Ask Matt: The Polarizing ‘Twin Peaks,’ ‘Grey’s’ and its Spinoff, Rebooting ‘Law & Order,’ ‘The Son,’ Cancellations 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: An hour has passed since I finished (survived?) the two-hour Twin Peaks: The Return premiere on Showtime, and I still can't get over the fact that it took David Lynch 25 years to create and write something this awful. I enjoyed the first season of the original Twin Peaks, as did many others, but watched in dismay as the second season slid downhill in quality and was eventually canceled. But now as I process the two hours I watched tonight, I realize that Season 2 wasn't rock bottom. That occurred tonight (I presume). Have you seen any future episodes yourself, and if you have, is there any hope that this series could return to its Season 1 form? After tonight, I'm ready to give up on this reboot and pretend it was all a bad, bad dream. — Terry
Matt Roush: I have not seen anything beyond the four hours currently available (and not provided to critics in advance unless you attended a Los Angeles screening). I was able to stay up Sunday long enough to watch the third hour online, but my own dreamland beckoned and I had to defer the fourth until Monday morning, because I’d had my fill. All I can say with any certainty is that the show will continue to be polarizing. Even in my initial Critic’s Notebook column responding to the show’s first four hours, I wavered between admiring David Lynch’s visual style and despairing that the show was still so obsessed with its freaky Black Lodge-style surrealism that it had lost much of its initial heart and soul. As the Log Lady interprets the log: “Something is missing.” And too little of the first four hours was even in Twin Peaks itself, a serious miscalculation. I’ll certainly stay tuned to see how it develops, but right now it feels more like a chore than a treat.
Grey’s Doctors MIA
Question: Did I have selective amnesia during this season of Grey's Anatomy? After the whole Jo/Karev debacle at the end of last season, I expected more time to be spent with that relationship. However, it felt like Camilla Luddington and Justin Chambers were practically ghosts the entire second half of the season. They weren't the only ghosts, either. It wasn't uncommon for any character to have one line or not make an appearance and I can't think of any explanation (aside from the maternity leaves of Jessica Capshaw and Caterina Scorsone). I guess I'm just wondering if I'm the only person who noticed that characters disappeared for long stretches of time. - Unsigned
Matt Roush: That’s the nature of a long-running show with an ensemble as large as Grey’s. Some characters take a back seat as other storylines ramp up, and with the focus so heavily in the back half of the season on the shock waves after the horrible Dr. Minnick usurped Webber’s authority, that tended to marginalize other stories including that of Alex and Jo. Can’t say I missed it, myself, as I enjoyed the chemistry of Meredith and Riggs and the twist involving Owen’s newly discovered sister. Perfectly soapy stuff there, and not as mopey as Alex forever repenting or stalking Jo’s ex. And then came the challenge of writing Stephanie out of the show in the final episodes. Maybe her departure will help focus the show more equitably next season.
Grey’s Fiery Spinoff
Question: I don't watch Chicago Fire or any of its associated shows, but I would like to think that as with hospital and legal shows, there's room for more than one of them on the air, but firefighting does sound like a more narrow space with which to work than those others. Given the set-up of Grey’s Anatomy’s season finale, and the fact that it was written by Stacy McKee who will be writing the new spinoff, I was half-expecting to meet some firefighters in the finale who would transition to the new show, but none of them had enough material to make an impact. I know you didn't care for Private Practice, but I thought that spinoff made sense because they took a character we already liked and were deeply invested in and gave her a show. What feels off to me about this one is that it does not seem to be coming organically out of the original show, and perhaps that's why it feels unnecessary.
I doubt very much that ABC actually wanted to cancel Scandal, but chose to respect Shonda Rhimes’ decision because she is more valuable to the network than Scandal. I doubt very much that the timing of the Grey's spinoff announcement coinciding with Scandal's final-season announcement is a coincidence, and I feel like they might have asked for a spinoff at this time so that the spinoff can replace Scandal, at which point it would form a two-hour block with the spinoff. Private Practice also aired for most of its run like this. What do you think? — JL
Matt Roush: Makes sense to me from a business perspective, but my Seattle Fire pun in the last Ask Matt column was more about lamenting the lack of originality that this was the direction they were going. Before long, I expect they’ll have to start worrying about how to replace How to Get Away with Murder as well, because it’s even less watchable than the over-the-top Scandal anymore.
Why Not Just Reboot Law & Order?
