Ask Matt: 'The Kids Are Alright,' 'Catastrophe,' 'Walking Dead' Movie Spinoff, Streaming on DVD and More
Welcome back to the Q&A with TV critic (also known to some TV fans as their "TV therapist") Matt Roush, who'll try to 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.
Is Kids’ Nostalgia a Bit Fuzzy?
Question: I LOVE ABC’s new family comedy The Kids Are Alright. It does a great job of depicting life in a large family. But I think they need someone to oversee a few of the details. I was a mom back in the 1970s and I never wore a dress except for church on Sunday. I think the dress and pearls are more from the ’50s. There were a few other details that seemed a little "off," so maybe they need to hire someone from that generation to check the details. — Becky
Matt Roush: Kids is easily my favorite new comedy of the fall broadcast season—not that there was a lot of competition this year—and I especially love the scenes when the whole Cleary family scrambles to fill their plates and find a seat at the dinner table, while mom Peggy (Mary McCormack) and dad Mike (Michael Cudlitz) dish out heaping helpings of tough love. That all feels very real to me as well as funny. Keep in mind that this is a very specific memory of 1970s family life, from the POV of series creator Tim Doyle (who narrates and whose alter ego of “creative” child Timmy drives many of the subplots), so Peggy’s look may be accurate to that household, if not yours. I was roughly the same age as Timmy in the early ’70s and remember some moms (mostly aunts) who pretty much kept a “dress” code at home, so Peggy’s outfits don’t throw me—and to my memory, she only dons pearls for special church occasions, which seems appropriate to the Irish-Catholic milieu Kids is portraying.
And let me finish by noting that I truly related to the boys trying to watch a scandalous variety-show moment (apparently an urban legend) without their parents’ knowledge. And when that went wrong, Timmy laments: “If only there was a way to see something on TV again after it’s already been on.” Life before VCRs, DVRs, VHS, DVDs and streaming: I remember it well.
Question: I really enjoyed watching the funny Catastrophe on Amazon Prime and have watched all available seasons. Any idea if additional seasons are being filmed and when they might be available? — Bob
Matt Roush: The good news: There will be a fourth season of the terrific Sharon Horgan-Rob Delaney comedy. The less good news: It will by all accounts be the final season. News yet to come: An airdate. (Can’t even hazard a guess if they’ll slip it in before the new year or wait till 2019.)
Dead to All, Or Just Subscribers?
Question: Just a final word about The Walking Dead. Don't you think that these Rick Grimes movies could be a maneuver by AMC to transition for another pay platform a la CBS All Access since they already are offering commercial-free platforms for an added price? If so, I am completely out and upset—just how much money do they think viewers have?? I guess FX would be next since they are doing something similar. One final word, though: I am all in and excited about the Breaking Bad movie. — JV
Matt Roush: A few viewers wrote in to wonder about this possibility, and for now, I'm assuming that any future Walking Dead originals, including the Rick Grimes movies, will remain on the AMC channel. Nothing has been said to suggest otherwise. Yet. If they decide instead to use these special events to promote the AMC Premium service (which is basically an add-on to provide commercial-free versions of current AMC shows among other perks), that would indeed be foul play and fans would have every right to be upset. (Many of my readers are already peeved enough that CBS has put so many tempting originals behind the All Access paywall.) Your basic question—how much money viewers are expected to shell out for a growing number of pay services (ABC/Disney and Apple are next)—is something the industry is already wondering.
From Streaming to DVD
Question: I see that the first season of Star Trek: Discovery is being released on DVD, and The Good Fight has had a couple of seasons on DVD. House of Cards and a few select other Netflix originals have also released each of its seasons in that format. As someone who doesn't use streaming services, will these series be the exception, not the rule? Or is there a good chance The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, for instance, will be available on DVD? Are there other popular streaming shows that definitely will soon be available on DVD? — Paul
Matt Roush: This seems to be a case-by-case, show-by-show decision whether and when to release streaming originals on DVD. It isn’t as profitable a market as it used to be, although CBS clearly sees an upside in making their higher-profile titles available on disc. (I tend not to keep up with shows’ afterlife on DVD or in syndication, so can’t say with any certainty what’s in the pipeline.) I don’t see this happening as much—yet—with Amazon original series, which are obviously intended to enhance the value of a Prime membership. If even something as mainstream as Bosch is only available in a non-U.S. format, that tells me you’re probably in for a wait for shows like the wonderful Mrs. Maisel and the popular Jack Ryan to be released in this format. But again, I don’t follow the DVD business, so anything’s possible.
Is It Curtains for Midnight?
Question: As I feared, the ratings for the second-season premiere episode of NBC’s Midnight, Texas were very low: a 0.4 in the 18-49 demo and barely 2 million viewers, though it remained steady with its second episode. The show wasn’t helped by premiering against the World Series on Fox, and had a weak lead-in from the very low-rated Blindspot. I’m now very worried about this show really getting canceled! NBC will probably move the show to burn off the rest of the second season on Saturday nights like they did with Taken. What was NBC thinking moving the show to the fall schedule on Friday nights instead of having it remain on the summer schedule for its second season? The ratings for Midnight, Texas is nowhere near the ratings of Grimm that also ran on Friday nights, and the network already has a Grimm revival in development. I know I’ll sound like a conspiracy theorist, but I think NBC set up Midnight, Texas for failure so they can replace it with Grimm 2.0! — Chris B
Matt Roush: As I’ve said more times than I can count, networks aren’t in the business of setting up expensive original programming for failure. NBC figured, perhaps naively, that Midnight (with its Charlaine Harris tie-in) could work in the same cult-TV time slot as Grimm did for years. Dipping back into the Grimm well almost certainly would have happened regardless of Midnight’s fortunes, or lack thereof. If there’s any upside, it’s that expectations on Fridays are roughly the same (low) as they are for summer series—why else would Blindspot still be on?—and while Midnight might be struggling, it’s not dead yet.
TV Texts Are Hard to Read
Question: I try to read your column religiously, but maybe I missed this issue. More and more shows are embracing the text message and they insist on making us try to read the actual text on the phone. I don't know about you but my wife and I can't read most of them; the text is too small. Last season Instinct took a different direction and had the text appear in balloons like in a comic book and that worked great. I hope other shows figure this out. — Andy
Matt Roush: Another frequent complaint (not as frequent as loud music drowning out dialogue), but bonus points for pointing out a show that does it right. Note to producers: If you’re going to use this device, make it at least as easy to read as subtitles or closed-captions.
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 with your question.