Ask Matt: Rip Hunter M.I.A. on Legends of Tomorrow, The Walking Dead, The Good Place and More
Welcome back to the weekly Q&A with TV critic (also known to some TV fans as their “TV therapist”) Matt Roush, who’ll address whatever you love, loathe, are confused or frustrated or thrilled by in today’s vast TV landscape. One caution: This is a spoiler-free zone, so we won’t be addressing upcoming storylines here unless it’s already common knowledge. Please send your questions and comments to [email protected] (or use the form at the end of the column) and follow me on Twitter. Note: Ask Matt will now be posting on Fridays most weeks.
Question: I’m only watching DC’s Legends of Tomorrow to see when Arthur Darvill returns, and I’m not going to be happy if he’s not back soon. Please let me know that I can look forward to future happiness! – Doretta
Question: I am a fan of DC’s Legends of Tomorrow. It can be a bit frantic, but it wins me over. However, one of the main reasons I stuck with it is now gone. Do we know if Arthur Darvill will be returning or has Rip Hunter left us for good? They will probably lose me if he’s gone too much longer. — Mark
Question: I need for Rip Hunter to return to Legends. Please let me know I have his return to look forward to before I give up the show and completely miss his return! – Tahonia
Matt Roush: And this is a sampling of what my mailbag looks like when fans get rattled. As most of you are probably aware, I don’t deal with spoilers in this column, but I totally get why Legends fans (can’t say I dabble regularly) would be upset to lose Arthur Darvill even temporarily. For me, he’s one of the few saving graces in this ensemble (Victor Garber being an essential other). I’ve been a fan since his Doctor Who days as the adorable Rory—and let’s not forget Broadchurch. The network is being circumspect about the Rip situation, and you can probably make your own conclusions from the fact that Darvill is no longer in the opening credits. But I’m hearing that we haven’t seen the last of Rip, just in what context and when is still a mystery. Which may not put anyone’s mind to rest, although in fantasy shows like this you never want to say never.
The Universal Decency of This Is Us
Question: In reference to a recent letter writer in regards to profane language, I do believe This Is Us is disproving the notion that TV without that language won’t be appealing or watched. I finally had to quit watching Suits due to the awful language every other sentence or two. I can tell you that I work in a courthouse setting and am around attorneys, judges, officers and many others in the legal profession, and at no time do they speak the way they do in Suits. The story would still be the story without all the cursing. — Unsigned
Matt Roush: An excellent point, that working clean is not necessarily a deterrent, even in this coarsened culture. There may be times when the heightened emotions in This Is Us will require stronger language, but I trust it will always be earned. Which is the problem with Suits, a show I still enjoy, more or less—and will enjoy it more if and when it turns back to actual legal drama once in a while. There’s no question that the swearing on that show feels almost mandated by quota. It’s so self-consciously done that it rarely feels authentic, which is the issue here. If it feels real, say it. Too often, though, it seems as if many shows and channels are straining for that cable “edge.”
Another unsigned fan wrote in to praise This Is Us as “a combination of The Wonder Years and Parenthood. What could possibly be wrong with that? I think it appeals to all generations, and if my friends and family are any indication of its future, it will be on for many seasons to come. Thank you, NBC, for this gift.”
RELATED: Is This Is Us Emmy-Worthy?
A Walking Dead Spinoff We Wouldn’t Have to Fear
Question: If The Walking Dead wants to do a real spinoff, I think The Carol & Morgan Show would be a fine idea. Their episode was a reminder of everything I love about TWD. It was also a reminder of how much I really don’t care about the rest of them any more. If Maggie can come by to make guest appearances from being the Queen of Hilltop, that would make C&M complete. Any takers at AMC? – Woody
Matt Roush: Add Daryl to that equation (for Carol’s sake) and I’d watch that, too, but don’t count on it. Only one of three episodes so far this season being what I’d consider satisfying isn’t a great average, I’ll admit.
Why is The Good Place in Premature Limbo?
