Ask Matt: ‘Brooklyn’ Missing a Regular, Feeling Bad About ‘Bad’ Demise, ‘American Housewife,’ ‘Ranch’


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.


Why Is Gina Leaving Brooklyn Nine-Nine?

Question: Soon after it was announced Brooklyn Nine-Nine was saved and moving to NBC, there came word that Chelsea Peretti wasn’t coming along. It was made to sound amicable, but there wasn’t any real explanation as to why. So, I ask, why? — Kelvin

Matt Roush: No one appears to be giving specifics, least of all Peretti, who in a recent New York Times Q&A referred to her upcoming departure as “amicable, and it’s done in a cool way”—reportedly in a future two-part sendoff involving an undercover assignment for Gina. The good news is that she’s back when the sixth season begins on its new network on Thursday (9/8c). I’ve seen the first two episodes, and they’re great fun, with sharp moments in both for Peretti as the playfully perverse Gina. If I were to speculate, I’d bet her leaving has something to do with a thriving career—two movies coming out later this year—and personal life, including a young child with husband Jordan Peele. I’ll miss her, but there’s still plenty of yucks to go around.

Too Bad for Bad Fans

Question: I’m surprised at the lack of critical support for the recently canceled show I Feel Bad. I found the show a very funny, fast-paced, non-formulaic family sitcom with strong Asian lead characters. I usually agree with critics (especially you, Matt), so what am I missing here? Any chance a streaming service picks it up, like Hulu did with The Mindy Project? — Joe

Matt Roush: There were some funny bits to the episodes of Bad I watched—mostly to do with the family life of Emet (Sarayu Blue), and Paul Adelstein as her put-upon husband is a treat. Plus, it’s always refreshing to see a different culture represented on TV. I’m just not sure Bad was different enough. The workplace subplots with the nerd hipster co-workers were pretty painful, and at times I felt like I was watching someone working out a stand-up routine with the wacky situations. But to each their own. Most every show finds some following, but I’m afraid this didn’t make a big enough impact during its short run to attract a streamers’ attention. Mindy had a library of three seasons when Hulu rescued it. Anything’s possible, of course—and NBC hasn’t officially “canceled” I Feel Bad, but its return seems unlikely, either on the network or elsewhere.

Is Housewife’s Move a Bad Thing?

Question: Can we talk about American Housewife for a minute? When the show first started, I had no interest in it. ABC promoted it as a show about a fat, mean mom, so I ignored it. Because I DVR Modern Family, I would always catch Housewife’s end credit sequence and initially skipped over it, but one night I found myself laughing at what I saw. I decided to actually watch a full episode, and I was hooked. I went back and binged all of Season 1 and caught up on Season 2. I was so afraid there wouldn’t be a Season 3 because no one I talked to had ever heard of the show.

I love every delightful second of this underrated masterpiece. The second fattest housewife in Westport, Connecticut has captured my heart. Now ABC is moving it to a new night, and this worries me. So few people have heard of it, and those who have are used to it being on Wednesdays. I haven’t seen any promos for it or to announce its new night. Does ABC not care about the show? Is it one of those shows that’s cheap to produce and owned by the network, so they keep it on out of convenience as a slot filler? I just don’t understand why this show isn’t more popular and more acclaimed. It’s heartfelt without being overly cute (just the right amount of cute!). Katy Mixon and Julia Butters deserve Emmy nods. On a side note, using Wendie Malick as a segue, with revival fever still in the air, how would you feel about a Dream On revival on HBO? Anyway, thanks for listening! — Mark

Matt Roush: I think the term you’re looking for here is “utility player,” and by ABC moving American Housewife to Tuesdays at 8/7c on Feb. 5 after The Conners wraps its season, the network will learn if the show has legs of its own to stand on. Up to now, it has benefited by airing in “hammock” time slots following or bridging successful sitcoms, so putting the show up against powerhouses like NCIS will almost surely put a dent in its ratings average, though the network already knows that going in. The reason shows like this move around (or sometimes go on hiatus) is for the network to give something new a shot—in this case, the Goldbergs spinoff Schooled, which is a logical fit for Housewife’s former Wednesday time period. ABC/Disney has a production and financial stake in Housewife, so isn’t trying to hasten its demise as much as it is looking to open up the schedule. And the reason the move hasn’t been advertised yet is because The Conners still has several weeks to go before its finale.

As for a Dream On revival: the glib answer is to say “dream on,” because I’m not sure I want to see Martin Tupper (at least the Brian Benben version) in advanced middle age. That show worked in its time, but it premiered almost 30 years ago, which shocks me just to type this.

