Ask Matt: Loving ‘Supergirl’s Boss Lady, Plus: ‘Grease: Live’, ‘Galavant’, a Fallen ‘Legend of Tomorrow’ 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 unless it’s common knowledge. Please send your questions and comments to[email protected] (or use theform at the end of the column) and follow me onTwitter.
Question: After watching Supergirl, I was charmed with the leading character and the show’s premise. Now that we have superheroes all across the board, Supergirl feels relevant and fresh mainly due to Calista Flockhart’s charisma. If Supergirl herself was able to charm me, Cat Grant is responsible for me considering this show as appointment TV. Nowhere in today’s spectrum am I able to find any other superhero show with such a complex, strong, intelligent and supportive mentor. Long gone are the days of vanilla Martha Kent; Cat Grant is unapologetic, blunt and sassy. In my opinion (I know it’s a long shot, especially given TV’s competitive environment), but surely this performance is worthy of some recognition, and dare I suggest an Emmy nomination is in order. I know Emmy doesn’t look kindly at superhero shows, but Calista Flockhart’s star power should be sufficient for those Emmy voters to pay attention at what a wonderful job this actress is doing. We’re talking about Ally McBeal and Kitty Walker; surely this lady has earned the Academy’s respect and attention by now. Bottom line, Supergirl is a good show, but it’s Calista Flockhart’s performance that has elevated it into must-see TV. — David
Matt Roush: I get a kick out of Cat, too, and Calista Flockhart seems to be really enjoying herself, but I’m not sure she would be my main reason for recommending Supergirl, though she’s definitely an asset. I doubt anyone involved is under the delusion that they’re making award-winning TV here, except maybe at the Saturn Awards and its genre-based ilk. I like that this is light action entertainment with an ensemble that doesn’t necessarily need to be this strong (Jeremy Jordan, Mehcad Brooks, Chyler Leigh, David Harewood), and I suppose the Kara-Cat relationship is an interesting evolution from the days when Clark Kent was regularly browbeaten by Perry White.
The Word on Grease Live: Yay!
Question: [Regarding the Grease: Livereview and praise for featuring a live audience]: Exactly. [NBC’s] no-audience thing is stupid. Go back and watch the live broadcasts from the ’50s. Great acting, but they’re dead. – From Twitter via @BHsushi
Matt Roush: I’m not sure I’d go that far. For example, I love rewatching the video of Julie Andrews in the original broadcast of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s made-for-TV Cinderella. It was of its time, and perfectly charming, but given today’s technology and with the right sort of show, a live audience can add an infusion of energy, much the way it does in the theater or in the taping of a multi-camera sitcom or classic music-variety show like The Carol Burnett Show.
Also from Twitter, @davieyo opined, “I think we just witnessed the birth of a new genre.” Which I’m guessing refers more to the special’s technical triumphs than to the musical genre itself. By including an audience’s rapturous reactions, and letting us see behind the scenes and even watching cast members bolt from one soundstage to another, there was an exuberant sense of immediacy and urgency and even joy in the transparency that NBC’s productions so far have mostly lacked. And the camerawork, still marveling over that a day later.
Could Galavant Sing Again?
Question: While it feels like everyone else was watching Grease Sunday night, I chose to watch the Galavant finale in real time. I have loved this show from the beginning, but found its second season even better than the first, with richer characterizations, more focused storytelling and a refreshing willingness to shuffle the deck and place their gifted ensemble in new situations that really felt fresh and exciting in a way that the show it’s filling in for hasn’t been in a long time. (Granted, Once Upon a Time has been on longer and airs a full season every year, but still, it’s hard not to notice that I looked forward to Galavant more, whereas OUAT has become more of an obligation.)
I also think the producers of Galavant were smart to wrap up the finale in the way that they did, giving us satisfying closure in case they aren’t able to evade the cancellation bear again. But there was enough of a foundation laid in the end that I am really excited to see where they go with it next year and what that would look like. I hope they’re given the chance to do that, since I’ve really fallen in love with these characters and would be disappointed if we never get to visit this world again. What do you think ABC’s expectations for the show are? Obviously, they know it is being programmed as filler against heavy-duty event TV in January like football and the Golden Globes (the show itself has made fun of this on a number of occasions), so given the unique conditions under which it has always been aired, where is the bar for the measurement of its success? I’m also kind of afraid that Grease was probably worse competition for it than usual, on account of Galavant going for the exact same audience of musical lovers. — Jake
Matt Roush: Actually, according to ABC, the delightfulGalavant finale grew a bit from the previous week (which wouldn’t be hard, given that it was facing the behemoth of football championship action). But yes, if there ever was an underdog whose praises deserved singing, it’s this one. (Added treat: Here’s a compilation of some of the show’s best and funniest original songs.) I honestly haven’t a clue how ABC as a corporation views this little show that could, except with fondness for its spunky self-deprecation at having actually made it to a surprise second season. It was very smart for the show to end with a real ending this time—and the dragon kicker was especially sweet. Still, it seems likely that ABC will once again need to fill the Once Upon a Time gap next winter, and if it makes business sense to go back to this world, I hope it happens. But given how it’s programmed, with back-to-back episodes and an entire season coming and going within a month, I’m content for now that we got a happily ever after of any sort.
