TV Q&A: 'Rizzoli & Isles,' 'The Real Housewives' and short-order series

Friday, 25 July 2014 10:27 AM Written by 


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TV Q&A with Rob Owen

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This week's TV Q&A (after the "Read more" jump below) responds to questions about “Rizzoli & Isles,” “The Real Housewives” and short-order series. As always, thanks for reading and keep the questions coming.

- Rob Owen, Post-Gazette TV writer

Q: Now that Esquire TV is showing “Miami Vice,” does anyone know whatever happened to Philip Michael Thomas, Saundra Santiago, and Olivia Brown? Have never seen them in anything else, were they just one-hit wonders? We know what Don Johnson's been up to over the years.

- Carol, 59, Castle Shannon

Rob: The Internet has answers to this question. Just go to and pop in the names of the actors in question.

Thomas’ acting roles appear to have ended in 2006. Santiago has been more prolific, including a recent role on “One Life to Live” and a recurring role on the current Fox drama “Gang Related.”

Brown had a stint on “7th Heaven.”

Q: With the passing of TV legend James Garner, do you think the four never released “Rockford Files” TV movies will finally be released on DVD?
Eight movies were made following the show's run on NBC, but only four were released on DVD. Fans have been asking for the remaining four for years.

- Bruce, 55, Raleigh
Garner’s death does give those DVDs more relevance, at least for a limited time, but it all depends on whether whoever owns the rights to those movies thinks they can make money by releasing them.

Q: Sunday’s TV Week lists this week’s “History Detectives” as the "series finale." Has it been canceled or did it mean "season finale"? In any event, didn't it just start in its new one-subject format? We saw only three new shows. It seems to me this show has had a history of now you see it, now you don't. We enjoy the show and hope it returns.
- Don via email

Rob: Producers and PBS decided to reformat “History Detectives” for its most recent season, which was pretty short.

No decisions have been made about the show’s future so those listings should have said “season finale” not “series finale.”


Q: I hope your negative review didn't cause “Signed, Sealed, Delivered” to be canceled. There really is room out there for shows that aren't full of sex and violence. God bless Hallmark! If you have the answer, I'd like to know if the show will resume after its hiatus.
- Martha via email

Rob: Would that my reviews have such power! I assure you, they do not. Hallmark has not renewed “Signed, Sealed, Delivered,” nor have they canceled it. Right now it is in limbo, though the cast is producing a Christmas movie to air later this year.


Q: I only watch one of the "Housewives" programs (RHOOC) but have seen a few episodes of some of the others. It's apparent that contractually the stars of these shows are obligated to host parties or functions to which they must invite the other housewives, even if they are feuding with one or more at the time. My question is: These women seem seriously distraught, hurt, angry, etc. with each other, yet they attend where one of the others will invariably stir the pot and make things worse. Is this for real or is it all staged? Are these women really fighting or just acting for the camera?

- Karen, 69, Orange County, Calif.

Rob: I think it’s a little bit of both. The shows are clearly plotted, sometimes with inspiration from real life, sometimes not. It’s probably most fair to say the shows are staged but sometimes the emotions are real.


Q: I enjoy watching “Rizzoli & Isles” in the summer. It is a welcome break from reruns and the dreaded reality shows. This season Angie Harmon's character, Jane Rizzoli, is pregnant. What is the purpose of adding that to the story? I don't get the point unless Angie Harmon is really pregnant. Any thoughts?

- Joyce, Pittsburgh

Rob: Harmon is not pregnant but it’s not unusual for TV characters to become pregnant for story-driven creative reasons. That’s not a new thing.


Q: After you kindly answered the question about “Ripper Street” airing first on Amazon Prime in the US or BBC America, a new question has cropped up. According to the Radio Timesa longer version of each episode will be shown on Amazon Prime, and then edited for the BBC timeslot. What will BBC America broadcast? Hopefully the entire episodes as shown on Amazon PrimeUK.

- Linda, 48, Monroeville
My guess is BBC America will edit the series to fit its one-hour time slot but a BBC America publicist said no decision has been made because it’s too early to tell since the show won’t air until 2015.


Q: I love the movies on Hallmark, but why is the background music so loud? It drowns out the dialogue. Am I the only one to notice this? Thank you.

- Frances, 67, Pittsburgh
We’ve written many times about the complaint about background music being too loud, which audiologists suggest can be the result of diminished hearing. But I think it can sometimes be a matter of the quality of speakers on a TV set. Some suggest setting the TV to mono can help.

Q: I wanted to get your thoughts about something. Why do cable shows have so few episodes each year? “Game of Thrones,” “Newsroom,” “24,” “Magic City” and “VEEP” have only 8-10 episodes then they are off the air for 12 or more months. I can understand why “Game of Thrones” has only 10 episodes due to their many exotic location shoots, but not “Newsroom,” “24,” “Magic City” and “VEEP.”

- Bob via email

Rob: Cable has always operated on a different business model than broadcast, one that follows a shorter order pattern. Many showrunners believe a shorter order leads to better quality. Shorter orders also attract bigger name stars who may not want to commit to a 22-episode season of a show that requires nine months of work but they will sign on for a 13-episode program that completes production in four or five months.

And while the trend began with cable, it’s shifted to the broadcast networks to some degree with some networks, especially ABC, aggressively ordering more programs with shorter orders to serve as gap programming between fall and spring runs of popular 22-episode series. Or, as in the case of “24,” to use summer programming.


Q: Why do British TV shows (like “Downton Abbey”) only have 6-8 episodes per season, but US TV shows have 20-24?

- Diane, 60, Arlington, Va.

Rob: As we noted in the answer to the last question, most American cable shows have a shorter run because they operate on a different economic model and the same is true for British shows. They, too, have lower budgets.

Q: Now that Comcast will carry the SEC football network where will we find it on our Comcast "dial"?

- Tom, 65, Mt. Lebanon

Rob: SEC Network launches on Comcast Aug. 14 but the channel does not yet have a local launch date or assigned channel position. I’ll get that information in the PG when the information becomes available.


I believe "Night Shift" has managed to set a record for incorporating the most hospital cliches of any medical show I have ever watched. It was fun to watch and see what the next cliche to appear would be. So few things provide as many laughs as this show has.

- Marc via email


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