What to Watch: TV chat with Hank Stuever

May 17, 2018

Post TV critic Hank Stuever talked about what's bad, good and so bad it's good on TV.

Here's what Hank would watch if he wasn't paid to watch TV: "Game of Thrones," "The Americans," "Better Things" "The Handmaid's Tale" and "Shameless" Lately he's been digging Lately he's been digging "The Good Fight," "Barry" and "Westworld."

Hello, TV people. Welcome back to another chat -- lots of questions here already -- some cancellation angst, some more "Americans" craziness (only two episodes left!).

And, as if people don't have enough to argue about, the occasion of "The Americans'" finale on May 30 meant that I was tasked with making a list of the 12 best series finales since 2005. Lists tend to start arguments and I'm a reluctant ranker to begin with, but I welcome all your thoughts. What series finales would be on your list? (Note: SINCE '05, please. We already know about M*A*S*H*, Newhart, Seinfeld, The Fugitive, etc.)

With that, let's chat!

Also, before we get going, I want to remind all of you to take care with spoilers, especially if a show aired less than a week ago. Talk about it, please, but re-read your submission for those spoiler details. Your other chatters will thank you.

Was the one for "Six Feet Under" after 2005? It was my big favorite!

You don't want to read my list?

I have been reading about the upcoming new shows, and I am wondering who most of these actors and actresses are. I recognize few of the names. Part of what I look for in a new show is someone I am familiar with. Who will be the breakout stars?

Like you, I've mostly just seen the trailers for some of the new shows. I guess because I review so many shows, I recognize quite a few of the performers, often fleetingly or vaguely, from other shows that didn't make it.

Your statement -- "part of what I look for in a new show is someone I'm familiar with" -- might, at its core, explain why we get so many reboots. I presume you've heard of Candace Bergen as "Murphy Brown," is how that logic goes.

I know you're asking for something else: New show, new character/story, but starring Familiar Face. I guess the "familiar" part is subjective, particularly as shows get better at diversity. Someone that a viewer may regard as a complete stranger as a lead actor may have just come off a four-season run on a show on BET or Starz or E! or some other station that the viewer wasn't really watching.

I totally get where you're coming from -- it's fun to see old favorites get a new part -- but I actually prefer to see new faces. Otherwise, we never get new stars. I sense more overcrowding in TV in this regard; there are lots of former stars of dramas and sitcoms out there looking for their next big series, competing with younger, fresher faces.

Hi Hank! Long-time lurker here. I participated in a pilot test screening for the new Sarah Shahi show months ago and saw that the pilot for that show is actually finally being aired. Do you know if the showrunners or writers give any credence to the feedback from the test audiences? If so, are there changes made to the pilot itself to address the feedback or does the feedback get considered in later episodes?

I'm guessing the show you're referring to is the summer series "Reverie," which premieres May 30 on NBC?

In my observations, producers/showrunners/writers pay attention to any and all constructive, thoughtful feedback that crosses their path, particularly data and opinions collected at test-screening, which would most likely be arranged by the network. But they also pay attention to  other unsolicited feedback, such as critic reviews and viewers' tweets, etc.

Changes are made quite frequently once they get some feedback, in the time allowed. In some cases, ridiculously bad screenings and negative test-audience responses have killed off a show entirely.

This is one reason I don't emit a lot of opinions about all the pilots and trailers for new shows that hit the Internet at this time of year. Very often the pilot made for the purpose of wooing network executives will undergo quite a number of changes between Upfronts and the premiere date. Also, the networks ASK critics not write reviews off of those pilots, which I think is fair. I wait until press tour in July/August, when I get a better look at the show and can hear from the creators about what they're trying to do with the show.

I've become a huge fan of this show and was saddened by the news of Crawford being let go. I think he really makes the show. With the subtraction of Crawford and having Scott take his place how do you think that's going to affect the dynamic and fun banter that "Murtough and Riggs" had? Also do you see the show continuing on much longer?

I'd have to take a deep dive into the show's past ratings to see where it was at, which was obviously a good enough number for Fox to both renew it and recast the co-star.

As far as banter and wit and all that, this seems to be in Seann William Scott's wheelhouse; I doubt they've drafted him to come on and play Sherlock Holmes.

