Ask Matt: Digesting ‘Grey’s’ Dinner Party, Plus ‘Jane’s Growing Pains, ‘Person of Interest’, ‘Masters of Sex’ 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 unless it’s common knowledge. Please send your questions and comments to [email protected] (or use the new form at the end of the column) and follow me on Twitter.
Question: Wondering your thoughts on the 250th episode of Grey’s Anatomy. I could only tolerate a few scenes of the episode, which only succeeded in leaving me thinking: Is this what is left of this once great show? Amelia is the most frustrating addition to the show and acts like an import from Izzie’s trailer park in Season 2. She screams like a banshee in every scene she’s in when she isn’t running around like a teenager. Speaking of screaming, I get that the dinner scene was meant to be dramatic, but everything is just so contrived to the point that it’s a cliché.
Of course Callie’s new girlfriend is the one on duty when Derek died, so now everyone must hate her just because Amelia and Meredith do (just like Izzie hating on Callie). Of course Penny is working with them at the hospital now. Of course Owen always magically shows up when Amelia has one of her fits. I’m not even going to comment on Owen’s speech to Amelia, as I think it is widely misinterpreted depending on your “ship.” Of course Meredith has to deal with a selfish sister-in-law on top of being faced with Derek’s death again. I know Grey’s Anatomy has found a lot of new young fans in the last few years, but that does not mean they need to write 30- to 40-year-old characters like millennials living in a sorority house. Most everyone I know that watched the show from Day 1 when it was on Sundays don’t watch anymore because they don’t relate to the characters anymore, even what’s left of the originals. That being said, I agree with those saying the show no longer has a heart and soul. It’s sad to see a show you watched from the beginning end up a recycled mess of storylines and characters you no longer care about. – M
Matt Roush: I didn’t even realize this was a milestone episode. I just thought it was an annoying departure, and I was praying for a natural disaster to pull them all back to the hospital. My two takeaways from the episode, beyond the feeling of aggravation almost anytime anyone spoke, were: Where again are Meredith’s beloved children she keeps going on about, while everyone’s screaming and drinking throughout the house? And: Is Penny clueless? Did she not know she was relocating to a hospital renamed in part after the family of the widow of the famous neurosurgeon whose death she still feels responsible for? Did she just think it would never come up? So silly, but emotional immaturity seems to be an ongoing theme this season. And that’s something even this seasoned cast has trouble playing convincingly. Final thought: I agree that Amelia is close to a deal-breaker, along with April. Can’t they both just go join the staff of Dr. Ken‘s clinic so I’d never have to see or listen to them again?
Is Jane Going Too Insane?
Question: I adore Jane the Virgin so much, and I’m getting super upset about how they are handling everything that isn’t Jane’s family dynamics. For starters, I felt like they really went backwards with the Petra storyline. She was one of my favorite characters in Season 1, and now she’s just very psychotic and insane and I don’t know if they plan to include this on her storyline (the mental illness), but if not, it doesn’t make sense to me. The Sin Rostro storyline is also so tiresome to me, because I feel it only exists to give Michael something to do on the show. Speaking of which, Luisa used to be so fun, and now she’s just a clueless person who’s also possibly mentally ill? Maybe they are overusing the character. I know they’re dragging the triangle for storyline reasons, but I’m also ready for it to be done. I should congratulate this show too, because it’s pretty funny and cute, and Jane, her mom and dad and abuela are always great! I’m biased, but Rafael’s development is also great! I know, because I talk to fans, that I’m not the only one to think this, but I’d like to see what you think about it. — Nathalia
Matt Roush: I heart Jane, too, and am willing to overlook the crazier excesses because that is and will always be part of the show’s DNA. It’s a tricky balance to produce a warm multigenerational family comedy-drama (probably the best of its sort since Gilmore Girls) while also hitting the wacky beats of a telenovela, which by its very nature goes and stays over the top. This includes the most extreme characters like Petra and Luisa as well as the Sin Rostro subplot. I agree there’s often a jarring disconnect between those storylines and the more relatable conflicts regarding Jane’s family, their struggles and Jane’s ongoing love triangle, which I don’t think is anywhere near played out. Where I’d part company with you is that I don’t think you give Michael nearly enough credit as a still-essential part of the show’s emotional baseline. This season I think they’ve done a good job of reminding us how much he once meant to Jane and still sometimes does. (I admit I find him a more appealing character most weeks than Rafael; we all have our biases.) Even the most recent subplot, in which Rogelio tried to coach Michael on how to be macho around Jane, was charming in the way it played out. (And every “It’s not a diary” joke made me laugh.)
