Question: I eagerly watched the first episode of NBC’s Ordinary Joe, but I have to admit to whiplash with three scenarios (Joe as nurse, cop, and musician). Have you viewed future episodes that would convince me to keep watching? —CM
Matt Roush: Ordinary Joe is one of those shows you’re either going to have to accept for what it is, or not. The premise of the series is to follow each Joe and the people in his world — who don’t change, although their relationships to him do — through these three disparate life paths. Each episode will be structured around a unifying event — in the second episode, which I found stronger than the pilot, Joe reckoned with the personal legacy of Sept. 11, 2001, (when his policeman dad perished) in very different ways, each reflecting the Joe he has become. The Oct. 4 episode wasn’t quite as strong, but I’m compelled to keep watching and to recommend others to do so, because Joe is trying something different and ambitious, which you can’t say about 90% of network TV. While it’s a lot to keep track of, there are visual cues — his hair, the color palette in the cinematography — to remind you which Joe you’re watching. This isn’t a show you can casually watch, I’ll concede that, but how is that not a refreshing change from shows you could basically write yourself?
To submit questions to TV Critic Matt Roush, go to: tvinsider.com