Question: My favorite new show this fall is The Good Place, and I’m a little confused about NBC’s scheduling. I have read that the season was conceived to run 13 episodes and will therefore not be receiving a back order, which is fine with me if that is what the creators intend. But if there are only 13 total, then why did they just air a “fall finale” at the beginning of November sweeps? Grey’s Anatomy will also be signing off for the fall after nine episodes, but they have 24 per season, so the back half returning in January will be 15 shows. With something like The Good Place, where there are only four episodes remaining, why is it more effective to air those in January instead of just letting the final four half-hours air through sweeps and end in the beginning of December? Are the ratings in such a place where they actively don’t want to air the new episodes during the November sweeps period? If so, that’s alarming. It just seems extremely counterproductive to press pause on a show so close to the end of its storytelling and then assume everyone will still be there for it when it returns in two months for a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it conclusion. I think they have something really special here and hope that it continues to thrive so that it can receive a renewal. I also think it has raised its storytelling significantly in the last few weeks and am eager to see where it goes.
On another note, I understand that letting Notorious play out is easier for ABC at this point than tagging something else in until Scandal gets back, but I have heard that its low ratings are pushing down How to Get Away With Murder for lack of a highly-rated lead-in. For sweeps, why doesn’t ABC consider temporarily shifting HGTAWM to the 9/8c position? That way, the two Shonda shows could air together, Murder would have a strong lead-in and Notorious can just burn off its remaining episodes at 10/9c, since they’ve basically given up on the show anyway. Given how serialized HTGAWM is, it seems that people who jumped ship on it this fall may not care to return even when it has the more compatible Scandal lead-in, because they will have missed so much of this season’s central mystery. Your thoughts? — Jake
Matt Roush: The reason The Good Place has no place on the current NBC schedule boils down to three words: Thursday Night Football. Which takes over NBC’s lineup starting next week for most of the rest of the calendar year, putting all of the scripted Thursday series on an early holiday hiatus. Without another night of comedy to shift shows like The Good Place and Superstore, NBC had little choice but to cut the run where it did, and I suppose the last cliffhanger (Tahani confronting Jianyu/Jason; “Fake” Eleanor still awaiting her fate) was as good a place as any to stop. When The Good Place returns, there’s still a four-episode arc to promote, and I wouldn’t write off its future just because of this premature pause.
Regarding ABC’s not-yet-complete “TGIT” lineup, that’s actually not a bad idea to move Murder closer to Grey’s for the time being and putting the toxic Notorious further on the margins, although networks tend to resist moving shows around unnecessarily so to avoid confusion (even in an increasingly time-shifted world). And local affiliates wouldn’t appreciate having a loser like Notorious leading into local news even in the short term—which is also why all bets are off on how long the recently canned Conviction will stay on Mondays in its current time period.
Buying What Superstore Is Selling
Question: I’ve watched every episode of NBC’s hilarious Superstore last season and this season so far. It’s in a very tough time slot up against The Big Bang Theory and Grey’s Anatomy. Not to mention Thursday Night Football. Do you think Superstore has the potential to become NBC’s first big comedy hit in many years? I find that most of the cast is extremely funny and I love the chemistry. I still do miss NBC’s very funny Telenovela and wish NBC had been more patient with it. Some comedies need more time to work out the kinks. And Telenovela did just that by the last several episodes last season. It probably would have improved even more if it had a second season. Any thoughts? — Fred
Matt Roush: Telenovela does seem like a missed opportunity, and I’m glad NBC is sticking with Superstore, though if it were ever going to be a “big comedy hit,” that would likely have happened by now. Scheduling it opposite TV’s biggest hit comedy pretty much sealed its fate as a sleeper comedy that for now is at least keeping NBC in the sitcom business while the network seeks a true breakout hit. I know I’m very eager to see NBC’s high-concept midseason comedies Powerless (set amid a world of superheroes) and Trial & Error (a mockumentary spoof of true-crime drama starring John Lithgow).