Playing the Person of Interest Waiting Game
Question: It may feel too early for you to tackle this question, but that’s how obsessed over Person of Interest I am! I have to prepare for the possibility (probability?) that the shortened fifth season is its last on CBS. How much of a long shot would it be for POI to resurface at another network/streaming service? Please give a big fan some big hope! — Chris
Matt Roush: Until we see how things play out on CBS, it is way too early to go shopping for a savior at this point. But if this is the end, I wish CBS would declare it as such, especially if that helps the producers craft a satisfying finish, if that’s even possible. The only downside of resurrections like Longmire‘s on Netflix is that fans now find themselves often clinging to false hope that a canceled show is more likely to be rescued these days, when it’s still a rarity. Which isn’t to say that Warner Bros. (which made the Netflix deal for Longmire) wouldn’t attempt similar measures for this underrated franchise, if the studio feels it makes sense to keep the story of Finch, Reese & Co. going on some other platform. I’d follow Person of Interest anywhere, but if the parties decide to call it a day and end the show appropriately, I could be satisfied with that as well. But pulling the show without resolution? I’d have to sic Root on them.
Question: I’m wondering if it is at all possible that CBS may be holding Person of Interest not just for a midseason return, but plugging it in earlier in case of another series’ cancellation. Would POI be ready to go earlier than midseason if necessary? — Gwen
Matt Roush: That’s a (remote) possibility, much like how CBS changed its mind and decided to schedule 2 Broke Girls on Thursdays starting next week, putting Jane Lynch’s Angel From Hell on hold for now. But I don’t see this kind of opening just yet, not on CBS anyway. Limitless has done surprisingly well on Tuesdays, earning a full-season order. And I’d think the network will stick with Code Black for the time being (it got an additional script order). And now that we’re almost in November, it would be unlikely for CBS to just dump a show like Person of Interest on the lineup without benefit of promotion, especially as we’re heading into the holiday hiatus period of December, with pre-emptions for specials and a few weeks of repeats. Much more likely that Person of Interest will replace one of the ongoing franchises in the new year, at which time we’ll probably have a better sense of whether it’s the beginning of the end.
Had Enough of Sex?
Question: Well, now that it’s finally over for this season, can we please say a permanent goodbye to the overwrought soft-porn soap opera that Masters of Sex has become? Talk about nosedives. It was actually a really compelling hour of TV when we were watching them navigating the hurdles and pitfalls of building their seminal sex study and finally getting it published. Now it has devolved into a sophomoric mish-mash of romantic entanglements, psychosis and non-existent children issues. Lizzy Kaplan’s stiff-as-a-board delivery and Michael Sheen’s unending facial tics are really beginning to drive me crazy (my wife, too). Thoughts? — Jack
Matt Roush: You can say goodbye, but Showtime hasn’t. The show will be back again next year, but I’m doubtful I’ll return along with it. Which has nothing to do with the lead actors, who I still find compelling even when the storytelling isn’t. But I broke up with Masters during this unprecedented non-stop TV summer, becoming so disenchanted by fake storylines involving Virginia’s kids and other character issues that played like terrible soap opera. I agree with you that the first season, when they were conducting their study, was fantastic, maybe even groundbreaking, TV. The show became more uneven in the second season, and I ultimately found it unwatchable by the third season’s midpoint. If I ever catch up (but when?), I may be more amenable to giving it another look. But this feels like another show that might have been wise to limit its story to one or two seasons.
Welcome Back to Two Great Producers
Question: Are you as excited as I am that Marshall Herskovitz and Ed Zwick may be getting back in the TV game with a first-look deal at Lionsgate? I loved their breakthrough show thirtysomething back in the day, and Once and Again maybe even more. I love nothing more than a good weekly cry (RIP Parenthood), and have hungered for their deeply felt humanism, which TV could use a strong dose of these days. — Carla
Matt Roush: Couldn’t agree more. Some of my most profoundly satisfying moments covering TV have been in the company of these gentlemen, and if they find a properly hospitable home for their talents—would love to see them showcased on a high-aiming cable outlet like FX or AMC—all of TV will be better off.
What’s Up With The CW’s Bubble Shows?
Question: Has Hart of Dixie been canceled? — Elayne
Matt Roush: Yes.
Question: I love Reign! They moved it to Friday though, is that the kiss of death? — Cassie
Matt Roush: More like a lifeline. The CW probably couldn’t justify scheduling it on a weeknight, but because the CW’s corporate parents (CBS and Warner Bros.) produce the show and sell it to other markets, I suppose they’ll keep it around as long as it makes sense to their bottom line. History be damned.
That’s all for now, but we’ll pick up the conversation again next week, so keep sharing your thoughts on new and returning series and other TV matters. I can’t do this without your participation, so please send questions and comments about TV to [email protected] or shoot me a line on Twitter (@TVGMMattRoush). Or submit your question via the handy form below.