Welcome to the Q&A with TV critic (also known to some TV fans as their "TV therapist") Matt Roush, who'll try to 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 firstname.lastname@example.org (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.
Is Bang Becoming a Dud?
Question: I’m having trouble watching one of my favorite shows, The Big Bang Theory. I feel they are having a hard time finding new story lines and it’s getting boring. Penny never leaves the house, we haven’t seen Howard and Bernadette’s baby, Sheldon and Amy’s relationship is stale, and Raj is in another stupid relationship that he’s failing at. What do you think? — Diane
Matt Roush: I think you’re experiencing something known as franchise fatigue, which is hardly uncommon for a show that is nearing its 250th episode in its 11th season. I’ll disagree with you on one point. There’s still plenty of comedy being mined from the Sheldon-Amy romance, and to call it “stale” just reinforces the tired theory that when a couple gets past the will-they-or-won’t-they stage, they’re no longer interesting. It’s true they haven’t done much with Penny lately—though her banter with the guys, and the gals, is still pretty funny most weeks—and Raj … sigh. As for the baby, the fact we hear and don’t see it might be thought of as an homage to Howard’s late mother, who was always heard off-camera. With a second on the way, though, not sure if they can keep that joke going indefinitely.
The real issue here is that there’s a fine line between the comfort level we feel with a long-running show and discomfort when we begin to grow tired with it. I’m not there yet with Big Bang most weeks, though there obviously are going to be off episodes and maybe even stretches. We’re getting close to the time that CBS and Warner Bros. will need to (reluctantly) decide if the show will go beyond the contracted 12th season next year. For its sake, and that of its fans, it may be time to officially declare an endgame.
A Royal Suits Dilemma
Question: So...what will happen with Suits, now that Meghan Markle is otherwise engaged (pun intended)? — Linda
Matt Roush: Clearly, this question came in before the announcement heard around the world, confirming that Meghan Markle will not continue as Rachel beyond the conclusion of Season 7 (which continues on USA in early 2018). As if she would, with a real-life prince proposing to her and all. There have also been reports in the industry trades that Patrick J. Adams could also follow her out the firm’s door, at least as a series regular, after the seventh season, which is a natural time in a show’s life when core cast members’ contracts come up for renegotiation. (See: Amy Carlson exiting Blue Bloods this fall.) How this all plays out remains to be seen, and would qualify as a spoiler anyway, so we’ll deal with that when the time comes.
Seeking Respect for a Heroic Crossover
Question: It seems that on all fronts, the four-part Arrow-verse crossover, “Crisis on Earth-X,” was a resounding hit and some of the best television I’ve seen in years. The action was fantastic on each part, and demonstrated how a Justice League movie can be. Not only was the event outstanding, the way they modified preceding episodes of each series to give key actors time away from their principle shows to film this was magnificent and unobtrusive to the current storylines as production on all series continued while filming the crossover episodes. What happened in the crossover will have lasting impact in five of the six Arrow-verse shows (CW seed cartoons Vixen and The Ray are included in Arrow-verse cannon.) Victor Garber did some outstanding work, and if Maggie Smith can get an Emmy for her Downton Abbey one-liners, then Dominic Purcell should be gifted a nomination too.
Though I am typically opposed to Emmy manipulation, I’m hoping these episodes will fall under the miniseries category—especially since none of the show went by their original name in the title sequence. Several Emmy nominations for acting, special effects, costume design, and producing should be granted, but I’m afraid they won’t. The network, and genre of the crossover, seem to be often overlooked, and because one of the main writers and executive producers was recently fired for harassment, that may keep those Emmy voters who may have been open to reviewing turning away after all. Any insights to what can be done for this outstanding work? — Brian
Matt Roush: The feedback I’ve been seeing has been very positive on what turned out to be a quite eventful stunt. Having entertained the fan base will have to be its own reward, I’m afraid. Even if The CW tried to enter these episodes as a limited series (the current terminology), I’d bet the TV Academy would throw the rulebook at them. Regardless, it would be an uphill battle to get awards recognition for shows like these. (Even Wonder Woman will likely go begging when it comes to major movie nominations.) With very rare exceptions (a Golden Globe for breakout ingénues), The CW is pretty much invisible to industry voters, and combine that with the superhero genre, this is a job even Superman would shudder to take on.
Should Mr. McCord Just Stay Home?
Question: Why is Madam Secretary focusing so much on the husband character? The show is not Madam Secretary’s Husband. Also, his character is the least believable part of the series. — Unsigned
Matt Roush: I’ll agree that some of Henry McCord’s perilous overseas missions have strained belief, and I rarely feel the same dramatic tension in his CIA storylines as I do when Madam Bess is solving the world’s problems in her office or at the White House. But I’m not sure this complaint is entirely fair, including to Tim Daly, who would likely be bored stiff if he were only playing housemate and sounding board in bed to Téa Leoni’s Secretary of State. It was established from the beginning that Madam Secretary herself came from the ranks of the CIA, so Henry’s posting there makes thematic sense within the world of the show. And it gives Daly, a TV star in his own right, something more to do than banter with wife and kids. Whether these subplots distract or detract from the show in general … an interesting point.
Mrs. Maisel and the Pioneers of Comedy
Question: I haven't seen The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel yet, but the subtitle of your review in TV Guide Magazine, "From 1950s housewife to stand-up sensation," made me think not of Joan Rivers or Rusty Warren, but of Phyllis Diller, who was billed as a (former?) housewife when her popularity took off. But Maisel sounds interesting. I'll have to check it out. — Hal
Matt Roush: I hope you and others do check it out, and enjoy it as much as I did. (I now need to find time to watch the remaining six episodes beyond the four made available for advance review.) I also considered mentioning Phyllis Diller as an influence in shaping the character, but her persona was so outrageous, though also subverting the stereotype of the harried housewife, that Rivers’ more East Coast aspect seemed closer to where Midge seems to be evolving. I meant no disrespect to Phyllis, though. She was a pioneer and a hero to all women in comedy.
Not Ready to Give Up Longmire
Question: Is there any hope that the wonderful Longmire will be picked up by another network? I’ve loved the characters that have been there since the beginning as well as those introduced along the way. Will Netflix try to continue this wonderful show, using plots from the Longmire books? — Kay
Matt Roush: It seems unlikely that a show that was already rescued once (by Netflix, after A&E’s premature cancellation) would find a third home. And my feeling is that when a series goes into production in what has been definitively announced as a final season, we should be at peace with that, at least for the present time. It certainly beats being canceled without being allowed to plan one’s own finale. That said, in our exit interview with series star Robert Taylor, there’s a suggestion that TV-movies (possibly based on the books?) could eventually restart the franchise. And that’s a great future plan for a mystery series. Until such a thing is announced, though, don’t get your hopes up.
Hoping for a Christmas Miracle
Question: Why isn’t Miracle on 34th Street on broadcast TV anymore? It used to be on during the Christmas season but hadn’t in the last several years. Now it’s only on “On Demand” where you have to pay to see it. I’m talking about the old version. — Unsigned
Matt Roush: The holiday calendar published in TV Guide Magazine shows the original Miracle being aired marathon-style on SundanceTV on Dec. 10 and again on AMC on Dec. 16, which suggests AMC Networks may have rights to the movie for now. (I can’t tell here if you’re confusing cable programming with “On Demand,” although I suppose titles like these are also available on pay-per-view.) I do remember Miracle airing during the day on one of the broadcast networks as of a few years ago, but theatrical movies are a very rare breed on those schedules anymore, and they may be filling with specials from their own stable of programming.
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@example.com or shoot me a line on Twitter (@TVGMMattRoush), and you can also submit questions via the handy form below.