Question: Can we get a rave for the writers at Person of Interest? They actually had me worried for Elias, a guy who almost froze a baby to death (not to mention John). And super high praise to Enrico Colantoni for giving such nuance to a villain. Probably will never get an Emmy but doing award quality work. I never ever think "Keith Mars" when watching POI. All this with the continuing story of Samaritan. Imagine Elias with control of Samaritan or The Machine!! — Sharon
Matt Roush: Thanks for getting this week's post-Thanksgiving column started on a positive note. Person of Interest is a favorite of mine, and last week's Elias-centric episode one of the most exciting and enjoyable in a while. I happen to like Elias right where he is, in the shadows of the underworld keeping balance amid the criminal element, and I'm curious what part he will play as the war between Samaritan and The Machine escalates. Great stuff all around. (Side note: For those still smarting over the death of Detective Carter — yes, I'm still hearing from you — trust me: When you see Taraji P. Henson strut her way into Fox's Empire in January, you'll be glad she traded this show for that one. She's a scream.)
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Question: In spite of the allure of The Flash, I've been sticking with Arrow, but reports about the show's return from hiatus have me worried. We've been told that while Oliver is gone, we'll be seeing a three-part "trilogy" of episodes chronicling Laurel's "transformation" into the Black Canary. I loved Katie Cassidy on Supernatural, but let's be honest: Laurel has been the weakest link in an otherwise very strong supporting cast from the beginning, and I was devastated that Sara was killed off as impetus for Laurel to take up the hero's mantle. I'm not looking forward to this trilogy at all, and I know I'm not alone in my lack of enthusiasm for three Laurel-centric episodes in a row. The heart of the show used to be the original Team Arrow, and while Roy and Sara were able to integrate themselves into the original trio of Oliver, Felicity and Diggle, I'm not expecting the same with Laurel. What's going to become of the remaining Team Arrow members while Laurel's off finding her inner hero? Will she become part of the team on humble terms, knowing they have more experience than her, or will it be that Laurel's debut includes taking a leadership role that suspiciously looks like bossing everyone around? — Lexi I.
Matt Roush: One of my least favorite traits in the world of show fandom is the habit of prejudging anything. I understand the impulse when it comes to Laurel, surely Arrow's most polarizing character, but in this case, I also blame a spoiler culture that feeds on news of what hasn't yet occurred, then often works itself into a frenzy of advance disapproval. (This isn't the only letter/question I've received on this subject.) It's entirely possible that these Arrow episodes will be as much of a drag as the Laurel haters are expecting, but it's not as if this storyline wasn't expected, so I'll go into it with as open a mind as possible. What I find puzzling, though, is why you'd think Laurel-as-Canary wouldn't play well with others. I would expect she'll have the same growing-into-superhero pains as characters like Roy have experienced, but unless they're developing a Black Canary spinoff I haven't heard about, the show is still called Arrow, and he'll still be calling the shots. (In other words: Chill.)
Question: I think Matt Czuchry has been doing a great job on The Good Wife. He looks like he has lost weight (I hope he's not ill) and he always looks like he is on the verge of tears. Both of these seem likely when one is facing prison time. It is so unfair that Cary cannot defend himself, and that Bishop has gotten Cary into trouble. Thank you for letting me "talk." — Michele
Matt Roush: Hey, when you're talking Good Wife, you're talking my language. And what a way for the show to go on winter hiatus, with Cary's future looking so grim. As many have noted, it's about time the writers gave Matt Czuchry this juicy a storyline, and so long as this doesn't turn into "Cary goes to OZ" (we're not talking Toto here), I've enjoyed the drama of his dilemma, and will be eagerly awaiting the show's return in January in hopes of seeing how they get him out of this. (Although I've given up trying ever to predict where The Good Wife will take its characters.)
