Ask Matt: 'Grey’s' and 'Suits' Fatigue, 'When We Rise,' the end of 'Grimm,' 'Good Fight,' and more
Welcome to the Q&A with TV critic (also known to some TV fans as their "TV therapist") Matt Roush, who'll address whatever you love, loathe, are confused or frustrated or thrilled by in today's vast TV landscape. 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. Look for upcoming Ask Matt columns on most Tuesdays and Fridays.
Question: Can we commiserate about Grey's Anatomy? I enjoyed last season, especially seeing the re-growth of Meredith, but this season is driving me bonkers! Alex has been painted as a monster, Jo's puppy dog feel-sorry-for-me act is getting old. I want to reach through the TV and slap April. I don't understand why Amelia was ever made a part of the show; she does nothing for it. Lastly, the Eliza Minnick “I'm god of the hospital” story needs to come to some kind of conclusion. I was really expecting someone to put her in her place after the episode where the kid died during surgery. Rant over!
Second: Do you think Suits may be getting to the point of overstaying its welcome? I knew at some point the series would have to go there with Mike getting caught, and despite some flaws I mostly enjoyed the first part of the season. The back half I started losing interest, and can't help but wonder if it's time for a conclusion. - Abby
Matt Roush: Comments like these remind me of the toll it can take to stay loyal to a show over the long haul. I’m still watching Grey’s most weeks—habits are hard to break, and maybe it’s just where my head is by Thursdays that I need that escape—and I agree with many of Abby’s points. (I’ve wanted to put a muffler on April for years.) The subplot of Eliza as miracle doctor/teacher is a real sore point, as it was mishandled from the start. For Bailey to thrust her new system on the staff without preparation or debate was awfully ill-conceived. When Eliza ran away from the surgery that ended in the death of a child, I don’t know if we were supposed to feel sympathy for her, but I only felt contempt. But the way the entire subplot has played out, she never had a chance. With Suits, I couldn’t get past the fact that they were, at least for a while, running a firm that felt more like a ghost town, and losing Jessica (Gina Torres) was also a tough blow. Which may explain why most of this winter’s midseason run is still on my DVR waiting to be watched (if the glut of new TV would ever slow down). It looks like Suits is still in the process of reinventing itself, so while it’s no doubt closer to the end of its run than the beginning, I’m not ready to write it off just yet. Same with Grey’s.
ABC Rises to the Occasion
Question: Last week, ABC aired the miniseries When We Rise. Although I heard and saw heavy advertising for it in the couple of weeks leading up to the premiere, I didn't tune in to watch it. However, a few days later, I decided to watch it on Hulu and, well, I got hooked. I think the first half of the miniseries was extraordinary, with some really great acting (I would single out Emily Skeggs as the young Roma and Carrie Preston as Sally Gearhart, in particular). However, I know that the ratings were not great. Unfortunately, the premise probably kept a lot of people away, but I give credit to ABC for airing it anyway! My biggest complaint with the series is that they had different actors playing the same characters in different generations. It took me about an hour of Night 3 to get the characters right. If This Is Us can make Mandy Moore look 30 years older (although I still don’t believe Mandy Moore looks late 60s) and if The Golden Girls can make Estelle Getty look 20 years older, then I don't see why the make-up department on When We Rise couldn't do the same with the younger actors. So, some questions for you: How come they decided to have different actors portray the same character? Do you think the low ratings will keep networks from showing miniseries going forward? Do you think the show has a chance of attracting attention come Emmy time? And, if so, who would you single out for recognition? — Tim in Atlanta
Matt Roush: As I suggested in my review, I was also especially impressed by the early chapters, as the characters first embraced their call to activism and their sexuality. About the casting: The issue wasn’t so much about aging the younger actors to play themselves later in life, but that the series had locked in marquee talent like Mary-Louise Parker, Rachel Griffiths and Guy Pearce to play these real-life figures, and the real question is whether they could play as young as the characters were when they first started out. Emily Skeggs, who I only knew from Broadway’s Fun Home, was a true revelation as young Roma, and I’d love for her to get Emmy recognition. But given that, to no one’s surprise, When We Rise generated ratings more comparable to cable than broadcast expectations, it might be a long shot for anyone but the better-known actors to break through. (They’ll be competing with series like Fargo, American Crime and Feud, so it will be a crowded field.) The miniseries might still be nominated, and I hope it is, and the work by Guy Pearce and Michael K. Williams as the older Ken Jones was very strong, so there’s hope for some recognition. Finally, it’s hard to say if the networks will rally behind this format again. There’s always a lot of talk about the need for “event” programming, and multi-part stories used to qualify. I hope they will again.
Saying Goodbye to Grimm
Question: This is the first time I have ever written about a show, but I am so disappointed that Grimm is canceled. I have loved this show right from the start. So unusual and I think a family favorite, but maybe not for enough people. There are plenty of other shows that should be gone. I guess I'll just have to not get attached anymore. — Patricia
Matt Roush: It’s always disappointing when a longtime favorite ends its run, but there’s a difference between a show going off the air and being canceled—which would be a more appropriate response if Grimm had been yanked off the air without being able to prepare and promote a proper conclusion. No show lasts forever, and for a supernatural drama on a major network airing on Fridays to make it to a sixth season with more than 120 episodes is quite an accomplishment. To take away from this that it’s not worth getting attached anymore is to dismiss the years spent watching and enjoying Grimm.
