Ask Matt: Eureka, Dallas, Falling Skies, True Blood, Damages
Linda Gray | Photo Credits: TNT
Question: I hope you'll mention the passing of one of my favorite shows, Eureka. With all the hoopla around the finale of The Closer and the buzz about new and returning summer shows, the final episode of this quirky and creative Syfy gem will probably go unnoticed by most. Over the years it's become one of my favorites, serving up some high concept sci-fi stories with a healthy dose of humor and heart. Although I knew it was ending, the announcement last week of the July 16 "series finale" made me sadder than I expected. It's like nothing else on TV and I will miss all these wonderful, eccentric characters and this charming, if sometimes dangerous, town. Thanks for your insightful columns and recommendations! — Lenore
Matt Roush: Thank YOU for setting me up so nicely to salute a show that has brought me quite a bit of pleasure these last few years, one of the more successful blends of inventive fantasy and clever-to-slapsticky comedy, with an endearing lead performance by Colin Ferguson as long-suffering Sheriff Jack Carter (heading a very appealing ensemble). I've enjoyed this last season quite a bit: the culmination of Carter's romance with Allison (Salli Richardson-Whitfield), the twists and turns in rescuing Holly's consciousness (so adorably embodied by Felicia Day) from the matrix where the Astraeus crew was trapped for the first part of the season, and really, anything involving the cheerful android Deputy Andy (a character intended as an homage to the late Andy Griffith's Andy Taylor, which adds a bit of extra poignancy to this farewell). Tonight's finale (9/8c), in which the Department of Defense pulls the plug on funding the town, includes a few digs at the network which did much the same thing, but it's mainly a good-natured hour that acknowledges (via Carter) that "we've had a pretty good run." And with intersecting wormholes causing havoc one last time, Eureka-style, there's a nice moment where the entire show's history flashes before our eyes, reminding us how much fun this show has been. There's a surprise twist that should leave most fans very satisfied, and I'll leave this with the reawakened Holly's realization: "Wow. Wormholes, cyborgs, endless possibility ... no wonder you guys love this place."
Question: I was a huge fan of the original Dallas TV series and I am enjoying the new TNT series but have to wonder about the way they are using some of the original cast members. I like that they are giving Patrick Duffy and Larry Hagman good storylines, but am very disappointed with the way Linda Gray is being treated. She was as much a star of the original show as Patrick and Larry, but here she just seems to be an afterthought. I also wonder why even bother to bring Charlene Tilton and Steve Kanaly on if they are just going to have brief one-liner scenes with no explanation for what they are doing. Do you think the writers will give Linda more to do and expand on Charlene and Steve, not to mention the possibility of other returning cast members like Victoria Principal and Priscilla Presley? — Jay
Matt Roush: The problem with a character like Linda Gray's Sue Ellen — and it was the case long before the original show went off the air — is that she was more fun when she was a mess. Now she's so starched and proper, she's like a high-society mummy, and unless they find a way to let her hair down (the messier the better), I'm afraid she'll continue to come off like nostalgic window dressing. Which is pretty much what the cameos of former co-stars like Tilton (Lucy) and Kanaly (Ray) amount to, nods to longtime fans who the producers figure will be satisfied just seeing that they're still kicking, but they're very unlikely to be given major or even minor subplots to carry. On the other hand, having Ken Kercheval back in several key scenes as Cliff Barnes makes much more sense, given what a thorn in the Ewings' side he always was, and that has been fun to see. (Plus he's useful in giving us exposition on why Pam remains nowhere to be seen, and depending on how long this new Dallas sticks around, I imagine it will be a while before Principal can be lured back, if she ever can be.) It's built into this show's DNA that luring back other series stars will give future seasons more promotional juice, but don't kid yourself that the focus is ever going to expand much beyond J.R., Bobby and their offspring (who are being wiped off the screen by their more iconic predecessors). Isn't Larry Hagman (and his eyebrows) marvelous?