Ask Matt: Hasn't Meredith Suffered Enough on Grey's Anatomy? Plus: The Middle, Code Black and More
JAMES PICKENS JR., ELLEN POMPEO
Welcome 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 unless it's 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.
Question: Tell me again why the-powers-that-be at Grey's Anatomy think that what we really want to see is another full hour of Meredith Grey being tortured. I really don't understand the theory here. Have they run out of storylines? Do they think if they throw enough stuff at her, we'll forget the horrible way they handled Derek Shepherd's death? (My issue was never that they killed off the character, but that they did so with so little sensitivity, in a "Nothin' to see here, folks!" kind of way.) Can we just put Meredith out of her misery by putting the show out of its? — Kirsten
Matt Roush: It did seem like piling on, all things considered, although the way the attack and the recovery were presented (in an episode directed by Denzel Washington of all people) had powerful moments throughout. Despite its age and the odds, Grey's Anatomy can still deliver. That's why it still has a strong enough following that it may well outlive one if not both of its Thursday companion pieces (How to Get Away With Murder is already showing serious signs of collapse). It may have been ungenerous of me while watching this episode to have wished this calamity to befall Amelia or April, both such annoying characters that an episode of enforced silence might have been a blessing. But Meredith's the star, and the main character on any soap opera is going to suffer mightily between rare spasms of happiness. Ellen Pompeo rose to the occasion, even though it's an ordeal I wish she and we had been spared.
Is The Middle the Knots Landing of Sitcoms?
Question: Your wonderful words describing the latest Middle plot infusing the best prime-time soap of all time, the terribly underrated Knots Landing, was perfection. Inspired storylines like this one is the reason The Middle is one of the more reliably entertaining comedies on TV. I was a huge fan of Knots Landing from the beginning (1979), and while I also enjoyed the criminally more popular Dallas, Knots was far more consistent during its very long run well into the 1990s. I have similar thoughts about The Middle. The far more popular Modern Family is not nearly as consistent as The Middle. There are some episodes of Modern that don't get one laugh from me, though others have me laughing out loud. — Fred
Matt Roush: Wasn't that a delightfully silly episode of The Middle? I envied Brick his 14-season Knots binge (on Aunt Edie's old Betamax tapes), and watching him try to coach performances out of his friends, channeling Abby and Gary and Karen and Mac, brought back lots of fond memories. And it made sense that he'd end up with Frankie and Brad doing the heaviest lifting. I also love the comparison of Middle living in Modern Family's shadow to the Knots-Dallas relationship. While things eventually went way over the top on Knots Landing—a favorite memory is when Julie Harris as Lilimae nagged Alec Baldwin's Joshua to his death off a rooftop—it was more real and relatable than most prime-time soaps. Likewise, The Middle is not just consistently funny, but it finds a comedic way to portray a struggling middle class that is almost invisible on TV. I believe this show will endure in the syndication market for many years, never losing its timelessness (which probably can't be said for the very of-its-time Knots).
Everything Old is New Again
Question: There are so many remakes out or coming out: The X-Files, Fuller House, the Coach revival that never made the air, at one point I heard Bewitched, etc.), what other remakes are in development? They usually don't do well. — Dave
Matt Roush: This trend isn't going away anytime soon. The idea being that a familiar title makes for an easier sell than starting from scratch, although the risk level is just as great if the execution falls short, which is often the case. Here's just a partial list of the remakes/reboots currently in the development pipeline (keep in mind that some may never see the light of day): MacGyver, Nancy Drew, 24: Legacy, Prison Break, The Powerpuff Girls, Cruel Intentions, Training Day, The Exorcist, Riverdale (a revisionist look at the Archie Comics characters) and Time After Time (based on the novel and movie). I'm sure there are or will be more, but that's already more than enough.
What's With the Grammys on Monday?
