Ask Matt: ‘Charmed’ and Other Reboots (‘Magnum,’ ‘Murphy’), Hope for ‘Code Black’
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 — though the schedule will be more erratic during the current TCA summer press tour.
Which Witches Are Which?
Question: As a fan of the original Charmed, I am very doubtful about the reboot. But I may check it out just for the sake of seeing what all of the fuss is about. I know you do not do spoilers, and I’m not looking for any. But I want to be sure I understand the concept. Since it’s a reboot, this means that the show is basically starting at the beginning of a similar story with different characters. Right? But is this story set in the same world as the original Charmed? Do the Halliwell sisters exist in the universe of this show? Or are these things that viewers will just have to wait and see? — Elizbeth
Matt Roush: Basically, the idea here is: Same premise, new story, characters and setting. As far as I can tell from the pilot episode (all I’ve seen, and am likely to see until it premieres in mid-October), there is no direct connection between the Halliwell sisters of the original series and the reboot’s Vega sisters—this trio including a half-sister the others had no idea existed until the show begins. It’s possible there will be callbacks to the original series within the new show’s mythology, but such things would likely go over this casual observer’s head. Best to think of the new Charmed as its own creation, at least initially.
I also get that die-hard fans of the original Charmed, which went off the air more than a decade ago, would be skeptical. But the CW is betting on nostalgia for the good old WB days—which may also partly account for the Buffy reboot also in development—to spark interest in this. Can’t say the prospect thrills me either, but think of how many different versions of Dracula and Frankenstein there have been over the decades. Conjuring up a new/old version of Charmed is how this genre tends to operate.
Why So Many Reboots (Looking at You, Magnum)?
Question: Why are there all these reboots of old shows, or redoing old shows such as Magnum P.I. with a woman cast in the male role of Higgins? Is there no one left with original ideas? There is really nothing left to watch on TV. — Nancy
Matt Roush: The why is simple. At a time when it’s harder and harder to launch new series with any impact in a cluttered TV universe of seemingly infinite platforms, remaking and tweaking classic titles is one way to attract attention. The theory being that most people, at least of a certain generation, already understand what a show like Magnum is—even if the new version may suffer by comparison. At the show’s TCA summer press tour session, Stephen Hill (the new T.C.) suggested that Magnum harks back to a “golden era when we were growing up. And I think reboots are inevitable. If you look at any other genre, like a play … I’ve seen A Raisin in the Sun a million times. So I think as television grows, we’ll see more and more reboots.” I’m afraid he’s probably right.
(And of course I beg to differ that there’s nothing left to watch. Depends on where you’re looking and your individual taste, because from where I sit, there’s too much for most people to watch.)
Looking for Vintage Murphy
Question: With the reboot of Murphy Brown this fall, do the chances increase of Seasons 2, 3, etc. of the original series being released on DVD, or do music licensing issues prevent that? — Paul
Matt Roush: Hard to say. The music rights for all of those classic Motown tunes no doubt create a hurdle for the original series to resurface in any form, whether on TV or streaming. (The original series still enjoys a limited syndication life, including on Antenna TV.) It has also been argued that the show’s topicality, in satirizing current events of its time, has limited its shelf life. And while I’m no expert in any show’s afterlife on disc or elsewhere, my understanding is that the sales of the first-season DVD were underwhelming, and that side of the industry has largely given way to streaming anyway. So unless some company invests in a deluxe complete boxed-set release—the way the period-music-heavy China Beach was a few years ago—I’d be surprised if Murphy has a DVD renaissance. However, if CBS’s new Murphy takes off the way I expect and hope it does, I’d like to be proven wrong.
New Hope for Code Black?
Question: Why was Code Black canceled? It was one of my very favorite shows. Acting great! Stories great! There are so many mediocre shows renewed every year. I don’t understand where this decision came from. What’s your opinion? — Audrey
Matt Roush: This “why” is more complicated, but it’s really all about business, nothing to do with the show’s quality or content. Medical shows are not cheap to produce, and CBS Entertainment President Kelly Kahl noted at his TCA summer press tour news conference this week that the “economics were challenged” for this co-production between CBS and ABC Studios. The potentially good news is that because Code Black performed well over the summer—not always the best metric to predict future performance, but encouraging nonetheless—Kahl indicated, “We’re going to take a look” at its future: “We’d like to figure out a way to maybe make it work.” This isn’t exactly a slam-dunk endorsement, but better than we’ve heard since it fell off the schedule this year. So stay tuned, but be patient. These deals can take a while to work out, if ever.
Riveted by The Sinner
Question: Not a question, but after watching the first episode of Season 2 of The Sinner, I’m breathless. Just fantastic. I was in for the whole season just based on the first go-round with Jessica Biel, but as good as that one was, this season (based only on the first night) looks even more riveting and Bill Pullman’s character has deepened and looks to really being stepping up in class if that’s even possible, as good as he was last year. All that, and so far, only a cameo by the always fantastic Carrie Coon. And a BIG shout out to Elisha Henig, who plays the 13-year-old kid at the center of this season’s murder mystery. Even when saying nothing, you can’t take your eyes off of him. — Michael
Matt Roush: We’re pretty much on the same page regarding this gripping season. And Coon’s mysterious character looms much larger in the next few episodes I’ve seen, although we likely won’t know the extent of her, and her cult’s, involvement in the crime for quite some time.
Sunny Times for Dennis?
Question: Is It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia coming back with the entire cast? — James
Matt Roush: Sort of. Officially, Glenn Howerton is no longer a series regular (he’s not featured in the promo material) when Sunny returns for its 13th season Sept. 5, as he’s attached to the NBC sitcom A.P. Bio. But when the Sunny cast gathered (minus Howerton) on FX’s day of the summer TCA press tour for a promotional table read and Q&A, they revealed his character of Dennis will appear in the majority of the episodes, sometimes in surprising ways.
Who‘s on When?
Question: Has it been confirmed when Doctor Who is back on our screens? — Jeremy
Matt Roush: No date announced yet, but look for the highly anticipated Jodie Whittaker incarnation of the Doctor to return sometime this fall. BBC America plans to show the episodes the same day they premiere in the UK, with a special stunt in store for the season opener.
That’s all for now—and until next week, as I’ll be traveling back from L.A. later this week. 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