Ask Matt: Mourning ‘Code Black,’ Impatient for ‘The Son,’ Reboot Mania & 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 the form at the end of the column) and follow me on Twitter. Look for Ask Matt columns on most Tuesdays and Fridays.
Question: Why has Code Black not developed a better following? I believe it is a very interesting and suspenseful show. The action is fast-paced and most of the characters are believable—other than this season’s intern with the camera, surely that is a HIPAA violation. I am disappointed that it has been canceled. — Ed
Matt Roush: You’re not the only one. My mailbag is full of complaints about Code Black’s cancellation, with an intensity that may have something to do with CBS pulling the plug midstream while episodes are still airing, having waited until late April to even start running the third (now final) season. This series has always lived on the bubble season to season, never the breakout the network hoped for and never airing more than 18 episodes a season—16 in year two, and only 13 this year. If there is a silver lining here, it’s that the show’s executive producer saw the writing on the hospital wall and conceived the season finale (airing July 18) as a series ender. After CBS confirmed the cancellation last month, Michael Seitzman tweeted, “We always suspected this would be the last season. We wrote it to end that way.” And it looks to be a humdinger, with a plane crashing into Angels Memorial among other crises.
Some other recent reactions:
Ardent: “Why couldn’t CBS find room for Code Black? It is sooo goood! This season really feels like each character is coming into their own. It feels like a true medical drama and not a daytime soap. It is as good as ER was. I am really going to miss it.”
Matt again: This hits at the real dilemma: shelf space. With few exceptions, CBS is doing such solid business across so many nights, marginal performers that might look like a modest hit elsewhere don’t often stand much of a chance. Code Black is by no means a disaster ratings-wise, but it’s not a breakout hit like The Good Doctor—and while ABC TV Studios is a partner with CBS on Code Black, ABC already has its own hit medical drama, so I wouldn’t expect to see this one rescued.
Janet: Why is CBS canceling Code Black? It is such a good show, and so many silly, inane shows are remaining that it makes me frustrated. So many of my friends also like this show and are annoyed and perplexed. Is there any way to save this show?
Matt again: Seems unlikely, but you could reach out to the PTB at CBS Entertainment (4024 Radford Ave., Studio City, CA, 91604) and let them know your displeasure. It’s an old-school approach, but the more genuine, the better.
Will The Son Ever Rise?
Question: Is there a good reason why AMC seems to be pushing further back the return of The Son? It’s been over a year and I really enjoyed that show, but I lose more interest every time the premiere is announced later. If for no reason, why so long? Popular show? I thought it was. — Melissa
Matt Roush: I’m not sure there’s a reason good enough to satisfy an impatient fan, and I’m a bit puzzled as well about why AMC is putting so much space between airings of shows that don’t have Walking Dead in the title. Long waits are inevitable in the world of cable, when short seasons—10 episodes for The Son and signature drama Better Call Saul—seem to pass so quickly and the time between just goes on and on, more than a year in the case of both afore-mentioned shows. (AMC has set Aug. 6 as the start date for Saul, which aired its third-season finale last June 17, but still no word on The Son, which wrapped its first season a year ago on June 10 and will most likely reappear in the fall.)
The way I figure it is that AMC chooses not to overload its schedule with too many originals at once, which may allow the channel to better promote the ones currently on air, but also results in punishingly long breaks between seasons. This could be a significant issue for shows as heavily serialized as The Son and Saul (both of which I’ll likely require a refresher before I dive back in), but I’m betting the loyal fan will get back with the program.
The Murky World of Westworld
Question: I see Westworld is losing viewers and I’m not surprised. Cannot understand what’s going on. Who is who. And who’s killing who and why and finally who’s human and who’s not. Too much to understand. They’re here they’re there? Don’t get it. I’m done. — Lenora
Matt Roush: This complaint came to me well before Sunday’s season finale, which went over the top, or maybe beyond the pale, in adding new layers of confusion—especially in the final Ed Harris scene, if you were unlucky enough to stay through the end credits. I get the frustration, and as the second season continued going down rabbit holes of multiple timelines and pretentious exposition and stupefying reveals and repetitive slaughters, I began to feel it more acutely myself. I still regard Westworld as one of TV’s more fascinating experiments, and it’s dazzling to behold, but I do wish it would stop being so impressed with its own convoluted narrative and focus on telling a satisfying story—as it did brilliantly in episodes like “Akane No Mai” (aka “Shogun World”) and “Kiksuya” (about Native American host Akecheta). Maybe the third season will be the charm? Or maybe it will only get more impossible to follow.
