Ask Matt: Cancellations on Cable (‘Counterpart,’ ‘Badlands’) & Streaming (Marvel on Netflix), Plus ‘NCIS’

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Marvel's 'The Punisher' and 'Jessica Jones' on Netflix

Welcome 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.


Could Counterpart Live On?

Question: I was surprised to see that Starz canceled Counterpart. I’ve been fondly referring to it as a combination of Homeland and Fringe, another sci-fi favorite gone too soon. Do you think there’s a realistic chance a streaming platform will pick up Counterpart for a third season? — Cynthia

Matt Roush: At least Fringe got (and Homeland will get) a chance to finish its story with an actual final season. I was also startled to see Counterpart axed so abruptly on the eve of its second-season finale. It may have been a cult hit at best, but a network like Starz could use a few more of those. But as with many outlets in this turbulent industry, Starz is undergoing some corporate and executive changes, and marginal series tend to become casualties. It’s always possible that the producing studio (Media Rights Capital, such a glamorous name) could shop it to a new home—and streaming a show this addictive and dense makes the most sense—but even with J.K. Simmons’ marvelous dual performance at the core, this may be a tough sell.

AMC Acting in Bad Faith?

Question: My comments are more about an entire network than a particular show—namely AMC and their out-of-the-blue decision to just out-and-out cancel Into the Badlands and The Son—although we the faithful audience are being told that apparently Badlands actors have been told to move on quite a while ago to other projects, and Pierce Brosnan was working on a limited contract. And though the ratings were good, the audience skewed older, which as we all know is not what advertisers seek. (Gee thanks, but I buy products also, you know, and certainly do not appreciate this being done over and over again.) But tell me, AMC, why is the audience always left hanging and the last to know?? I guess any hope for Humans is probably gone now also. Losing all three is a downright shame. — JV

Matt Roush: The jury’s still out on Humans, and its fate may hinge on AMC’s British partner (Channel 4). Given how AMC scheduled the show, I don’t see this one as a priority from their end. And considering how long AMC kept The Son off the air—when it returns April 24, it will have been nearly two years since the last episode aired in June 2017—its fate seemed preordained as well. The Badlands cancellation was a bit more of a surprise, since violent genre programming seemed to fit AMC’s Walking Dead-driven brand. Again, this is obviously a channel in transition, and I was amused to see the AMC Networks powers-that-be piggyback AMC to BBC America for the return of Killing Eve in April, airing the second season on both services to give AMC a boost (presumably in ratings and, lately, prestige). But to your bigger point about feeling victimized: These are by and large complicated business decisions, and taking them so personally is probably not the wisest way to go.

Can Netflix Survive the Fragmentation of Streaming?

Question: I would like to understand your views regarding Netflix’s future. To see all Marvel shows (especially Jessica Jones and Daredevil) get canceled and the news that it is a matter of time for Friends and The CW to leave as well, is a bit concerning. It is really comfortable to have a one-stop shop for streaming TV such as Netflix, which has become an entertainment giant, providing an experience as part of the movie-and TV whole that I haven’t enjoyed as much since the Blockbuster days. The addition of Disney+ and Warner’s future platform means that streaming TV won’t be an experience any more but a regular service that you’ll need to get them all to be able to flip “channels” and enjoy all TV content. Do not get me wrong: the more the better, especially if it is good quality. Nonetheless, I am a bit sad to be mourning the fact that Netflix won’t be the sole supplier and the “Blockbuster/Netflix” experience might die. — David

Matt Roush: As your nostalgia for the Blockbuster era suggests, nothing in this business stays the same—ever—and much like we’ll never return to a time when three broadcast networks ruled the media universe, the days of Netflix owning the streaming space as a quasi-monopoly may be numbered. Netflix is very much a victim of its own success, and now that every studio wants in on the action (starting with CBS launching its All Access service), the real question will be how many of these subscription services most consumers will be willing or able to add to their menu.

