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Ask Matt: Robin Williams, Playing Approval Matrix, Comics and Arrow, and More

Send questions and comments to askmatt@tvguidemagazine.com and follow me on Twitter! Question: With the passing of the legendary TV talents Robin Williams and James Garner, don't you think it would be remiss if the upcoming Emmys didn't do a clips tribute to both of them? Awards shows have an unfortunate habit of dedicating chunks of time to a theme or subject that either makes no sense or ends up really boring. But these two gentlemen, who broke character boundaries and were excellent actors outside their niche personas, deserve special recognition. I just hope the producers of that upcoming show have the smarts to do something special, outside of the "In Memoriam" roll call. Your thoughts? — Karen

Matt Roush
Matt Roush

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

Question: With the passing of the legendary TV talents Robin Williams and James Garner, don't you think it would be remiss if the upcoming Emmys didn't do a clips tribute to both of them? Awards shows have an unfortunate habit of dedicating chunks of time to a theme or subject that either makes no sense or ends up really boring. But these two gentlemen, who broke character boundaries and were excellent actors outside their niche personas, deserve special recognition. I just hope the producers of that upcoming show have the smarts to do something special, outside of the "In Memoriam" roll call. Your thoughts? — Karen

Matt Roush: As you can see from my colleague Michael Schneider's recent report, the Emmy telecast will almost certainly recognize Robin Williams in a significant way, only fitting given the impact he had on the industry and how shaken Hollywood (and the world at large) has been by the circumstances of his untimely death. Can't say if James Garner will get special recognition outside of the "In Memoriam" segment, but he is surely deserving, having embodied two iconic TV characters in Maverick and The Rockford Files, and going on to star in a number of memorable TV movies that demonstrated his dramatic range. I hope Garner gets special placement in the tribute segment at the very least, but given that his passing, however sad, was not unexpected, and to some extent lacked the cultural resonance of Williams' death, I wouldn't be surprised if Williams' legacy is better represented during the show.

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Question: Do you think with the way that Murder in the First ended — with the death of Robin Williams earlier that day (spoiler alert: Both involved an apparent suicide by asphyxiation) — perhaps TNT should've preempted the season finale by a week? I know some shows do this in light of tragedy, Hannibal's first season after Sandy Hook comes to mind, but is that the best move or should we all just understand things happen and go with it? Honestly, it didn't dawn on me until the next morning and I guess I didn't really think about it until I was reflecting on Williams' work and remembered a movie called World's Greatest Dad where Williams played a dad who has a son die the same way and that reminded me of the finale and I was like, "Whoa, maybe they should've held off a week." — Brandon

Matt Roush: This never crossed my mind, but delaying it would likely have come off as even more tasteless and opportunistic by calling attention to the unfortunate coincidence. Honestly, though, the end of Murder was so predictable and anticlimactic — the show often felt as if it thought it was inventing the clichés it kept perpetrating — that it's best to just let it go and devote our energies to remembering Robin Williams at his best.

Question: Is there any chance MeTV will be able to carry reruns of Mork & Mindy? When the Hub had it some time ago, they skipped a couple of episodes I really wanted to see. Also, is 20th Century Fox planning to release the entire series of The Crazy Ones on DVD? — David

Matt Roush: I'm not an expert on the aftermarket of shows once they go off the air — I have trouble enough keeping up with everything in first-run these days — but from what I can tell, which isn't much, the Hub may still have licensing rights to Mork & Mindy (though cursory research indicates MeTV once did as well). Considering that the interest in reliving Robin Williams' past glory on TV will no doubt grow in the wake of this tragedy, I'd be surprised if someone doesn't put it back in circulation soon. With The Crazy Ones, I've seen nothing indicating an imminent DVD release of the single season, but the studio may have a change of heart given recent circumstances.

Question: I thought we had an agreement that when you had an upcoming appearance somewhere, you'd give your readers a heads-up. So why did I just see you on SundanceTV's The Approval Matrix? All right, forgiven, but only if I can borrow the Matrix for a moment to crow about two shows I've been enjoying so much, and I'd like to see where you place them. And, I hope, that you are watching them enough to place them at all. If not, well, your loss, if you are really still watching Welcome to Sweden. Lowbrow but brilliant is Jennifer Falls. Granted, half the series' episodes teeter on borderlines of said matrix, but episodes such as this week's "Jennifer's Song," are just adorable, complete with a hysterical supporting cast of hecklers composed of unemployment-office desk workers.

