Rich Heldenfels

If it’s Thursday, this must be the mailbag.

Q: Being a fan of “Duck Dynasty” on A&E, my question is: when they show old pictures of the brothers (without beards) there are four of them. Number four is not mentioned on the show. Do you know anything about him?

A: Yes. In addition to brothers Willie, Jase and Jeptha — seen on the show along with their father, Phil, and uncle Si — there is a fourth Robertson brother, Alan, who does not work in the family’s business. The oldest of the brothers “left the duck call business when he received the call for full time ministry in 1988 and now serves as a senior pastor in West Monroe, LA.,” says the site of Duck Commander, the family enterprise. “Alan is still a part of the family’s commitment to spreading the gospel of Christ through their love of hunting and the great outdoors. He calls himself a Jacob in a family of Esaus.”

By the way, Duck Dynasty will be back for a third season on Feb. 27.

Q: Why are there so many reruns in the middle of the season?

A: Sometimes the reruns are the result of competition, that a network does not want to waste a new episode of a show opposite a big event like the Super Bowl. But a bigger reason is that TV shows make fewer episodes than there are weeks in a typical TV season. The most successful commercial broadcast network shows make about 22 episodes a season, with many shows making fewer; that takes up about half of the traditional TV season from September through May. (In the distant TV past, shows would make 39 episodes a season, enough to fill each week. But the cost of making shows, which often don’t show a profit until their reruns are sold in syndication, has reduced that number.) So to fill the remaining weeks during a season, some shows end up airing reruns — or get replaced by specials and tryouts of other series.

Q: “NCIS” is my favorite show. What has Mark Harmon done before the show? I have seen the actor who plays Ducky.

A: Harmon, who plays Leroy Jethro Gibbs on the show, has long been one of the most reliable actors in movies and television. His TV series included St. Elsewhere, Chicago Hope, Flamingo Road and Reasonable Doubts, and he famously played serial killer Ted Bundy in the TV-movie The Deliberate Stranger. Among his big-screen credits are Summer School, Wyatt Earp and The Presidio. Before he became an actor, he was a standout quarterback at UCLA. (His father, Tom Harmon, was a Heisman Trophy winner and later a broadcaster; his mother was actress Elyse Knox.)

Q: I just loved Paget Brewster on “Criminal Minds.” I know she is gone from the show, but when the series was airing, I have NEVER seen the show where AFTER she supposedly died, that she came back and I have watched a million re-runs. Is there any way that you can tell me when this one show will air on the TV?

A: I think you are looking for It Takes a Village, which aired in September 2011 at the beginning of the show’s seventh season. (The current season is its eighth.) It revealed that the death of Brewster’s character, Emily Prentiss, in the previous season had actually been faked.

In addition to occasional reruns on CBS, the series also replays on ION ( and A&E (; although those networks appear to be running older episodes right now, they include episode titles in their online listings, so you may want to keep an eye on them. Barring that, the seventh season is available on DVD, and has the seventh-season episodes available for individual online purchase.

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