Thanks to you a news item that would've never even caught my attention provided me w/ a great laugh.

Oh, yes, much tittering today in the TV Chat about our favorite long-running joke.

Of course I have a few things to say:

1. I stand by my original "Last Man Standing" review, but the relaunch/rescue/whatever affords me (and the show) an attempt to start over clean, so I'll be revisiting it.

2. As for this "Roseanne/Trump" effect, I'm kinda just eyeroll emoji, because for that theory to really work, "Last Man Standing" would have to be doing a whole lot more, a whole lot more cleverly, in order to quality as a social/political comment. As it was, it was a safe-space sitcom where chauvinism and other rigid views could get a little air.

Haven't seen anything on the interwebs from you about Cobra Kai - have you had a chance to review it (or just watch it?) Thoughts? I'm only 2 episodes in but am enjoying it so far

I watched two episodes and realized how thoroughly not-interested I was in "Karate Kid" back when I was a teenager in the '80s.

What are you enjoying about it? The characters? The martial arts? The memories? The Glory of Love?

Is there an equivalent term for scenery chewing for directing? I'm thoroughly enjoying The Handmaid's Tale but my one quibble is that I feel the show is almost over-directed. I guess I prefer to not notice the directing? Does this even make sense. I just don't need the camera to linger on every. drop. of. water if it's not necessary for the scene.

Yes, that can be a problem. I have noticed that in particular with "Handmaid's Tale," but I am sometimes driven nuts by Offred/June's lack of haste. I mean, I get why she dawdles when given a command by her overlords, but sometimes she lingers too long. Which may not make sense either, but it's something I've felt while watching the show.

Hi Hank --- apparently the premise is that Murphy and her adult son have competing television shows (his is a Fox News stand in), which is thereby going to provide the necessary comedy as well as topicality. I was never a huge fan of the show, though I do like Candace Bergen. What with Roseanne (which I can take or leave, though I like some of the actors) and Last Man Standing (have never watched), and now MB, this is how TV is going to survive the Trump years apparently.

TV has a lot up its sleeves, not just these shows.

I like the Murphy premise. Like Diane Sawyer, kinda, she's moved to mornings. And Avery is doing a "Fox & Friends," maybe? I don't recall seeing anything definitive about whether they have opposing politics, did you? (I might have read over it. And, again, I'm trying to stay objective until we get to press tour with it.)

I can't find any problems with your list. I know The Sopranos is a controversial pick, but I think the finale honored the show's commitment to the main character - his life was always going to be uncertain - his victories could never really be celebrated, any good things would be always be tainted. Even if he didn't die in the finale, chances were that is the way his death would come eventually.

It took several years of carping, but I think most everyone got to this place with that finale.

I think I'd flip Breaking Bad and Six Feet Under, but otherwise, love your list. How about worst endings (besides Seinfeld, the gold standard)?

"Lost" would be on my worst list.

Well, I have done what I guess will be an annual ritual -- temporarily signing up for CBS All Access to catch up on The Good Fight. Fortunately, the second season has been worth it. (I do also watch Colbert's show, which I like but not enough to become a permanent subscriber).

I do recommend "Star Trek: Discovery," even if you'd never think of yourself as a person who would watch it.

just wondering if you saw the sketch on SNL last week with Amy Schumer. I laughed bigly!

Yes, I did and laughed (maybe not bigly?).

I think the better SNL take on "Handmaids" was last year's piece where the men all seemed oblivious to the state of things for the Handmaids. "Hey, long time no see. What've you been up to?"

Why do you think the ending was SO bad? Was it Larry David's hubris? Did he really think he wrote a good show or was it just a massive one-finger salute to viewers?

I think we all know Larry can do better when it comes to giving the audience the finger. That thing was just a huge disappointment in every way. And 20 years ago this week, btw. Remember all the hype leading up to it?

...I know, I know, you were discussing best, but I have to give a shout-out to How I Met Your Mother for worst ending (in fairness, it would have been hard to pull out of the nose dive that was the last two-three seasons of that show).

SO true.

How about The Wire? I think it's maybe underrated because the characters and atmosphere of the show were so well developed through the five seasons that the ending didn't even feel like an exceptional event. Life goes on.

