Ask Matt: An All-‘Chicago’ Night, ’24,’ a Bumped ‘Elementary,’ ‘Underground’ and ‘Bates Motel’

Chicago Fire - Season 5;
Parrish Lewis/NBC
Taylor Kinney CHICAGO FIRE

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.


Wall-to-Wall Chicago

Question: Why hasn’t NBC ever tried an all-Chicago lineup for Wednesday night? It seems that airing Chicago Fire, Chicago Med and Chicago PD together would not only stabilize the night by attracting the franchise’s loyal fan base, but it would lend itself better to several cross-over episode storylines throughout the season. Chicago Justice, if renewed, could close out Sunday nights, maybe even running into the summer due to fall football. I know critics are going to say that would be over-saturation, but isn’t having four different Chicago series on the network already over-saturation by definition, anyway? Every show that NBC sticks at 8/7c on Wednesdays (Revolution, The Mysteries of Laura, Heartbeat, Blindspot) seems to under-perform and then just get canceled. So why not try something there that’s familiar to viewers and can possibly stop the bleeding? – Bailey

Matt Roush: Yes, over-saturation is a good word to describe NBC’s over-reliance on the Chicago formula, but that’s the nature of the business these days. (Case in point: CBS News launching 48 Hours: NCIS, a docu-series extension of the network’s most popular series, in late April.) But stacking three of the Chicago shows up on one night would seem even more like overkill. NBC is probably smart to spread the franchises throughout the week, with occasional special crossover episodes airing over an entire night as they’ve done in the past. The 8/7 time period is problematic for many reasons, but some blame has to be given to the shows they’ve scheduled there.


Is the Clock Ticking on 24: Legacy?

Question: In case I missed it, you’ve not said anything much about 24: Legacy, and I’m curious what you think of it. I’d give it a solid B, despite the familiar tropes, such as a new person with his own agenda being brought in to run CTU and CTU giving the lead hero fake credentials to bypass security protocol (this time at the Pentagon). Having the same team that was behind the original running this show has helped. Eric Carter is no Jack Bauer—no one ever will be—but Corey Hawkins is more than competent as a lead action hero, and I think he’s gotten better and more believable in the role as the season has worn on. Having Tony Almeida back has been fun, even if he has been relegated to being a hired thug. (And I’m still holding out hope for a Chloe appearance in the season finale.) I know the ratings haven’t been great, but especially given the value of time-shifted viewing, a second season may still be possible. What are your thoughts? – Travis

Matt Roush: I’d probably give the 24 reboot more of a “C” grade, considering the Keystone Kops blunders that have propelled so many of the twists, especially late in the season, with Jimmy Smits in the terrorists’ clutches one week and his wife, Miranda Otto, their captive the next. And could the bomb blast during the (inevitable) CTU invasion have been more anticlimactic? And what was the point of torturing Gerald McRaney if they’re just going to send him home afterward? I did like the most recent cliffhanger, where Tony and his mercenaries are moving in on Eric—if only they knew—but it’s a blessing the seasons are shorter now. These recent Fox reboots haven’t made the noise the network had hoped for (first The X-Files, then this, now Prison Break of all shows), but these are properties with strong international sales potential, so I wouldn’t be surprised if 24 gets yet another shot. I probably wouldn’t mourn, though, if it didn’t.


Bumping Elementary Rattles Fans

What follows is a sample of the flurry of mail I received after CBS pre-empted Sunday’s episode of Elementary, after the final round of the Masters golf tournament went to a sudden-death playoff, causing an entire hour delay of the prime-time schedule.

Question: I am probably not the only one asking, but I was wondering if you know when CBS will air (or put online) the Sunday April 9th episode of Elementary episode that we missed on the East Coast due to the Masters running an hour overtime. The CBS website doesn’t have any information on it. Thank you. – Natalie C

Question: Am I the only one who is miffed at CBS when they delete an episode of any show airing Sunday at 10/9c (currently Elementary) when sporting events in particular run late? The missed episode doesn’t even show up on demand most of the time. Why can’t CBS just show the episode the following Sunday? – Alan

Matt Roush: In this case, that’s exactly what CBS is doing. The “High Heat” episode that would have aired last Sunday if not for the hour overrun will instead air this Easter Sunday at 10/9c, following the Bee Gees music special. This is how it should work when an episode gets bumped for a delay this extreme. (CBS had to know the Masters wouldn’t end on time, although playoffs of this nature are rare. They shouldn’t have scheduled an original episode of Elementary in the first place.)