On a related note concerning a supernatural drama ending this week after an even longer run, here’s a wonderful bit of TV trivia: On Friday, March 10, when The CW’s The Vampire Diaries calls it a night after eight seasons, it will be 20 years to the date that The WB launched Buffy the Vampire Slayer. How time flies.
Waiting for Midnight
Question: What's the status of NBC's supernatural show, Midnight, Texas? I feel like I've been hearing about it off and on for at least a year now, but it never showed up. NBC released a trailer a few months ago, but there was no premiere date announced. Is it ever going to air? - Jay
Matt Roush: It would make sense if this were to fill the void left by Grimm on Fridays after the March 31 series finale, but as of this writing, NBC hasn’t announced anything—although the network has set Ellen DeGeneres’ comedic reality show First Dates for the 8/7c Friday time period starting April 7, so maybe Midnight would spare us a second hour of Dateline every Friday. As far as I know, the series is still on NBC’s docket, and if it isn’t scheduled by spring, perhaps it will be part of the network’s summer lineup.
Doubt’s Demise and a Newsy Pre-emption
Question: I just caught up on your Ask Matt columns and was unpleasantly surprised to learn about the cancellation of Doubt. I kind of liked it and tentatively added it to my viewing schedule. I thought it got some good reviews. It had a great cast playing interesting characters and seemed to have a lot of good story possibilities for them. Any insight into why they yanked it so fast?
Also, I have been watching CNN's The History of Comedy, which was pre-empted by "breaking news" last week. This is not unusual, and while I understand that it is a news channel, it is not easy to follow these series when this keeps happening. It takes a lot of work on the guide grids and on-demand menus to make sure I'm getting to see all the episodes. I watched the news program that came on before History was scheduled and was subjected to 20 minutes of repetitive analysis from five commentators before I finally muted it and turned to my tablet for real news. When Don Lemon's show started in place of History, I just turned the TV off. Maybe I'll just skip these docu-series in the future. I don't know what they can do differently except schedule these shows on typically slower news days, but that is no guarantee. — Frank
Matt Roush: The sudden pulling of Doubt was a bit of a shock, given that networks aren’t as quick with the trigger-finger as they used to be. But despite some generous reviews, including to some degree mine, CBS chose not to have patience with this series’ slow start, and given the serialized nature of its primary storyline with Katherine Heigl falling for her client Steven Pasquale, the network no doubt felt there was little hope of it gaining traction. Regarding CNN and its more evergreen programming: There really is no such thing as a slow news day anymore, so it behooves the network to let its viewers know as clearly as possible (including on the website, which can be updated more quickly than most on-air program guides) when a series like this is being rescheduled. I’d consult cnn.com first in hopes of staying current.
Good Fight’s Diversity Belongs on CBS
Question: First, I wanted to say thanks for all of the great work that you and the TV Guide Magazine/tvinsider staff do. Also, as a huge fan of The Good Wife, I was really looking forward to the spinoff The Good Fight. I was not disappointed in the solid premiere episode. What I am extremely disappointed in is the decision by CBS to air the rest of the episodes on its CBS All Access pay service. For someone on a tight budget who already pays for other streaming services and monthly Internet service, I'm not about to shell out more money for one show. I'll wait for all of the episodes to air and then binge watch at my friend's house. I'm sure it's not what CBS wants to hear.
The more important point is this: CBS has a glut of free shows centered on young(ish), straight white dudes. Yet a new show that features a woman of a certain age, a woman of color and a queer woman as leads gets bumped into the "premium" category? I suppose Doubt ticks a lot of diversity boxes as well and TGF drew the short straw. Heaven forbid there should be two new shows on CBS that fall into this category! I can't help but wonder what the TV landscape—what society's landscape—would look like today if The Jeffersons had been bumped to a pay service? — E
Matt Roush: An interesting observation, and one made even more relevant by Doubt (which featured Laverne Cox in a major supporting role) being axed after just two episodes. There’s no question TV programming has made great strides in diversity and inclusion since the days of The Jeffersons, among other groundbreaking sitcoms and dramas of the 1970s and 80s, but it’s somewhat ironic that the network where Norman Lear aired so many of his revolutionary sitcoms is now the one with the most challenges in this area.
Sticking With Nashville
Question: I may be the only one that feels this way, but I'm actually more excited to see where Nashville takes things after Rayna's death. I love Connie Britton, she was one of the main reasons I started watching, but it just felt she was so much of a presence it kind of overwhelmed the show. And I was tired of the push/pull of Rayna/Deacon by Season 2. I'm interested in seeing more story for other characters and perhaps even some new characters to broaden the stories. - Donna
Matt Roush: We’ll let that be the last word—for now—on this issue, which has obsessed many of my readers for the last two weeks. Although I don’t think there could ever be enough Rayna/Deacon for most fans’ tastes, let’s keep an open mind on what’s to come—especially once the show takes a time jump to get us past the immediate mourning.
That’s all for now. Thanks as always for reading, and remember that I 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.