Considered it, and even rewatched the final episode before deciding that they walked off too softly, elliptically. Still good -- still one of the greatest shows of our lifetimes.

Give me a few more minutes, here, gang. I'm rounding up "The Americans" questions.

Consider that a spoiler alert if you haven't seen this week's episode yet OR if you're just not into it ...

I really should just submit this as a permanent comment about this season of The Americans: wow.

Agreed, totally.

I’ll be disappointed if the plot hinges on Renee in the final two episodes of The Americans. She simply isn’t a well-developed character. If she ends up being KGB and killing someone important, it’ll ruin the show for me. What are your predictions about Renee?

If she's a red herring, then hat's off to the writer who keeps bringing her in just enough so we can't decide.

Look, if she's a last-minute chance for the Jennings to get out, I won't be upset. It's all in HOW they do it.

While we're on the subject, a shout out for Laurie Holden, who plays her. Because I just rewatched so many series finales of yore, I forgot how integral her character on "The Shield" was for how things ended up with Vic.

And, of course, she was Andrea on "The Walking Dead," back when I still watched that show.

I've been a fan for years and am truly enjoying the final episodes. My husband was late to the show and just started watching them from the beginning. I watched the series premiere with him last week and laughed out loud when Phillip was at the mall with Paige trying on and purchasing the boots he wears this season when he's out line-dancing. The shows producers are doing a spectacular job tying up some of these minute details (like giving us a Mail Robot sighting in the elevator a couple episodes ago).

Yes, I agree -- to me it feels like they've had a great time wrapping things up.

Yay! Phillip and Elizabeth are turned to the fighting for the good side. Now what are they going to tell Paige? "Iknow we told you to spy, but plans have changed and we're going to witness protection. however, did I miss where Stan *FINALLY* makes the connection of all the sketches to his neighbors? I bet he arrestes them just as they are about to save Gorby!

Saving Gorby might be the endpoint, yes.

And to my recollection, no, Stan has not had any major aha moments with the bulletin board sketches. Things move SO fast next week that it might not matter.

So, I love suspenseful dramas like The Americans and Handmaid's Tale. But I have a shameful confession to make. Those shows make me so anxious and afraid to watch that I (gulp) read the online recaps before viewing. So I basically WANT spoilers so that I can sit back and watch the drama unfold, rather than sitting on the edge of my seat, fearing that someone I care about will die or suffer terribly. Am I the only person who does this? Should I man up and start facing my fears? Or maybe get a prescription for Xanax?

I totally get this. FX sent episodes 8 and 9 of "The Americans" last Friday night, near quitting time, and I was so psyched but realized I was not emotionally equipped to sit in my dark office in an empty newsroom and watch them just then. Because if something major happened, I might have a heart attack or something. So I waited until Monday.

If Elizabeth could focus on her husband instead of the Summmit for a few minutes, she should realize that he is deeply depressed and doesn’t see a way out, a classic pre-suicide feeling. He is reaching out to family (Henry) and trying to make amends (Stavos). Never mind buying the burial suit with money he doesn’t have. I’ve had multiple theories about how the series ends, but Philip killing himself wasn't part of any scenario until this week.

Mine either, until now!

Though I have already seen episode 9, I'm adding your theory to my private mix.

Are you going to write a review specifically of the last episode?

If I'm still alive, yes.

I think that covers on "Americans" for the moment.

Chat will probably run long today, so I can make up for lost time.

ALSO, "BARRY" FINALE SPOILER AHEAD, PLEASE TAKE NOTE.

I am in complete agreement with the WaPo article re: Barry. The ending was perfect, and should have marked the end of that story. I would love for them to bring back the actors but as new characters with different problems. OR, do as Sally loves and switch roles. Have the troubled protagonist be Sally instead of Barry. Regardless, I really do not want to see a search for the body of the great Paula Newsome and the revelation that Barry murdered her.

WATCH IT WITH THE SPOILERS. Not everyone has seen "Barry" yet.

I'm not sure what article you're referring to, but it is definitely not the opinion of The Washington Post TV critic (me), because I loved Season 1 and am totally willing to see what Bill Hader and Alec Berg do next with the series, using the same characters. I say that as someone who has argued for the "one and done" plan on many shows that went on too long and ruined their original concept and I'm also a fan of anthology projects ("American Crime") that come up with new plots every season using a repertory cast.

