Ask Matt: The Emmys (Boo for ‘Good Doctor,’ Yay for ‘Americans’), More TV ‘Witches,’ Saving ‘Code Black’

ABC/Jeff Weddell

Welcome back 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

Emmys Snubbing TV’s Good Doctor

Question: How is it possible that Freddie Highmore isn’t nominated this year for a leading actor in a drama Emmy for The Good Doctor? His moving portrayal of a brilliant doctor who struggles to connect on a personal level because of his autism has got to be one of the most challenging roles on TV and should not go unrecognized. — Cathy

Matt Roush: Couldn’t agree more. Of the many omissions (or snubs, if you will) that are nowadays unavoidable given the surplus of choices, Freddie Highmore’s no-show on the Emmys list is perhaps the most inexplicable. An industry myopia regarding most broadcast-network TV is only part of it, but considering the stylistic leap this talented young actor made, transitioning from Bates Motel to The Good Doctor within a year, this is a lamentable oversight. On further analysis of this specific category, one explanation could be that HBO’s high-profile Westworld was airing during the period of ballot voting and was fresher in voters’ minds. Jeffrey Wright moved from supporting to lead actor this year, and he’s pretty much the heart and soul of that show, so no argument there, but Ed Harris also nominated as lead for what (to me) seems more a supporting character? That might have better gone to Highmore. (Also: As Westworld droned on this season, I wonder if some voters now have remorse for giving what was ultimately a disappointing second season so many nominations.)

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The Middle Shut Out Once Again

Question: I have many problems with the Emmys. I know a voter who told me that the ballots said “nominate as many as you want” (in all the show categories), which makes for the wild, wild west of voting—but how is it determined HOW MANY make the cut per category? Some have 5. Some 8. And some in between. And if they’re going to go at open throttle, how the hell does Freddie Highmore get overlooked for The Good Doctor? I suppose the TV Academy got plenty of practice overlooking him for his brilliant turn in Bates Motel, so perhaps it’s become second nature to them, but this is ridiculous. I have a number of problems with a number of egregious omissions in the acting categories, but what does Mr. Highmore have to do to get at least a nomination? P.S. The Middle ends its wonderful run 0 for the Emmys. C’mon, Emmy voters. What is your major malfunction? — Michael

Matt Roush: I can’t confirm that Emmy voters are able to nominate endless numbers of candidates, but my understanding is that the number of nominees per category is determined by the closeness of the vote—which is why it can expand to seven or eight (which it did this year in various supporting categories—and in the comedy series field). At least the Emmys are consistent in their shunning of The Middle. Only two of the actors submitted this year, perhaps wearying of being ignored, but the show was submitted for comedy series and for writing/directing (of the lovely series finale), but once again, this series might as well have been invisible. To all but its millions of fans.

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Question: A quick Emmys note: Yay: The Americans, The Looming Tower (all nominations), Jesse Plemons (Black Mirror: USS Callister). Boo: no love for Outlander (at least in the major categories), The Middle (again! and in their last season), Cristin Milioti (Callister; at least as good as Jesse Plemons). — Joanne

Matt Roush: Agreed on all counts. For every yay—and there were many this year, because there’s a lot of quality in every category—there’s a nay, because so much by necessity is going to be left out.

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Too Much Love for Versace?

Question: I was happy for The Americans to be recognized for all-around effort, though I still hated the finale. Also, Darren Criss certainly deserved it for playing Andrew Cunanan in The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story, but Penelope Cruz and (worse yet) Ricky Martin for supporting roles in the limited series category—they were hardly in it—prove once again that there are too many categories. — JV

Matt Roush: There may be too many Emmy categories, but rewarding deserving supporting players in limited series/movies aren’t part of the problem. And in this case, I’d have to disagree. Cruz as Donatella made quite an impression (though I’m rooting for either Judith Light, also from Versace, or Meritt Wever in Godless), and Ricky Martin’s portrayal of Versace’s widowed mate was poignant even in just his few scenes, which is why the supporting category exists. (In that category, I’m expecting Jeff Daniels to win as the villain of Godless, although Ramirez as Versace and especially Finn Wittrock as the closeted military man in Versace were also strong.)

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Why Air the Emmys on Network TV?

Question: I’m sure you’re going to get a lot of mail praising or griping about the nominees, based on personal preference. I could add to that, but I won’t. Instead, I wonder: With the continued trend of giving cable and streaming shows far more love than the broadcast networks, why do the networks still want to air the telecast on which they very rarely get the spotlight anymore? – Jake

Matt Roush: It’s a fair question, and HBO has bid for the rights before. But the networks are expected to once again lock in a contract (which expires this year) for the next eight years, with the Emmys rotating among the so-called “Big Four” even though their shows are largely ignored, even more so now that streaming giants are in the mix. The reason being that there is still value in live event programming on the networks, and though ratings continue to slip for the Emmys—no doubt in part to the fact that so few popular network shows have a chance of being recognized—this also provides an effective tool for promoting the start of a new fall TV season. From the TV Academy’s point of view, airing on a broadcast network offers a platform for maximum exposure, and the license fees are a major source of Academy revenue. So while the optics aren’t great, network TV will likely continue being the home for the Emmys for the foreseeable future.

British Witches Coming to America?

Question: Long, long time reader but this is only my second question. Thanks for all you do. My question concerns the British Sky One production of A Discovery of Witches. From what I can tell, there is no announcement of an American distributor. Please tell me I’m wrong. I loved the books and am desperate to see the series. I can’t understand with all the competition between Netflix, Amazon, even PBS, why has no one picked up this instant hit? — Ellen

Matt Roush: I’m sure someone will bring this to the U.S. market, maybe even soon. These deals can take some time to work out, and given the best-selling source material, the genre and a cast that includes marquee names like Matthew Goode, Alex Kingston and Lindsay Duncan, I’d be surprised if there wasn’t a bidding war. I don’t have any inside knowledge about any of this, but I’m sure once it’s a go, we’ll all hear about it.

Can Code Black Be Saved?

Question: I don’t usually take on a cause, but in the case of the cancellation of Code Black, I want to try. However, I am not sure how to go about getting the cancellation stopped or reconsidered. Has CBS not seen the ratings this season? They have been great, as has the show! So, please tell me how to proceed. — Tammy

Matt Roush: With the series finale scheduled for Wednesday, this subject remains a constant in my mailbag. A sampling of the latest:

“Over the last month, Code Black has been the ratings winner in its time slot on Wednesday, hands down. It seems to me that CBS would be willing to give the show a second look and remove it from the cancellation list rather than throwing money at some of these summer ‘hits’ that never make it. Do you feel a letter writing campaign could save the show?” — Jerry L.

I am disappointed about the cancellation of the show Code Black. Where can I sign a petition with others to express our disappointment? I very much like this show.” — Carlene

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Matt Roush: As I’ve suggested before, writing the network would be a place to start (CBS Entertainment, 4024 Radford Ave., Studio City, CA, 91604), and individual pleas may signify more even than an organized campaign. While it’s true the summer ratings have been solid, that may not be enough to sway CBS, as the show probably isn’t budgeted as a summer series, and CBS’s regular season lineup is so consistent there may not be room for it. Another network picking it up is also unlikely, although ABC/Disney is a producing partner—and if The Good Doctor hadn’t already established itself as that network’s go-to medical show, I’d think that might have been an option.

I don’t want to give false hope that fan outcry could revive Code Black’s fortunes, but stranger things have happened, and social media could help fans feel less alone in the fight. Check out Twitter with #SaveCodeBlack or Facebook’s Code Black Official Fan Group for updates. There may be others.

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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. Please include a first name in your question.