Ask Matt: Can This ‘black-ish’ Marriage Be Saved? Also: ‘Quantico,’ ‘Goldbergs’ Spinoff, Reboot Mania 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 theform at the end of the column) and follow me on Twitter. Look for Ask Matt columns on most Tuesdays and Fridays.
What black-ish Get a Happily Ever After?
Question: What did you think of the April 17 episode of black-ish? I love the show in general, but this felt deeper and more emotional than usual, and was really well directed with extraordinary skill and sensitivity by Tracee Ellis Ross. She also did a great job acting a significant change of pace for the character, as did Anthony Anderson as Dre. The whole episode was very unsettling to watch, which I think is what made it feel so honest and authentic. But they found comedy in it as well, where appropriate. I’m really excited to see how this continues.
I like the idea of the show using multiple episodes to explore a storyline, but I don’t like how ABC is scheduling it. The next new episode isn’t for two weeks. I get that this is the time of year when repeats or substitutions are common, but if they needed to throw in a break, why not do it this week? Also: the final exchange between the characters (“You and I see the world differently” and going to opposite sides of the bed) was used extensively in ABC’s promos. I get that they wanted to emphasize the significance of this episode, but did they really have to use the episode’s final moment? The fact that I’d seen it before in ads sort of took some oomph out of it. — JL
Matt Roush: For those who haven’t watched, this terrific and typically bold episode revealed significant cracks in the marriage-gone-stale of Dre and Bow, and a more typical sitcom might have resolved their marital tensions when the new baby took his first steps. They did celebrate that “aww” moment, but once they went back to bad, the emotional curtain dropped again. I appreciate when a sitcom can go deep, without losing its comic essence, to explore tough subjects like this over time, and things will still be rocky when the show returns May 1, with a kitchen remodel causing further strain in the marriage. I don’t think a week’s pause at this time of the year is that significant a problem, but sure, it would be better for serialized arcs to air consecutively. As for the promos: I watch so few things in actual real time anymore, I can’t remember the last time I saw one. But I hate it when networks give away moments like that in advance. There’s no excuse.
Return to Quantico
Question: I have been a fan of Quantico since Day 1. I know that the show comes back April 26, but I don’t know if it’s worth it to continue watching it since it’s been away so long. What’s your opinion on this? — Sylvia
Matt Roush: If you’ve been this loyal to the show, I’d recommend you give it another shot, even though almost a year has passed since the second-season finale last May. The main reason being it’s going to be a very different show in its third season, with no need for a refresher course, because Quantico is blowing up its original premise and is now about the exploits of an elite black-ops task force. Priyanka Chopra is back as Alex Parrish, along with a few other original cast members, joined this season by Marlee Matlin. I’m told it will be way more accessible as it turns into a more Mission: Impossible-type series, with none of those aggravating and confusing time jumps that caused me to abandon the show during one of its hiatuses when I realized I had forgot where the story was headed and I didn’t really care. I haven’t had a chance to check out the new episodes, but I’m planning to check in on it before the premiere.
Is The Goldbergs Worth Spinning Off?
Question: I was very surprised to hear that ABC gave the ’90s spinoff of The Goldbergs the green light after the original pilot with Nia Long was retooled. I was dismayed that they choose to add Barry’s high-school sweetheart Lainey (not to mention Coach Mellor and Principal Glascott) to the spinoff. I can’t think of a scenario where this doesn’t hurts The Goldbergs in some way with established, existing characters appearing on a different show set in a different decade. If ABC wanted a spinoff so badly, why could they not have just spun off Sean, Sue and Brad from The Middle? It would be as simple, organic and full of story possibilities as Sean getting a residency in New York with his wife Sue and her bestie Brad finishing out college at NYU. Why would ABC take this convoluted path with The Goldbergs with The Middle going off the air? — Rob
Matt Roush: I would definitely watch that Middle spinoff (though for now that appears to be a pipe dream). But with The Goldbergs presumably nearing the end of its run—next season isn’t confirmed as the last, but to keep it in the 1980s it probably has only a few more seasons left—ABC seemed really determined to get this 1990s comedy from Adam F. Goldberg on the air to stay in business with him.
In a separate question, Jake wondered: “If ABC decides to schedule the Goldbergs spinoff as a new lead-out for the original show, does that impact the renewal chances for Speechless? Or do you think they would just move that one?”
Matt Roush: ABC won’t announce scheduling and some renewals until May, but I wonder if introducing the spinoff at midseason in the Goldbergs time period, then moving it if it’s successful, might be the best strategy. As previously asked and answered in a recent column, I hope and believe Speechless will be back next season, and will be very unhappy if a spinoff of any sort ruins things for an actually original family comedy.
