Ask Matt: Will ‘Magnum’ Be the Same After NBC’s Rescue?

Magnum P.I. - Perdita Weeks and Jay Hernandez
Magnum P.I.

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 some Fridays.

Will Magnum Look or Feel Different in its New Home?

Question: I was so pleased that Magnum P.I. was picked up by NBC after CBS canceled it. But I do worry that the new network might feel a need to change things. I have seen shows that added characters to make more conflict or changed tone, usually again to add more conflict. I’d also like to see all the regulars come back and tie up all the plots, not just drop them like they didn’t happen. I worry that less money may be put into it as well. Have you heard what they’re doing as they bring the show to NBC? — Patti Marie

Matt Roush: It’s probably too soon to know if and how Magnum will change with the switch of networks. What we do know is that the next two seasons under this deal will be considerably shorter, at 10 episodes per (vs. the typical 20), suggesting the show will be used as a midseason replacement for now. Much of the reporting during the time the show was in limbo focused on economics and cost, but whether tightening the budget belt will result in anything noticeable on screen remains to be seen. As for cast and tone, I’m not aware NBC or NBCUniversal has any intention of fixing what wasn’t broke. The show appears to be transferring with its creative team mostly intact, so I’d expect Magnum to be the Magnum the fans enjoy to the end. And if it emerges as a hit for NBC, the sky could be the limit.

More Life for Transplant?

Question: I absolutely love Transplant. Is there any chance NBC will pick up the next season? The characters are so compelling, as are the stories. Hamza Haq is wonderful as Bash. — Jeanne

Matt Roush: Hard to say at this point. The first season of the Canadian medical drama did well for NBC during the period when first-run programming was at a premium during the height of the pandemic, but fared much less well on its return. Typically, when a show is booted to the graveyard of Saturday night prime time, that’s the end of the story. But Transplant is producing a third season for Canadian TV, and licensing a show from abroad is way less expensive than producing it for your own network. So it may be cost-effective for NBC to bring the show back, despite the ratings, or if NBC blinks, maybe another outlet will pick it up — or stream it. It’s hard to imagine we won’t have access to a third season at some point somewhere.

Worse Than Lost Luggage

Question: What are they doing with The Flight Attendant? If confusing and turning off viewers is their goal, they’ve succeeded here. After such a great first season, two-thirds into episode 3 we’ve thrown in the towel. It’s impossible to stay with, and having all those imaginary clone characters is totally annoying. — Peter L, Margate, FL

Matt Roush: You made it longer than I did. For me, the second season instantly leaned into the silliest and most aggravating aspects of the first season, which at least had the understandable hook of Cassie (Kaley Cuoco, who rises above the material) being over her head in a situation not of her making. The idea that anyone would use this dingbat, even a sober version, as a spy is beyond belief, and I agree that having multiple versions of Cassie clanging around in her head was too much of a trite thing. At least it wasn’t nominated for Best Comedy this time.

The Arbitrary Nature of Renewing Low-Rated Shows

Question: How can Fox renew both low-rated (and critically middling to panned) sitcoms Call Me Kat and Welcome to Flatch, yet they cancel Pivoting, whose ratings were just as low as Flatch? That really doesn’t make sense at all, yet these renewal decisions by Fox don’t make sense either! Have the ratings for broadcast networks (with the exception of live sports programming ratings) deteriorated this badly because of competition from cable networks and streaming services that all the networks are now renewing low-rated shows despite bad reviews from critics and apathy from their audiences? — Chris B

Matt Roush: As I’ve said before, I tend to be more surprised by renewals than cancellations anymore. From what I saw reported in the industry trades, Welcome to Flatch made enough financial concessions to Fox to get a renewal — and to be fair, that offbeat and decidedly low-key comedy earned more positive reviews than most of its ilk last season. It can seem arbitrary if you’re only looking at the numbers as to why some shows survive and others don’t, but as one of my colleagues used to tell me, even before the overall decline in broadcast ratings: They can’t cancel everything.

Goode-Bye to the Emmys

Comment: Since a small child growing up in the 1950s and ’60s, movies and TV were an important part of my life. Although my degree is in something entirely different, I did take several courses related to film history. I find today as I am comfortably retired, I have the time to watch a plethora of shows on streaming platforms. I find the Emmys are so narrowly focused on a few platforms and shows that their nominations have no merit and are totally irrelevant given the current environment. I was appalled that it seems the members have become actually lazy, and I have to surmise they did not even watch many of the shows and acting performances eligible this year.

While I agree the limited-series supporting categories can be problematic, their choices were dominated by two shows. I was particularly upset that Matthew Goode was not nominated for The Offer. That performance was a master class in acting. While the show had mixed reactions, his performance was mesmerizing. I know that many people have said they knew Bob Evans, I actually did. As a 20-year-old whose uncle was on the board of Gulf and Western, I was at the premiere of The Godfather in New York and met him. Goode captured the voice, mannerisms, and charisma that Evans possessed. I suspect that Goode, who I have admired since I saw Stoker, was snubbed because he is not a so-called Hollywood insider as so many of the nominees are. To me, the Emmys have no integrity and should go the way of the Golden Globes. — Linda V

Matt Roush: I once met Robert Evans as well as part of a Television Critics Association event, and reveled in his narration for the film version of his terrific memoir, The Kid Stays in the Picture. As I noted in my review of the very uneven and overlong The Offer, Matthew Goode was also by far my favorite part of that limited series, “stealing the show with silky bravado.” I agree he nailed the essence of Evans, and it’s a shame he didn’t earn a nomination for playing so vividly against type. (His only Emmy nomination to date was as a guest actor in The Crown.) There’s little doubt that the Emmy voters are ill-equipped to see all of the fine TV shows and performers worth nominating — and this year were seemingly so obsessed by The White Lotus and Dopesick that they couldn’t bring themselves to broaden their gaze elsewhere. I wouldn’t go so far as to lump the Emmys with the disgraced Golden Globes, but it’s hard to argue for the relevance of the awards when so few shows swallow up so many nominations.

When Legends Compete

Question: I adore Only Murders in the Building and am enjoying it even more this season. Looking at the Emmy nominations, I can’t help wondering if Martin Short and Steve Martin, both nominated for lead comedy actor, will cancel each other out? I’d love to see a tie, but I know that’s rare. Where do you lean? — Gordon

Matt Roush: Both are deserving in different ways: Martin Short displaying his broad comic talents to the hilt, while Steve Martin underplays yet reveals his gifts for physical comedy throughout. I’m terrible at predicting these things, but currently am favoring Steve Martin, who’s also nominated for writing, and whose portrayal of a one-time big-name TV actor is laced with wry pathos. Both comedy legends may have to take a back seat to prior winners in the category: either Jason Sudeikis as Ted Lasso or Bill Hader as Barry (for what’s essentially a dramatic performance this season). But if either were to win for this inspired comedy, I’d cheer.

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.)