Ask Matt: Have Faith in TV’s ‘God,’ Future of TV Musicals, ‘Mrs. Maisel’ at the Emmys
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.
Should We Believe That CBS Will Stick With God?
Question: Seeing ads for God Friended Me and I immediately think of Kevin (Probably) Saves The World, which I liked a lot but never made it to a second season. So for that reason alone, and not wanting to invest my time in something that might not click (regardless of “God” having a part in this one), combined with the familiarity factor, I probably won’t even tune in to sample it. Unless you’ve seen previews and highly recommend. — Michael
Matt Roush: I hear a lot of this sort of comment this time of year, from people who’ve been burned by cancellations and are wary to commit to new programs. In this case, I’d advise taking a leap of faith, especially if this is your type of show. God Friended Me has some similarities to Kevin, though the premise doesn’t seem nearly as convoluted, and not unlike Jason Ritter, Brandon Micheal Hall has plenty of charisma as the atheist who keeps getting messages from a mysterious “God” account. (Bonus: Scandal’s Joe Morton plays his pastor dad.) Another plus: God seems more compatible to CBS’s schedule—the network of the long-running Touched by an Angel, let’s not forget—than Kevin ever did on ABC, and it’s in a cushier Sunday time period, so while there’s never any guarantee of success, I’d expect this to have a better chance at a decent run.
Live Musicals Are Here to Stay
Question: You’ve probably seen the stories in the trades about Robert Greenblatt leaving NBC. Do you think his replacement would be as keen on continuing the live musicals? I know those were a passion project for him. — Jake
Matt Roush: Not to worry. This appears to be one of the smoother network transitions of late, with NBC Entertainment chairman Bob Greenblatt being succeeded by two seasoned executives, George Cheeks and Paul Telegdy. More to your point, in announcing his departure, NBC made special effort to praise Greenblatt for his part in reviving the live musical genre on TV, noting that he will continue to consult for NBC, including in the development and production of future live musicals. It’s good to know he’ll help keep this tradition alive, especially after the unexpected passing last month of producer Craig Zadan, who was so instrumental in bringing musicals to TV, dating back to Bette Midler’s Gypsy for CBS in the 1990s and a wave of Disney musicals for ABC. With Greenblatt and Zadan’s producing partner Neil Meron still in the game, I imagine live musical events will continue to be drawing audiences for a long while to come.
Too Marvelous for Words!
Question: What exciting Emmy wins for The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel: Rachel Brosnahan, Alex Borstein, Amy Sherman-Palladino and all involved with the show. Love this gem of a show on Amazon! Have we gotten any word what to expect for Season 2? – Kelly
Matt Roush: Couldn’t agree more about the Emmy love for this spectacularly entertaining series. I expected it to do well, but not that well. As for Season 2, which hasn’t even announced its premiere date yet (late 2018 is all we know for sure), creator Amy Sherman-Palladino was tight-lipped when meeting the press at the summer TCA. All she promised was that it’s going to be “big,” and I believe her. (Honestly, I’d just as soon not know what’s going to happen, going in. I just hope it’s as much fun as the first season.)
Emmys Didn’t Give Winners Their Due
Question: At this year’s Emmys, I missed having the names of winners and the program on the screen. If you blinked when they showed who was nominated and weren’t familiar with the show, you had no idea who won and for which show. — Walter
Matt Roush: One of many problems with this year’s show, but I heard from quite a few viewers that the way the awards were presented was less than satisfying. I also missed the announcer noting if it was a first win, or what Emmys the winner might have won previously. (Some years the announcer can be annoying, but this year it was just ineffective.)
Why Do Networks Keep Moving Shows Around?
Question: I would like to know why some networks keep changing their lineups for shows that won’t last one season. Take Law & Order: SVU, Bull and a few others. SVU is moving to Thursdays and Bull moving to Mondays. What happens when the show they have in their previous time slot fails? Are they going to put shows from last season to make up the difference? — D.H.
Matt Roush: Time-period changes are a fact of TV life and are done for all number of reasons. Regarding SVU, NBC is using this venerable show (in its 20th season) to occupy a fairly crucial Thursday time period, once the province of blockbusters like ER and L.A. Law. Moving it from Wednesday also gives NBC the opportunity to try out an all-Chicago lineup that night—which I personally think is overkill, but I get it as a very promotable lineup. Bull’s move is standard operating procedure for CBS, a network known for shuffling its procedural dramas around the schedule. The idea being that Bull and Michael Weatherly have enough of a following to shore up a competitive Monday (10/9c) time period, while putting Dick Wolf’s new FBI series in between two editions of NCIS is something of a no-brainer. Should any of these strategies fail, I’d expect the respective networks to shake things up to protect their longer-running franchises, but I don’t expect any of these particular moves to backfire. And there are always midseason replacements waiting in the wing for any instant duds.
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Streaming at Their Own Pace
Question: I am not asking about a particular show but more of an appreciation. What I have come to realize is the reason I watch more and more shows from platforms like Netflix and Hulu is they give time for the characters to breathe and reflect. Network shows don’t have time for that because networks and cable shows need to leave room for a commercial break, which leads to fast cuts. I am really enjoying The First on Hulu because we get to see reactions and repercussions. — GM
Matt Roush: That’s a fairly broad generalization, because there are slow-burn shows on network and cable as well. But there’s no doubt that an introspective drama like The First, which I enjoyed precisely because it didn’t feel like a typical astronaut show, would be a hard-sell on a more traditional network. And once producers get a taste of writing episodes that don’t need to be structured around commercial breaks, they share your infatuation, believe me. On the other hand, the freedom on these platforms can sometimes lead to self-indulgent, overlong episodic storytelling that can make you pine for the punchier work being done the old-fashioned way.
Comings and Goings
Question: Why did Rachel DiPillo leave Chicago Med? — Tommy
Matt Roush: Unless you hear otherwise, it’s always best to assume these comings and goings on ensemble dramas are done for creative reasons, or the actor deciding to move on. According to our report in TV Guide Magazine’s Returning Favorites issue, her character of Sarah Reese decides to leave after learning Dr. Charles (Oliver Platt) didn’t try to revive her dying father, a storyline that will have repercussions going forward.
A Bad Time Was Had By All
Question: Wow, did anyone at the network screen I Feel Bad before it aired? What a waste of a talented group of actors. — Shar
Matt Roush: A rhetorical question, obviously, and there are a few new sitcoms on the horizon that left me with even more of a “what were they thinking?” vibe. With I Feel Bad, I just felt “meh” at the tired run of I’m-turning-into-my-parents jokes, and I’m not sure a season-long guilt trip about not being able to do it all is enough to hook a show around, even with Amy Poehler as one of the executive producers.
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.