Ask Matt: 'This Is Us' Finale and Jack's Fate, Plus 'Humans,' the 'Supergirl-Flash' Musical, 'Vampire Diaries,' 'Little Big Shots' 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 Ask Matt columns on most Tuesdays and Fridays.
Question: I loved the first season of This Is Us, and was moved to tears (so what else is new) by Jack’s romantic speech to Rebecca at the end, which took some of the sting out of their separation. But I understand quite a few viewers are unhappy that the season finale didn’t address the circumstances of Jack’s death. I’m personally OK with that, because honestly, I’m not sure I can handle it. But did anyone really think they’d go there in the first season, when we already know there are least two more years of storytelling to go? — Charlotte
Matt Roush: I agree with you up to the point that This Is Us is not a show about Jack’s death, but about his life and that of the family he so passionately loved being a part of. I enjoyed the finale as well—although I could have done without the melodrama of Jack’s poker game/foiled bar heist caper—but any backlash, such as it is, reminds us that This Is Us teases something as momentous as the father-of-all-time’s death at its own peril. When adult Kate confessed to Toby a week earlier that she felt responsible for her dad’s death, it felt like a tease when Jack got into the car drunk to go plead his case to his wife in Cleveland. Almost a cliffhanger, which really isn’t this show’s style, even when it veers into soap opera. The fact that sanity prevailed, and Rebecca drove her wasted husband home, was comforting, but also made the tease feel like a cheat, a cheap trick. So while I get the criticism, it doesn’t detract from the accomplishment of this rare breakout TV show that’s about something real: the dynamics of a family and how the way you were raised informs who you become.
Oh, the Human-ity
Question: With AMC running double episodes of Humans to seemingly burn off the rest of the episodes, the future doesn't look bright for this interesting series. Do you think it will be renewed? - AJ
Matt Roush: Having watched the entire season in advance before filing my review, I wasn’t aware AMC had begun double-running episodes. That isn’t a good sign, I agree, but given that this is a co-production with Britain’s Channel 4, the decision may not be entirely in AMC’s hands, and with only eight episodes per season, I hope they can figure out how to continue the story in a third year, because the way it ends, I definitely wanted more.
Question: Do you think musical episodes, i.e. the upcoming Supergirl/Flash crossover, really help the ratings? - Steve
Matt Roush: I don’t see how they can hurt. But even if stunts like this one—which airs next Monday and Tuesday—don’t move the ratings needle, they certainly generate great buzz. And if this comes even close to the brilliant “Once More With Feeling” episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, in entertainment value or (less likely) dramatic impact, I’ll be a happy musical-theater camper.
Closing the Diary on Vampire
Question: I liked the way The Vampire Diaries' finale wrapped up the main characters' stories a la Six Feet Under. It also beautifully portrayed a number of emotional connections, most notably the brotherly bond between Damon and Stefan and the BFF-ship of Caroline, Bonnie and Elena. It was therefore surprising that the long-awaited reunion of Damon and Elena and their “happily ever after” seemed almost devoid of passion. I understand that Nina Dobrev's availability was limited, but I also can't help wondering whether her history with Ian Somerhalder and the fact that he is now married put a damper on what most fans thought would be the emotional highlight of the finale. Thoughts? - Cynthia
Matt Roush: This show lost me a long time ago, after one too many resurrections of characters thought dead making me wonder what the stakes (no pun intended) were here, but I’m glad to hear that the resolution was mostly satisfying for those who stayed loyal to the end. That was my takeaway from our own finale post-mortem, anyway. No series finale will please everyone, but knowing that the show’s creators were able to end the story on their own terms is its own gift.
Show the Talent on Talent Shows!
Question: Who is the idiot at NBC who puts the camera on Steve Harvey while one of the Little Big Shots is performing, and shows us an America’s Got Talent judge’s reaction to the amazing acrobatic feat we aren’t seeing because the camera is on the judge? Who deserves the award for Worst Cinematography on a Talent Show? – Dave
Matt Roush: Don’t blame the camera operator. They’re just doing their job. This is the decision of the show’s director and/or executive producers, who obviously believe cutaways to reaction shots are as entertaining as the main event. I’m with you on this grope, and I can’t say I’ll miss Nick Cannon’s mugging from the wings as AGT host, now that Tyra Banks is taking over.
From Action Hero to Suit
Question: Just before Chicago Justice aired its first episode, I binge-watched all five seasons of Strike Back. I am having a real hard time getting my head around seeing Philip Winchester in a suit and tie, working in a law office. He was fantastic in that fast-action series (as was Sullivan Stapleton, now on Blindspot). My head is spinning. — Warren
Matt Roush: I wish I could say the Chicago Justice role was as good a fit for Winchester as Strike Back’s Stonebridge, but I can’t. (Though Stapleton is still in action-hero mode on Blindspot, he was also much better company as the more free-wheeling Damian Scott on that Cinemax series.) NBC seems determined to make Winchester a star, though, and Justice is likely to do a lot more for him than last season’s quick-fade dud The Player.
Another Theory on Why Doubt Failed
Question: I was interested in Doubt until I saw the big news that it would star the latest in the alphabet of minority sexual victims, a transgender. I know I am not in the minority when I say that I don't watch TV so that the latest sexual victim class can be paraded as normal. In other words, I prefer shows with less of an obvious agenda. You can write me off as a small minority, but if you had an open mind, I think you would find I am right. — Anne
Matt Roush: Have you seen Laverne Cox? I can think of no one who I would classify less as a sexual victim. And while your theory may be right—we’ll never know—be careful throwing around phrases like “open mind,” because it works both ways.
Question: Matt, drop a bug in the correct ear. I would love to see Bull do a crossover with NCIS. - Dave T
Matt Roush: If only for that moment when McGee or Abby or Ducky or whoever looks up and says, “Don’t I know you from somewhere?”
That’s all for now. We’ll pick up the conversation again next week. 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.