Question: With all the reboots that are happening (Will & Grace, Full House, Arrested Development, Roseanne, etc.), and the relative lack of buzz for most of NBC's hourlong shows, why don't they just bite the bullet and reboot the Law & Order mother ship? If seems too logical a move not to happen. - Rick
Matt Roush: Give it time, I hope. I’ve lamented many times in this space that the show that was the foundation of Dick Wolf’s empire never got the sendoff it deserved, after 20 seasons. But given the focus on all things Chicago (including a Justice show that can’t compare to Law & Order or even SVU), and that NBC is attaching the Law & Order brand to a true-crime docudrama recreation of the Menendez Brothers trial—nowhere near as relevant as the O.J. Simpson miniseries, which this is clearly trying to copy—I wouldn’t hold my breath. Still, it’s such a potent franchise that at some point, NBC will surely relent and try to recapture the magic of the two-tiered procedural that paved the way for so many others and that has rarely been equaled.
[Update: With the cancellation of Chicago Justice, maybe a Law & Order comeback isn't that far-fetched after all. Staying hopeful.]
Verdict Is In on Trial
Question: I was just wondering if there had been any news on whether NBC's Trial & Error would be coming back for another season. From what I gathered, they hadn't made the decision in time for the Upfronts, but I haven't heard anything since. I really liked the show and hope it comes back, but if not, I'm glad they wrapped it up in the end. If you've heard anything new, I'd appreciate the info. -Maria
Matt Roush: Happy news. Several days after its Upfront presentation, NBC ordered a second season of Trial & Error. A short order of 10 episodes for midseason, which seems about right for this sort of serialized story, and most of the original cast is expected to return, save John Lithgow, whose case is completed. It will be hard to top that storyline and that defendant, but the limited run might help attract another star of that caliber.
The Son Shines on Saturdays
Question: I LOVE the show The Son on AMC, and am stymied as to why they chose to air it on Saturday nights. No one is home (except for me, apparently, and I DVR it). Almost seems like they gave it a death sentence from the start. Am mad because I'm invested in it and afraid they'll cancel it. Thoughts? - Teri
Matt Roush: More good news: AMC has renewed The Son, so no worries. And the reason it airs on Saturdays is that AMC has had success programming original Westerns on that night (often following a schedule of vintage Western repeats during the day). And if many of us end up watching it delayed on DVR or another platform, that’s hardly a surprise, and AMC gets it. Airing on another night might even raise unrealistic expectations for its performance, so I’m cool with it airing when it does. (I just have to remember that it’s on, since I tend to screen shows like these in advance.)
Life After Cancellation for Last Man?
Question: I would like to know if there is any interest in another network picking up Last Man Standing since ABC cancelled it. I am more conservative, but watch shows that are obviously liberal-leaning. As the ratings were good for a Friday night, I don't understand why another network wouldn't pick it up, unless all are so liberal that they don't want to play to the conservative parts of the nation. – Joanne
Matt Roush: So far no words of any takers, but it has been reported that the studio (Sony) is shopping it around, having been taken by surprise by the cancellation. The last time I addressed this, before ABC announced its schedule, I argued that its cancellation was most likely due to the fact that ABC didn’t own it, which may still be a factor in why it wasn’t held back for midseason. But when I saw that ABC had abandoned its “TGIF” family-sitcom strategy on Fridays in favor of moving action-fantasy shows (Once Upon a Time, Marvel’s The Inhuamns) to the night, then the rationale became more pragmatic, that there wasn’t a home for it anymore. (Though it still could have been put on the shelf as a replacement to give one of the Tuesday or Wednesday sitcoms a rest.) I still look at this as a business, not a political, decision. After six seasons, Last Man Standing is not a cheap show to renew, which may be why no one has made a deal yet. It could still happen.
Code Black on the Back Burner
Question: I am upset that CBS has canceled Code Black. My husband and I really liked this show. We feel that it is a wonderful show. It was a fast-paced show that keeps its viewers on the edge of their seat. It was a very complex show, and it not only showed the medical side, it also showed that the characters are caring, compassionate people. They may have had ups and downs in their lives, but they were there for their patients. I am wondering if CBS has plans to keep it, or is it really over? — Tammy Lyn
Matt Roush: I end with this question mainly to acknowledge just how confusing this time of year is. Code Black is not on CBS’s fall schedule, but it hasn’t been canceled. It’s being held for midseason or possibly later, as the network pursues a schedule of year-round originals. Also in this situation on CBS: Elementary, The Amazing Race, Undercover Boss and Man With a Plan. Just because they’re not airing in fall doesn’t mean they’re in imminent danger of cancellation, though that’s often the perception.
That’s all for now. We’ll pick up the conversation again later this 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.