Ask Matt: Is ‘Mr. Robot’ the Show of the Summer? (And Should the Emmys Have a Sci-Fi Category?)

Mr. Robot - Season 1 - Christian Slater as Mr. Robot
David Giesbrecht/USA Network
Christian Slater as Mr. Robot

Good news, Ask Matt fans! TV Insider is now presenting the popular Q&A with TV critic (and sometime “TV therapist”) Matt Roush twice a week—on Tuesdays and Thursdays—giving you twice as much opportunity to share your concerns and join in the love for all things TV in today’s vast landscape. One caution: This is a spoiler-free zone. Please send your questions and comments to [email protected] and follow me on Twitter.

Praise for Mr. Robot

Question: I’m not one to write comments, but your review of Mr. Robot touched a nerve when you wrote, “In a (summer) season when there’s barely time to watch all the cool stuff…” You are so right. Remember not so long ago, all we had from May to September were creaky reruns. Now, it’s (for me) about four to seven hours of recordings. A day. The DVR is constantly running at 90 percent-plus full. Good shows all around: Teen Wolf, Murder in the First, UnReal, Power, Humans, The Last Ship, The Strain, Ballers, The Brink, Tyrant, the list doesn’t stop, hard drive overflowing. I start as early as I can, and postpone/fight sleep until 2-3 am, even if it’s with only one eye open. Still, they accumulate. But thanks for bringing Mr. Robot some attention. So many shows are great but get canceled. I’m still smarting over Profit, Rubicon and Last Resort, just to name a few. Always look forward to reading your column in TV Guide every week. — Fred V

Matt Roush: Well, at least we don’t have to worry about Mr. Robot being prematurely canceled. USA has already picked up this fascinating series for a second season. But you bring up an issue that has led many of us attending the current TCA press tour in Beverly Hills to nickname it the “too much TV” tour. For the next two weeks (and we’re already almost at the end of the first week), the situation will only get worse for those of us who do this for a living, because in an odd irony, the TCA process allows precious little time to actually get any TV watched. (Which is always why I’ll be limiting my “Ask Matt” output for a while as well.) I don’t watch every show on your list, but I could sub with others that I am watching or trying to keep up with: Suits, Ray Donovan, Masters of Sex, Playing House, Face Off, and there’s more to come all the way through August. It is, I would think, a good problem to have. But the risk is that some gems could get lost along the way. Again thankfully, Mr. Robot is not in that danger.

Robert Taylor, Katie Sackhoff

Longmire‘s Robert Taylor and Katie Sackhoff

How to Watch Longmire

Question: I’m a huge fan of Longmire but don’t have Netflix. Is there any way to see the new season other than waiting to buy the DVD? — Irwin [From Twitter]

Matt Roush: None that I’m aware of. Much like when DirecTV picked up Friday Night Lights after NBC dropped it, and non-subscribers had to wait until NBC gave the episodes a second run to see it, if you’re neither willing nor able to join the Netflix brigade by the time the fourth season becomes available on Sept. 10, you’ll have to wait until the streaming service’s window of exclusivity expires and the episodes are released in another format (DVD) or platform. The reason Netflix makes deals like this is to attract new subscribers, in this case from a demographic that A&E deemed undesirable for its advertisers, whereas Netflix is eager to welcome any consumer of any age to the fold. The wait will be frustrating, I know, especially since you’ll have to stay off Longmire fan sites to avoid spoilers in the interim. But the alternative was for the show to be over for good after that last cliffhanger, and nobody wanted to see that happen.

Watching TV Shows to the Bitter End

Question: My question for you, as a TV critic and fan, is what shows have you continued watching to the bitter end, even when you knew it was likely a waste of time. I generally am good at cutting shows loose before they fully surpass their expiration date (ER back in the day, Grey’s Anatomy a few seasons back, The Vampire Diaries is dunzo come September), but the summer is usually when my ‘quality’ standards are loosened and I am more willing to let things go probably longer than I should.


