Ask Matt: ‘Walking Dead’ Departures & ‘MacGyver’ Exit, ‘Cool Kids,’ More ‘DWTS’ Reactions
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.
Question: [SPOILER ALERT] The recent turn of events on The Walking Dead and the departures of its star Andrew Lincoln (Rick Grimes), and Lauren Cohan (Maggie) are bad enough, but the show killing off Jesus (Tom Payne) is the one that infuriates me the most! As a gay man, I was glad that the show added on another gay character, Jesus, from the comics. His debut on the show back in Season 6 was memorable when Rick and Darryl chased him in their RV, but his role became very underused when he just became a background character on the Hilltop. The writers gave him very little to do, when in the comics he was a very useful warrior and ally to Rick and his group. In Sunday’s mid-season finale, Jesus was finally put to use by battling The Whisperers, when all of a sudden he’s killed! It is such a shame that the writers killed off another character that was still alive in the comics, and they never put him to full use. We never even got to know Jesus more as a character! And it’s also a shame that the show never explored a romance between Jesus and Aaron that also happened in the comics, instead just “teasing” a Jesus/Aaron pairing with their training sessions.
I understand the writers on TWD take liberties with the show from what happens in the comics and that “no one is safe,” and I know Andrew Lincoln and Lauren Cohan had their own reasons to leave the show, but Tom Payne was very unhappy with how his character was underused, and was excited when he learned that Jesus was being killed off! That means there are only four gay and lesbian characters on the show (Aaron will be the only male gay character on the show)! I don’t know if I ever want to tune back into TWD now! The writers don’t utilize their gay characters well by not giving them enough screen time and killing off their partners before they are fully fleshed-out characters. The show is just going downhill, and I don’t know if I will ever tune back in again! What are your thoughts on all of this, Matt? — Chris B
Matt Roush: To be completely honest, as someone who only knows The Walking Dead from the TV show and thus manages to keep it entirely separate from the comics, I didn’t know the Jesus character was even meant to be gay. (Payne’s exit interview on our site only obliquely references it.) The recent scenes with him secretly sparring with Aaron hinted at some connection, but like everything else with the character, it was underdeveloped. And for me, that’s the bigger issue, not so much that they offed another gay character but that he barely even registered as a character. I do care about representation and diversity of gender, race and sexuality on cutting-edge genre shows like The Walking Dead, and I’m on board with the show sacrificing anyone at any time to dramatize the high stakes of survival. But in this case, it seems a lost opportunity, and in some of the interviews I’ve seen, Payne seems to agree. Although he did enjoy getting a memorable death scene (in a foggy graveyard, no less), so that still beats how they wrote Rick and Maggie out of the show for now.
Dead To Me
Question: I’m enjoying your column, but tell me, am I the only one who doesn’t like AMC’s The Walking Dead? I tried to watch it, but why does AMC have to have this all morning on Sundays? — Unsigned
Matt Roush: If ever there was a show that’s not for all tastes, it’s The Walking Dead, so you’re hardly alone. But it’s AMC’s biggest hit and signature show, so AMC uses those weekend slots for fans to catch up on the show and, more recently, to prepare for the hiatus. (They used to do it with Breaking Bad as well.) But it’s not like there aren’t hundreds of other channels to watch on a Sunday morning, so it’s not that hard to avoid.
And Finally …
Question: I’m confused about Maggie leaving The Walking Dead. It seems unplanned and done in an unsatisfying way. What’s up with that?
PS: I had the BEST Thanksgiving episode ever on a VHS tape which I watched ever year. It was from Mad About You, “Giblets for Murray” from 1994. Try to watch it somehow. — Maria
Matt Roush: You’re not the only one put off by how Lauren Cohan abruptly departed the series, explained in exposition as something that occurred during the post-Rick time jump. I also thought I’d missed something (since I don’t exactly obsess on the show and its many character arcs), but then realized it was just another example of sloppy storytelling. There’s every reason to expect she’ll return to the show someday, depending on the fate of ABC’s midseason drama Whiskey Cavalier.
And that Mad About You episode was mentioned frequently in the comments on our Thanksgiving discussion. It’s obviously a keeper.
Jack Won’t Be Back on MacGyver
Question: What’s going on with George Eads of MacGyver? He’s missed two episodes and is barely in the rest of them. — Connie
Matt Roush: This question came in before the news broke earlier this week that George Eads will be leaving the MacGyver reboot later this season. His recent low profile apparently has to do with his desire to spend more time with his family in Los Angeles—not unlike Scott Caan’s on-and-off schedule on Hawaii Five-0, which I still get questions about—but there are also reports of an “altercation” on the Atlanta set, so it seems the producers had no problem letting Eads out of his contract early.
Where Are the Golden Girls on Cool Kids?
