Ask Matt: Fall Preview (‘Me, Myself & I,’ ‘S.W.A.T.’), ‘Lucifer,’ ‘Twin Peaks,’ ‘Dance’ and Reality Judges
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.
The Long and Short of a CBS Sitcom
Question: WHAT was CBS thinking when it cast the new sitcom Me, Myself, and I? There are times when people lose weight as they age, but they NEVER increase in height! Moynihan is 5’7″; Larroquette is nearly 6’5″. — Emma
Matt Roush: When this issue was raised during the summer TCA press tour, the show’s executive producer Dan Kopelman admitted concessions had to be made in casting a role played by different actors at different stages in life, who don’t really resemble each other that much. “John’s obviously much taller than Bobby. So in the future scenes, we’ve tried to surround him with taller people so that he’s not just towering over his co-stars,” Kopelman said. With a straight face, if I remember correctly. This is a genial enough comedy, but it does ask the viewer to suspend disbelief in this and a few other more spoily regards.
Speaking of new programming, this gives me an opportunity to call attention to TV Guide Magazine’s Fall Preview issue, which just hit stands Thursday (many subscribers got it earlier). I have been getting a few questions about why some returning series aren’t featured in the issue, and that’s because we do a separate Returning Favorites issue that will be the next one published. But here’s a question generated by one of our Fall Preview articles:
A S.W.A.T. for Diversity
Question: I just finished reading my Fall Preview edition and I was interested to read about the new S.W.A.T. show on CBS. I read and re-read the list of actors in the photos of the show and I did not see one Hispanic/Latino name. In a city that is 75% Hispanic, where are we? Are we going to be the weekly villains? — John P
Matt Roush: Let’s hope not. CBS has deservedly taken its knocks in recent years over the diversity of its casts, but that’s not really a problem with S.W.A.T., which is upfront about racial issues, stars a high-profile African-American lead actor (Shemar Moore), and includes a mix of minorities in the ensemble, including Latina actresses Stephanie Sigman as his boss and Lina Esco as one of the S.W.A.T. team members.
Give the Devil His Due
Question: Why hasn’t Tom Ellis been nominated for an Emmy and/or Golden Globe as Best Actor for Lucifer? I’d be hard-pressed to think of another actor who can display his incredible range as a singer, actor and musician. Kudos to the producers; you dipped your hand into the goodie bag and pulled out a gem. Clearly, Ellis is an exceptional talent and should receive the recognition and credit he so richly deserves. Seriously, who else could portray the title character and the seriousness of the subject matter displaying a combination of moving drama interspersed with hysterically funny comedy and devilish charm? — Rafferty
Matt Roush: There’s no doubt his charisma is the primary factor in Lucifer’s success, but whatever Tom Ellis’s merits, he’s operating in a genre that tends not to be much of a factor in most awards shows: the supernatural, plus the hybrid of humor and drama that makes it hard to peg. He’s also handicapped by appearing on a broadcast network, when the majority of nominations for drama shows anymore go to cable, premium or streaming. NBC’s This Is Us is an exception to that rule, and with two actors from that show—Sterling K. Brown and Milo Ventimiglia—nominated for lead drama actor, it would have taken a miracle from above (or possibly below) for Ellis to have made the cut.
Give Peaks a Peek
Question: I was a huge fan of the original Twin Peaks. Saw the movies as well. I was looking forward to the revival this year, but after reading some terrible reviews (including yours) I kind of decided against investing time or money in it. Now that it is reaching the finale, I was wondering if perhaps you had changed your mind about the show’s worth—or if you just gave up long ago and don’t know if it got better as it went along or not. It would be so great to see some of the old gang again, but my money is limited and I don’t want to waste it on something that would ruin my fond memories of the original. Is it worth buying on DVD? — Beverly
Matt Roush: I’m afraid my frustration with this series only deepened the more I watched. (I’m a few episodes behind, but plan to catch up before Sunday’s two-hour finale, though can’t say I’m looking forward to the waste of time it will entail.) There have been wonderfully eerie and bizarre moments throughout—the apocalyptic climax of the eighth episode was rightfully heralded as a David Lynch-ian masterpiece—but the pace is so numbingly slow and perversely indulgent, with so much purposefully awful acting and drawn-out shtick (like the zoned-out Dougie Jones/Dale Cooper doppelganger character) that only the most avid Lynch/Peaks acolyte is likely to be satisfied by this. However, if you were a fan even of the Twin Peaks movies, you might be entranced as well. I have had conversations with people who are grooving on this just because it’s so defiantly weird, and who seem to be having a genuine response to the material, so let’s just say the Peaks revival is polarizing. Which is the only thing it has in common with the original series, because I find this lacks any of the emotional qualities that made classic Peaks so mesmerizing in its time. The new version feels more like an epic folly.