Question: I read your review on State of Affairs and I have to say I think you were a little harsh on the show. By no means is it a fantastic show, but I don't believe that it is quite as bad as you made it out to be. I was a fan of Katherine Heigl on Grey's Anatomy, I was sad to see her leave. My favorite memories of the show (which I no longer watch) were of her and Denny, pre-hallucinations. Do I think she is a fantastic actress? No. Do I think she is horrible? Again no. I think her reputation as being difficult is most likely deserved as well. I watch Homeland (although I started out late and am only on Season 2) and I felt like this show was a poor man's knock-off of Homeland. But don't people like knock-offs as well? I don't think the show was at its strongest in the pilot, but many shows get stronger as they go on, and I felt that the second episode, while not fantastic, was better than the first, and actually tugged at my heartstrings a little during Anatoli's monologue to his daughter. I love the character of Nick, I can't wait to learn more about him, but one thing I am disappointed in because I expected better was Alfre Woodard as the president. I hope it's an election year because she needs to go. I find her more disappointing than you seem to be with Katherine Heigl. Normally I agree with what you write and your opinions, so it was strange for me to not agree with you this time. — Melanie
Matt Roush: Well, it happens. And as it happens, I thought the second episode was quite a bit stronger than the pilot, because State of Affairs appears to be at its best in the scenes when Charlie and her team are dealing with an international crisis — and not trying to hide the facts from their superiors. For the record, I enjoyed Katherine Heigl on Grey's quite a bit, and don't blame her for the whole "Denny's Ghost" period. I also try not to judge actors on their reputations but on how well they pull off a specific role, and that's where this show is most desperately lacking in terms of credibility. And whether or not one likes knockoffs as a rule, when one is as obvious and clumsy as this one, a critic's gotta call it out. As for Alfre Woodard, the president's role so far has been so underwritten that I can't get worked up one way or the other. I enjoy the symbolism of a female African-American president, but that's about as far as it goes. Regardless, if the show continues to falter after a powerful lead-in like The Voice, any debate about the show's future will likely be moot.
Question: I just watched a wonderful series on Netflix called The Fall with Gillian Anderson. Why hasn't anyone stateside ever heard of this? It was dark and moody but brilliant. Is it because it's only on Netflix? I am loving House of Cards also. The acting and writing is tremendous. I have been following you for years and you're pretty dead on with your take of what's working and what's not. Happy Thanksgiving. — CM
Matt Roush: Thank you, and I hope everyone's holiday was memorable. I'm glad you discovered The Fall — it was amazing, and I can't wait for the second season to arrive on Netflix on Jan. 16. But to be clear, I did review the series when it premiered, but Netflix did it no favors by releasing this just a few days after the overhyped launch of the disappointing Arrested Development reboot, which may be why it wasn't given the attention it deserved. When the second season begins, and now that Anderson's co-star Jamie Dornan is of much higher profile with the upcoming release of Fifty Shades of Grey, I'm betting it will be difficult not to be aware of it in the new year.
Question: I saw that NBC is not continuing production on Constantine beyond the first 13 episodes, and based on the numbers will likely cancel it. I am disappointed by this news but I am hopeful, because Syfy has already started airing reruns of the show. Is there any chance they will continue the series should it be canceled? On social media the #SaveConstantine movement seems to be growing, so it clearly has a established fan base. I guess I'm just disappointed that a good comic-book based show will end while a bad one (Gotham) continues. — Zack
Matt Roush: Not to burst your bubble, but try to find a canceled show of any stature that doesn't have some sort of social media movement rallying behind it. And don't count on Syfy to be a white knight in this situation. Syfy's replays are an example of corporate synergy; both networks are part of the NBC Universal Comcast group, and this sort of dual exposure is a smart way to get the show in front of the target audience. But the series itself is most likely a bit rich for Syfy's programming budget. All that said, it may be a bit premature to declare Constantine DOA, although the signs aren't very positive. If the show had exploded out of the gate, I imagine NBC might have given it a full season. But practically speaking, with Hannibal set to return in the spring or thereabouts, in terms of inventory, the network didn't really need more than 13 episodes of Constantine to fill the Friday time period. A lot depends on how the show develops and performs from now until the end of the 13-episode order.
Question: I just read that George Eads will be leaving CSI, and that his departure will have something to do with the Gig Harbor killer. After all these years, George Eads is what kept me watching a show that is no longer what it used to be. I think it would be a shame if they have the Gig Harbor killer kill him, considering he has nothing to do with that character. Any idea how he will leave? — Connie
Matt Roush: Haven't a clue, and I'm sure you know I wouldn't tell you if I did. (This week's reminder that this is not a column of spoilers whenever I can help it.) But since his departure now won't be a surprise, I doubt Nick will be requiring last rites when all is said and done. A well-liked character with this sort of longevity and fan base deserves a hero's exit, don't you think? (Which, now that I put that thought out there, often requires a sacrifice of some sort. Hmmm.) Still, as long as he goes out on a dramatic high note, I imagine I'll be OK with it.