The Delicious Anticipation of Weekly TV
Question: Interesting question and comment by you on binge watching in the recent Ask Matt column. I kind of still enjoy the one show a week set-up on network TV and basic cable. Don’t mind the suspense killing me a week at a time. I do enjoy ripping through a series on Netflix, though (two you named, Ozark and Godless, are perfect examples). But occasionally, there’s a show—like AMC’s The Terror or the new (and brilliant) Killing Eve on BBC America—which I would love to be able to go through like a bat outta hell. I suppose in the long run, the trickle-out, one episode a week format keeps me gripped, but still… — Michael
Matt Roush: In recent years, we have seen some networks experiment by making an entire season available for digital viewing and binge-watching, even while the show airs weekly on a linear channel. This no doubt impacts traditional ratings, so it’s obviously a work-in-progress strategy. But when reviewing the excellent The Terror, I did consume all 10 episodes over several days in an engrossed (and sometimes grossed-out) binge, and thought at the time that it might be the best way to enjoy a story this novelistic (based on a great Dan Simmons novel). So I get that in this fascinating moment for the industry, there are shows that benefit from all-at-once distribution and others that flourish because of the delicious anticipation of waiting a week between episodes. Killing Eve is such a gas that burning through it too quickly might take away some of the fun. I watched the first five episodes before writing my rave review, and though a few more have been made available to me since, I’m saving them for later, though the temptation is fierce.
More Shows That Deserve Reboots
Question: I recently purchased The Equalizer complete series on DVD, and after watching several episodes, I realized this show would be ideal to reboot. A person dedicated to helping common individuals get help and justice…perfect for these times. The only recent show I can think of with a similar theme is the seriocomic Leverage. But who could play the lead role, immortalized by the late great Edward Woodward? All the obvious choices (like Kiefer Sutherland) are already busy. But then I thought: Why does it have to be a man? What’s Peta Wilson or Anna Torv doing these days? Or another possibility, a man and woman duo, like, a modern-day Avengers. Steed and Mrs. Peel circa 2018. Your thoughts? — Maurice
Matt Roush: I’m afraid the big screen has already claimed The Equalizer, with Denzel Washington reprising his role of the iconic Robert McCall in this summer’s Equalizer 2. Should the franchise ever find its way back to TV, I’d definitely be on board with a gender switch or a team concept—although in that case, why not just give The Avengers yet another shot?
Question: Will there ever be a reboot of Frasier? I’d like to see what he is doing all these years later? — Glady
Matt Roush: I would love to see Kelsey Grammer and David Hyde Pierce reprise their celebrated brother act. It wouldn’t be the same without the late John Mahoney as Martin, throwing shade from his ratty armchair, but paying tribute to that character might be a way to bring the Cranes back, even for a limited run.
Question: With all the revivals being thrown about, is there any talk about reviving Pushing Daisies? I thought it was one of the smartest shows when it was on, but was prematurely cancelled and left with the cliffhanger of Ned and Chuck knocking on her aunt’s door. I’d love to see this come back! — Kelly
Matt Roush: I’m still encountering people who are newly discovering this fantastical gem from Bryan Fuller. There has been talk over the years about reviving it in one form or another—comic books, a musical, a miniseries continuation—but the dazzling visual fractured-fairy-tale style would likely be prohibitively expensive for a show that, for all of its merits, was pretty much a cult hit. Fuller has a fair amount of industry clout, so anything is possible. Till then, I highly recommend the Blu-Ray. It still holds up.
Question: As popular as it was when on Lifetime, do you know why Army Wives was not syndicated? With all the syndicated dreck out there, Army Wives would be a breath of fresh air. — Robin
Matt Roush: I can’t confirm that Army Wives was never syndicated—it is beyond me to keep up with shows that are no longer in production—but as a general rule, dramas are more likely to enjoy a syndicated afterlife if they’re self-contained procedurals. Serialized dramas don’t tend to perform as well, but I agree there’s probably an audience for this one.
Question: Concerning The Blacklist, I just wanted to know if FINALE meant the end of the season or the show. I think that it is the best show on TV. — Jeri
Matt Roush: Seems a fair question for this time of year. The Blacklist’s finale isn’t scheduled until mid-May, by which time it will probably be known if it’s a season or series finale. (My bet is it’s not over yet.) When a series knows it’s wrapping, like Scandal this week, it is widely promoted as the series finale, the end of the line. Most finales on the horizon will be season finales—although in some cases they may air without the show knowing its fate.
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.