Question: I was wondering why CBS aired the Grammys this year on Monday instead of Sunday? — Mo
Matt Roush: From what I can tell, the timing had to do with the nature of the holiday weekend. Viewing levels tend to go down a bit on Valentine's Day, which was Sunday, and with Monday being a President's Day holiday, the Grammy organizers figured it would make a splashy end to the long weekend. Early results suggest the move might have impacted the ratings a bit, but lower numbers might also have something to do with a rather underpowered production this year (Kendrick Lamar, Lady Gaga and Hamilton aside).
Taking the Temp of CBS Procedurals
Question: Our favorite new show is Code Black. Best medical drama in years. Love the storylines and the cast. Only complaint is the background is way too loud. What is the update of its future? — No Name
Matt Roush: I imagine you'll have to continue straining to hear the dialogue over the hubbub, a failing of many medical dramas (including Grey's Anatomy), but the game plan for Code Black is still to wrap its 18-episode first season next Wednesday, Feb. 24. In March, its time period will be occupied by the new Criminal Minds spinoff Beyond Borders, and we may not know Black's fate until CBS announces its fall schedule at the May upfronts. I'm thinking its chances for renewal are fairly good.
Question: I was wondering if CSI: Cyber will return or will it be canceled? It's currently on Sundays at 10/9c, which Elementary will be taking over soon, and it has been temporarily, I hope, removed from the lineup. — Brian
Matt Roush: Cyber will continue to air into March, and gets two special Wednesday airings (test runs to see how it fares on a new night) in Code Black's time period on March 2 and 9. (Beyond Borders starts March 16.) At that point, Cyber should be finished with its season by the time Elementary takes up Sunday residency on March 20. Cyber's chances for renewal seem much more iffy, but CBS may be reluctant to abandon the CSI franchise altogether, given its long history.
How Will NBC Throw Down the Law in Chicago?
Question: While it may be a little too early to be asking, I have two questions about Dick Wolf's potential new Chicago Law spinoff. The first revolves around the show’s format. Will it be a character-driven version of the original Law & Order format, meaning part cop show and part courtroom drama? My second question revolves around potential female characters. Since the Chicago (Fire, P.D., Med) and Law & Order shows share the same universe, is there a possibility that any of the actresses from the latter franchise will reprise their ADA characters on the new spinoff, say for instance Elisabeth Rohm or Angie Harmon? — Alex
Matt Roush: The format hasn't been announced, but going off the formula established by the rest of the Chicago shows, I'd expect Chicago Law to be a soapier version of the (courtroom) back half of Law & Order. No reason to include that much cop/detective action, since that's already being covered by Chicago P.D.—and there would be plentiful opportunity for crossover here, of course. And while it's possible they could reach back into the Dick Wolf repertory company to resurrect some characters from the archives—I'd be more than OK with Harmon reprising Abbie Carmichael or Carey Lowell as Jamie Ross, but please not Elisabeth Rohm's wooden Serena, representing the worst years of the original series—I'd bet this will be a mostly if not entirely new ensemble. (If they went too deep into classic Law & Order territory, how would they explain the presence of S. Epatha Merkerson's Chicago Med character of Sharon Goodwin being a mirror image of L&O's Anita Van Buren? How I miss her.)
Is Bordertown Being Deported?
Question: Will there be more episodes of the animated TV show Bordertown? Fox only aired four episodes, so could you please explain the show's status? - V
Matt Roush: It's still airing on Sundays for now, although Fox bounced it and the rest of the animated lineup for several weeks because of post-season football, the launch of The X-Files reboot, and Grease Live! That may explain your confusion. You may have to look harder to find it next month, as it's being downgraded to the 7/6c time period starting March 6 to make room for the return of The Last Man on Earth at 9:30/8:30c.
That's all for now. We'll pick up the conversation again soon, but Matt can't do this without your participation, so send questions and comments about TV to [email protected] or shoot me a line on Twitter (@TVGMMattRoush). Or submit your question via the handy form below.