Ask Matt: 'The Conners' Without Roseanne, 'Yellowstone' Pro and Con, 'Americans' Finale, 'Timeless' and Other Cancelations
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.
Is There Hope for The Conners?
Question: Can The Conners be any good? I guess I'm pulling for it. I watched the first few episodes of the Roseanne revival and enjoyed it. But I'm hard-pressed to think of another show where one person's personality is so deeply embedded. Roseanne Barr has agreed to have no involvement whatsoever, from what I understand. In order to succeed, it seems The Conners will have to maintain the personality of the original show without maintaining the personality BEHIND the original show. I don't know how you pull that off. — Kirsten
Matt Roush: This is an excellent description of the dilemma the spinoff faces: How to carry on without the star whose brand defined the show and whose comic persona was the reason the show even existed. What we’ll discover come fall is whether Roseanne Barr was the main reason people watched, or whether the tone of her working-class comedy, executed by pros including John Goodman, Sara Gilbert and Laurie Metcalf, will remain a draw if they can continue to deliver relevant and biting comedy. In terms of maintaining the personality, the good news is that the way they’ve developed Darlene’s character, as a cash-strapped single mom who views the world with a similar sardonic attitude to her own mom’s, it might not be that difficult for The Conners to feel like a natural offshoot. So yes, The Conners has the potential to be good, if not on par with classic Roseanne (a high bar which the reboot only intermittently reached).
Will The Conners Force a Tuesday Shake-Up?
Question: With The Conners now in place of Roseanne, do you think ABC will maintain the rest of the Tuesday schedule as it was announced during upfronts? Or will there be any tweaking of the schedule since Roseanne-without-Roseanne is now somewhat of a less proven property to use as a lead-in for a genuine freshman series like The Kids Are Alright? —Jake
Matt Roush: One thing I’m fairly confident about: The season premiere of The Conners (or whatever it’s called) will get a huge tune-in — maybe not as mammoth as the reboot’s opening-night numbers, but significant for sure — if only out of morbid curiosity to see how the show will deal with the absence (most speculate death) of the Roseanne character. I’d think there will be enough curiosity about the spinoff to guarantee robust ratings for at least the first few weeks, which should mean the possibility of decent sampling for any new show that follows. So I’d bet that ABC will keep the lineup intact, providing a sturdy hammock for The Kids Are Alright between The Conners and ABC’s other signature Tuesday comedy, black-ish.
Yellowstone: Too Rough, Too Unlikable, Too Confusing?
Question: I really liked the premiere of Yellowstone. (I love Taylor Sheridan's writing.) However, there don't seem to be very many likeable characters in it, since almost everybody is doing terrible things right off the bat. I'm definitely intrigued, though, and will be sticking around to see what happens next. What do you think are the ratings expectations for it to be considered a success for Paramount Network? I've never watched anything on Paramount (or Spike) before, so this show has made me aware of them. — JL
Matt Roush: These days, it’s hard to gauge the metrics that determine a show’s success, but Yellowstone is off to a strong start, clocking an audience of nearly 5 million in its Live+3 Days average, which Paramount cites is basic cable’s most-watched scripted premiere since The People vs. O.J. Simpson in 2016. Perhaps just as crucial from Paramount Network’s point of view is the fact that, as your example demonstrates, Yellowstone has helped put the newly branded channel on the map, which already means it’s done its job. If viewers stick with the show, even better.
Defending The Americans Finale
Question: I must admit that I expected a Bonnie and Clyde ending for The Americans, but I'm happy to say that I enjoyed the ending that was aired. [SPOILER ALERT] It's far better to think of their children enjoying the benefits of the American way of life, while they must adjust to the mother country they left behind, which has so drastically changed since they were there. — Phyllis
Matt Roush: The debate continues between those who may have wished for a bloodier final chapter and those who were satisfied by the morally complex resolution. I’m in the latter camp, and so is Dilys, who wrote in to comment: “You hit the nail on the head with your comments on The Americans. Never got the recognition they all deserved. Acting in the last episode was terrific by all. They all received a huge loss at the end. Will never forget the looks on their faces. There was a huge loss for all the characters.”
Time’s Up for Timeless
Question: I’m very disappointed to hear that NBC has canceled Timeless — again! I really hope that NBC greenlights a two hour wrap-up movie for the show! Why do you think it’s “wishful thinking,” though, for it to happen? Is it because the show is very expensive to produce? I hope that NBC and Sony TV can work out the economics to make a two-hour movie wrap-up to happen! I also see that most of the show’s fans on Twitter want the show to be shopped to streaming services, but according to the show’s creators Eric Kripke and Shawn Ryan, no streaming platforms are interested in picking up the show. I think that show’s expensive price tag is the reason that streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, or Crackle (the latter which is owned by Sony) wouldn’t want to save the show. I really hope there is a silver lining to all of this, and that NBC will #SaveTimeless and #EndTimelessRight! — Chri
Matt Roush: The only reason I described the possible movie as “wishful thinking” on the day the cancellation was confirmed is because no deal is yet in place, and I’m just being realistic that NBC as a network has little incentive to invest in a (presumably) costly wrap-up to a show that never delivered the audience numbers they’d hoped. (Their scheduling didn’t help, obviously.) It would make more sense if Crackle, owned by Sony, stepped up — or whoever holds ultimate streaming rights to the series. But it’s always possible NBC will do the right thing by the fans of Timeless, we’ll just have to see how and if it plays out.
A Shortened Life Sentence
Question: What is your opinion of The CW’s now-canceled series, Life Sentence, with Lucy Hale? I found it entertaining and heartwarming, a family drama with values. Lucy was great on Pretty Little Liars and proved she could carry a series with Life Sentence. I thought she was amazing. I'll really miss this show. — Cathy
Matt Roush: What I saw (which wasn’t much) of the show struck me as too cute and precious, not my cup of tea. No slight on Lucy Hale, who clearly has TV-star chops, and I’m really not the target audience for a show of this ilk, which might have found a happier home on a channel like Freeform. It’s interesting to me that The CW keeps trying to find a space for young-adult romantic comedy on its schedule — a season earlier it was No Tomorrow — amid the deluge of superhero and supernatural series. When the network loses Crazy Ex-Girlfriend and Jane the Virgin after next season, that will leave a big thematic hole, so I imagine they’ll keep trying.
What on Earth Happened?
Question: People of Earth was a huge success for TBS, so I fail to see the logic in canceling it after promising a third season. What reason did they give for canceling the hugely popular show? Will another network pick it up? — William U
Matt Roush: Networks don’t have to give reasons for canceling a show, which usually boils down to ratings, and while People of Earth was a critical darling and had a loyal following, it was always a sleeper hit at best. And according to the trades (which follow ratings more avidly than I do), the second season didn’t build on the first season. The cancellation was nonetheless a surprise to most observers, since TBS had given the greenlight to a third season, and all the episodes reportedly had been written. Which is why it wouldn’t shock me to hear if someone can be convinced to go forward with production of these episodes, just don’t know who. (It would be a fun experiment for Syfy, but I wouldn’t count on it.)
That’s all for now. 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.