Ask Matt: The New Lady ‘Doctor,’ a ‘Genius’ Emmy Move, ‘Grantchester’ 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.


The New Doctor and ‘Broadchurch’

Question: I’m curious to your response to the announcement that Jodie Whittaker would be the first female Doctor on Doctor Who. I only wish they had waited for another month before making the announcement. When David Tennant is on the screen in Broadchurch, all I see is DI Hardy and not the Doctor. I’m not sure I will be able to keep from thinking of the Doctor when Tennant and Whittaker are on screen together. Which is a shame, because this season of Broadchurch has been even more riveting than the first two. — Rick

Matt Roush: When actors are this good, it’s a pleasure to watch them tackle roles as meaty as the ones in BBC America’s Broadchurch (one of my top summer TV recommendations, by the way) while also appreciating their work—or in Jodie Whittaker’s case, the potential of her work—in the Doctor Who universe. Never the twain shall meet. I was delighted by the announcement, in part because I’ve long championed the idea of the Doctor regenerating into forms beyond that of a white male. And Whittaker, as we have witnessed in these brilliant seasons of Broadchurch, appears up to the challenge. Lots to anticipate there, but for now, let’s just savor these final episodes of Broadchurch. It’s gripping to the very end (which will come mid-August).


Why Not Recognize Both Einsteins?

Question: I have just this one thought on the Emmy nominations: I was delighted to see recognition for Genius, especially since it is on a channel (National Geographic) not known for dramatic scripted shows. Geoffrey Rush was of course brilliant, as always, but how can he be nominated for a “leading” role when he was in so little of the series? And how on earth can they recognize him without honoring Johnny Flynn, who deftly carried the show in the leading role for most of its run? I shouldn’t complain, since it was a surprise that the show was noticed at all, but I do think Flynn deserves most of the credit. Any thoughts? By the way, I guess the second Genius series will be about Picasso. Have they announced any casting decisions? — Paul

Matt Roush: That is a significant oversight, but one of the realities of awards shows, especially one that covers as much ground as the Emmys, is that actors with high profiles tend to do better than relative unknowns. National Geographic promoted Geoffrey Rush as the star of Genius, even though he only took center stage toward the latter part of the series. And though Johnny Flynn, who was terrific as the younger Einstein, certainly carried his episodes, he was submitted as a supporting actor, not lead, and that’s a choice made (often for strategic reasons) either by the actor, his or her representatives, or whoever is in charge of submitting for the show. Flynn probably would have had a tough time breaking into the lead-actor category against such heavyweights as Robert De Niro, Benedict Cumberbatch, Ewan McGregor, John Turturro and, yes, Rush. Even in the supporting category, facing outstanding performances in shows as diverse as Feud: Bette and Joan, Fargo, The Night Of and Big Little Lies, he fell short. A pity, because Flynn’s performance really did feel like a star was being born.

As for the Picasso in season 2 of Genius: No word yet on casting. But National Geographic will be presenting at the TCA press tour next week, so maybe some news will break then.


TV Or Not TV?

Question: It is my understanding that the Television Academy presents the Emmy Awards. It seems like a lot of the conversations concern shows that are not “technically” on television—i.e. Netflix, etc. It would be interesting if we could know how many streamed shows were actually watched on a TV as opposed to computer, tablet, phones, etc. I know I watch many on an iPad, because it can go everywhere with me. Perhaps they need another category, like the Daytime TV Emmys or the Streaming Emmys, or another group altogether hosting it. Hey, let’s make them as confused as we are! — Jenni

Matt Roush: The reality of our times: It’s all considered TV now, regardless of how or where we consume it, and the “TV Everywhere” movement will only continue to blur that distinction. Many folks are watching regular network shows on their laptops, tablets, even phones (I don’t get the last one, except when I’m out of the house trying to keep up with a sporting event), through streaming sites and apps. The challenge is how to get all of these platforms taken seriously in the nomination process. Netflix is the new HBO in terms of being the industry darling and everyone’s obsession, but a breakthrough like NBC’s This Is Us reminds us the playing field doesn’t always have to be so uneven.


In Love With Grantchester

Question: I love Grantchester on PBS! What a wonderful nuanced show. The acting is wonderful. I shed a tear for every character after last week’s episode and that is so rare. The writing is excellent and really highlights the problems that living in the 1950s in a small village brings (with a little murder and mystery thrown in). This third series is the best yet and I hope ITV commissions a fourth. Do you watch? Thoughts ? – Unsigned

Matt Roush: Another of my British favorites, and what I’ve seen of this season has been particularly enjoyable. James Norton (as the hunky vicar) and Robson Green (the local Inspector) are my favorite current crime-solving duo. It was around this time last year when the third season was commissioned, so I’m hoping we’ll hear good news soon about a fourth year for this terrific Masterpiece import.


New Blood on Criminal Minds

Question: I’m curious how Agent Simmons (Daniel Henney) is going to be brought from the canceled Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders into Criminal Minds and the BAU on a more permanent basis? I watched CM:BB and know it was canceled, but based on the finale, there was no indication that Simmons was leaving the IRT. So are they going to do what they did with “Tara” and not have him in every episode with the idea that he floats between the two groups? Or are they going to say that he wants to spend more time at home and the BAU allows him to do that? – Amy W

Matt Roush: When the Beyond Borders finale was written and aired, they probably had no idea if the show was returning, so there was no reason to speculate on any of its characters’ fate. After the cancellation, and the departure of Damon Gupton from the Criminal Minds ensemble, the door was open to bring someone over from the defunct spinoff. I’m not sure how they’ll explain it, but I figure he’ll just join the BAU team as others have done, since he is now listed as a series regular, and at least fans will already be aware of some of his back story.


Why Draw Lines Between Sitcom Styles?

Question: What is the difference between a single camera sitcom and a multi-cam sitcom? Besides what I’m assuming is a different filming method, are there other differences: tone, content, etc. And why do critics and some fans seem to make note of it so often these days? I’ve loved and watched comedies for years and never noticed or cared about the difference. – Unsigned

Matt Roush: For me, good comedy is good comedy, whether it’s filmed in front of a studio audience in the traditional multi-camera format—which is often derided for its “laugh track” (a term producers hate, I can tell you with authority)—or filmed like a movie, in the single- camera method. The difference is largely one of tone, and perhaps preference, although in content, multi-cam comedies tend to deliver harder jokes to elicit the studio laughter (enhanced, to be sure, in most cases, but the idea is that they’re producing a short comic play each week). Single-camera filmed comedies are trendier, and seen by some (though not all) as generally more sophisticated.

And while multi-cam sitcoms can draw huge audiences—The Big Bang Theory, before that Everybody Loves Raymond, and in one of its more recent heydays, Friends and Cheers and Frasier and Seinfeld and Will & Grace and Roseanne and so on—the Emmy trend favors single-camera shows. Not a single multi-cam sitcom is nominated for best comedy this year, and Mom’s Allison Janney is the only performer in a classic multi-cam sitcom nominated in any category. (Not counting the Saturday Night Live cast members and guest hosts nominated.)


Lightning Round, Reality Edition

Question: What happened to The Little Couple reality program? — Judy

Matt Roush: Apparently there were some legal issues involving TLC and the show’s production company, but The Little Couple will return Sept. 19, with the family facing a major life change when Jen takes a job in Florida. (A cautionary note here that it’s almost impossible for me to keep up with the comings and going of reality-based shows like these—there are too many of them, they’re not part of my regular TV menu, and until actual announcements are made regarding their scheduling, I tend to duck such questions.)

Question: Any idea if or when The Biggest Loser will return? — Corey

Matt Roush: There have been reports of its demise, but as of now, NBC hasn’t made an official decision or announcement regarding any future season of the show. So consider it in limbo for the time being.


That’s all for now, and we’ll pick up the conversation again soon, although with the annual TCA summer press tour beginning next week, the schedule will be more erratic than usual. 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.