Mailbag: Questions on ‘Boss,’ ‘The Newsroom,’ ‘Rizzoli & Isles’

By Rich Heldenfels
Beacon Journal popular culture writer

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Jeff Daniels arrives on the red carpet at the season 2 premiere of "The Newsroom" at the Paramount Theater in July 2013 in Los Angeles. (Photo by Todd Williamson/Invision/AP)

You have questions. I try to have answers.

Q: Are “Boss” and “The Newsroom” returning?

A: Boss, the Starz series starring Kelsey Grammer as the mayor of Chicago, is done after two seasons. The Newsroom, the TV-news drama starring Jeff Daniels, will be back for a third and final season on HBO in the fall.

Q: Lee Thompson Young from “Rizzoli & Isles” died last August. I believe the last episode from last season was dedicated to him. I was surprised to see him in the first episodes in the new season. When will his last episode air and how will the show explain his absence?

A: As I have said here before, the TV season has become a very flexible thing, with episodes from a single season airing in small chunks across a long period of time, or a batch of episodes shot together being defined by their network as taking up two seasons. The small recent batch of Rizzoli & Isles episodes are considered the end of the fourth season, which also includes shows in the summer of 2013.

Young, who played Boston police detective Barry Frost, was still working for most of those episodes. Sasha Alexander, who plays Maura Isles on the show, said in a recent online interview that “we will not be dealing with the departure of his character until Season 5.” I could understand if the show decided to kill off Young’s character — and the series has had its share of painful moments before — but I would prefer a quieter departure, such as picking up the new season with Frost gone to China with his girlfriend.

Q: Damian McGinty was a part of Celtic Thunder and then had a part on “Glee” as an exchange student. Has he returned to performing with Celtic Thunder?

a: According to his website, http://damianmcginty­, the singer from Northern Ireland is performing, though not with Celtic Thunder. Instead, he is doing a tour with 13-year-old phenom Ethan Bortnick, having appeared in a Bortnick TV special.

The tour — with Bortnick as the headliner and McGinty a “special guest” — includes a Mother’s Day appearance in Cleveland’s Ohio Theatre at 3 p.m. May 11.

Q: What is the rationale behind ending shows several minutes after the hour? This causes the viewer to either leave one show early, or miss a show entirely, and the advertiser loses out. As a byproduct, it messes up being able to record shows as well.

A: It’s often a competitive move. If a show runs into the next half-hour, as some do, then a viewer may be less likely to switch to another program and stay with whatever is on next. Thus the network during the extended telecast keeps you around.

In some cases, the extended telecast also gives the show’s maker a little extra time for content while the network maintains its commercial load. As anyone who has fast-forwarded through a show knows, the actual time of a TV episode has decreased significantly over the years because of more ads. I am content to let a show run until 10:02 or 11:07 if it leads to better storytelling.

Yes, that is a pain when it comes to programming your DVR. With cable shows at least, I often end up recording the later, overnight feed that is not against prime-time shows. Or I catch a replay on demand or online (assuming the show is available that way). It’s extra work, but the networks individually are not about making it easier for you. Each is mainly about keeping you tuned just to it.

Do you have a question or comment for the mailbag? Write to the Akron Beacon Journal, 44 E. Exchange St., Akron, OH 44309 or Please mark the email or envelope with “mailbag.” Letters may be edited for publication. Please do not phone in questions. Individual replies cannot be guaranteed.

Rich Heldenfels writes about popular culture for the Beacon Journal and, including the HeldenFiles Online, He is also on Facebook and Twitter.

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