Maybe now that poster will stop whining.

Said poster is certainly entitled to some victory laps around this track, even though I stand by the only things I ever had to say about the show, which weren't positive.

Hank, I know this is a question for Sarah Polus but I couldn't find a convenient way to ask her, so perhaps you can help: what exactly does "not rated" mean for movies on TV Highlights using the four-star scale? That they're not even worth reviewing, i.e., less than one star? (I've actually found this generally to be the case.) Or no one has gotten around to reviewing it (really?), which seems a bit unlikely? Google just turned up the MPAA categories, which are not my question. Thanks for your patience!

You're correct that Sarah compiles the TV Highlights column next to the TV schedule grid, but I think those star ratings you're referring to are in the grid, not the Highlights. The Post outsources the daily grid (and the Sunday TV guide/insert) to another company and I don't know how they determine the star ratings on movies or what their source is. I'm not even sure if NR means not-rated by critics or "not rated" in the PG, PG-13, R sense.

But I do learn something every day about what our eagle-eyed readers pay attention to!

How do you think this former top 10 show will fare when it comes back this fall? I have vague memories of the show from when it was on, but it really fell off the radar and is now mostly remembered for its spate with VP Quayle. I've been trying to think of another popular, long-running sitcom which just fell completely off the cultural zeitgeist after it ended, but couldn't come up with one.

I'm somewhat in agreement with you -- it seems like it will be harder to pick up where we left off with "Murphy Brown" than with "Roseanne." They are really two very different kind of characters and shows.

But if there is one thing I've learned in this job, it's that every show (every single show that's ever been on) has its loyal fans, who haven't forgotten a thing. And to that I would add that the measuring devices for "zeitgeist" aren't very reliable or consistent.

But we shall soon see what "Murphy Brown" looks like in the 2018-19 season, where, not so long ago, no one would have expected to find it.

As Brooklyn Nine-Nine has been picked up by NBC and Last Man Standing has been picked up by Fox, what are the chances that someone will pick up Lucifer? So many of us love that show (and of course we love Tom Ellis. . .), and we were shocked that it was non-renewed, especially as it ended up on a cliffhanger.

I always tell people that the chances are zero that their favorite canceled show will get a rescue pickup elsewhere. That way you can be pleasantly surprised when and if it somehow does.

Received an email from Hulu about the 12 Monkeys show. Sounds intriguing. Any insights?

"12 Monkeys" fans in this chat, please correct me if any of this is terribly wrong, but ...

It's a show (based on the movie) that first aired on SyFy from 2015 to 2017. I've sort of lost track of how this works exactly, but they released all the episodes of the third season in a matter of days, so viewers could binge it, and there's a fourth season coming, and yes, Hulu has some kind of exclusive on the streaming side of it. To be honest, the show never grabbed me and I'm pretty sure I didn't write a review of it -- although, if I did, it wouldn't be the first time that I've totally F&F'd a show. (Filed & Forgotten.)

I'm not supposed to say this out loud, but no matter; my family has been designated as a Nielsen family this week. Can this system be any more antiquated, and as such, any less meaningful? I can't believe, in this age of technology, that the "best" way to determine what people watch is through selected families writing in a book, and noting that they don't seem to care about streaming viewing (oh, because providers already know what, where and when streaming content is being viewed). Oh well; maybe the set of programs my family watches will get a miniscule uptick when I send back the diaries tomorrow...

Nielsen continues to install devices in its sample households that eliminate the need for the diary. Here's a recent (2017) story about that.

Having had the benefit of meeting Nielsen researchers and hearing how they do their job, I remain impressed by their commitment to solid data and how it is collected. The TV industry also remains invested in it, though there are always new ways to measure viewership, especially with access to subscriber streaming data, etc.

May I respectfully suggest that you might want to decline to participate further? It's not jury duty, after all -- you don't have to do it, and you seem to have a problem honoring the company's request that you keep your participation secret. Your comment, to me, sounds a little like: Hey, Hank, I just got asked to join a church and go to services each week, but who believes that stuff anymore? We all know God doesn't exist! Nobody's doing that anymore. But I guess I'll go anyway ...