Question: When a show gets delayed for one reason or another, the norm is to run it late. The problem with that is that those of us who “TiVo” or record the show find themselves with a recording that runs out before the show ends, never to see it again. Consequently, I usually discard those programs without wasting the time to watch a show I know I won’t see the end of. Any possibility the networks will rethink how and when they broadcast those delayed programs? Better to reschedule or even cancel the episode in question. – Jay

Matt Roush: This situation is a perennial problem for shows airing after live sports events, mostly in the East and Central time zones, usually pertaining to CBS on Sundays. (Inevitably, come football season, I’ll get a new batch of complaints like this. It isn’t going away.) Only when the overrun is as extreme as Sunday’s do they actually pull an episode—which actually worked well for the others in the lineup this time, because each started on the hour, just an hour later. For those who record to watch later, the best option is to record at least an hour beyond the show you want to watch, and even that isn’t a guarantee it will air. TV is moving more toward a system where we can watch what we want where we want on streaming and On Demand platforms, but that doesn’t lessen the frustration when these conflicts happen. And because the network isn’t likely to change the schedule, it’s up to the viewer to be pro-active and add extra time when recording.


Question: Poor Elementary can’t catch a break! It wasn’t listed in the latest batch of CBS renewals, and it was delayed until 11 p.m. in the East this past Sunday due to the Masters golf tournament overrun which I’m sure didn’t help ratings-wise (for those without a DVR). Have you heard anything about its renewal chances? And didn’t it get better ratings in its former Thursday time slot? Thanks for being our TV wizard! — Gwen

Matt Roush: Wizards only have so much power, and I’m afraid my crystal ball is cloudy regarding Elementary’s chances for renewal. Most CBS procedurals last longer than five seasons, and while airing in the late slot on Sundays is not preferable, the network’s expectations probably aren’t as high, all things considered, so I’d think it’s at least 50/50 at this point. And I do wonder if CBS regrets moving Elementary from Thursdays, as the network hasn’t much luck in that time period since.


An Underground Triumph

Question: As always, Mr. Roush, I look forward to your insights into TV shows. I just saw the episode of Underground concerning Harriet Tubman. I thought it was outstanding, with a superb Emmy-worthy performance by Aisha Hinds. I just could not take my attention away from the minute she appeared on my screen. I was wondering what your opinion was of this episode as well as the series in general. I’m really impressed with this show and applaud WGN America for airing it. – Allen

Matt Roush: We’re on the same page. I led off my Wednesday “What’s On” roundup by calling this “one of the boldest hours of TV you’re likely to see,” and it would be a shame if the Emmy voters don’t nominate Aisha Hinds for Guest Performance in a Drama for commanding the screen for the entire episode while delivering Harriet Tubman’s rousing call-to-action speech. This second season of Underground has been very effective and artful in its deep focus on individual characters caught up in the crusade for freedom on the cusp of the Civil War. Some weeks have been awfully grueling, but that’s appropriate to the story being told.


Hap-lessly in Love

Question: I have just discovered Hap and Leonard on SundanceTV. The lead actors James Purefoy and Michael K Williams mesh beautifully. I find it to be original, quirky and life-affirming. Has it been renewed for a third season? – Luka

Matt Roush: Not yet, but the second season has one more week to go (the finale airs Wednesday, April 19), so there’s still time, and there are more books in Joe R. Lansdale’s series to adapt, so I’m hopeful. I appreciate the fact that the seasons are only six episodes, and I’d like to think that’s not too much of a commitment for SundanceTV to make to keep it going. This is my favorite buddy pairing on TV these days.


Not Ready to Check Out of Bates Motel

Question: Please Please Please bring back the Bates Motel series! I love it & everyone else does, too! — Sandi in West Virginia

Matt Roush: Everyone I know who’s watching this final run of episodes is really into it, as am I, but I am 100% behind the show ending this season. Certain stories need an endpoint, and with Norma dead and Norman’s crimes exposed, keeping the story going would stretch both belief and, most likely, patience. Be happy that Bates Motel went this far to tell the story its producers wanted to tell, and that Freddie Highmore and Vera Farmiga were able to deliver such astonishing work throughout. I’ll miss the show, too, but I’m at peace with it wrapping up. Of course, the last two episodes have to deliver, but why wouldn’t they?


Don’t Silence Speechless

Question: I guess Season 1 of Speechless has finished. If so, when is it back on our screens? — Jeremy

Matt Roush: Like most network shows this time of year, Speechless is in a cycle where repeats are scattered with original episodes. This is nothing new, and nothing to be alarmed about. ABC’s Wednesday comedies will be repeats again next week, but starting April 26 through the end of the season in mid-May, Speechless will be back with original episodes. And while it hasn’t been renewed yet for a second season, I’m pretty confident it will be.


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