Ask Matt: New vs. Old ‘Dynasty,’ ‘Longmire,’ ‘Face Off’ and More

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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 (though not on July 4) and Fridays.


‘Dynasty’ Throwbacks

Question: I keep hearing about the doom of the new Dynasty without Joan Collins. I agree, but if this is a new show, a new cast, a black Jeff Colby, an Hispanic Krystle, how on earth would you bring Alexis to the show??? She can’t be Blake’s ex-wife. I would love to see Heather Locklear as the Alexis-like character. So I think I would yes, bring Joan Collins back as Alexis Carrington, Grant Show’s mother. If you do this, CW, the Shapiros, et al, you owe me money! What do you think, Matt? — Sal

Matt Roush: Good luck cashing in on that. But it’s fun to play the Dynasty casting game, right? Takes me back to my earliest days on the TV beat, when I used to chase down weekly rumors about who might be guest-starring on the ’80s show. (Some, like Rock Hudson, were true. Many not so much.) In your description of how The CW’s revisionist Dynasty update will change from the original, it’s worth noting that Krystle’s name is now spelled Cristal to acknowledge the show’s new racial diversity. And here’s another twist: Sammy Jo is now a gay man, but just as trashy as the Heather Locklear version.

I’m with you that it would be a blast to see original Dynasty cast members show up, not in their original roles—the skew on this version is much younger—but for some meta commentary on how times have changed. Regarding Joan Collins: There’s no way she’d be cast as Alexis—to my knowledge, it’s still a mystery who’s playing that role (who isn’t even mentioned until more than halfway through the pilot episode), and that’s in keeping with the original series, which didn’t introduce Alexis until the beginning on Season 2. Bringing Joan in as a different sort of matriarch would be delicious for sure.

Not Ready to Let ‘Longmire’ Go

Question: I have not watched The Son. I do know that Zahn McClarnon was in it. He plays Mathias in Longmire, which began on A&E in the fall of 2012. After three seasons, it was canceled due to not targeting the right demographics. It was picked up by Netflix. The last season (Season 6) will air this fall. It has a huge following on Facebook. I am on about 5-6 Longmire pages and this does not include pages for Robert Taylor (Walt Longmire), Zahn McClarnon (Mathias), or Craig Johnson (author of the Longmire novels). People want Longmire to continue. Right now, it does not appear that a company will pick it up. On one of the pages, I commented that it would be nice if CBS picked it up. Reasons: NCIS (Mark Harmon), NCIS: New Orleans (Scott Bakula) and Blue Bloods (Tom Selleck), just to name a few. More than a few people liked my comment. I have commented more than once that Walt Longmire is a modern-day Matt Dillon. I do not have the heart to get “involved” in another Western just to be left wondering how long it will last. — Niki

Matt Roush: It would be a rare show that didn’t have a devoted social-media following these days, and I have no doubt that Longmire fans would love to see the show continue beyond the upcoming sixth season (no date announced yet). I’d be on board with that as well, but think it’s a long shot, and what I don’t see in these comments is gratitude to Netflix for having rescued Longmire for three seasons beyond A&E’s abrupt and inexcusable cancellation of the show. Even if you don’t agree with the decision to end the show after Season 6, at least Netflix announced the end game instead of leaving fans wondering. Regarding The Son, AMC isn’t in the habit of canceling shows prematurely or without providing some sort of closure—even marginally rated ones like Halt and Catch Fire and Turn, which are getting final seasons this year. You’re probably safe watching The Son if you have interest in it, and while it may not run indefinitely the way Gunsmoke did, those kinds of long runs are rare in any genre anymore.

I do agree Longmire would have been a good fit at CBS, but because it’s produced by an outside studio (Warner Bros.) and has been running long enough to be an expensive proposition to keep in production, it’s unlikely CBS would add it to its already crowded schedule. But here’s a thought for CBS programmers who might be looking for something similar to develop: Joe Pickett (author C.J. Box), a contemporary Western-mystery book series begging to be made into a series. If executed nearly as well as Longmire, that could satisfy many of us.