Question: Why did the creators of The Cool Kids decide to have three men and one woman in their little clique? They’ve got the ratio backwards. In real life, senior women outnumber men by about 3 to 1. — Unsigned
Matt Roush: This question came up at last summer’s TCA session, and series creator Charlie Day (It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, decidedly not a senior) fessed up, “I did not know the math on that.” One of the actors pointed out this isn’t set at a rest home as much as it is a retirement community, and besides, Day’s concept was more “about a story where in this day and age where there’s this guys’ club, and they consider themselves this pack of guys, that this woman comes in and she’s sort of stronger than all of them.” You may see more female guest stars as The Cool Kids develops, but it’s a fair observation. (When Vicki Lawrence was asked during the TCA session how she felt being a woman among all these guys, she joked, “Pretty damn good. Odds are way better than normal.”)
Speaking of Golden Girls …
Question: How can I track down The Golden Girls reruns? I have become obsessed with that show, having never having watched it in the past. — Janet
Matt Roush: Aren’t you the lucky one, getting to experience that classic sitcom with fresh eyes? TV Land currently syndicates the show, with multiple episodes airing on many Sundays. And the entire seven-season run is available for streaming on Hulu. DVDs are the more expensive option. Enjoy! (And most cable systems have a search function so you can see if the show is airing repeats on a local station or other platform.)
More Dancing Backlash
Question: Can you stand one more comment on the Dancing With the Stars finale? It was the scheduling that derailed the finale. Usually the freestyles are on a one-hour show on Monday with a two-hour results show on Tuesday. Just having the Monday night show meant there was only five minutes to vote for the people like me who vote based on the actual dancing. West Coast viewers would have had to vote hours before the show was even broadcast for them. This gave a huge advantage to the competitor with the rabid fan base. — Michele
Matt Roush: Yes, we’ll let these be the last words for now, as the show is now on its annual winter break. The scheduling could well be a factor in the final vote, given the popularity of the freestyles, but even before the finale, I was getting mail complaining about how the eventual winner (and a few others) had stayed in long past what should have been their expiration date. So it does seem to have been a systemic problem with the season as a whole.
How Will the Dancing Debacle Affect Idol?
Question: The conclusion of the latest Dancing with the Stars—and entire season, really, as its gradual devolution sort of made the ultimate win by Bobby Bones seem “fitting”—surely will leave a lingering bad taste in the mouths of most longtime viewers, whether they choose to return to the show or not. But what impact might it have on the near future of both that show and American Idol? With Idol returning in January, might Bones’ addition as a mentor impact ratings for both good and bad? The people who voted for him might give Idol viewership a bump, but his presence will only bring back bad memories for DWTS viewers one would suspect ABC would like to keep. Personally, I know I can’t escape the belief that Bones, even with his music connections, might “best” serve as a mentor by telling the singers that being talented on such a show isn’t nearly as important as acting (overly) excited to be there and finding ways to amass votes from viewers.
Also, has there been any announcement about whether there will be a second full DWTS season after New Year’s, or will ABC do another abbreviated version like the wrong-headed Athletes edition last year? After the just-concluded season, it might be best to hold off on anything new for a while until Bones’ win becomes a distant memory and people are in more of a forgiving, I’ll-give-it-another-shot sort of mood. — Todd S
Matt Roush: Seems to me that Bobby Bones’ victory was a triumph of personality, and if he brings that to American Idol, it might be a good thing, regardless of bruised feelings from Dancing fans. And ABC hasn’t released midseason details yet about Dancing following The Bachelor in the spring. I can’t imagine they look back at last season’s truncated Athletes round as a success.
Question: I love reading your Ask Matt column. Just a couple of comments: It has always been obvious to my sister and me that DWTS winners have won due to popularity. When Bobby Bones won, my sister’s comment was that she should have voted. We were happy for Sharna getting the win. I vote when I have a favorite that I am worried might get surpassed, but other than that I love seeing how the celebrities improve over the course of the season.
Re The Little Drummer Girl: My husband and I are long-time John le Carré fans. We taped the show since the commercials are always too long and disruptive, not to mention annoying. It was a superb adaptation. — Diane
Matt Roush: Those really are the last words on Dancing With the Stars for now. Diane is right in explaining why the show has had enduring appeal, even in seasons when the casting was lacking. And some people like to vote for the pros as well as the stars (and I’m a Sharna fan, too, so I get that). And regarding Drummer Girl: I agree on its quality, but pointed out when addressing the complaint about the disruptive ads that not everyone is able to record and time shift, so it’s still an issue when networks schedule the breaks so poorly.
Question: Is the status of AMC’s Preacher in a file marked “Top Secret?” Just want to know if it has been canceled or not. — Kmac
Matt Roush: We’d all like to know, but as of now, it hasn’t been decided. Hard to imagine AMC wouldn’t go ahead with a fourth season, given they’ve already taken us this far on one of TV’s wilder rides.
Question: What’s going on with Sara Ramirez on Madam Secretary? She’s in the credits but we’ve barely seen her. — Unsigned
Matt Roush: She’s what’s known as a recurring regular, not used in every episode, but often central to the action when the story calls for it. I like her character of Kat Sandoval, and even have grown accustomed to her bold sartorial and tonsorial choices, but think it’s probably wise for the show to use her sparingly.
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.