Missing the Original Dance Formula
Question: I stopped watching So You Think You Can Dance because what made the show so great was the dancers dancing with each other, not past winners dancing again. The first few years was the top, now it’s boring. Do you think they will return to the original way?
Matt Roush: Hard to say. But I tend to agree. I’m enjoying this season more than the recent past—some of the dancing has been sensational—but I guess I feel it peaked in Season 8 (the Melanie Moore win), and something has been lost since they brought back the “All-Stars” to pair with the contestants. Mainly, that sense of discovery as dancers learn to partner with fellow newbies, tackling new styles each week and growing (or not) in the process. The way it is now, the contestant often risks being upstaged by the pro, which makes this just a slightly more polished version of the Dancing With the Stars format. Except here, the “stars” are the returnees. Fox tends to shake up the show’s format from time to time, always hoping for greater ratings returns, so it’s possible they’ll bring the show back to its “classic” roots, and I’d be delighted if they gave it another try. But honestly, I’m not counting on it.
Judging the Judges
Question: In the reality-competition shows that are judged, like America’s Got Talent, World of Dance, So You Think You Can Dance, why on earth do we have to look at the staged reactions by judges during performances? It looks fake and is so annoying to cut away from watching the acts. Is it in the contracts or the egos of the judges that they must be seen a lot? — Joel
Matt Roush: Don’t know if it’s contractual (and SYTYCD is probably the least guilty of these, usually waiting until the routine is over to focus on the judges’ response), but the producers have invested so much into the star personalities of these judge panels they seem convinced we’re into them as much as we are the contestants. And I assure you we’re not. I’m a bit surprised you left The Voice out of this rant, because it’s the show (along with American Idol in the Simon-Paula days) that has most skewed the balance, focusing so much on the celebrity “coaches” that it’s almost impossible for any of the winners to get the true star treatment they may deserve.
Question: I have enjoyed watching Shetland on Netflix. I wondered if they are filming another season, and if so, will that be coming to Netflix soon? Also, will JK Rowling’s Strike be on U.S. television? — Leanne
Matt Roush: I don’t hear as much about Netflix’s foreign acquisitions as I do about their original productions—Shetland is a Scottish crime drama from the BBC, for the uninitiated—but it has been reported that a fourth season is forthcoming, though no word on when it will be available on Netflix.
And HBO has picked up rights to broadcast the Strike series, based on the books Rowling wrote under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith, featuring Tom Burke as private eye Cormoran Strike. It just began airing on the BBC, so it’s not known yet when we’ll see it on HBO.
Question: Just watched the last episode of Peaky Blinders on Netflix. I watched all three seasons. More more more, please! Tell me there will be more. – Mary Ann
Matt Roush: There will be more. Two more seasons, at least. Just can’t say when they’ll arrive on Netflix.
Question: I’m happy to see Will & Grace return, but what is stalling Mozart in the Jungle? Those mischievous musicians are missed! Are these lengthy periods before returning due to tech issues like writing and production? —
Matt Roush: The first three seasons of Mozart premiered in December of their respective years, so it’s possible that’s the time frame for Season 4 as well. Amazon hasn’t said yet. The reason for what feels like a long wait between seasons is because only 10 episodes are made each year, and we tend to binge-watch them so they go by really quickly, and since Amazon won’t premiere the show until all of the episodes are filmed and edited and ready for viewing, there’s no such thing as a quick turnaround. Thankfully, it has always been worth the wait.
That’s all for now, and we’ll pick up the conversation again soon, though I’ll be taking a brief break for Labor Day. 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.