 

I was disappointed to see that it was cancelled and won't be back next season. It had a lot of familiar Jason Katims touches, which I enjoy. Oddly, the finale on Monday nite worked well as a series finale as well. What were your thoughts on its cancellation??

I am also sad to see "Rise" go, for a personal reason -- it was based on "Drama High," a nonfiction book by my friend Michael Sokolove, who lives here. In the book, Sokolove goes back to Levittown, Penn., and to his old high school, where his old drama teacher, Lou Volpe, is still there and has carved out an incredible niche for the school's drama program -- so good that Broadway producers have been known try out the high-school versions of recent hits (i.e. "Spring Awakening") through Lou's program. It's a fantastic book; if you liked the show at all, you really ought to read it.

So, for Michael's sake, I would have liked to see a renewal, because that's a good payday that so few of my writer/journalists friends ever get. (Plenty get their books and stories "optioned," but so few ever make it to production and release.)

Because of my connection, my editors and I opted to run an outside review of the show when it premiered (we ran the review from the very smart Maureen Ryan at Variety).

Now that it's over, I can say that I liked the show, pretty much, though I remain HUGELY DISAPPOINTED in Katims's decision to make Lou a straight, married man with kids, mostly because the real Lou has such a relatable story of his long coming-out process (he was also married at one point and has a son). And, as written, Josh Radnor's Lou was just one wrong note after another -- arrogant, self-involved, know-it-all ... very unrelatable, I thought. And by de-gaying Lou, I think "Rise" sent a lousy message out to all the many, many, MANY gay men who have quietly and effectively served as drama teachers, choir directors, band directors, art teachers, you name it. Not that I love stereotypes, but come on: That's like, our thing.

 

Actually there will always be a need for some arbitrator of who's watching what when. Yes streaming services know their viewership, but no one else does. Advertisers need some way of getting a gauge on viewership minus the network spin.

Yes, that's a big reason.

Of course, if advertising just dies off completely (or, advertising as we know it) ...

The suspense is intense! I want this to end and yet, net.. Q: Why does Elizabeth burn the painting? I am missing something.

Do you remember when Elizabeth brought home the Russian stew that Claudia made and Philip is like, oh, man, I just had Chinese food, but he finds a way to take one bite? Because he knows and Elizabeth knows that there is NO WAY they can keep leftover Russian stew in the fridge. They are THAT GOOD at what they do. No traces. (And good thing, since Stan broke in and snooped through their house.)

The painting. Oh, I hated to see it go, too. (And would love to know more about all that art and how the show obtained it.) But Elizabeth, who can already feel some walls closing in, knew she couldn't keep anything tying her to that household. Even in the secret spot. It's just too risky.

Just wanted to second your thoughts on the de-gaying of Lou Volpe. If people are going to be interested in a story of a HS drama program, they will probably also find the story of a gay drama teacher interesting. A good story's a good story. Don't know when broadcast TV's going to get that message.

Their defense (which isn't totally a bogus one) is that they added gay and trans characters among the ensemble of kids. But it never sat right with me.

We'll go until 1:20 because I see soooo many questions here that deserve a look and maybe an answer.

When will it return?

Haven't heard anything as far as the schedule goes. The announced renewal in March, which means production may have started too late to be a summer offering, like last year. Bill Pullman's detective character returns, with a different case. That's the last I heard.

In the article, you say "Yes or no, the message is forever clear: If not now, Tony will spend the rest of his life watching doors, waiting for a bullet." Did you mean "If not no?"

No, I meant now, as in that moment in the diner.

Don't worry, it won't. It's the world's second (or third?) oldest profession!

I've seen them, courtesy of my son. I'm disappointed in, I suppose it's the writers, since I doubt the actors get to improvise their dialogue/actions. Low-intensity spoiler: the adult version of Daniel acts in ways that are counter to the life lessons he's supposedly learned. No, the characters don't switch bad-to-good and good-to-bad. Daniel is still a good guy, but at times he acts like a jerk. That is totally unlike the 80's character he was as a teen/young-adult and those glassbowl moments are illogical behavior on his part. And as for Johnny, he's completely forgotten the scene at the end of KK-1 where he ran out to congraluate Daniel, wherein presumably he realizes that Cobra Kai is not good foundation for doing the right thing. Yeah, he starts his own dojo, reviving the Cobra Kai dogma. Other than that, it's not bad, but at times it did feel like I was watching a NickTeens show. I'll still watch the second "season", that is, if my son is still a subscriber.

