Ask Matt: Cancellations on ABC (‘Mayor’) and Amazon, Live Musicals on ABC, ‘9-1-1,’ and More

THE MAYOR - Brandon Michael Hall
Tony Rivetti/ABC
Brandon Micheal Hall in The Mayor

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. Look for Ask Matt columns on most Tuesdays and Fridays.


Impeaching The Mayor

Question: I’m sad that ABC canceled The Mayor. We are just starting to get good 30-minute comedies. One-hour dramas get tedious. Not every show can be Big Bang. How successful does a freshman comedy need to be to continue? — Disappointed in San Diego, Dak

Matt Roush: I’ll argue the point that ABC isn’t exactly hurting for strong comedies, with a surge that began with Modern Family and The Middle and continued with black-ish, The Goldbergs and Fresh Off the Boat (so points for diversity as well). The quick demise of The Mayor is indeed disappointing, but I was just as dismayed when The Real O’Neals didn’t last, what is what happens when you’re filling several blocks of comedy a week. Not all will make it. Your question, though, is a good one, because it’s harder these days to figure out the line between failure and success when we’re watching on so many different platforms, with live viewing just one of many options. I would have liked to see ABC nurture The Mayor a bit longer, but while it was one of the better-reviewed sitcoms of the fall, it didn’t seem to sustain much buzz, and with disappointing ratings apparently convincing ABC that the audience wasn’t likely to grow, its term was cut short.

Amazon’s Purge, A Middle Romance

Question: Just have to vent about a couple things: 1) I’m so upset Amazon canceled I Love Dick, Jean-Claude Van Johnson and especially One Mississippi, which was just a lovely show in my opinion. I was hoping for many seasons. I know Amazon is trying to get a blockbuster show like Game of Thrones, but abandoning the quirky fare that put them on the map with viewers is disheartening. (Executive scandals aside.)

2) I love that Sue and Sean finally kissed on The Middle, but now this “will they or won’t they” is silly, especially with so few episodes left. I swear if the series does not end with their wedding, or something similar, I will be extremely disappointed. On a positive note, last week’s return of Grey’s Anatomy was really great! I’m so glad this show keeps going and going.

What do you think about Amazon’s recent decision to cancel these shows? — Mel B

Matt Roush: I’m very sorry about One Mississippi in particular. Tig Notaro’s very personal comic vision deserves a place on TV, and each of those six-episode seasons was a gem, reminiscent of how some British TV series operate with smaller seasons. I hate that this was a casualty of Amazon’s new big-tent mindset when there should be room for all types of variety within the Prime Video niche. (That said, I’m glad to see The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel breaking through.) I Love Dick was an intriguing, if pretentious, experiment, though Jean-Claude wasn’t my cup of TV, and while I get that even streaming services will cancel shows, especially during a regime change, this purge sends an unhappy message to the creative community.

Regarding The Middle, I’m willing to give the Sue-Sean relationship some romantic-comedy slack, and fully expect they’ll get some sort of happy ending resolution by the series’ end. And I agree that Grey’s Anatomy’s staying power is something to behold. I do believe it will break ER’s longevity record, and I had bailed on that show long before this point in its duration.

Will ABC Ever Do Live Disney Musicals?

Question: The live TV versions of musicals like Grease have been relatively popular. Is there any chance ABC will do one of their former Broadway hits, like Beauty and the Beast, in the near future? They had Newsies streaming on Netflix, so there’s a precedent. They put a lot into Tarzan, Mary Poppins and The Little Mermaid on Broadway without a lot of success, so maybe they could try them on TV since all the writing and musical composition is already done. What do you think? — Laura

Matt Roush: It’s probably just a matter of time. ABC actually had announced a live version of The Little Mermaid for last fall, but postponed it for what was reported to be budgetary and possibly other logistical reasons. Whether that will ever happen remains to be seen, but it seems a natural extension to turn at least one of these shows into a live TV event at some point. (I wouldn’t count on The Lion King or the upcoming Broadway production of Frozen to make it to TV, though, not as long as they keep drawing profitable live audiences on Broadway and on the road.)

Calling 9-1-1: Save This Cast!

Question: Is it just me, or has 9-1-1 turned out to be a massive waste of a very talented cast in what has turned out to be unwatchable? It’s like amateur hour. I couldn’t make it past the first commercial break of the third episode. I’m done already. — Michael

Matt Roush: When I reviewed the pilot episode, I also singled out the cast as being “ridiculously overqualified” for the maudlin personal stories they were being asked to play. The draw of 9-1-1 seems to be the over-the-top emergencies they’re responding to, and it’s doing well enough that Fox has already given it an early renewal for a second season. But I can’t help thinking: Connie Britton left Nashville for this? Speaking of which …

Is Nashville Sabotaging Will?

Question: Was the last episode of Nashville the last for Cameron Scoggins as Zach Welles on the show? They wrote out his character saying he was going back to California to run for the Senate, and he brought along his new boyfriend with him! If that was the last episode for him, then that means that Will won’t have a serious love interest for the show’s final season! Why do all of Will’s boyfriends leave him and break his heart? Are the TPTB at CMT homophobic for letting Will not be in love with a man? What was the point of Will coming out of the closet if he can’t have a serious boyfriend that will never leave him and break his heart? I know this is a primetime soap set in the country music world, but I just hate the fact that Will and Zach might not have closure and make up! — Chris B

Matt Roush: Can’t say for sure if Zach is gone for good, but the actor was no longer listed among the full-time regulars, so do the math. And honestly, Will can do better than this boorish interloper. I just hope the steroid-abuse storyline they introduced last week resolves quickly, because Will is better than that as well. Where Will’s love life is concerned, I figure he’s as susceptible to soap-opera angst as anyone else on the show, so it’s not like he’s being singled out for heartbreak. I’d like to think there’s a soulmate for him out there before the show wraps. I’d even settle for a reunion with songwriter Kevin (Kyle Dean Massey), who seemed much more his type. But if Nashville’s producers and/or network were actually homophobic, Will would have been killed or written off long ago. This seems a fairly groundbreaking character to me, given the genre, and Chris Carmack is terrific in the role.

Question: NO NO NASHVILLE!!!! O know it has already been announced and dissected as to WHY this great show has to DIE, but I think I speak for thousands of fans when I say HECK NO!!! There are still more stories in their lives to evolve. I thought it would die after Rayna died, but it has held its own and become an even BETTER show! What about developing the lives of deacon, getting married? Or the girls (graduation/college), The Exes getting back together, the future of Will’s gay relationships & MUCH MORE! So many UNFINISHED STORIES! DON’T DO IT!! CMT PLEASE!!! GIVE it at least 2 more seasons!!! Don’t just see the dollars (or lack of). THINK ABOUT LOYAL FANS purchasing products advertised SPECIFIC to this show to keep it ALIVE!!! PLEASE!!!!!!! — Steve

Matt Roush: I hope Steve is planning to write his heart out to CMT, although from the tone of this, it sounds like even two more seasons wouldn’t satisfy a fan this passionate.

Authenticity Matters

Question: I know that where a TV show or movie is filmed is due to economics, but in watching the first episode of The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story, it irked me no end that the one scene on the UC Berkeley campus wasn’t on the campus. In no way did it resemble ANY location on UC’s campus. It may be a minor thing, but it makes me not want to watch anything done by the offenders. Do filmmakers think the viewing public is unobservant? They do a better job with using cities as stand-ins for more expensive cities. Why can’t they make a little more effort with other locations? It is just another glaring instance where British TV is of a higher quality to U.S. TV. — Diane

Matt Roush: Somehow I didn’t anticipate this being the first bone someone would pick with this series. I’m sure the producers were more focused on how they were able to film in and around Versace’s opulent former mansion in South Beach, which is what most are likely to take away from that first episode. That they were less successful at faking the Berkeley campus seems to me like nit-picking, but if anything pulls you out of the reality they’re trying to create, it’s a fair criticism.

Paging the Hot Vicar!

Question: Will there be a Season 4 of Grantchester? I see James Norton is now doing movies, so I hope he’ll return to do more Grantchester. I love that show! — Eileen

Matt Roush: We’re still waiting to hear on this one. I know PBS/Masterpiece would love to have it back, so let’s hope all of the parties involved can work it out, even if it’s on a recurring movie-of-the-week basis like Benedict Cumberbatch’s Sherlock series. It’s no surprise that James Norton’s star profile is rising, but what a great character to have in one’s arsenal. I hope we haven’t seen the last of him as vicar Sidney Chambers.


That’s all for now. 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.