Expanding The Expanse
Question: I’m really enjoying The Expanse on Syfy. The episodes are solidly written, the characters are interesting, and the pacing is great. Are there plans to continue this series beyond the 10 episodes currently airing? — Teatime59
Matt Roush: A timely question, since the two-hour finale airs tonight. And yes, The Expanse has been renewed, and will even be expanding with 13 episodes in Season 2. (Adding this to the alarmingly long list of shows I need to catch up with. I found the first episodes to be quite intriguing, but once January kicked in with so many premieres eating up so much time, this got kind of lost in space.)
A Not-So-Living Legend
Question: [Spoiler alert!] I can’t believe the producers and writers behind DC’s Legends of Tomorrow had the nerve to kill off Khufu/Carter Hall, aka Hawkman, during the show’s second episode of the first season! I get that they had to do this to “raise the stakes” for the other characters on the show, because “no one was safe,” but this was done way too early at the beginning of the show’s run, and we never got to know more about the character that was killed off the show! I know that we’ll probably see other versions of the Hawkman character at different points in time in future episodes of the show since this is a time-traveling show, but pulling a Game of Thrones Jon Snow death on fans was a pretty terrible move, especially at this early point of the game! What did you think of Hawkman’s death? — Chris
Matt Roush: I actually appreciate a show shaking things up as early and often as necessary to keep viewers off balance. That didn’t bother me at all—and given how many times this character has been reincarnated, I’m sure we haven’t heard the last of him. (And to be honest, the actor playing him was so dreadful and wooden I think I may have cheered when it happened.)
Is Code Black Flatlining?
Question: I noticed that CBS’s Code Black is announcing “Only four episodes left.” Is that for the season or has the show been canceled? Also, Unforgettable blew off four episodes in one day, is that the end for that one also? — Linda
Matt Roush: The four episodes remaining in Code Black‘s 18-episode first season (as opposed to the usual 22) are all we’ll get for now—CBS gave the show a “back five” order instead of the usual nine-episode renewal for inventory reasons, making room for the Criminal Minds spinoff Beyond Borders in March. A decision on the show’s future may not be known for sure until May, when next fall’s lineup is announced. I addressed Unforgettable in last week’s column, but read further for another gripe about the way that one was sent off.
Question: Is the Leanne character leaving Code Black? I started watching it because Marcia Gay Harden was in the show and have come to love all the characters, but her and “Mama” are the backbone of the show. I hope not, that’s how shows start going downhill — Eskielvr
Matt Roush: If Code Black does return, and it’s harder to predict the fate of shows on-the-bubble anymore, I can’t imagine it without its lead actress. Wouldn’t worry about that, regardless of where the plot is taking her at the moment.
Unforgettable Forgotten Again
Question: First off, I know that there was not a lot of buzz for A&E’s (formerly CBS’s) Unforgettable this year—seeing as they decided to churn off all their episodes in final blocks culminating in the final four all in one night—but did these stupid writers have to once again end a series with a cliffhanger in Al’s shooting? Have they not learned anything from previous series, namely The Glades and Longmire, on this same network? Secondly, why is there so much buzz about Mr. Robot, which I found boring? USA’s best series is, by far, Suits! — JV
Matt Roush: Saying Unforgettable lacks buzz is a charitable way to put it, but hearing that it ended on a cliffhanger, I’d put that on the writers more than A&E this time. That’s just ridiculous. This season was a gift, and A&E is the last network I’d try to force a renewal with this sort of stunt.
As for Suits, it gets plenty of attention—the show led my “What’s Worth Watching” roundup last Wednesday when it returned—and is a terrific embodiment of the kind of show USA is known for, above par in that respect, certainly lately with Mike’s arrest. And while Mr. Robot isn’t meant to be for all tastes (though boring is the last thing I’d accuse it of being), it represents a new level of ambition and daring on USA’s part to present something so challenging and weirdly stimulating, and critics and the industry have responded appropriately. Suits helped push the USA formula into darker (and more profane) territory, and isn’t nearly as conventional a legal drama as some might expect. It deserves more credit than it gets, but Mr. Robot is on another plane of existence, which is why it gets nominated alongside shinier outlets like Netflix, HBO and AMC.
That’s all for now, but we’ll pick up the conversation again soon, so please keep sharing your thoughts on new and returning series and other TV matters. I can’t do this without your participation, so send questions and comments about TV to [email protected] or shoot me a line on Twitter (@TVGMMattRoush). Or submit your question via the handy form below: