Welcome to the Q&A with TV critic (also known to some TV fans as their "TV therapist") Matt Roush, who'll address whatever you love, loathe, are confused or frustrated or thrilled by in today's vast TV landscape. One caution: This is a spoiler-free zone, so we won't be addressing upcoming storylines here unless it's already common knowledge. Please send your questions and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org (or use the form at the end of the column) and follow me on Twitter. Look for Ask Matt columns on most Tuesdays and Fridays.
Is X-Files a Joke?
Question: There seems to be some concern over the low ratings of this season’s The X-Files. No one really should be surprised. When the series first aired, there was a sense of dread that permeated every mythology episode and most of those not directly related to the understory. The characters appeared to be in jeopardy (from their own government) and behaved accordingly. As far as I can determine, there was no smirking. Not so with this season. Both David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson seem to play every scene with barely disguised smirks—as if they are saying to the audience, “Can you believe we are actually being paid big money for this?" Many of us who followed the original series see that the actors are not taking the program seriously, so why should we? And why spend time watching people simply going through the motions? — Walter
Matt Roush: It’s an interesting point, though one of the things I appreciate about the current incarnation of The X-Files is its sense of the ridiculous, that it doesn’t take even the mythology—which many feel suffocated the show (see the next question)—so seriously. This week’s meta episode from Darin Morgan, which put the show directly and whimsically in context with The Twilight Zone and even The Outer Limits, had me rolling, in a good way. It’s fair, though, to criticize the actors and writers if you feel they’re not honoring the material when it calls for them to step up and get down to classic X-Files business. Since this may well be the last time we go on this ride with Mulder and Scully—though we’ve heard that before—it would be wrong if the whole experience were looked at as a joke.Question: I've loved The X-Files since the first episode and I know why fans have bugged out: the same reason we were bored during the original run: the CSM and conspiracy arc. The monster-of-the-week episodes were always the best ones, but creator Chris Carter was always more enamored of the CT (conspiracy theory) episodes. It's like Quentin Tarantino wanting to act. Is there no one in Hollywood who can advise the creatives? — Audrey
Matt Roush: Hee on that Tarantino jab. And this is the most consistent gripe about The X-Files that I’ve seen: that the overarching mythology, once so compelling, wore out its welcome. The bookending episodes were the worst part of last season, and resolving last year’s cliffhanger by making it a vision was a cheap stunt this time around. So I guess I tend to agree more with Audrey than Walter about why the show isn’t getting more buzz this season, even when on a week like this it deserves it.
The Family That Prays Together
Question: I have watched Blue Bloods since day one and I, like so many, were shocked/sad when the episode aired with Linda's (Amy Carlson) sudden death. I have noticed that the Reagan family is no longer saying grace at the dinner table; they just cut straight to eating. I enjoyed the message that saying grace before eating was sending. Why did they stop? — Kris
Matt Roush: A number of viewers have pointed this out, and the way it has been explained to us is that there is no agenda here to de-emphasize the tradition, but these are creative choices to join the family in progress during the Sunday dinner and not use the same set-up every time. We’re meant to take it on faith that the Reagans are still saying grace when they gather together to break bread.
Should Rooster Have Gone the Darren (Bewitched) Route?
Question: Any idea as to why the powers that be behind The Ranch chose to write off the character of Rooster rather than replace him? While it would be difficult to see someone else in that role, I think the role of Rooster is critical to the show. My husband and I love the show and feel that all the other characters are so intertwined with him, the show will be diminished without him. Since it has only been on for two seasons, a replacement should be easily accepted by all. The cast is not that large to begin with, so without a Rooster character, it will not be as good. A REALLY bad decision by those in charge! — Beverly
Matt Roush: These are obviously difficult choices to be made during a transformative time for the entertainment industry in dealing with such troubling matters and allegations. (You really don’t want to read the comments under news stories about situations like these. It’s not pretty.) Losing a pivotal character is tough for fans, also for those making the show, but recasting carries its own perils. I’m not sure it would be as easy to accept a new Rooster as you make it sound. And sensitivities today are such that making an in-joke about an actor switch under these circumstances (the way Roseanne used to do with its second Becky) would be seen as distasteful.
Are the Actors Too Gifted for The Gifted?
