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TV Chat

James Gandolfini: best TV actor ever?

TV critic Matthew Gilbert’s Mount Rushmore of great TV actors: (from left) James Gandolfini, Edie Falco, Jon Hamm, and Bryan Cranston.
TV critic Matthew Gilbert’s Mount Rushmore of great TV actors: (from left) James Gandolfini, Edie Falco, Jon Hamm, and Bryan Cranston.FROM LEFT: ANTHONY NESTA/HBO VIA AP; DAVID M. RUSSELL/SHOWTIME; MICHAEL YARISH/AMC VIA AP; LEWIS JACOBS/AMC

Globe TV critic Matthew Gilbert chatted with readers Thursday on Boston.com. Here are excerpts:

Q. Was James Gandolfini [“The Sopranos’’] the best TV actor ever?

A. He’s up there, but maybe not THE best. On the Mount Rushmore, for sure. With Edie Falco [“Nurse Jackie”] next to him. And Jon Hamm [“Mad Men”]. And Bryan Cranston [“Breaking Bad”].

Q. Gandolfini’s death feels surreal to me.

A. Yes, it always feels surreal when someone you didn’t know — but feel you knew — dies. You feel sad, and yet . . . ultimately, it’s for a stranger. Our time with Tony Soprano ended years ago.


Q. Is “Devious Maids” any good?

A. That would be the new series from Marc Cherry, the guy who did “Desperate Housewives.” I’ve seen two episodes, and I felt a strong sense of déjà vu watching them. It’s a lot like “DH” in its whimsical tone. I think I understand why ABC rejected the pilot, which is why the show is on Lifetime. It’s “DH” redux in some ways.

Q. I find myself drawn to Discovery ID. Solving real crimes is much better than the fiction on the networks.

A. I hear you. A lot of the crime dramas have gotten really sloppy when it comes to writing the crimes of the week. Although many of those “real-life” crime shows are fictionalized, just like all of reality TV. Keep that in mind! They are dramatized to the point of silliness, sometimes.

Q. I can’t wait for the new season of “Dexter,” but I think I’ll be glad when it’s finally over.

A. They shoot horses, don’t they.

Q. How do you feel about “Vikings”? I am enjoying what I have seen so far.

A. I am a big supporter. I really admired and savored the first season. And I was pleased to see Travis Fimmel do such an impressive job as the lead. I wish he and the show would get Emmy nominations next month, but it’s not likely, is it?


Q. What are the chances Tatiana Maslany gets an Emmy nod or five for “Orphan Black”?

A. Yes, she deserves a Best ACTRESSES award for playing so many roles on one show. She won a critic’s award a short while ago, so people are beginning to take note. I was really blown away by her performances. So well done — funny when appropriate, dramatic when appropriate.

Q. Are you excited about “The Newsroom” coming back next month? Or did we love the first season because we think we are supposed to love anything by Aaron Sorkin?

A. That is funny! Sorkin does have that “quality TV” vibe
about him. A lot of people I know didn’t love the first season of “The Newsroom,” and I understand that — the characters are flat and self-consciously heroic. But the writing is so smart, and the ideas on that show are really compelling and current. So I think there is actually something genuine there to admire, beyond Sorkin’s rep. Let’s see if season 2 has some of the characters growing, deepening, and a little less in love with themselves. If Sorkin could write romance and character depth for the show, it would be a full-service real deal.

Q. This might spill over to movies but what’s the best documentary you have seen?


A. HBO has really strong documentary programming.

Just this week, they ran “Love, Marilyn,” which was really moving and original. I thought I’d had enough of Marilyn Monroe as Icon, and then I watched and was fascinated. Also, HBO’s Sebastian Junger documentary on photojournalist Tim Hetherington was special. But my all-time favorite may be “Crumb.”

Q. I’m really enjoying the new season of “The Killing.” The show seems to have gotten a second wind.

A. I agree. “The Killing” really has pulled itself back together. But can it stay good for all 12 episodes? Sometimes, single-case seasons (“Damages,” “24”) can get filler-y in the middle. Even 12 episodes can be a few too many for some shows. As much as I love “The Americans,” I still think the first season might have been tighter at 10 episodes.

Matthew Gilbert can be reached at gilbert@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @Matthew