may actually watch on a regular basis.

Question: Please commend the whole cast/crew/producers for Longmire. This should have the tenacity of the old Gunsmoke series in years past. What a show: Storyline, editing (horses fleeing a burning barn!!), laid-back cast, and a flow which will not be turned away from (such as going to the fridge for a beer). Please do not go away as many other well-written series have done. We need such quality again. — Sue

Matt Roush: Consider it done. My initial review of the series was mostly positive, and the initial ratings have been even more so. There's no way this isn't a keeper — though I doubt it will have Gunsmoke's legendary longevity.

Question: Why is it that the networks will trash their evening line-up when a sporting event runs long, but when an award show airs, they are super strict with the time allotted to acceptance speeches? It happened repeatedly on the Tony Awards this month. These people have achieved a monumental award that is something to be celebrated and the producers play them off the stage before they're finished. But if the NFL has a game into quadruple overtime, too bad Good Wife. Seems like a double standard. What do you say? — Mike

Matt Roush: Yes, there's a double standard, but there's also the blunt reality that the audience for most of the live sporting events that air on Sundays (overrun or not) dwarf the ratings for many awards shows, and are much more profitable. This is especially true where the Tonys are concerned (and for the record, it's one of my favorite awards shows of any given year, even in a lesser theater season like this one), because it's geared to a fairly niche and definitely small audience. CBS continues to give the ceremony a national broadcast platform and the foundation for putting on a really big show, for which theater fans should be grateful, even if it might be true that if it went to cable (but where?) the time constraints might be relaxed. The problem here is in the production, which needs to scrap some of the banter early on to allow more time for the speeches later on, though I wouldn't sacrifice any of Neil Patrick Harris' inspired hosting bits or any of the theatrical presentations — this is designed as an entertainment special, after all (though the cruise-ship Hairspray number and that ghastly bit from Ghost could have been trimmed). It was surprising to me that CBS allowed the show to go past 11 pm/ET this year when it ran over.

Question: Hasn't anybody bitched about the cancellation of The Secret Circle? I was soooo into that show and I'm a full-grown grown-up! I thought it was one of the best shows ever on the CW or any other network for that matter. I loved every episode. My sister (60) and I (49) were absolutely crushed that it won't be picked up for a second season. The last episode left off with a great lead into a second season. How is that SC didn't make it, but shows like The Vampire Diaries (so stupid) and many others like it are still running? I swear the American public has really questionable taste in good TV. — Bekah

Matt Roush: Believe me, no matter the show, you're unlikely to be the only one bitching when it gets canceled. But it's a bit of a stretch to call America's taste into question every time it happens, although I'm sure you feel better getting this rant out of your system. To me, the CW made a tactical error stacking two such similar themed shows on Thursday, and I was worried this would dilute the popularity and impact of The Vampire Diaries (which didn't happen, and I do prefer that show, but that's just me).

Question: NYC 22 had a growing and loyal following on CBS' Sunday line-up, yet the network aired only five episodes with a new episode to air on May 27. It never aired and I can't even find that episode on CBS online. There was something about this show that had me grow quickly fond of its characters and its real-life grittiness (filmed in New York City). Not even Robert De Niro's Tribeca Films producing the show could save it, even though its ratings equaled that of Trump's Celebrity Apprentice (so boring in its glorified back-stabbing) and surpassed other shows, new and old. CBS is not known for giving shows a fair chance, and it's blatantly obvious by the abrupt cancellation of NYC 22. It deserved a full season to reach more people, to say the least. The ensemble cast was great, the timely stories were poignant and the music well-matched to the scenes. See YouTube for fans who posted segments of episodes as well as declared their loyalty to the show. Blue Bloods took me awhile to get into, but I'm now a fan. My attraction to NYC 22 was faster. Could you ask CBS to re-consider this show? CBS could view it as a surprise act of generosity or a mistake corrected, whatever works. Or could you let NYC 22's fans know if another network might be considering giving this show the fair chance it deserved (e.g. Cougar Town's move from ABC to TBS)? — Margo

Matt Roush: To be honest, I never got the sense CBS had much faith in this show, which felt to me like the thousandth variation on a rookie-cop drama, despite its production pedigree, its location setting and its fairly strong cast. To accuse this network of not giving shows a fair chance is a questionable charge; last season, even underperformers like A Gifted Man and Unforgettable (which may yet get resurrected) got a full or nearly full season to prove itself. Midseason shows don't always get that luxury, and on CBS, it is true that the regular lineup is so successful, there's little patience or need for those that don't pull their weight. And while I can't imagine anyone rushing in to rescue a show that made so little impact, there is a glimmer of good news. CBS will be airing episodes of the show on Saturdays, starting in July. So chances are you will at least be able to enjoy it for as long as it lasts there.

Question: OK, so I read on TVGuide.com that they are moving Last Man Standing to Fridays. You know, the day where sitcoms go to die! But I figured if anyone could stand the heat, it is Tim Allen and his awesome show. Now I read that they are replacing one of the actresses that played his daughter and my question is why? Why replace someone we have gotten used to. I don't get the reasoning behind "creative differences!" that to me is a cop-out for we just didn't like her and want to get someone newer, but I did like her, she was perfect as Mike Baxter's oldest daughter! I wonder who will replace her and if Tim Allen had a say in this, your thoughts? — Amy

Matt Roush: You kind of answered your own question. How specific do you expect producers to be when they replace an actor between seasons? "Creative differences" is the polite way of saying they've decided to (using another euphemism) "go another way," and since Tim Allen is an executive producer of the show, I'm sure this wasn't a surprise to him, either. This sort of thing is hardly unprecedented, and it's not as if this or any other character on the show had actually broken out. Regarding the show's move to Friday: I wouldn't look at this as a kiss of death, more as an attempt to revive the old "TGIF" format with one of the network's more broadly appealing comedies.

Question: I am a devout follower of Hawaii Five-0. In the final episode, it looked like we may lose the character of Kono. Is this going to happen? I think a lot of viewers will be turned off by this decision. And will Terry O'Quinn be making special appearances on the show even though he has a new series coming on in the fall? — Jackie

Matt Roush: Now you know I don't do plot spoilers. But even so, these kind of cliffhangers have been around since the silent-movie days of Flash Gordon and The Perils of Pauline, and surely you don't think they're going to let the show's primary female character sink without a trace — or without a miraculous lifeline of some sort. (If they do, check back with me in the fall, because that would be pretty newsworthy.) Regarding Terry O'Quinn, the producers have said they'd like to bring the Joe White character back if and when the actor's schedule permits, but unless 666 Park Avenue is a quick fade (hard to imagine it not going at least 13), I imagine you'll see considerably less of him for a while.

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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