Falling Skies

So for me this year it’s Falling Skies. What started out as a decent sci-fi show produced by Spielberg is now just a train wreck that I know I should give up, but there’s that part of me that feels like I must see it through to the end based on time invested alone! The fact that I still couldn’t tell you the difference between the Volm vs. Espheni after five seasons is all the evidence needed that I shouldn’t care, and the horrible Lexi (alien daughter) season should have ended it. But yet I kept going against better judgment. I now mostly watch to see bald Pope’s antics post-Sara (RIP Mira Sorvino’s career). And Noah Wyle’s growling always makes me chuckle, but I fear I might need a Skitter to put me out of my misery. — CK

Matt Roush: The good news is there is a light at the end of this particular tunnel of badness, and you know when you’re done, you’re done for good this time. I’ll admit to still being in the Grey’s Anatomy camp, in part because it is still part of our household routine, and shows I watch regularly with my better half aren’t dropped lightly. (Although this upcoming season without Derek could be the final straw.) By this time in ER‘s run, I had already bailed, because it had become so miserable. (At least Grey’s can still be fun once in a while.) I also stuck with The X-Files through the post-Mulder period, which wasn’t easy. Some TV habits are just too hard to break, I guess. But I divorced Falling Skies at least a season ago, so catching up through your description was a hoot.

Will Rookie Blue Continue?

Question: When will ABC announce Northerners picking up Rookie Blue for next summer? — Tony [from Twitter]

Matt Roush: These pickups tend to happen right around this time of year, but it’s up to the Canadian broadcasters, not ABC. I’d be shocked if fans didn’t get good news soon.

Kerry Bishe as Donna Clark and Mackenzie Davis as Cameron Howe - Halt and Catch Fire _ Season 2, Episode 6 - Photo Credit: Annette Brown/AMC

Halt and Catch Fire‘s Kerry Bishe and Mackenzie Davis

Halt and Catch Fire‘s Season 2 Reinvention

Question: I started watching Halt and Catch Fire again this season after I heard that the women were much more heavily featured. I was really impressed at the changes in the show. The storytelling is much better. The characters seem much more fully realized. Shifting to the women starting their own company captures the excitement and energy of that period and allows the show to focus on the tension between the desire to run a great business and have a personal life. I was wondering if there are other shows that have substantially reinvented themselves after the first season with good results and if airing on AMC allowed the creative people around this show to be more open to making substantial changes in the direction of the show. — Kristi

Matt Roush: Everything I’ve heard about the second season has been encouraging, and I hope to give it a post-mortem look once TCA is finished in case AMC renews Halt for a third year. And it is quite clearly a good thing that this series airs on a network like AMC, which gave it the time and the second chance to be nurtured into a more satisfying show. (I admit I lost interest before the first season was over, and with the glut of new product this summer, was obviously slow in giving it another look.) Cable operations like AMC, FX and the pay and streaming services do tend to give many of their shows a long leash and play the long game even if the early going is rough. On those occasions when the show improves as a result, that’s a cause to celebrate. The most recent example that comes to mind is Parks and Recreation, which had a very unpromising beginning but in its second season fixed its significant story problems and became something quite special.

Will Rizzoli & Isles Get Renewed?

Question: Is Season 7 the last season for Rizzoli & Isles? — Ivan & Julie

Matt Roush: That hasn’t been decided, or at least not announced. But because the order for a 13-episode seventh season to air next summer is shorter than it has been in previous years, that may have created some speculation. It could be a case of the network rethinking its inventory under the new regime, and concluding it doesn’t need to schedule another split season (which frankly can be confusing and annoying to some fans). But the show remains popular, so unless there’s an economic reason to stop production, or the producers and/or stars decide they’ve had enough, I’d expect the show to continue a while longer.

Sci-Fi at the Emmys

Question: I think it’s time the Emmys and other TV awards add a sci-fi category. Some astounding shows get overlooked every year! — Brenda [from Twitter]

Matt Roush: The bias against genre shows at the Emmys and elsewhere can be exasperating, but as I say whenever this subject comes up—whether it’s for sci-fi/horror/fantasy shows or for dramedies that fall between the cracks of drama and comedy—the last thing the Emmys needs is more categories. It actually becomes more significant when a breakout show like Game of Thrones or, back in the day, The X-Files gets serious attention. Calling them out as a separate entity would only further ghettoize them. (What next, separate comedy categories for multi-camera and single-camera sitcoms? It would never end.) And while there are awards like the Saturns, which acknowledge the best in sci-fi/fantasy/horror, it’s too bad that so much great work in this field (Eva Green in Penny Dreadful, hello!) gets passed over by the industry at large. But given that even more mainstream dramas of quality like The Americans and The Good Wife also have trouble getting acknowledged in this cluttered drama field, it’s not as if these shows ad their stars are specifically being singled out as second-class. To reflect the discussion at the start of this week’s column, they’re also a victim of there simply being too much TV, and good TV at that.

That’s all for now, but we’ll try to do this again next week if time permits during the TCA press tour. I can’t do this without your participation, so please keep sending questions and comments to [email protected] or shoot me a line on Twitter.