Face Off: Divide & Conquer Season 12

Face Off’s Team Strategy

Question: I was wondering what you thought about the “twist” on Syfy’s Face Off? I am still enjoying this season, but think the reboot to teams was unnecessary and may become a negative. – Sharon

Matt Roush: So far so good, in part because the new season reflects the reality that most special-effects makeup artists work in shops, and because each team is asked to create multiple creatures and designs in the challenge every week, each contestant usually has something of his or her own to be judged upon. I’m not always a fan of these competition shows “shaking things up” just to do something different (think the juvenile season of So You Think You Can Dance), but with Face Off, the team concept also underscores the more collaborative aspect of creation, which I appreciate. It’s not without setbacks, as we’ve already seen when one team kept losing and they had to bring someone from the other side over to give them a boost. But Face Off is still my current favorite of this genre, and the “Divide & Conquer” set-up hasn’t changed that.

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When New Isn’t New, and Shows Run Over

Question: How can we stop this horrible trend of “additional features” being added to a previously run show and being called “new?” I wouldn’t mind if it was labeled as a rerun, but when I set season passes, many of these are labeled new and end up getting recorded when they’re in fact not new. Also, what happened to standardized timing? Why are shows starting at one, two or three minutes after the hour or have strange run times? I could understand if these shows were on premium cable networks like HBO/Showtime, but it’s everywhere now with regular cable shows starting at odd times and ending at odd times. It’s like a conspiracy to thwart my DVR. — Greg

Matt Roush: I’m not sure what shows you’re referring to in the first part of your question. I’ve heard this complaint regarding summer repeat episodes of 60 Minutes, which are often labeled as new—perhaps because the individual pieces were assembled differently the first time around? Still: Not accurate. If other shows are guilty of this, it’s news to me—but that may be because I watch so much TV in advance, or on my computer, and the volume of new TV often keeps me from watching (or recording) regular TV as it happens, and certainly as it’s being repeated.

On the subject of shows stopping and starting at odd times, there are two elements at play here. For many years, networks have let a popular show extend a minute or so into the next time period in the belief (to me, specious) that it will make viewers less inclined to tune out of the show that follows. This does cause aggravation for those whose recording devices are limited in how many shows can be set within the same time period. But what’s happening more frequently, on networks like FX and AMC in particular, is that producers are being given more latitude to make their episodes as long as they think is necessary—Sons of Anarchy was famous (or infamous) for this—not forcing them to produce an episode within an hour time frame. For those championing artistic freedom over commercial imperatives, that’s a win. For those more interested in the logistics of recording their shows, it can be a headache.

The Americans, Keri Russell, Matthew Rhys

How to Watch The Americans From the Start

Question: I have heard so much about The Americans, but unable to find any station I can stream it from the beginning. Does Netflix or any other streaming service have it? — Unsigned

Matt Roush: Happy to help, if it brings yet another viewer into the world of this great series, which will end its run next year. The first four seasons of The Americans are currently available for streaming for Prime members on Amazon (the fifth presumably will be available at some point).

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A One-Sided News Battle on Sundays

Question: Why is 60 Minutes giving an audience to Megyn Kelly? Since 60 Minutes has all reruns, we almost have to watch her show. What’s up with that? — Marlene

Matt Roush: It’s standard practice for 60 Minutes to take the summer off, to bank stories for the next season, with some rare exceptions for timely breaking-news pieces. They’re not losing sleep over NBC’s upstart or letting its arrival alter the long-running newsmag’s regular schedule. And given the dwindling performance of Sunday Night With Megyn Kelly in recent weeks after its decent launch in early June, I doubt CBS News is second-guessing itself at this point. I get the frustration, though, as Sunday Night is for the most part a pale imitation of 60 Minutes and tends to amplify the void of its absence until September.

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Waiting for The Alienist

Question: Do you know what’s up with The Alienist? I first saw an ad for it a year ago, but unless I completely missed it, TNT still hasn’t put it on the schedule. It is one of my all-time favorite books and has a great cast. What’s taking so long? — Woody, Anxious in Austin

Matt Roush: I’m eager, if not anxious, to see this ambitious new series as well, also being a fan of Caleb Carr’s best-selling psychological thriller set in turn-of-the-last-century New York. (Filmed in Budapest, as many historical dramas are.) No air date yet, and because the show isn’t on Turner’s schedule of presentations for the summer TCA press tour, I doubt we’ll see it in early fall. Hoping to get an update on the timetable from the network’s chief creative officer, Kevin Reilly, when he talks with critics later this month. If this lives up to its potential, I’m thinking The Alienist will get premium-quality promotion when the time comes, and it makes sense for a project of this scope not to get lost amid the fall madness.


That’s all for now, and 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.