Question: Regarding last week's discussion of loud music on TV shows, I think the music on Grey's Anatomy is as much a part of the show as the dialogue. I watch with closed captioning (even though I am not hard of hearing) and have come to appreciate the appropriateness of the music selected for the particular scenes and love the show even more because of it. — CK
Matt Roush: I have no problem with the content of the music played on Grey's, except when it takes what should be clever or meaningful underscoring to a high-decibel assault of overemphasis. The fact that you have to watch the show with closed captioning speaks, literally, volumes.
Question: Hoping you can enlighten me on what's happening with The Sing-Off Season 5. By many accounts, it's only going to be a 2-hour special on Dec. 17, then done. But if you look at NBC's website, Dec.17 is billed as the season premiere, and the description of the show mentions one group being eliminated each week. So which is it, a one-night event (which, although it gives us back a show many of us enjoy, is hardly worth it since we won't get to really know any group before they're eliminated) or a multi-night season (fingers crossed)? I wish NBC had more faith in this gem of a show. Outside of a number of artists from American Idol, Season 3 champs Pentatonix have arguably had the most commercial success of so many singing reality competition winners. Nobody from The Voice, X Factor, America's Got Talent, etc. have yet to measure up. What are your thoughts? Thanks for any insight!!! — Tim
Matt Roush: Sounds like someone needs to refresh that web page. All the information I've seen from NBC indicates that The Sing-Off this year will be a self-contained two-hour "holiday" special, which for its fans I'm sure won't be nearly enough. Still, it's almost refreshing in this age of overkill (see: the endless hours of The Voice) for any show of this sort to leave us wanting more. Although maybe not by this much of an extreme.
Question: I enjoy your insights. But it's not the case by any stretch that Jane the Virgin is a lock for a sophomore season. And its ratings don't have far to go to bottom out. They are at a 0.4, and hovering at about a million viewers. Even for The CW, even with critical acclaim, a 0.3 and under a million is below the Mendoza line. And the trend suggests that, barring a coup like a major award nomination that would make it difficult for The CW to bail, the show will be gasping for air by year's end. Foreign sales, product placement and DVD numbers big enough to compensate for no viewership? Doubtful. — Derek
Matt Roush: Why you gotta be so negative, Derek? No one's projecting all the way to a second season yet, because we're still too busy celebrating the back-nine pickup for the season's most delightful series (which I guarantee will be on more best-of-year lists than any other new fall network series, with the possible exception of Black-ish). Ratings have never seemed to matter all that much to The CW, for better or worse, and if the network can support one prestige loss leader, let it be Jane.
Question: What's with ABC cancelling John Stamos's Members Only and Fox cancelling Hieroglyph before either show airs? They were both committed to series by their respective networks so the execs had to see something in these shows. Wouldn't it be cheaper to at least start airing the show and see if the public actually likes it? When I first heard about Hieroglyph, I was really looking forward to that show. It wasn't like anything else on any of the major broadcast networks. How can the networks be so convinced that these shows won't at least bring in respectable ratings? Or at least better ratings than some of the other shows that are potentially facing cancellation? - Kevin
Matt Roush: This is hardly unprecedented. Once upon a time, we in the biz used to take bets on which Fox show announced for the fall schedule would never see the light of day (for years, there was at least one). Hieroglyph, though, was a special case, in which the network ordered this ambitious, and no doubt costly, historical drama straight to series, but once they got an early look, decided it wasn't commercially viable (the buzz wasn't good on how it turned out, but I didn't see it, so can't really say). The fact that the network was undergoing a regime change at the time probably didn't help. Members Only was also given a straight-to-series order (which means it was green-lit without benefit of the usual pilot process), and I'm not sure why the network got cold feet on this one. May have something to do with the fact that ABC has a fairly deep bench of midseason product ready to go and may not have needed yet another soapy drama (this one set in a country club) in the pipeline. Sometimes it just boils down to a network seeing a potential flop in the making and cutting its losses. Because to answer your larger question: No, it isn't cheaper to keep producing a show a network has somehow lost faith in or which no longer fits the network's needs. We're talking serious money here.