The Doctor Is (Almost) In

Question: I am an avid fan of the Nat Geo Wild network, and particularly of the show The Incredible Dr. Pol. There were supposed to be new episodes this year and I have not seen any, in fact they are not even running reruns. Did they cancel the series? Or did something happen to Dr. Pol? — Lloyed

Matt Roush: Good timing, because good news: the new season of The Incredible Dr. Pol premieres this Saturday, Jan. 12, at 9/8c. It’s hard to keep track of the comings and goings of series like this, which follow no real pattern, but unless it’s announced that it’s over, they usually come back.

No Love for The Ranch?

Question: Thanks again for always talking to fans of TV. I just have a question. Why no love for Netflix’s The Ranch? I am amazed at how good this show is. Ashton Kutcher and Sam Elliot are killing it as a real father/son relationship. This isn’t something that smacks of perfect father/son on other shows (I’m looking at you, This Is Us). This is real and heartbreaking. Kutcher consistently rises to Elliot’s level of greatness. So, I guess I’m asking why no award/Emmy love for these performances? And how are the ratings? Does Netflix even care about ratings? Their system of renewal and cancelations seem so arbitrary. — Dana

Matt Roush: Watching Sam Elliott on the Golden Globes, I was reminded of how great this veteran actor still is—not just on A Star Is Born, which should earn him a supporting Oscar nomination, but in The Ranch as well. His scenes with Ashton Kutcher are the heart and soul of the show, and in another time, they probably could have risen to the level of awards-show nominations—especially for Elliott, given his long career. But as I note just about every time I’m asked this question about any show, there are just a staggering number of shows and performances to choose from these days, and when even the brilliant Rita Moreno of Netflix’s One Day at a Time can get overlooked, countless others are going to be left out of the race. As for ratings: Who knows? Netflix is beyond secretive about such matters, but they seem pleased enough to extend The Ranch into a fourth season.

No Escape From Debating Dannemora

Question: Another comment on the discussion of Showtime’s Escape at Dannemora in regard to its length—since I agree with you on Ben Stiller’s direction and the yeoman work of the cast, including David Morse, who wasn’t mentioned. I watched all 7 episodes, and although I think it dragged a bit as well, I loved the flashback episode setting up why Sweat and Matt were in prison as well as the set-up of Tilly’s cheating and how she ended up with husband #2. I just questioned the placement of the episode. Leaving it to the point when the prison break was imminent seemed to slow things down unnecessarily.

I would not have suggested it be cut back to two hours. But it definitely could’ve stood some editing. That being said, your comment about two hours not doing it justice because it wouldn’t have allowed for sufficient character development or the planning of the escape, Ii would ask: When’s the last time you watched The Great Escape? It can be done. — Michael

Matt Roush: It’s been a few years since I’ve seen The Great Escape—not a lot of time to indulge my love of classic movies (thanks, Netflix)—but to fair, even it runs nearly three hours. I’m at peace with how long Ben Stiller and his screenwriters took to tell the Dannemora story, and I actually thought it was genius to place the characters’ backstory right before the climax. (I had no idea it was coming when I screened it, and chose not to spoil the surprise in my “What’s On” column.) This is another situation where airing weekly might have hurt the series overall, because I can see where that flashback hour as a stand-alone would be frustrating for those who wanted to see what happened in the aftermath of the escape. Given that the series was finishing up during the holiday season, Showtime might have been better off airing the final two episodes together—even though the sensational finale was movie-length (at 100 minutes). Speaking of Escape, kudos to Patricia Arquette for her Golden Globes win. I was torn between her and Amy Adams for Sharp Objects (who I predict is Emmy-bound), but either is worthy.

And Finally …

Question: When’s NBC’s Abby’s going to premiere? NBC announced its midseason schedule and it was MIA. Does that mean it’s pushed to summer? Why would they do that? Does it mean the show is bad? — Henry

Matt Roush: There could be another round of midseason announcements for late spring, and should there be an opening on NBC’s schedule earlier, Abby’s might premiere before the traditional season’s end. But even if it does air as a summer replacement, that’s not necessarily a judgment call on its quality. The networks are in the year-round programming business—they have to be to compete with the onslaught of options—and this innovative comedy (touted as the first to be shot outdoors in front of a live audience) may be seen as distinctive enough to benefit from an alternative premiere schedule. Or it’s possible it’s so different that the network is scared to put it on during the regular season. Hard to say.

That’s it 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.