Ask Matt: Spoiling the ‘Blacklist’ Finale
Welcome to the Q&A with TV critic — also known to some TV fans as their “TV therapist” — Matt Roush, who’ll try to address whatever you love, loathe, are confused or frustrated or thrilled by in today’s vast TV landscape. (We know background music is too loud, but there’s always closed-captioning.)
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 (@TVGMMattRoush). Look for Ask Matt columns on many Tuesdays and Fridays.
Upstaging the Finale, and More Thoughts on Blacklist
Question: Why did Megan Boone announce her departure from The Blacklist before the finale aired? It took a lot of tension out of the episode because you knew she would be the one not appearing next year which *SPOILER* meant that Reddington would survive. It wasn’t announced until after the episode aired that creator Jon Bokenkamp would be leaving as well. Why didn’t they do the announcements together? It would have made the season finale much more impactful and suspenseful to watch. — Tenille
Matt Roush: I can see that this would be aggravating, which is why I often advise people NOT to seek out stories about their favorite shows at critical times if they’d prefer not to be spoiled. There are very few TV secrets successfully kept nowadays, but in this case, the actress choosing to put her farewell post out there before the episode even aired was a decision made between her and her PR team, and I’m the last person who would know why they felt it was so urgent they couldn’t wait until fans saw Liz’s presumed death scene. But in the bigger picture, for the female lead and the series creator to bolt simultaneously gives fuel to speculation that next year could or should be the last for The Blacklist.
Comment: I’m glad I bailed on The Blacklist years ago. Tuned into the penultimate episode and Season 8 finale that kinda-sorta confirmed the fact that Reddington is Liz’s mom. In my opinion, the show should have ended with this season. With NBC axing so many bubble shows this year, what keeps The Blacklist immortal? The Season 9 renewal would have been better spent on a 4-to-8-episode Season 3 of Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist on Peacock. – Brian
Matt Roush: Can’t really argue with that reasoning. But the reason Blacklist survives when so many others don’t could have something to do with longevity becoming its own self-fulfilling prophecy. NBC has stuck with it this long, meaning an afterlife in syndication, streaming and international sales, so why not a little longer? Since moving the show to Fridays, the ratings haven’t been what they used to be, but that’s the case with just about everything, and as we’ve seen with NBC and long-running franchises, they can be amazingly loyal to shows that have become brand names.
Comment: A quick observation on Standards and Practices: I was watching Law & Order on Sundance and the word “banging” was bleeped from the phrase “some broad I was banging.” This was followed by a cut to commercial, with a promo for Kevin Can F**k Himself where the heroine flips a double bird to the camera. My head hurts.
As for The Blacklist, I gave up years ago expecting them to pay off the never-ending teases and just watch for the joy of James Spader‘s performance. But if they don’t read that damned letter the first episode of Season 9, I’m out. — Rick C
Matt Roush: That disconnect between censoring content in a rerun and what’s being advertised on behalf of a sibling network is sort of sadly amusing. (Sundance is a fairly progressive channel, albeit ad-supported, and I wonder if that Law & Order syndication package came pre-censored to avoid broadcast sensitivities.)
And point taken on The Blacklist: James Spader has always been the best reason to watch.
Not Laughing at Kevin
Question: I just wondered if there were any plans to get rid of the laugh track on Kevin Can F**k Himself, as I have sort of enjoyed the show, but if they keep the laugh track, I probably will not be able to watch it. It’s really intrusive, and there are big laughs when the show is not the least bit funny. I tried to send feedback directly to the show or the network, but I can’t figure out how to do it. — Janice P
Matt Roush: AMC Networks has a direct contact line, so you could try that. But you’re missing the point, such as it is. The laugh track is meant to be intrusive and annoying, because what they’re parodying in those scenes is the worst sort of laugh-track-laden sitcom, making the contrast even more obvious in the more realistic scenes involving Allison in her non-sitcom world. If the Kevin scenes were even remotely funny, it might help. But they’re not, and as I noted in my review, the problem (among many) with Kevin is that it’s both a bad sitcom and a drab drama, and calling the comedy portion a parody doesn’t excuse how painful those portions are to watch.
Not Amused by Dating Game
Question: Can you tell me why the stupid show Celebrity Dating Game gets a prime-time slot when the great shows All Rise and Rebel are canceled? It should be on Bravo or the Game Show Network. I watched for 10 minutes and had to turn it off. — Jean
Matt Roush: I wouldn’t defend a vapid show like Celebrity Dating Game even if I had the words (and I don’t), but silly and inexpensive summer filler like this has nothing to do with network decisions involving more costly scripted programming that they feel is underperforming, rightly or wrongly. This was a very tough season for shows on the bubble, and as the networks continue to struggle with declining real-time viewership and ad revenue, we’re likely to see more corny and cheap TV filling the void. Not a good look.
How Tough a Sell Is Manifest Post-Cancellation?
Question: In the past, a lot of sci-fi ‘myth-tery’ series were canceled after just one season (VR-5, The Visitor, Invasion, Surface, Point Pleasant, Emergence, to name just a few). Most answered key questions and resolved central mysteries before being forced to sign off. But none have ever been rerun that I know of. Manifest went three infuriating seasons without revealing answers or resolving anything. But it did reach the critical three-season mark of having enough episodes for syndication. What are its chances? How likely is any network (even a streamer like Netflix) to pick up reruns of a show that left all its storylines up in the air? And if “not likely,” could this lack of rerun revenue signal to network heads that they should find ways to give closure to their series? — Maurice H
Matt Roush: That’s an intriguing question, one that’s mostly impossible to answer because of how quickly the industry is changing. I assume you’re asking out of idle curiosity since your discontent with Manifest would hardly make you the target audience for reliving your frustration with a syndication replay. I’d think this would be a hard sell in syndication because of the genre, its serialized nature, and the fact that it never paid off its central mysteries. Maybe Syfy would give it a shot, but otherwise, the best bet is an afterlife in streaming. The first two seasons are still in Netflix’s Top 10 — making it even more curious that they didn’t rescue it, although that’s not their priority these days — and while the third season is currently streaming on Hulu and Peacock, I’d be surprised if once those windows expire that the third season wouldn’t find its way to Netflix, regardless of the lack of resolution.
And Finally …
Question: Is there any possibility that some forward-thinking Hollywood executive would consider bringing a new and improved version of the George Peppard vehicle Banacek? — Steve O
Matt Roush: Would a reboot of a 1970s private-eye series really be forward-thinking? I loved the randomness of this suggestion, because there were so many higher-profile spokes of NBC’s “Mystery Movie” wheel: McCloud, McMillan and Wife and of course Columbo (which I would argue should never be revived, much like The Rockford Files — and they’ve tried with the latter — because of the iconic nature of the original star).
Seriously, though, because Banacek is lesser known, reviving a show and a hero that had a sense of humor about itself wouldn’t be the worst idea. In the bigger picture, I’d like to see a network try the “mystery wheel” format again, rotating its series on a weekly or monthly basis. Something like that could air year-round with fewer episodes per series, and that might be refreshing.
That’s all for now—and until after the July 4th holiday. Remember that we 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), and you can also submit questions via the handy form below. (Please include a first name with your question.) Happy 4th of July!