In the highbrow and brilliant quadrant lands Married. The pilot was quite unlike anything I'd seen before and that descriptor continues. It wasn't laugh-out-loud funny, oh wait, until this week's "The Getaway" was. Another worth Matrix consideration: You're the Worst. Your turn, Matt Roush! — Denise

Matt Roush: Ha. I promoted my Approval Matrix appearance (currently available On Demand if you missed it) on Twitter and in the magazine, which seemed plenty. But yes, let's play. I wish there were a "middlebrow but appealing" category, because that's where I'd put Welcome to Sweden, hardly a must-see, but in summer, a pleasant enough diversion. I'll give you Jennifer Falls, which I've only barely glanced at, but that feels like the proper designation. But we'll have to part company on Married, which I found absolutely toxic (so: "despicable") and wildly unpleasant, despite my regard for the two lead actors, especially Judy Greer. You're the Worst at least feels like a comedy, albeit a self-consciously obnoxious one, so I'll put that on the border of highbrow and lowbrow, though I find it neither brilliant nor despicable. Why isn't "meh" a category?

Question: I'm not sure if this is exactly in your arena, but I've been reading about how The CW Arrow is expanding into digital comics/comics with Season 2.5,"and now (in some form) into the Green Arrow comics published monthly by DC Comics. I've read that the 2.5 comics tie directly into the TV show, but that Green Arrow is its own separate thing but is now going to include some of the TV show characters but not "really" their TV personalities and ... ack! Help! Which Arrow characters are transitioning to the Green Arrow comics and why? What's going to be different there vs. the TV show, and what's supposed to play out in the Season 2.5 digital that won't on the actual TV show? Are all shows doing stuff like this now to tie all the different formats together? What's the deal? — Julie

Matt Roush: This is so not my area of expertise — I like Arrow quite a bit (and the upcoming The Flash even more), but my interest stops at the TV set — and this is why I value my colleague Rich Sands so much. Here's his story on the DC Comics offshoots, and here's how he explained the situation to me: The digital Season 2.5 comic, written by show runner Marc Guggenheim, will bridge the gap between seasons, not essential for viewers but providing some extra content for fans until the October premiere. The actual Green Arrow comic is not in continuity with the series, even if they are bringing in some characters from the show, which I guess adds to the confusion here. In the bigger picture, you probably will see more crossovers between comics (digital and otherwise) and TV, so long as classic characters continue getting new shows built around them. Rich also informs me that Marvel will be launching an Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. comic based on the characters in the ABC series, though apparently telling different stories. My advice is to enjoy each for what is it and leave me out of it. For me, the show's the thing, the only thing.

Question: I have always felt that Person of Interest has always had some neo-Orwellian undertones to it. I always wondered how they would deal with these themes if they chose to. Do you think they are going in that direction? If you were a writer on the show, how would you deal with those issues, which are not comfortable ones? - Cindy

Matt Roush: Seems to me that Person of Interest has from the start dealt directly with the implications of living in a world where everyone's under the eye of one Big Brother or another. And as the conflict now moves more urgently into a battle over control and power of this sort of über-information, it becomes even more exciting, disturbing and relevant a piece of allegorical sci-fi storytelling.

Question: I love The Divide. The acting is outstanding! This show should be getting much more buzz than it is. Some of the actors I have never seen before (all of the main characters except Nia Long and Clarke Peters), but they keep me interested and I want to know more each week. It is nice to see a show with an upscale black family with black characters having some level of power, but is also morally ambiguous. As a black woman, I am very familiar with (and over) the stereotype of thug, junkie, best friend to pretty white man or woman. It is wonderful to see the D.A. and his chief of police father discuss their questionable choices and why they made them. Also the unraveling of why this black family was murdered has been quite fascinating. I am hoping it's something more than race due to Terry's character being a former Aryan Nation member and that he was in love with the black girl. Do you think the show will be renewed? Richard LaGravenese is a brilliant writer! There is so much more story to tell here. Terry and Christine getting together. Why haven't we seen Clark's wife? Does he have kids? He never goes home, so I presume not. As you can see, I am a fan, so I hope there will be more. — Jennifer

Matt Roush: All good points, but it's hard to tell about this show's future, because it's so outside the norm for WE to air something of this substance, though if this is the direction the channel wants to take, I'm all for it. (Backstory: The show was originally developed for sister network AMC, which passed, and WE picked it up as part of a rebranding effort.) Haven't been tracking the ratings, but if WE is serious about this sort of programming, a renewal would be a promising sign.

