Ask Matt: 'American Idol' Doubts, 'Salvation' Hopes, Fall Picks 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 @TVGMMattRoush. Look for Ask Matt columns on most Tuesdays and Fridays.
Idle Rumors About Idol’s Return
Question: Am I the only person questioning the logic behind ABC's decision to bring back American Idol? Obviously the powers that be dumped enough money in front of Ryan Seacrest and Katy Perry to sign on to what may be a disaster. But the rumors I'm hearing is that they cannot find any other judges to sign on. Maybe everyone else is like me and thinks it’s the worst TV decision since NBC went with Jay Leno at 10 PM every night. — Unsigned
Matt Roush: Skepticism about this reality reboot has been rampant since ABC first made it official. Not that Idol should never be revived, but why so soon, when there’s hardly a shortage of this sort of show and The Voice (which helped hasten Idol’s demise) is still going fairly strong. And how ironic should Fox, which understandably declined to bring Idol back to its schedule with these high talent price tags, have a bigger hit with its own new singing competition, The Four—which also feels unnecessary, but everyone wants to be in this game. I won’t comment on rumors, any more than I do spoilers, except to say that American Idol brings with it extremely high expectations. And perhaps even greater risks should it not perform. Even so, it will likely rank somewhere lower on the debacle scale than the Leno-in-prime-time experiment.
Any Salvation for Salvation?
Question: I was wondering if there is any chance CBS will be bringing back the show Salvation. I’m hooked. While Santiago Cabrera is obviously unbelievably handsome (the British accent only adds to the draw), it’s the character Darius Tanz that got me. The chemistry between him and Jennifer Finnigan’s Grace Barrows is off the charts. The show has intrigue, action and romance. I would love to see it return. — Linda
Matt Roush: There’s always a chance, but it’s hard to know where they set the bar in terms of gauging success for these moderately rated summer series, very few of which are lighting up the ratings this year. (The only one I’d be surprised not to see again is NBC’s Midnight, Texas.) CBS tends to give many of these genre shows at least a second season to catch on, but not always—see my beloved BrainDead from a year ago, and American Gothic from the same season. If last year is an indication that CBS is taking a harder line with its scripted summer shows, then maybe Salvation is in trouble. Hard to say. The worst thing would be for the show to end without resolving its major crises. See the next question for an example.
Dark Days for Matter Mavens
Question: It's my understanding that Syfy canceled Dark Matter. They left off with a huge cliffhanger and about 20 dangling plot threads. I know this gets asked of every canceled show these days, but have you heard anything about a wrap-up special if not shopping it elsewhere? — Woody
Matt Roush: Somebody would have to bankroll a wrap-up movie or miniseries, the way Netflix eventually decided to do after axing Sense8, but not sure if that’s in the cards for this Canadian import. One theory I’ve seen floated is that because Netflix streams the first seasons of Dark Matter, maybe they’d be inclined to produce a series finale, because who wants to start streaming a show that never resolves? Decisions like that are beyond my pay grade, though, so we’ll have to see if the fans rallying to Dark Matter’s cause have any impact.
Question: Would it be possible for you to give us a list of your 10 (or 15, or 20) favorite new fall shows. There are WAY too many to sample and I would certainly not like to miss the most entertaining! — Diane
Matt Roush: 20? That would be a lot for an exceptional fall season, which this year’s most definitely is not. I wrote a critical overview of the new season for TV Guide Magazine’s Fall Preview issue, and with far fewer new shows (on broadcast networks, anyway) than usual, I barely made it to 10, but here goes with the short list of pilots, or in some case teasers, across the spectrum that I found to be the most promising: CBS’s Young Sheldon, ABC’s The Mayor, The Good Doctor and Ten Days in the Valley, Fox’s The Gifted, NBC’s revival of Will & Grace, HBO’s The Deuce, National Geographic’s The Long Road Home, Hulu’s Future Man, and going beyond that column, PBS’s The Vietnam War, Netflix’s Mindhunter, Amazon’s Lore and I’m hoping there will be a few more that haven’t yet made it onto my radar. As always at this time of year, these are mostly hopeful projections. Some will live up to or exceed their potential, others won’t, and there are bound to be some surprises, when shows with middling pilots find their footing along the way. That’s the fun part of watching TV.
Storm Clouds on the Ratings Front
Question: Not to sound insensitive or anything, but I'm curious: How do the TV ratings bean-counters factor in the probability that millions of people in Texas and Florida (including first responders and volunteers) are probably not going to be watching much TV in the next few weeks? — Maurice
Matt Roush: Any analyst who knows what they’re doing will understand the impact of these calamities on the communities in question and take that data into account. A new fall TV season is the least of the concerns of people who are trying to put their lives back together, and we can only hope the time comes soon when many are able to relax again in front of the TV.
Little Couple Goes to Houston
Question: What has happened to TLC's The Little Couple? They adopted two children, one from China and one from Russia, and have not been on for a while. Will they be coming back? — Roseann
Matt Roush: The comings and goings of reality shows of this nature can be confusing, and there’s little rhyme or reason as to their scheduling. But The Little Couple is back starting next Tuesday, Sept. 19, with an expanded two-hour premiere in which Bill Klein returns to Houston, where he and Jen lived for nine years, to help with Hurricane Harvey relief efforts.
Why Voice Coaches Deserve Their Face Time
Question: When someone recently asked why judges' reactions are shown on competition series, taking away from seeing the performances, you pointed out they forgot to mention The Voice. There's a reason for that. If you actually watched The Voice, the judges' chairs are turned so they can't see the contestant. All you're supposed to do is listen to their voice, hence the name of the show. Other reality shows have dancing and other specific talents where you have to watch. Just thought I'd mention that. — Denise
Matt Roush: Fair point. During the “blind auditions” round, easily the most enjoyable part of any season of The Voice, watching the judges listening to the auditioning singers sight unseen is deliciously addictive and suspenseful. In fact, it’s such great TV that the rest of the season almost always pales by comparison. The point I was trying to make was that in the subsequent rounds, as the “coaches” build their teams and engage in battles and steals, etc., the focus stays on the celebrity coaches to a degree that it takes away from the contestants, who have never gone on to the kind of stardom we once saw in the glory days of American Idol. (Which kind of brings this column full circle.)
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.