Ask Matt: Will Netflix Really End ‘Manifest’ After Season 4?

Manifest Season 3 Josh Dallas
Peter Kramer/NBC

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.

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If Manifest Is a Hit for Netflix, Will They Really End It?

Question: I saw that Netflix will stream a fourth and final season of Manifest. It has been the #1 most streamed show for months, and when it wasn’t, Manifest ranked very high. If it continues to be so popular, do you think Netflix will order more seasons? The showrunners had a six-season plan, but of course, with this fourth season finale announcement, the writers will likely just end it without a cliffhanger, correct? I would advise two endings be filmed just in case another season is ordered before filming ends. — Fred

Matt Roush: Let’s take them at their word that the fourth season of 20 episodes (likely to be presented in more than one batch) will be the end of the road for Manifest, and fans should see this as a win that they’ll get some closure to the story, even if at an accelerated pace. (If only there’d been a similar groundswell for Prodigal Son, but I digress.) I always found it a bit hubristic for the show’s creators to tout a six-season plan when working within a genre that is proving to be increasingly difficult to succeed on network TV. (Good luck, La Brea!) The good news is that they’ll have time to shape a proper finish to this convoluted premise.

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What does this mean for the future of the canceled series?

Of course, there is precedence with Lucifer, which Netflix rescued from cancellation and ended up producing a sixth and final season after announcing that the fifth would be the last. But given the complexity of the deal-making involved in bringing Manifest back to life, I’d be surprised if Netflix kept it going beyond what has already been announced. Although anymore, I’m really not surprised by much of anything. Disappointed, yes. (Again, Prodigal Son.) But surprised? Not so much.

And a final word on the subject: For those wondering if Netflix (or a competing streamer) will resurrect your other favorite canceled show, the answer is usually no.

When a Renewal Feels Like Cancellation

Question: Why is Motherland: Fort Salem being canceled after its third season? I understand series creator Eliot Laurence had planned for the story to run seven seasons. — Richard L

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Matt Roush: Again, plans change. And why look at it as a cancellation, when a show is given advance notice and a full final season to wrap things up? Freeform has a new president who’s been making some changes, which may explain why Motherland now has a definite end game, along with the usual reason of declining ratings. But isn’t this better than being canceled abruptly on a cliffhanger? (Although a seven-year plan, really? Where did they think they were airing, the rarely-cancel-anything CW?)

Why Aren’t the Paralympics More Prominent on NBC?

Question: Why doesn’t NBC or another major network broadcast the Paralympics? I so enjoyed the Summer Olympics in Tokyo and am disappointed the Paralympics are hidden somewhere on some obscure cable station that I don’t have access to. With COVID and Kabul, the Paralympics would be something positive to broadcast. — Nita H, Estacada, OR

Matt Roush: I’m not sure that NBCSN, the network’s equivalent to ESPN and where the majority of the programming is airing (along with the Olympic Channel, which may be harder to access), is all that obscure. But you’re not alone in voicing frustration that NBC, which has invested so much in producing Olympics coverage for years to come, doesn’t give a more prominent platform to these inspiring events. NBC is touting the fact that for the first time, there is some significant Paralympics coverage on the main network, including daytime and prime-time highlights shows that aired last Sunday and more prime-time highlights planned for this final weekend. (These are described as a “docu-follow” series showcasing the stories of some of the athletes and teams competing in Tokyo.) It’s obviously not enough, but NBC doesn’t appear willing yet to interrupt another two weeks of its regular summer programming for this coverage. (But what’s so almighty important on Bravo and USA that they couldn’t make room for an hour or so of nightly highlights?)

A New Fall TV Ritual: Hesitancy

Question: As I look at all the new fall shows in TV Guide Magazine’s Fall Preview issue and, given the many shows that I’ve loved which have gotten canceled without a satisfactory resolution, I question whether or not I want to take the risk to invest myself in them. With all the platforms available now, what is the incentive to watch live vs waiting to see if the show is a success and watching it later? — Frannie G

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Matt Roush: Even streamers cancel shows from time to time — it’s just more noticeable usually when a network yanks a show. Choosing to watch anything is a calculated risk, but I always argue that it’s better to have loved and lost a show than never to have watched something of quality at all. Obviously, it’s your choice whether to wait to get hooked on something, but if everyone adopts that attitude, it becomes a self-defeating prophecy that will only further doom network shows that might be worth watching. Good luck this fall!

The Games People Play (and Watch)

Question: My family loves ABC’s summer retro game shows. I love how they recreate the look and sound of Match Game, $100,000 Pyramid, and Press Your Luck while updating it for today. When will they get around to recreating the best retro game show of all time, Hollywood Squares? Carson Kressley in the center square would be worth the price of admission alone! — Michal J

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Matt Roush: I’m sure Hollywood Squares’ time will come again. (This year, a limited-run Hollywood Museum Squares revival was streamed as a fundraiser for the Hollywood Museum, with hosts including John Davidson, Tom Bergeron, Marc Summers, Pat Finn, and Bruce Vilanch, so maybe something will come from that.) There have been several syndicated revivals, most recently from 1998-2004 with Bergeron hosting, and hip-hop and Nashville spinoffs, but if the classic Hollywood Squares does make a comeback, maybe some of those Jeopardy! guest hosts can take up residence there.

Where Have All the Teasers Gone?

Question: Recently I’ve been noticing that shows on The CW haven’t been showing a trailer for the next episode at the end of their shows, but rather trailers for different shows or new episodes of other shows. I’ve noticed this with several CW shows I watch recently (including Roswell: New Mexico and Burden of Truth) and I was just wondering why this is? As a viewer, it is very frustrating and seems like a weird move considering the after-episode commercial spot is usually used to drum up enthusiasm for the next episode and get viewers to come back the following week. — Cam

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Matt Roush: I just noticed this as well, not being a heavy CW consumer (not my demo), but after tuning in to Coroner and somehow managing to stay awake to the end, I was startled when the usual promo spot was devoted to another series on the lineup — can’t remember which one, see how well that worked? The way I figured it, then and now, is that The CW marketing masterminds must assume you’re already regularly watching the show you just finished, so by promoting another (and almost certainly) low-rated series in their lineup, it gives a different show a potential boost. I’m not a big fan of teasers, so I didn’t mind, but I get the confusion.

That’s all for now—and until after the long Labor Day weekend, so look for a new column on Sept. 10. But remember, 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 Labor Day!