Dejected About Deception
Question: I was disappointed to see that Deception had been canceled. I’d enjoyed this show as a rather clever sub-genre of police procedural (in some ways like White Collar, which I also enjoyed for a time), where the con man/magician helps the cops (FBI in this case). I liked the subversive aspects, which seemed a big improvement over the many typical police procedurals, which present a problem and then point a gun at it. Any thoughts on this? Did ratings just not stack up? — Kay
Matt Roush: This didn’t break out the way ABC had hoped, as the network continues to try to find that elusive replacement for Castle. I’ve seen worse examples of light mystery—summer tryout Take Two comes to mind, although that seems perfectly suited as summer fluff—but the quick fade of Deception just adds to the overall malaise of this time of year, as viewers are still smarting over the cancellation of so many series. (I just watched a documentary airing next month about the too-short life of Freaks and Geeks, and was struck when a veteran TV exec bluntly admits, “Most shows fail.” She’s not wrong.)
Why Not Reboot (fill-in-the-blank)?
Question: With all the reboots that are coming out on TV, I would like to see Mike & Molly brought back. I don’t understand why this were canceled when so many more so-called comedies are still being broadcast. I won’t name names, but you know who I mean. The entire cast of Mike & Molly meshed so well together and I would laugh through the whole show. Mike’s mom and her dog were particularly entertaining. What do you think of the chances of this show being brought back? – Marjorie
Matt Roush: Maybe if Melissa McCarthy’s movie career slows down? Which means maybe never. I found it rather remarkable that after McCarthy’s movie career took off with Bridesmaids in 2011, barely a year into the run of Mike & Molly, that the sitcom went another five seasons. That’s loyalty, and maybe also the comfort of a steady job after waiting so long for breakout success. I’d be surprised if she returns full time to TV anytime soon, and Mike without Molly isn’t a show anyone probably wants to see.
Question: With all this reboot madness, I want to nominate Pig Sty as a candidate. I loved this UPN sitcom and feel that it can be remade with hopefully the original cast. It might not have been a good fit for that upstart network, because all their initial shows seemed to fall into one of two categories as far as viewers were concerned: Star Trek: Voyager and the rest of them. Put it on NBC or CBS and see if it will take off, plus, keep the audience. And don’t tell me it won’t work because the original was a ratings dud.
They’re talking about bringing back Get Christie Love! which lasted a single season and was critically drubbed. — David J
Matt Roush: I’ll admit I had to look this one up. (The only show besides Voyager that I remember much at all from UPN’s inaugural year of 1995 is the crackerjack thriller Nowhere Man.) Pig Sty was something of an all-male Friends wannabe, about a bunch of 20something guys living in a Manhattan high-rise, and if they brought back the original cast more than 20 years later and they were still in the same situation, how sad would that be? Bonus points for good memory and originality, though. (And for the record, the Get Christie Love remake didn’t get picked up, so maybe there are limits to this craze.)
Should Heathers Have Aired?
Question: I am really bummed to hear that Paramount Network has decided against airing the Heathers series, a modern day update of the classic Christian Slater-Winona Ryder movie from the 1980s. I was very much looking forward to this as I’m a huge fan of the film. Do you think there is any chance the series will find a new home online or on a competing network? While I understood the decision to postpone airing it in light of the Parkland shooting, I really didn’t agree with outright canceling it altogether. Although I always suspected that the subject matter might be too dark for cable and better suited for a streaming site like Netflix or Hulu. Any chance the episodes that have already been shot can be shown online or on-demand? Somewhere? Did you get a chance to see any of the episodes, and if so, what were your thoughts? I understand Shannen Doherty had a top-secret role in the pilot. Any chance you might know what that was? — MJ
Matt Roush: I did have the misfortune to screen five episodes of the Heathers remake, and I even reviewed it—Paramount pulled the series after we went to print (but the review never went online for obvious reasons). Here’s most of what I wrote: “Don’t even try to distinguish the nice girls from the mean girls in this tiresomely nasty camp cartoon homage to 1989’s pitch-black cult comedy. They’re all hateful Heathers, and if it’s meant to show progress that one of the vicious high school vipers is now a flashy gay male teen, such novelty wears thin. So does this stylish but shrill celebration of a murderous cult of cruelty, designed for those who may have thought Scream Queens was too subtle. What once seemed audacious is now just atrociously sophomoric in its garish mean-spiritedness.” I hated it and did not lament Paramount Network’s decision.
While it’s always possible this may yet show up on some shame-free cable or streaming outlet, my advice is to stick with the movie, or even the recording of the off-Broadway musical version. Anything but this. (And so as not to spoil the Shannen Doherty reveal for others, not that it matters, you can find the answer about her role on the series’ Wikipedia page.)
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.