We'll consider this a full report. Thank you!

OP here - yes, thank you.

There's a great profile of the artist who did the paintings used in The Americans ... I'd post the link but but it's in the New York Times and I discovered last week that you don't like that :-)

Good to know, thanks!

I agree on Lou -especially as it was based on a nonfiction book. I haven't read it, but will give it a look since you recommended it. Thanks--

That actually seems more unsettling to me. Why is it okay to have diverse kids, but not to have a gay man in a mentoring/leadership position in a school? Jeeze - even the Boy Scouts have managed to pass that hurdle.

That book should be read not only by people interested in high school drama, but everyone interested in education and everyone interested in the plight of former industrial towns. You may be too modest on your friend's behalf, Hank.

Well, all right then.

Do you have any thoughts on Life in Pieces (tried to find old ones and not much came up...)? I try to like it but feel like it's just a rehash of Modern Family...but not as funny.

I think I've said before, they lost me with an episode where everyone was sitting at the table (Thanksgiving) and just farting and farting and farting.

I was a huge "Lost" fan but the ending completely ruined the show for me. During the first season when the purgatory theory was being floated fans were told no, the crew members were alive and the island a real place. If so, why create an ending that would even suggest that?

I'm mad all over again!

I would put "Big Little Lies" up there... if they didn't spring for a second season.

It would be hilarious if, after all the whining the show airs on Fox and gets axed for deservedly low ratings. So over Tim Allen. Dude peaked as Buzz Lightyear.

Thank you!!!! I've long wondered if I was the only one, and was too ashamed to tell all those "don't spoil it" folks of my inclination. There may be more of us than we ever imagined.

I definitely think there are more of us.

Totally agree about the finale and the series. And not only was Laurie Holden on that show, she was femme fatale Maria Covarrubius on the X-FILES.

She's got a great resume -- one of those unheralded but impressive TV careers that some are lucky to have. They get great roles in great shows but don't have to suffer quite the degree of superstardom that some do, which, in a way, allows them to move on more easily to the next gig.

Southland. Michael Cudlitz should've won an Emmy for that show, and his arc in the last season (and finale episode) was grim but fitting.

Coincidental, or not, that nine of your twelve best ending shows are not from the broadcast networks? Maybe in this day and age, that's the norm, since shows on other media have to be better to get attention, and probably have a more defined idea of their end state.

And have longer story arcs (instead of procedurals), and are better written, and more intensely acted, and conceived with greatness in mind rather than the broadest ad dollar, etc and so on and hey, it's 2018, we're past this conversation now, right?

Look at it this way: Isn't it amazing that three of the 12 are from broadcast networks?

Phil and Claire get divorced on Modern Family. Why would she have stayed with him this long?

Ouch! Though it would bring the viewers back.

I love how they're portraying Elizabeth as a prize fighter whose past her prime. Whatever magic she had that formerly made her invincible has disappeared and she has to carry on as best she can, even though she can't quite comprehend why it isn't working anymore.

I loved Downton Abbey's finale, it wrapped every single storyline, and in ways that made me happy. Lost still is the absolute worst. To this day it's hard to convince me to watch anything put out by the people behind that monstrosity.

Has it been renewed?

Undecided. NBC head says it has a couple episodes left and then he'll decide. "Timeless" also still up in the air.

The flagship "Law & Order," which was only supposed to be a season finale, but then the show got axed. In the episode, the understated heart and soul of the series, Lt. Anita Van Buren (S. Epatha Merkerson) is finally cancer-free, there's a celebratory party for her at the squad, and her gorgeous hunk of a loyal boyfriend (Ernie Hudson) proposes and she accepts.

With the final episode a week away, I am incredibly sad. Over a 9 year period while Modern Family was being rewarded with Emmy nominations, even well past its point of even mediocrity, The Middle was much better and being ignored. Why did Hollywood and critics ignore it?

Because they didn't like it as much as you did, is one blunt way of answering. I'm not sure you're correct about the critics -- all of them, anyhow. I know a few who wrote lovingly and often about "The Middle" throughout its run.

