Ask Matt: Dark Clouds in ‘Big Sky’
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.
Sophomore slump for Big Sky?
Comment: After a brilliant first season, the Big Sky outlook has turned cloudy. Too many characters (teens-drugs/cash, cartel hit team, crooked deputy, undercover fed) and worst of all, Lagarski’s twin brother as a sadistic dog trainer. Really? — David M, Saint Charles, MO
Matt Roush: I was already hearing some grumblings by the end of the first season, which maybe was working too quickly through the C.J. Box books about Cassie Dowell (who on the page has a far different career path, not involving Jenny Hoyt). Bill S. wrote in to wonder, “How can such a good show go downhill so fast?” Part of the problem could be that it’s hard to keep trying to top yourself — for a show that killed off a seemingly major character in the first episode — and what we’ve now got is a show that feels more ludicrous than suspenseful. (Watching a hysterical Jamie-Lynn Sigler run haplessly through the woods and put a complete stranger in mortal peril was maybe the clumsiest and most predictable action sequence I’ve witnessed in a long while.) I’m hoping Spectrum Originals has better luck with its upcoming series based on Box’s terrific Joe Pickett thrillers (starring For All Mankind’s Michael Dorman).
Adapting a Sci-Fi Classic Isn’t Easy
Comment: Your description of the pacing of the Apple TV+ adaptation of Foundation as “glacial” was kind. The first three hours managed to get about 60 pages into the FIRST book of the original trilogy. (I’m not going to even speculate about the other Foundation novels Isaac Asimov wrote.) Since most of the books involve people sitting around talking, I understand why the producers had to make changes to keep audience interest. In fact, all of the scenes with Empire are interesting, even though they are a total creation for the TV adaptation. The few romantic insertions are more of a problem, given that the first book alone covers 300 years, most characters will be gone before the audience can get invested in them. At any rate, I’ll stick with it — I’ve been waiting for this since I first read the books 60 years ago. — Rick C
Matt Roush: Maybe sci-fi fans will be encouraged by the news that Apple has renewed Foundation for a second season. I’m still debating about taking the plunge again, having been less than entranced by the first round. I’m only glancingly familiar with the Asimov books, but it strikes me that this is one of those seminal works of fiction that resists dramatic/cinematic treatment.
A Shorter Tour of Duty
Question: Will SEAL Team be a full 20something season on Paramount+ or the more usual dozen-ish episodes more common to streaming shows? Somewhere along the line I will pick up Paramount+ for a month so I can binge it, and also Evil. — David F
Matt Roush: Your instincts are correct that the military drama will produce fewer episodes — 14 total, I’m told — than the broadcast network norm once the show moves from CBS to the streamer after the fourth episode. Your strategy of signing up for a short time, to watch the shows you know you want to see — and you’re in for a treat with the second season of Evil — is no doubt going to become even more commonplace as consumers navigate this increasingly cluttered (and costly) universe.
Matt Roush: I have been assured this was just an uncanny resemblance. But wouldn’t he be great on this terrific new comedy series?
More Meerkats, Please!
Question: I am loving the reboot of Meerkat Manor on BBC America and missed it since the original left the air. Since the season finale just aired on Saturday, do you have any information on if additional seasons will air? They can’t end on a cliffhanger. This is real life after all. — Bob from Portland
Matt Roush: No word yet, but this has been a popular franchise for the channel over the years, so I’d be surprised if this is the last we see of these compelling mammals.
The Invisible Walton
Question: In the most recent (Oct. 11-24) issue of TV Guide Magazine, a picture was published of the cast of the new Waltons movie, which debuts on The CW later this year. Did anyone notice that there’s one important member of the series missing? What happened to Ben? He’s nowhere to be seen and is never mentioned. Have they dropped one of the kids from the show or is this an inexplicable oversight? If you’re going to remake a show, you can’t just drop a semi-major character or member of the iconic family. Good night, John-Boy! — Aflem
Matt Roush: It seems there’s one fewer Walton in this rebooted holiday movie: The Waltons’ Homecoming, airing Nov. 28 (marking 50 years from when the first Homecoming movie aired, which led to the long-running series). I haven’t heard an explanation why, but from what I’ve seen, there are six, not seven, children in this version, with John-Boy still the eldest, followed by Jason, Mary Ellen, Erin, Jim-Bob, and Elizabeth. I guess the upside is there’s one less mouth for the Depression-era family to feed.
And Finally …
Comment: One more point about the Jeopardy! “conspiracy” to keep Ken Jennings the all-time top winner on the show: Rigging the outcome of a game show is against any number of federal laws, and the last thing I think the producers of Jeopardy! would do is risk killing such a profitable enterprise just to keep one person’s record intact. Glad you printed the letter, though. It was a stressful week and the laugh felt great! — Ed
Matt Roush: Happy to oblige. And yes, I’m also hoping that was a joke. If you want a bit of history on the actual quiz-show scandals of the 1950s, check out 1994’s Quiz Show.
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.)