Watching TV

You have questions. I have some answers.

Q: What happened to Bebe Neuwirth on “Madam Secretary”? Did I miss an episode where she left?

A: You did. In an October episode, Neuwirth’s character Nadine Tolliver, the chief of staff to Secretary of State Elizabeth McCord, decided to leave her job to focus on her family, including a coming grandchild. She also observed that public service had become “so vicious” that she did not want to spend the rest of her career fighting. Nadine received a loving sendoff from other characters on the show. Neuwirth, in turn, said on Twitter that she had asked to leave the CBS drama and that the series gave her a “beautiful exit.”

Q: When is “Doc Martin” returning? And what about “A Place to Call Home”?

A: “Doc Martin,” a British series, and “A Place to Call Home,” from Australia, have developed sizable followings via showings on public TV here. But public television does not get first crack at the most recent seasons — the eighth for “Doc,” the fifth for “Place.” U.S. rights belong to Acorn Media Enterprises, which has put those seasons on its subscription streaming service, Acorn TV, which specializes in overseas programs. It can then decide when to let the distributor American Public Television offer them to broadcast stations. At this writing in late December, Acorn has not set a date for the broadcast release, saying they will be on Acorn TV “for at least the near future.”

Q: I loved “The Closer,” and then TNT cancelled it. It was replaced by “Major Crimes” with many of the same characters. I also love “Major Crimes”! Now TNT has cancelled this great show! Why did TNT cancel “Major Crimes”? Is TNT replacing it with another show with the same characters?

A: TNT spun “Major Crimes” from “The Closer” when Kyra Sedgwick, who played “closer” Brenda Leigh Johnson, decided to leave the series. Now the network is ending “Major Crimes” because it has been concentrating on darker, edgier shows such as “Good Behavior,” “Animal Kingdom” and “Claws.” (I, for one, like “Major Crimes” AND “Claws.”) Probably because of that, as “Major Crimes” creator James Duff reportedly said, TNT lost faith in the drama, stopped promoting it well and did not bother to renegotiate cast members’ contracts as they were running out. I accordingly know of no TNT plans to revive the series under another name with some of the same characters (and it killed a central character this season anyway). Duff said in October that a streaming service such as Hulu or Netflix could benefit from picking up new episodes of “Major Crimes,” but that would depend on some complicated business decisions.

Q: Did ’60s TV Tarzan Ron Ely continue acting after the series ended? What else has he done?

A: Among the array of movie and TV Tarzans is Ron Ely, who played the role in an NBC series from 1966 to 1968. According to the Internet Movie Database, he made many appearances on TV in the following years, including as Mike Nelson in an ’80s revival of “Sea Hunt,” and guest starring roles on “The Love Boat,” “Fantasy Island” and other series. He also played the title role in the big-screen “Doc Savage: The Man of Bronze” in 1975. When the Miss America pageant ended its long relationship with host Bert Parks, Ely took on the hosting job for two years. He has also written two private-eye novels, “Night Shadows” and “East Beach.”

Q: I think you were pretty unfair to Tommy Rettig. You downplayed his great success in computer programming. He did much of the development of FoxPro and wrote multiple articles and several books about it. The later years of his life were quite successful and his influence in computer programming is still felt.

A: When I wrote about Rettig, the former “Lassie” star who died in 1996, I included a Washington Post summary of his adult life, which accentuated the negative. Several readers argued for a more positive view, noting his computer-programming accomplishments especially with FoxPro, which one reader called “a very early database management system used in early software programs of both Macintosh and Microsoft.”

Do you have a question or comment about entertainment past, present and future? Write to Rich Heldenfels, P.O. Box 417, Mogadore, OH 44260, or Letters may be edited. Individual replies are not guaranteed.


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