Ask Matt: Golden Globes Fallout, ‘Midnight’ & ‘Mary’ Cancellations, Too Much Sameness in ABC Comedies?
Welcome back to the Q&A with TV critic Matt Roush (also known to some TV fans as their “TV therapist”), 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.
Bad Hosts and Bad Choices at the Globes
Question: What producer went “I know who should host the Golden Globes! Andy Samberg and Sandra Oh will be amazing!” On a good day I tolerate him, and while I like Sandra Oh, she’s not exactly well known for her comedic chops. The opening monologue was the biggest dumpster fire I’ve ever seen. I stuck around as long as I could, but seeing the two of them on screen was PAINFUL at times. — Veronica
Question: The Golden Globes hosts were, if not the worst, very close to it, with the worst presentation of reading a teleprompter. It takes talent to read one, which they do not have. They should not be asked to host again. We quit watching about halfway in. — Bob
Matt Roush: I think it’s fair to say that this far-from-classic pairing was a one-time thing. How did the Andy-and-Sandy show come to be? They presented an award at last year’s Emmys with some fun comic chemistry, and the Globes producers figured they might be able carry an entire show. Sad to say, they couldn’t even pull off the monologue, which substituted irony for comedy in an attempt to kill with kindness. (The stunts, like pretending to give the celebrity crowd flu shots, were even worse.) I tend to agree about the teleprompter reading, although everyone on stage seemed to struggle with that. Maybe it was bad placement? Either way, I’ve rarely seen a less disciplined Globes broadcast. They usually even end on time.
Question: I’m under the impression Golden Globes are voted on by film critics. As Bohemian Rhapsody received mainly negative reviews, how could it be nominated, let alone win as best picture. – Mark
Matt Roush: The Globes tend to be all about buzz, and Rhapsody was a global hit. I was shocked that it upset A Star Is Born, and so was just about everyone else, I’m sure. (Given where Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga were sitting, like king and queen of the prom, they and we were robbed of the coronation most were expecting.) I was also confused that both Rhapsody and Star competed in the drama, not musical, category. Maybe Star Is Born would have done better in the other group, although the support for Green Book was also surprisingly strong. It’s beyond me to explain such things, especially where that small and curious group of Hollywood Foreign Press voters is concerned. (And I won’t judge beyond that, because I still haven’t seen some of these movies, being consumed by the surge of TV most days. I did, however, enjoy A Star Is Born tremendously.)
Only Scrooge Would Cancel Midnight at Christmas!
Question: Shortly before Christmas, NBC not surprisingly canceled Midnight, Texas after two seasons. The shocking part of this was WHEN this happened, which was a week before Christmas! Why would NBC be a bunch of Scrooges and cancel the show (along with lumping it in with the cancellation of the mediocre sitcom Marlon) right before Christmas? Why couldn’t they wait until May 2019 to make a final decision, and think through about the fate of the show? The broadcast networks can be a cruel and unforgiving place for TV shows with a cult following. I know you may think it’s foolish of me to think about this, but I hope that either SyFy, Netflix, Hulu or Amazon can come to this show’s rescue. Midnight, Texas has as much of a large cult following as Timeless and Lucifer, and deserves a shot for another chance at life like these shows did with their die-hard fan bases. Midnighters (like the Clockblockers and Lucifans) never give up hope, and never stops fighting for the show they love! #SaveMidnightTexas — Chris B
Matt Roush: I feel your pain, but in some ways, it’s better for NBC to let the show go now in hopes of it finding another taker—by no means guaranteed—instead of stringing it along for months with virtually no chance of renewal. (The die was pretty much cast when Midnight was brought back on Fridays. NBC would have been better off keeping it around as cult summer filler on a weeknight.)
Seeking Closure With Killer Mary
Question: I read that Lifetime is not going to air the final season of Mary Kills People. Please say it’s not true. That would be unfair to us American fans. Where else are we supposed to watch it? Thank you! — Unsigned
Matt Roush: This appears to be the case, as Lifetime moves away (for now) from weekly scripted series—including the acclaimed You, which moves to Netflix for Season 2—to focus on its more popular movie slate. Given that Mary has filmed an entire third season, currently airing in Canada, I’d be surprised if a streaming service doesn’t pick the entire series up. (Hulu is currently streaming the first two seasons.)
