Ask Matt: 'Mr. Mercedes' Hits Close to Home, 'Grey’s' Future, Hallmark's 'Garage Sale,' ABC's 'Little Mermaid,' and More
Brendan Gleeson stars in Mr. Mercedes (here, with Jharrel Jerrome, as “Jerome”)
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 @TVGMMattRoush. Look for Ask Matt columns on most Tuesdays and Fridays.
When Fictional Terror Becomes All Too Real
Question: After watching the first two episodes of Audience Network’s (AT&T) Stephen King-scribed miniseries, Mr. Mercedes, I was enthralled with the story and the acting, although disturbed by the car intentionally running down a number of people in a crowd. That might have been OK, but they kept replaying it, and then the horrible event in Charlottesville, Va. happened. I couldn't watch anymore, and lost sleep. I have a law enforcement background, so have a pretty thick skin, but this was too much of a coincidence. I contacted AT&T to ask them to stop the miniseries, and possibly replay it at a later date. I doubt my request will matter. Then Barcelona's tragic Las Ramblas =event happened. I don't know what feeds the depraved minds of people who would drive full speed into a crowd, but maybe graphic scenes in movies and TV shows aren't such a good idea. Finally, here is my question: How do producers and networks make the decision to pull or cancel a show that has such close ties to current tragedy? And who should viewers contact about such matters? Thanks so much. Your articles are so well written and informative. — Gigi
Matt Roush: And thank you for your thoughtful question. Given the turbulent times in which we live, there’s always the risk that a thriller constructed around an act of horrific violence will be reflected in real-life events, and that’s certainly the case with the act of vehicular homicide that opens Mr. Mercedes (as it did King’s novel). And while that particular act isn’t repeated, the villain continually taunts the hero detective with graphic video images, and if David E. Kelley’s adaptation follows the book to its end, Brady/Mr. Mercedes will attempt another attack of mass destruction that will echo yet another recent tragedy. One of the reasons Mr. Mercedes is among the more powerful King-inspired productions is precisely because it feels real, not contrived around some supernatural menace (like Spike’s plodding The Mist).
It’s only natural to be unnerved by these parallels, and there have been many occasions, especially on broadcast network TV, when episodes have been pulled or postponed because of sensitivities to tragedies in the news. I doubt this will happen with Mercedes because the worst has already been shown (though there are other shocks to come, obviously), and because it airs on what’s basically a subscription service, you have to opt in to watch in the first place. (Disclosure: I can’t get DirecTV where I live, so am not exactly sure how it’s being presented on air. I watch via advance screeners on a protected online link.) You shouldn’t hesitate to write to corporate offices of AT&T and DirecTV if you feel this strongly. I only wish the carnage we’ve seen inspired by racism and terrorism were fantasy as well.
What Happens to Shondaland’s ABC Shows?
Question: What's going to happen with Grey’s Anatomy and How to Get Away With Murder now that Shonda Rhimes is leaving for Netflix? — Jodi
Matt Roush: They won’t be orphaned, although there’s an understandable fear that with these new and lucrative pastures to explore, the shows that helped put Shondaland on the map may no longer be top priorities. But according to all accounts, she’ll continue to oversee these shows, as well as the final season of Scandal and any other projects in the ABC pipeline, including the presumed Grey’s spinoff with firefighters and a legal drama, For the People, planned for midseason. The Netflix deal covers any new series and projects being developed by her very busy company.
Addicted to Hallmark’s Garage Sale
Question: My husband and I both love Garage Sale Mystery on Hallmark Movies and Mysteries. There are four on this month. We just watched this past Sunday's movie and it said the movie airing at the end of the month is the final chapter. Can you tell me, does that mean the fourth and final chapter this month, or is it the finale and we won't be able to watch new ones anymore? I hope it's the first. We love that set of movies. Regarding HM&M, do you know if there will be any more Jesse Stone movies? When TV Guide Magazine interviewed Tom Selleck for his most recent cover, he said he was still going to keep it going, but I haven't seen any new ones, or read/heard any more about it. — Deirdre
Matt Roush: I would bet that given how Hallmark showcased this latest series of movies in the Garage Sale franchise with a month-long stunt, you won’t have seen the last of it. The movie airing Aug. 27 is just the last of this month’s offerings. (I haven’t heard anything yet about future movies being made, but why wouldn’t they?) As for Jesse Stone, a subject that comes up frequently, when I interviewed Tom Selleck last year for a SAG/Aftra Foundation event, he insists he is determined to return to that character, but it’s really a matter of when he’ll find time, since he tends to be involved in writing and producing those movies as well as starring in them.
Will Mermaid Ever Be Part of ABC’s World?
Question: What’s the reason that Disney’s The Little Mermaid Live special, that was supposed to be shown in October on the ABC, has been canceled? — Jeremy
Matt Roush: There are differing reports on whether this projected "live action/animation hybrid" special is canceled or merely postponed for a later date. ABC says the latter, but USA Today, which broke the story, suggested it may be unlikely to move forward because of budget constraints. Whatever happens, it seems that it may have been too ambitious to schedule for early fall an event that mashes up the animated classic with live musical performances. There may yet be a happily ever after for this project, but it’s too soon to tell.
Mini Lightning Round
Three quick questions: 1. When and where will NBC show the remaining episodes of Powerless? 2. Will ABC's Beyond the Tank ever return? 3. When will BBC America show the final season of The Musketeers? — P.R.
Matt Roush: 1. From what I can tell, only two episodes of Powerless were left on the shelf when NBC canned it, and the episode featuring the late Adam West was made available online for a limited time following his death. If NBC didn’t make these available on nbc.com for screening, you’ll probably have to wait until or if someone picks up the series for streaming to see them all. 2. Haven’t heard if or when ABC will produce more episodes of the Shark Tank spinoff, but series like this aren’t so much officially canceled as put on hold for when there’s a need for them, as they’re fairly easy to produce. Rule of thumb: Never say never. 3. The third season of The Musketeers bypassed BBC America for streaming on Hulu. That’s where the entire series can now be seen.
One Good Turn Deserves Another
Question: Just wanted to shout out to the cast and crew of AMC’s Turn: Washington’s Spies. I watched all four seasons, and although it never rose through the ranks as must-see TV for me, I never missed it. The writing was always intriguing (not only trying to decipher how much of the story was really "real" and how much was dramatic license when dealing with so many historical figures), the acting was terrific, and the look of the show was pretty impressive, from locations to costumes, as well as the vivid and terrific battle scenes to go along with the spy stories at the heart of it all. It had run its course and told the story it came to tell, but the finale was so good, that for an instant—after wrapping it all up with who ended up where (a few surprises, I must say) and who made it to old age and who didn't, and that last flashback shot and soaring skyward over the beautiful "Virginia" territory—I almost wished for more. — Michael
Matt Roush: I haven’t anything to add to this, as this series was one of many casualties of the “too much TV” era where no one can watch everything. But it is another example of why it’s so satisfying when a series comes to a natural conclusion, satisfying its fan base, and I’m glad to end the column on such a positive note.
That’s all for now, and we’ll pick up the conversation again soon. 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.