Question: I am really surprised about the lack of excitement for The Last Ship! And actually I am equally surprised that a show like this is being produced. We have a show that is so pro-armed forces, a show where there is no one stupid and everyone on the ship is there because they are all excellent at their job, a show that is just oozing in testosterone. It always bothered me how on 24, CTU, a super-secret agency alwyas manages to hire a new traitor to work for them. Not The Last Ship (at least not so far). Eric Dane and Adam Baldwin are perfect together, especially Baldwin with his intense portrayal as the XO. Anything you can tell us about the background of this show, and its chances of a second season? — Chris

Matt Roush: Excitement in what corners, I'm wondering. The ratings have been fine and TNT has renewed it for a second season, presumably to return next summer, and TV Guide Magazine put the show on the cover recently as part of a drama package (read the story here), so it's not like it has been ignored. But I suppose there is a disconnect between this kind of square, gung-ho entertainment and the edgier fare critics tend to champion. (Which is why you rarely see other publications bother to beat the drum for shows like NCIS, just saying.) I did enjoy your comparison between this military operation and the bunglers at dear old CTU, which came to mind when Dr. Rachel's No. 2 appeared for a time to be a Russian mole.

Question: I just finished watching the Gang Related finale and loved it. Please tell me it has been renewed for another season. I also loved Mob City and they canceled that show, any hope of that returning? - Donna

Matt Roush: No word yet, but given the timing of its airing and the fairly dismal ratings that ensued, I would think it's a long shot for a second season. Mob City, though, is definitely toes up.

Question: What has happened to Jeff Goldblum? I love him in everything, and on TV especially liked him in Law & Order: Criminal Intent. I don't know how many he made but I always check to see if he is playing, but rarely can find him in an episode. Anything new for him? - Jeanie

Matt Roush: He has most recently appeared in various roles on IFC's quirky Portlandia, but beyond that, it doesn't appear that Goldblum has any TV projects on the immediate horizon. I know he keeps busy with an L.A.-based jazz band, the Mildred Snitzer Orchestra, and I'm excited to learn that he and his ensemble will make their New York debut next month (Sept. 16-20) at the renowned Café Carlyle. (PBS, take note; sounds like a Great Performances special in the making.)

Question: I remember that when I first watched the movie Reservoir Dogs, the only way I could describe how good it was, was to call it an "acting clinic." In my opinion, the performances were all just so spot-on that it seemed that it was the movie that should be shown to people who wanted to see what acting was all about. I don't recall having that reaction to another movie, much less a TV series, until I finally watched Season 2 of Orange Is the New Black. I had enjoyed the first season, and think that the second surpassed it. Every performance seemed pitch-perfect. I can't think of any cast member (except a couple of the lesser prison guard roles, which were written to be minor roles supplying comic relief) who doesn't deserve some consideration for Emmy and other acting awards. The cast certainly deserves the Emmy nominations it got, and really deserved even more. In fact, one problem might have been how to choose which of the huge cast deserves recognition more than the others, when all seemed to be perfect in their roles. The writing was funny, sad, poignant and quirky. - Paul

Matt Roush: It is a wonderful ensemble, made even more so by being populated by so many character types and actors that you wouldn't ordinary expect to see represented on TV. Was thrilled when Uzo Aduba won the guest actress Emmy this weekend, albeit for comedy. (Kudos also to Allison Janney for her Masters of Sex win; glad they didn't have to compete against each other.) And regardless of whether it enters in comedy or drama, if Orange doesn't take the Best Ensemble Cast prize at the next Screen Actors Guild awards, I'd demand a recount.

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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