The (Dick) Wolf at Rectify’s Door
Question: I think Rectify is one of the best shows on not just SundanceTV but on all of TV in general. What frustrates me is all of the Law & Order marathons they air. How is that showing the “indie spirit?” — Andrew
Matt Roush: This is what’s known as keeping the lights on. Many cable channels like SundanceTV can only sustain a limited amount of original programming, and if running Dick Wolf shows like Law & Order continuously helps sustain and pay for low-rated gems like Rectify and last summer’s The A Word, I can live with it. (Besides, in a pinch, who doesn’t like a good episode of L&O or SVU to kill an hour?)
Is Revolt a Better Period Piece Than Mad Men?
Question: I finished off Amazon’s Good Girls Revolt this weekend and enjoyed it. I am a little bit younger than the characters (but I do know where I was on Dec. 31, 1969; went to Rangers-Blackhawks game and went from MSG to Times Square). It would be nice to get a second season. Obviously, Nora Ephron is no longer with us but I wonder what she would have thought about it. Eleanor Holmes Norton was played wonderfully by Jasmine (oops, Joy Bryant). I thought it was a better period piece than Mad Men because it showed a real 1960s NYC. Mad Men was shot in California and looked it. – Doug
Matt Roush: Yes, but… the writing. And with a few exceptions, the acting. As I wrote in my review of the series (having seen the first seven of 10 episodes in advance), this is a great story that I wish had been told better, with fewer obvious period clichés. Most of the characters didn’t go nearly as deep as I would have liked, and the top editor was especially weakly cast. Still, it took so long for the actual “revolt” to get going that I can’t imagine there won’t be a second season. As for Nora Ephron (played briefly by Grace Gummer): As soon as she left the faux Newsweek office, I found myself wishing this show was telling her story. She would likely have agreed. Still, there’s much to enjoy in this account of the dawning of feminism within the world of journalism.
A Time Warp That Wasn’t Warped Enough
Question: What did you think of Fox’s remake of The Rocky Horror Picture Show? I love Rocky Horror but was disappointed in the remake, which I found boring and flat. The only segment with any energy was Adam Lambert as Eddie. The biggest problem is that modern audiences aren’t shocked by the goings-on (Sex! Partner swapping! A man in a corset!) as they were in the 1970s. Do you think it would have fared better as a live production? – Julie
Matt Roush: As you can see from my review, we’re pretty much on the same page. The cast was by and large terrific—still waiting for someone to put Annaleigh Ashford front and center in a starring role—and I enjoyed the opening with the usherette all the way through Eddie’s big number, but it fell apart by the end and never quite captured the scuzzy vibe of the original. It was all a bit too clean, even when the camerawork and editing were clumsy. Doing the show live might have made it feel like more of an event—if they’d produced it on a stage with participants in the audience watching and reacting (like in the remake’s framing device), that might have been cool, and I remember having a blast at the Broadway revival years ago—but this approach might also have been even more static, production-wise. Redoing Rocky was an interesting but very uneven effort, and I’d be OK for TV to do filmed musicals as well as live, but this material was either too dated or too specific in its appeal to translate well to TV. (In any regard, experiencing Rocky Horror before midnight just doesn’t make a lot of sense.)
Is Eyewitness Worth Eyeballing?
Question: What do you think of Eyewitness? I began watching the first episode and got distracted. I’ve caught bits and pieces since then. Is it worth more attention? – Laurie
Matt Roush: Sounds like you don’t really need my lukewarm review to reinforce your opinion of this dreary series. This was USA’s rather half-hearted attempt to produce a dark Killing-like mystery with a season-long arc. While Julianne Nicholson is quite good as the beleaguered small-town sheriff, Eyewitness erred in revealing its villain too early, and in not making him or most of the other characters compelling enough for the too-long haul. But at least (from what I understand) this story will actually reach a conclusion in its first season. And that’s a plus.
That’s all for now. Thanks as always for reading. I can’t do this without your participation, so please keep sending questions and comments about TV to [email protected] or shoot me a line on Twitter (@TVGMMattRoush). Or submit your question via the handy form below: