Ask Matt: A Tale of Two Cult-Show Finales ('Good Place,' 'Crazy Ex'), Renewal Limbo, Olympics Fashion Fail?
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.
Cult Shows, Bold Finales
Question: I thought NBC’s The Good Place did such a great job in its second-season finale of reinventing the show, again, in a surprising way, without feeling like the surprise was just for shock value or inconsistent with its storytelling drive. It would be impossible to top last year's twist, but them being alive again is certainly an exciting new avenue for the show, and felt earned on a narrative level. I don't have any idea where the writers are going to take this next year, but that's one of the most exciting things about it, and I can't wait for more. Also, bless NBC for having done the right thing and renewed the show early, so we actually do know that there will be more. I guess there isn't much of a question in here, but wanted to note how happy I am that a series this creative and unexpected has its future secure.
Conversely, The CW’s Crazy Ex-Girlfriend ended the season with equal storytelling bravado and nerve. I appreciate how bold Rachel Bloom and company have been in terms of sticking to their vision for the show, and I'm excited to see what's next, but the prospect of Rebecca going to jail would be a whole lot easier to swallow if we knew there will be a "what's next." I know they haven't renewed anything for next season yet, but The CW typically does early renewals before and has done so for Crazy Ex in the past, so anytime soon would be appreciated, CW. It would just be awful to cancel it now and leave that as the end of the series. If they know they're going to keep it, announcing the renewal sooner rather than later would be kind to the fans. And if they don't keep it, some white knight really has to step up for his story to be concluded properly in just one more season. What do you think of the finale and of its renewal chances? — Jake
Matt Roush: These are two of TV’s most original series and I also look forward to seeing where they go next. Few things are more exhilarating—and risky—than a show reinventing itself season to season, but The Good Place has successfully done this while raising the stakes for its souls in limbo. I love that Michael (Ted Danson) has come down to Earth to help Eleanor (Kristen Bell) find her way, presumably to the real Good Place, and I imagine we’ll meet the others along the way next time around. While viewers often gripe about seasons of some shows being too short, The Good Place feels just about perfect at 13 per season.
Same goes for Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, which would almost certainly never be able to maintain its quality of low comedy, high drama and fabulous music if it had to produce more than 13 episodes a year (still not quite sure how they survived making 18 in the first season). As I’ve noted before, it would be a terrible shock if The CW, which has supported the series despite punishingly low ratings, were to bail now, with only one more season projected to wrap up Rebecca’s story. I feel confident that especially with the network expanding to Sundays in the fall, there will be room for this show to end on its own terms. I can’t explain why the network hasn’t confirmed an early renewal. Those matters often involve elaborate business details that I’m not privy to. But this kind of limbo is known to drive fans, well, crazy. Including the next correspondent.
The Long Wait for Midnight
Question: While I’m very happy that NBC has renewed Midnight, Texas for a second season, I was kind of disappointed that we the fans had to wait five months for a renewal decision on the show! Why did NBC take so long to make a decision? It was just agonizing to have to wait for a long time for news about the show either getting renewed or canceled! And now that the network has renewed the show, when will filming start, and when will the second season air on NBC? Do we have to wait what feels like forever until next fall to watch the second season of Midnight, Texas? I hope not! - Chris
Matt Roush: Can’t we just be happy when you get what you want? Especially with an “on the bubble”-type show like Midnight, which premiered during the off-season—and I expect that’s where it will return, sometime this summer (and I haven’t a clue about its production schedule)—there is obviously not much urgency in the renewal process, as this isn’t exactly a high priority. Except, I suppose, to fans. The network was likely weighing many options, including its overall summer strategy and its scheduling needs, before making the call to invest in another season. There’s no rhyme or reason to when these renewals are locked in and announced, and I have no crystal ball, so have to wait along with everyone else until these matters are decided.
Putting the ‘Weir’ in Weird Olympics Fashion
Question: I enjoyed NBC's coverage of the Winter Olympics, despite a few minor things. The various venues were covered exceptionally well, except one. I realize that NBC must give its token to the LGBT movement, but Johnny Weir and his outfits were way, way overboard, and an insult to most of my friends, who flipped to another channel when he was on. The diamond-studded earphones were the final straw. Whoever allowed his outfits and hair should be placed on a dog grooming show or fired, but will probably get promoted. — Tom G
Matt Roush: Obviously this is a matter of taste, and Johnny’s flamboyant whimsy will not be to everyone’s, but his clothes (like several of this year’s Olympians) are not going back in the closet, so my advice is to not take it seriously, because why would you? (Even within my own LGBT circle, there was much amusement in wondering what Joan Crawford movie Johnny would channel next. Or maybe Norma Desmond. Or, another friend suggested, The Hunger Games.) What really matters is whether he and Tara Lipinski were up to the challenge of providing worthwhile skating analysis, and for the most part, they were. And it’s not like the sport they’re dealing with is modest when it comes to startling fashion statements from those on the ice. My other takeaway from Ice Skating this year was the emergence of Adam Rippon as an authentic TV personality. Should he decide ever to hang up his skates and go into broadcasting, Johnny had better look over his padded shoulders and maybe revisit All About Eve. Kidding!
When a New Series Is Yesterday’s News
Question: I started watching Private Eyes on ION TV, and I noticed that the production dates on the show are from 2016. What gives?? — Unsigned
Matt Roush: This is not an ION original, but a pickup from Canada, where the light mystery series starring Jason Priestley has been airing since summer 2016. (Two seasons have been filmed to date.) This is not uncommon with certain cable outlets, including WGN America, which is no longer in the expensive business of producing its own series, but looks beyond our borders for new product (i.e., Bellevue and the new/not-new Shoot the Messenger).
The Frequently Asked Questions File
Question: Is The Brave on NBC gone for good? I know it was up against The Good Doctor on ABC, which took off very well. I would hope NBC would consider moving it to another night, as I felt it was a really good show. - Judy
Matt Roush: It’s gone for now, as NBC didn’t pick up the series beyond the original 13-episode order. Part of that was a matter of inventory, as Good Girls and other midseason series were waiting in the wings. And not getting the back-nine order is not necessarily a kiss of death anymore. Still, renewal is not guaranteed, and we probably won’t know if it’s coming back—and if it is, what its night and time slot will be—until NBC announces its new schedule in May.
Question: Who owns the rights to Star Trek: Discovery? And will they release Season 1 on DVD someday? — Dan
Matt Roush: This is a CBS property first and foremost, now that CBS operates what used to be known as Paramount TV, and that’s why this series is a critical element in establishing the CBS All Access subscription streaming site. (Yes, we know it’s rotten to hide a Star Trek show behind a paywall, but that’s the business everyone’s in these days.) CBS has a vested interest in this series being exclusive to subscribers now, but given the revenue stream Star Trek still represents in the DVD marketplace, I’d expect Discovery will eventually be released in that format. Just can’t predict when.
Question: I catch your column every week in the TV Weekly, but have never seen (or perhaps missed) any inquiry about the disappearance of the show Elementary. It was a great show, with intriguing mysteries, and a neat new take on Holmes and Watson, but it seems to have vanished without any word as to what happened or WHY. Any talk amongst "insiders"? — Carolyn
Matt Roush: CBS held the new season of Elementary for midseason, and it was recently announced that it will be one of the later spring arrivals, taking over for Scorpion on Mondays at 10/9c once that series wraps. Premiere date is set for April 30. A long wait to be sure, but if the entire season runs intact, at least you’ll have something new to watch on some summer Mondays.
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.