Ask Matt: The Americans, Revenge, Smash, Bones, The Middle and More
Matthew Rhys | Photo Credits: FX
Question: What's your take on the new FX drama The Americans? I'm sort of cautiously optimistic because I love several FX shows, but this one didn't grab me like Justified and the others have. I thought there was way too much action before I got any sort of character development — it drove me nuts to have to follow the opening sequence for so long without any context. I also found myself fascinated by the next-door neighbor/FBI agent (what is the story with his undercover assignment?!) and less so by Phillip (the husband), but Elizabeth (the wife) left me sort of cold. I hope it improves with more episodes. — Amy
Matt Roush: My initial review of The Americans was quite positive, and I enjoyed this week's second episode just as much — lots of positive buzz in my office regarding next week's episode as well (haven't had time to watch yet), which introduces the great Margo Martindale as the couple's new handler — but ambivalence toward these characters is understandable, not necessarily a flaw. Many of FX's better series focus on anti-heroes who make you queasy for even trying to empathize or identify with them. I'm actually impressed that they've made Keri Russell's character (Elizabeth) such an emotionally remote cold fish of a hard-line Russian patriot. And I had no trouble with the first episode throwing us immediately into the action, revealing them first as spies engaged in dangerous exploits and only then showing us the deceptively ordinary world they inhabit. My biggest problem with the pilot was the overly contrived twist of having the FBI agent moving in across the street, but Noah Emmerich plays him disarmingly enough that it undercut the cliché. The American feels to me like a good fit for FX, and I'm glad it got off to a decent start.
Want more TV news and reviews? Subscribe to TV Guide Magazine now!
Question: I am furious with ABC and Mike Kelley regarding Revenge's second season. A year ago I signed up for a clever, stylish and original prime-time soap. During Revenge's first season I thought the characters, the plot, the twists and the thrill was amazing (not since the original Melrose Place went off the air have I appreciated a guilty pleasure as much as I did Revenge). My favorite part was when Victoria and Emily went against each other within a social and glamorous context. Revenge's world was something unique and special that I felt privileged to be part of on a weekly basis. However something has happened on Season 2. The continuous scheming from the two leads has been replaced by a pathetic Mission: Impossible storyline that I find out of place and not in sync with what the first season promised the audience. I have endured the return of Emily's boring mom, the complicated Initiative plot, the addition of unwelcome new characters (e.g. Nolan's CFOs) and the boredom caused by baby Carl. I was willing to stick with the show just because Madeleine Stowe and Emily VanCamp's performances are so much fun to watch; nonetheless, the last few episodes continue depicting Emily as some sort of Alias spy girl, which is not believable and does not support the show's original premise. So now I am thinking about giving up on the show once and for all. I was wondering where do you stand on this issue, and if you believe Season 2 has been such mess as I think it has?