I've only seen about half of those series, so I have some catching up to do. And it also means I can't really dispute your list. I will instead advocate for the finale of "The Wire." Throughout the episode, and especially in the closing montage, the finale reinforced the overall theme of institutions failing to help the people they were designed to help, and distributed appropriate fates to the characters we came to know -- some of which delighted us, and some of which devastated us.

The finale for Battlestar Galactica was divisive for fans, but I was in the camp that thought it worked for the show. The writers had always examined current issues through the show's lens, so I didn't have a problem making it explicit at the end.

Have you ever watched the show?

Sparingly.

Hi Hank. A few questions on Arrested Development -- 1. Did you watch the recut Season 4? (I thought it made for much more enjoyable viewing, and that the new problem (overnarration) is less bothersome than the old problems (slow pacing and largely disconnected plot threads/characters (until they finally connect)). The new cut can't save some of the problematic storylines, though.) 2. What's the word on Season 5?

I'm afraid I'm an "Arrested Development" dropout, a show that predates my tenure as TV critic by several years. When Season 4 came around five (yes, five) years ago, superfan Dan Zak, a Style reporter, filed this mixed review (pre-"remix") for us.

As for Season 5, it drops May 29 on Netflix and here's what the always succinct Metacritic has to say:

Lindsay Bluth's election campaign, a "Family of the Year" award, and the disappearance of Lucille 2 are just some of the developments in the beloved show's fifth season (and second for Netflix). Unlike the original 2013 version of season 4 (recently re-released in a "remixed" format), the entire cast is on hand for each of the episodes. Half of the season streams today (5/29), with the final eight episodes coming at a later date.

Apparently you weren't the only person that lady wrote in to every week. Yeesh. But in regards to good tv: Barry! Wow. I can't wait to see where this show goes but I also could be satisfied if it ended right there. It was so well done that I almost feel greedy wanting another season. And between this and Arrested Development isn't Henry Winkler an underappreciated treasure?

Loved, loved, loved Winkler in "Barry."

Strange that I really enjoyed the show Rise, but I wasn't disappointed that it was cancelled. It was like a satisfying novel, and now that I am done reading it, I am happy to move on to something else.

I didn't like either of the main characters in their previous series and neither too much IRL. I love the series to no end. The kids are brilliant - truly brilliant actors and the story lines mirror my own life time and time again. I love that issues they have in season one crop up and time and time again. You really feel that what they're going through isn't resolved in a 22-minute episode at all and you're watching the series of their lives.

The Fox News website is celebrating the cancellation. Apparently the show represents every single thing wrong with liberal America.

Like they would know.

I'm sure it's because I am older than most chatters, but I am happy with network and basic cable. My husband and I love Last Man Standing. I've been watching Without a Trace or Law & Order in the daytime. But I still spend money and have a good bit to spend.

You are far from alone.

I really loved the first episode. I think they found the right balance between the serious and the funny bits ( the sliding down the wall in the hotel was hilarious ). I am not sure if there will be Cumberbatch overload syndrome after six (?) episodes of close ups of his face, but so far I enjoyed it very much.

Five episodes. I've seen three of them and enjoyed it much more than I expected to.

So glad it's been picked up. Besides the obvious, Andy Samberg and Andre Braugher, the funniest pair I've seen in 60 years of watching TV is Hitchcock and Scully. Their interactions are so subtlely hilarious , I rewind just to watch them again. These two actors, Dirk Blocker and Joel McKinnon Miller ( I had to google ) don't get enough credit. I would watch the show just for them. I guess this is not a question, but just want to give these guys a shout out for making me laugh, every week.

I am glad that these things sometimes work out to at least some of the viewers' satisfaction. Cancellation Week can sometimes be brutal.

Okay, gang, I tried and failed to get to every question, but I do have to move on out.

We'll chat again next week -- Thursday, May 24 at noon.

Thanks for a great chat!

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Hank Stuever
Hank Stuever, The Washington Post's TV critic since 2009, joined the paper in 1999 as a writer for the Style section, where he has covered an array of popular (and unpopular) culture across the nation. Stuever was born and raised in Oklahoma and previously worked at newspapers in Albuquerque and Austin. He lives in Washington, D.C.
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