Question: I enjoyed Fox’s The Gifted for the most part, but I cannot believe that they are not making more and better use of Amy Acker and Stephen Moyer. Why even bother having them on the show if they aren't going to use them effectively? Also, I'd love to see Sharon Gless as a regular. — Unsigned
Matt Roush: Sharon Gless makes everything better, we can all agree on that! And I’m with you as well on how underutilized the Strucker parents mostly were, especially Amy Acker’s Caitlin. As I’m currently suffering a severe case of superhero burnout, what drew me to the show initially was the family’s story, not the angst among the brooding mutants. Separating Andy from the family fold when the Mutant Underground split in the season finale should set up some interesting new conflicts, but I hope it doesn’t just mean watching Caitlin’s lip tremble in sorrow while Reed glowers helplessly.
Standing Up for The Resident
Question: I re-read your review of Fox’s new show The Resident, and can`t figure out why you only gave it 2 1/2 stars. OMG! I couldn`t believe how GOOD it is! Halfway through the first one, I "made" my husband watch with me. He hates medical/doctor shows, but even he loved it. Talk about fresh plotlines—never saw anything like them on Gray`s Anatomy or Chicago Med. (Spoiler alert) To kill off the first patient on the show? After only two episodes, it`s quickly becoming my favorite show. Matt, I RELY on your stars to head me in the right direction with new shows. Please reconsider your 2 1/2 rating—I don`t even know why I watched it because of that, but I did. I consider it a 5! — Barbara
Matt Roush: I’m glad you watched and liked the show. I’ll keep an eye on it and, through my daily overview columns, you’ll probably be able to tell if I warm up to it as well. (I’ll be looking at Monday’s episode in advance, having only had the first week’s episodes available for review.) There are things I like about The Resident: the casting (Matt Czuchry has long been a favorite), and the doctor-vs-doctor conflict in particular, even though it could too easily veer into white-coat/black-hat melodrama. I also felt the first episodes suffered from preachy pilot-itis, spelling everything out in too many self-righteous exposition dumps. It’s also possible it could develop into the kind of show that finds its audience (like Chicago Med or Code Black) even if I’m not part of it. These days, no one can watch them all.
Mopey Times on Nashville or This Is Us
Question: Regarding the recent question about Will's love life on Nashville: Will has certainly not been singled out as losing out on a love life. So I hardly buy that it's because he is gay. In fact, a friend of mine and I see them writing Will as having a bit of a crush on Gunnar right now. So who knows? I barely even remember Maddie's bipolar boyfriend of last season. Where did he go? He was there and then poof he is gone! Avery and Juliette are barely together anymore. Gunnar seemed to be so depressed with another Scarlett break-up that his hair turned white overnight! Speaking of Scarlett, if she was any more depressing, she could just walk over to This Is Us and fit right in. Now to This Is Us: Excellent acting, but not my favorite show. simply because it is a bit of a downer every episode. I don't even watch it until the next day so I don't have depressing thoughts from it before going to sleep. Is it no surprise to see that Ken Olin directs almost every episode? It has always had a thirtysomething feel to it, hasn't it? — Teresa
Matt Roush: Thanks for the laugh about Gunnar’s hair. I wondered when someone would comment on that. I doubt the Will bromance will go anywhere, but oh how I wish Scarlett would lighten up. And that’s an interesting comparison between This Is Us and thirtysomething, because both shows do/did strive for an emotional realism that when it works, pays off so memorably. I only wish thirtysomething had been as big a hit as This Is Us. You call it depressing, I find it moving when we watch these characters and families deal with their problems and pain. And hey, at least this week’s episode gave us a cute dog—even if it foreshadowed (spoiler alert) the presumably fiery end of Jack on Super Bowl Sunday.
Don’t Let the Lab Door Hit You on the Way Out
Question: Can you tell me if there is a problem between Mark Harmon and Pauley Perrette on NCIS? Gibbs has avoided Abby since the beginning of the season. He never goes to the lab. It’s always somebody else. Since she announced she is leaving, she's getting the cold shoulder. — JD
Matt Roush: Hadn’t really noticed, but when it comes to matters like this, I quote one of my favorite TV characters of all time, the scheming Prime Minister from the British—and best—House of Cards, who was known to say, “You might very well think that; I couldn’t possibly comment.” (Which is to say, this would fall under gossip, and even were there something to it, I’m not in a position to know.)
That’s all for now. We’ll pick up the conversation again soon. Thanks as always for reading, and remember that I can’t do this without your participation, so please keep sending questions and comments about TV to email@example.com or shoot me a line on Twitter (@TVGMMattRoush), and you can also submit questions via the handy form below.