Ask Matt: ‘Elementary’ Abroad, Emmy Reaction, ‘NCIS,’ and More

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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.


The Future of Elementary

Question: It was just listed as the finale, which usually means season finale, but was this week’s finale of Elementary the series finale? Spoiler alert: Ending it with Sherlock and Joan in England, and going to Scotland Yard, would be a great way to end it if it was the series finale. If it’s not a series finale, there could be lots of new stories with a different cultural slant since they are in England. Do you know if it was the series finale? — Rose, Laurel, MD

Matt Roush: Here’s the deal: When they were filming this season, knowing the show wouldn’t premiere until late in the midseason—and as it turned out, airing through the summer—they had no idea if this would be the final season or not. So the finale relocating Sherlock and Joan to London would have been a perfect, fitting ending to the series as a whole. But CBS ended up giving Elementary a late-in-the-game renewal for a seventh season, and it has been reported there will be a year’s time jump when the next season begins, so expect going forward that they will now be solving cases, at least for the time being, with Scotland Yard and not the NYPD. This is just the sort of bold and imminently logical reinvention a show like this could use at this stage of the run. Bravo.

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Did CBS Bury the Elementary Finale?

Question: What was CBS thinking, scheduling Elementary’s season finale (not to mention Salvation‘s) opposite the Emmys? Between that and Monday Night Football, it’s like CBS didn’t want anyone to see it. And now we get to wait a year for the next season. Again. I know I should be grateful for small blessings, but it still feels like CBS is just jerking the show (and its fans) around. Any “Matt’s Musings” on this subject? — Woody

Matt Roush: Given that Elementary is no longer on the fall lineup, and the way it was scheduled last season—many fans worried it already had been canceled—it’s safe to assume the show isn’t exactly a high priority for the network anymore. The Emmys isn’t the ratings juggernaut it used to be, but your perception isn’t that far off. Just be thankful the network sees enough value in it to give the show this promising new lease on life.

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The Emmy Show Will Win No Emmys

Question: I just read your Emmy review and you are so right! We changed channels an hour in because it was just so boring. I kept recording it so I could speed through today to see anyone win who I cared about (yay, Claire Foy!!), but Colin Jost and Michael Che (who we enjoy on “Weekend Update”) made us really long for Tina Fey and Amy Poehler!! It’s no wonder the ratings for this show keep dropping. — Gwen

Matt Roush: This was an odd Emmy show for sure. I kept cheering at the winners—lots of my “should wins” made it through, and even some of the surprises (Regina King, Thandie Newton) I was happy with—and groaning whenever the show itself took over. Instead of inane comedy bits, they could have done more to celebrate Emmys’ 70-year history and better reflect the year in TV. It was painful.

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Question: The Emmys was undoubtedly the most lackluster, dull, dreary, disappointing awards show I’ve ever seen. I actually felt a little angry while watching it. Just horrible. Everything from the “In Memoriam” (what the hell was that??) to the cringe-worthy Maya Rudolph and Fred Armisen to the rapid-fire winner announcements: They couldn’t even repeat the name of the show the winner represented? I applaud them for attempting to do something different. I will applaud them even more if they get rid of this disastrous attempt at brevity next year. — Linda

Matt Roush: I kind of liked them playing Aretha Franklin’s “Amazing Grace” over the In Memoriam—her passing was a huge moment for the culture, including on TV—but for the rest, yes. And as sad as Maya and Fred’s “expert” shtick was—these people will do anything for Lorne Michaels, it’s clear—I can’t recommend their new Amazon Prime Video show Forever more highly.

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How to Get Popular Shows Recognized

Question: Searching for the right word to describe this year’s Emmy Awards. I have it: lackluster. I’m so tired of Emmy nominations and awards going to shows broadcast on cable or streaming networks. Since I only watch over-the-air TV, I’ll never get to see these shows unless they are released on DVD or show up on YouTube. I’ve also given up hope that the CableACE Awards will get rebooted, so that quality network shows again have a fighting chance of getting recognition.

But it occurred to me that it would be in the best interest of the Big 6 networks (I include PBS), if they banded together and created their own Basic Network Awards show. Similar to the way Dick Clark created the American Music Awards because he thought the Grammys weren’t recognizing contemporary music trends. I know a secondary TV awards show wouldn’t have the allure or luster of the Emmys. But it would provide long overdue recognition for shows like The Big Bang Theory, shows that both critics and fans alike bemoan when they are overlooked for Emmy nominations. If enough network TV viewers and critics like this idea, maybe we can generate a groundswell of support and help make it happen. After all, social media helped Betty White become a host on Saturday Night Live. — Maurice

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Matt Roush: There’s already a People’s Choice Award for fans to vote for their favorites, and did you catch the controversy that erupted when the Oscars tried to create a category just for popular blockbusters? Obviously there’s good work being done on network TV, including on PBS, that isn’t registering in the Emmy nominations: multi-cam comedies like Big Bang for sure, and I was shocked that the Will & Grace revival didn’t make a better showing, as well as solid dramatic work on shows like The Good Doctor and a handful of others. But an awards show just for broadcast networks would be by definition limiting, and honestly, kind of sad to behold. It would be an acknowledgement that their shows aren’t as adventurous, and while that has a lot to do with the commercial medium in which they still operate, it would be hard to look at the ceremony as little more than a desperate bid for attention. What we don’t need in today’s culture is yet another awards show.

The Inevitable NCIS Question

Question: Why is it that NCIS ranks as one of the top dramas of every fall season, but never gets nominated for an Emmy? Have they taken themselves out of the running? — Cindy, Albuquerque

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Matt Roush: All three NCIS shows were submitted on the Emmy ballot, but as I tend to explain just about every year, formula procedurals regardless of their success are not the sort of shows that Emmy voters—except perhaps those on the payroll—would ever nominate for the top prize. The Emmys is not a popularity contest, any more than the Oscars bestow a Best Picture trophy to the movie with the biggest box office (except in special cases like Titanic). Success is its own reward for shows like NCIS and Dick Wolf’s Chicago procedurals. It’s almost certain that there’s work done within these formats that is worth rewarding, and as noted in the earlier question, there is an unfortunate and unmistakable bias against network programming in general, but in a time of “peak TV” with excellent work being done on so many platforms, mainstream TV is only rarely going to rise to the top anymore.

Death and Salvation

Question: Two quick questions: 1) Am I the only person who thinks the Modern Family death will be Stella? 2) Do you think CBS will bring Salvation back next summer? (That season finale came out of nowhere. I never saw that coming.) — Mark

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Matt Roush: 1) I have heard that theory about killing the dog, which I hate on principal but also feel would be a cop-out if the show is actually serious about intending to address the whole mortality issue. 2) Haven’t a clue about Salvation. As I understand, the finale reveal was a true game-changer, but could also serve as a series finish (in a speculative Twilight Zone way). CBS didn’t renew Salvation last year until mid-October, so it may be a while before we know one way or the other.

And Finally …

Question: My question is short and to the point. Will The Ranch be returning? Thanks for all your great reviews. — Betty

Matt Roush: You’re welcome. Thanks for reading them. My answer, short and to the point: The Ranch still has a second half of the current season to air, and I don’t think that date has been announced yet, though with Netflix, it’s hard to keep track of everything. Whether the show will be renewed for a fourth season remains to be seen.

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.