Ask Matt: ‘Jeopardy!’s New Game Plan
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.
A Host of Questions About Jeopardy!’s Future
Question: What’s your take on Jeopardy!’s announcement that Mayim Bialik and Ken Jennings will be trading off hosting duties through the end of 2021? Does that mean no one else is getting a shot at the permanent role of host? Is this setting up Ken to be the permanent host in 2022? I’m not sure what to think — except I’m even more curious about how long Matt Amodio is going to reign as the Jeopardy! champ. — Phoebe
Matt Roush: As I’ve said before, I’ve stopped speculating on what the show and Sony’s next move will be. I’m just glad there will be the semblance of stability for a while because another succession of guest hosts could prove to be yet another distraction for a great show that deserves better. Which isn’t to say they won’t trot out some more talent in the new year or give some of the past guest hosts another tryout, but that’s a way’s off, and for now Jeopardy! is in very capable hands. Ken Jennings held things together admirably in the first weeks of production following Alex Trebek’s passing, and Mayim Bialik was one of the more assured celebrity guest hosts, who really seemed into the game and the contestants during her time on air.
While Jennings and Bialik each have their fans and (sigh) haters — and for that matter, so does Matt Amodio — this is probably the best short-term solution to get Jeopardy! through a tough period of deservedly negative criticism over how the studio and producers handled what should have been a smoother transition. All things considered, Matt’s winning streak is the best thing that could have happened to Jeopardy! right now, taking the focus off of the person behind the podium.
Nash Movie a Bridge to a Series?
Question: I’m excited about the new Nash Bridges TV movie! What do you think the chances are of it becoming a series again? — T.B.
Matt Roush: Anything’s possible. So far, USA Network has only committed to a single TV movie reboot reuniting Don Johnson and Cheech Marin as, reportedly, elite investigators for the SFPD. If it’s successful, I’d expect we might see a series of movie sequels or possibly a weekly series, though the notion of movie “events” seems more appealing to someone who wishes mainstream cable and broadcast networks would get back in that business. (Lifetime and Hallmark excepted because they never stop making movies.)
A Fan’s Fantasy: Renewal
Question: Roselyn Sanchez and Kiara Barnes are fantastic in the new Fantasy Island!! I cried during the first episode. Do you know if this is being renewed for a second season? It seems as though all the good shows (Manifest) are being replaced by reality shows. — Jackie A
Matt Roush: The good news is that with the arrival of the networks’ official fall season next week, most of the reality and game-show summer filler will go away. But for the time being, so will Fantasy Island, which airs its season finale on Fox Sunday night. If it returns — and that’s still a big if — it will have less to do with ratings, which haven’t been great, than with its relatively low cost, being shot in Puerto Rico on a tight budget. Deadline has reported that Fox is considering a second season as a cost-effective alternative program, presumably to return in the off-season. Stay positive and maybe your fantasy will come true.
Talent Won Out
Comment: I’m so glad Dustin Tavella won America’s Got Talent and Aiden Bryant came in second. My top two for a really long time, and both extremely impressive and positive in these tough times. Last season, the final two were so different and polarized, it’s like the voters were talking past each other. But here I think there was a real consensus (Twitter naysayers exempted): People wanted light and hopeful but spectacular. A great season all around! Now if only they can bring back the Judges Cuts! — Justin G
Matt Roush: I’m always happy to hear from satisfied customers, and I get a sense most were pleased with the results and would have been OK if either the magician (Dustin) or the aerialist (Aiden) had won. My take typically has been that there are many other singing and dancing competitions, but only America’s Got Talent could give this kind of opportunity to performers in their specialized lines of work.
Have the Lambs Gone Silent?
Question: Is Clarice officially dead? IMO, CBS never gave it a real chance. It would be a good fit on Paramount+. (Much like Evil.) Why don’t they do that? It is a great show — I’m so sick of all the so-called reality programming. — M
Matt Roush: By all accounts, it doesn’t look good, and the unhappy fate of CBS’s The Silence of the Lambs sequel along with several other casualties of last season (i.e., Prodigal Son) illustrate just what an uphill climb it can be for network shows to transition to a streamer. I can’t pretend to grasp the intricacies of the deal-making and cost structures involved — it was even touch-and-go for a while with Manifest’s move to Netflix — but the last reports I’ve seen about Clarice suggest the streamer and the studio couldn’t come to terms, which is a shame. I agree this might have flourished, or at least made more noise and been more suitable as a streaming series.
Gunning for Peter’s Comeback
Question: With all of the old shows that are being revived, I wonder if there’s any chance that they’ll bring back Peter Gunn. The premise was very simple: a private eye who worked with a police lieutenant to solve crimes, and who had a beautiful girlfriend who sang at a jazz joint. The casual banter was great, the relationships were easygoing and the music was superb! If they picked the right cast and found a great jazz composer, I think the show could be a big hit. And while they’re at it, how about bringing back East Side/West Side? At the time it aired, people said it was ahead of its time. But that time is still here, and the storylines are as relevant now as they were back in the day. Other criticism was that the show was too “dark” and the storylines were too depressing, without happy endings. Again, TV plots have come a long way since then, and gritty shows have been successful. Another show with a great cast and wonderful jazz score. I miss Henry Mancini and Kenyon Hopkins. A modern version of both shows, with good actors and great music, would really be welcome! — Maureen K
Matt Roush: I salute you for your passion and your long memory. I’m also a sucker for a great Henry Mancini theme, and that’s how I mostly remember Peter Gunn (1958-61), which was a bit before my time, though it did have some syndicated afterlife — and a 1967 feature film. There have been several attempts at reviving the series, as recently as 2013 at TNT, but so far nothing has come from it. But Peter probably has a better chance at revival than East Side/West Side, which only aired for one season (1963-64) of hard-hitting social-issue drama with a distinguished cast including George C. Scott and Cicely Tyson. (In a “Canceled Too Soon?” feature I wrote for TV Guide Magazine back in 2013, East Side was #6 on that list.)
Question: One of my favorite shows was the nighttime soap Knots Landing. During its run it rarely did repeats, was never in syndication and only the first two seasons came out on DVD. Any chance that a streaming service will air it? — Gwenn
Matt Roush: Knots did have some life in syndication during and after its run and was seen on the defunct SOAPnet in the early 2000s, but it’s probably going to take some visionary to create a streaming service devoted to soaps (prime-time and daytime) to bring this back into the spotlight that it deserves. This was always my favorite of the genre, and while I don’t know where I’d find the time to watch all 344 episodes again, I’d cheer for the opportunity. (As with the earlier question about Clarice, there are undoubtedly complicated financial deals in licensing something with this extensive of a library for an uncertain payoff.) For the record, this is one of the shows I get asked most about when it comes to streaming TV from the past, along with Northern Exposure and Homicide: Life on the Street, which could hardly be more different series.
That’s all for now. 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.)