ABC’s Comedies Feel Too Much the Same
Question: Why do you think ABC essentially got rid of all of their multi-cam comedies? I get that the trend over the last decade or so has been single-cam comedies, but doesn’t that kind of trap them into a stale sameness with all their shows? It seems like all their comedies are almost the same show, from black-ish, Speechless, Fresh Off the Boat, The Goldbergs, American Housewife, etc. being on the outside different, but so many elements you feel you could interchange with the others. They got rid of Last Man Standing, a decision they must still be kicking themselves over since it’s kicking their ass on Friday nights. It just feels like we once had shows that could be on the same lineup yet still have a distinctive appeal. Take CBS’s iconic Saturday night lineup from the ’70s: All in the Family, M*A*S*H, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Bob Newhart Show and The Carol Burnett Show. Sure, they’re all comedies, and they all maybe had some similar elements, but NONE of these were the same type of shows. It’s a problem with all the networks. I don’t get this laziness. — Reeve
Matt Roush: To be fair, there’s quite a bit of diversity reflected in ABC’s popular slate of family sitcoms, and you left out my current new favorite, The Kids Are Alright, which has a comic energy all its own. Plus for the next few weeks anyway, we still have The Conners, which like its predecessor Roseanne is filmed in the classic format with a studio audience and resultant track of laughter (which some people hate). I get your point, though: Because so many of ABC’s sitcoms are filmed single-cam style, there is a homogeneity to the formula, and for that you can probably blame the resounding success (in its early seasons) of Modern Family, which remains ABC’s signature comedy and no doubt influences what gets developed in the network’s pipeline. I agree that ABC almost surely regrets letting Last Man Standing go, and it would make sense for the network to diversify its style of comedy. As I often argue when people write in to complain about laugh tracks—by which they mean souped-up studio-audience sitcoms—they by and large have been the most popular comedies of any era, including today’s.
Bring Classic Casts Back Together
Question: I know you’re down on reboots and revivals, much like most people with any sense, but how do you feel about cast reunions? I loved on-air cast reunions like the ones for The Nanny back in ’03 or the reunion movies for Growing Pains and Perry Mason back in the day. Personally, I’d love to see the remaining cast of Everybody Loves Raymond, Seinfeld, Martin, Frasier, Just Shoot Me, Hill Street Blues, Married with Children, The Sopranos, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, etc. reunite to talk about the series’ memories, each other and those that they lost from the show. — Ronni
Matt Roush: I tend to agree. Reunions can make for good TV—my favorite was when Carol Burnett’s ensemble would come back together to remember the good old days (with clips!)—and even some revivals (Will & Grace). In most cases, I’d rather see surviving casts go down memory lane than try to recapture the magic of another time, which can be fraught with dashed expectations.
Is Brooklyn Nine-Nine Overrated?
Question: Could I just ask…what’s the big deal about Brooklyn Nine-Nine? I mean from all the hype I heard about it and the bitching and moaning about its original cancellation, you would think it was the new Barney Miller as far as being a sophisticated, brilliantly literate comedy mixing dry, subtle wit with absurdity and a colorful ensemble cast, all of which have been considered one of the greatest casts ever assembled for TV if not THE greatest cast ever assembled. I never watched it myself because it seems overhyped, and usually I end up hating shows that are overhyped and overrated by people, but from what I do know about it, it just feels like Scrubs with cops, not anything fresh and unique like a Barney Miller or even a Scrubs when it came out. — Dale
Matt Roush: Did I miss something, that someone was comparing Brooklyn Nine-Nine to Barney Miller? I’m having trouble with the thought of trashing a show one hasn’t taken the trouble to watch just because others like it. The only thing these series have in common is a setting in a New York precinct. Styles of comedy, types of characters: Very different, as it should be. Both in their ways are underdogs—Barney because it went against the grain of its time with its melancholy realism, Brooklyn because its wacky sensibility puts it more in the “cult” category, and it’s never been what you’d call a monster hit, though most of its fans are passionate. And what’s wrong that that? If the show has been overhyped (which I don’t see), maybe that’s because in today’s environment, especially on the broadcast networks where so little breaks through, you’d be crazy to take renewal for granted.
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.