Netflix has invested enough in its own product that it will continue to be a major force for years to come—personally, I won’t miss most of those bloated Marvel shows (less and fewer would have been more), though scrapping the entire franchise is obviously an extreme move. Little by little, other tentpoles (like Friends) and offerings may be lost to competitive services, so Netflix’s dominance will almost certainly be lessened. But having revolutionized the way so many consume and experience TV these days, it’s not going anywhere. Still, I get your frustration in possibly losing that (somewhat illusory) sense that for a brief golden moment, you felt that you could get everything you could possibly want in one streaming space.

The Ziva Question, and Welcoming Hannah to NOLA

Question: I am an avid NCIS fan, and a recent episode included Bishop following up on case notes left by Ziva. In the end, Bishop solves the mystery. However, a note is left by Ziva, indicating she is alive. Do the producers have plans to bring her back, or are they in negotiations with Cote de Pablo? — Mike

Matt Roush: Wouldn’t you love to know? The status of Ziva is clearly a mystery the producers want to keep teasing, and the way that episode ended on such an enigmatic note suggests this isn’t the last time fans will be tantalized with the specter of this enduringly popular (and still missed) character. That’s where I’ll leave it for now, until or unless the show makes any public statements—or, best-case scenario, we’re surprised by her return, should that ever happen. I like to think of this character—if, as seems likely, she’s still alive—as operating in the shadows, until it’s time for her to do otherwise. (The note in that final scene begged Bishop to “keep [her] secret.”) Part of the fun of serial TV is in not knowing what’s coming next, and if that’s how NCIS wants to play it, I’m OK with that.

Question: I love the new role Necar Zadegan is playing on NCIS: New Orleans. I always watched The Girlfriend’s Guide to Divorce, and I was sorry to see it end. I am so happy to see a new character (Special Agent Hannah Khoury) created on another show to take advantage of a talent such as hers. — Carol

Matt Roush: And can I say what a pleasure it is to hear this kind of affirmation. (I first became aware of the actress in the eighth season of 24.) More often, when anyone joins the ensemble of a long-running procedural—especially in the world of NCIS—the reaction tends to range from skepticism to hostility, so I’m happy to think this newbie is fitting in so well.

Ultimate Manifest Spoiler

Question: [Spoiler Alert] The season finale of Manifest showed that Ben, Michaela and Cal would possibly die on 6/2/2024. Tell them not to worry, the show will be canceled by then. — Lino

Matt Roush: Funny. Maybe even sooner, since NBC didn’t give this one an early renewal. Actually, I expect NBC will give Manifest a second season, although I’m not sure it deserves it. Mediocre in every aspect (casting, writing, plotting, pacing), the squandered premise of this show is a reminder of why the broadcast networks have such trouble generating buzz anymore. Who knows what TV will look like in 2024?

Less Politics at the Oscars!

Question: Regarding ideas on how to fix the Oscars, I do believe that one reason the Oscars are being shunned has a lot to do with the vicious attacks on the current president. Those who voted for him find the constant negative comments about him an attack on those of us who do support him. Like him or hate him, political bashing is not what the Oscars is about. It is one thing to poke fun now and again, which has taken place for every president since the Oscars has been broadcast on TV, but it seems that every time a Republican is in the office, the actors feel free to bash them relentlessly. The Oscars should be good fun and are presented to honor folks for their performances, not their political views. Why would I want to hear comments from an actor about government, when they don’t know anything more than we do, maybe less. They need to get back to the entertainment business. If they want to discuss politics, they should run for office, and then we will see what they really know. My family and many of my friends will not spend an evening watching political hate, and until the viciousness stops, we won’t come back. Where are Bob Hope and Johnny Carson when you need them? — Richard, AZ

Matt Roush: Or Billy Crystal for that matter. Or Ellen. The Oscars may well suffer this year without a host, because of the level of showmanship and humor a good host can bring to a ceremony like this. But you may get your wish this year after all. Without a comedian trying to score points at the top of the show, maybe the focus can be—as it always should be at the Oscars—on the year in movies. I think we can all agree that awards shows are better when the aim is to entertain and not be used as a soapbox. But I would accept your argument more fully if you weren’t acting so aggrieved on behalf of a president who revels in his own brand of “political hate” in the form of incivility, insults and incessant tweets. We’re at a point now that when someone accepts an award and makes a plea for tolerance and decency—often because of the themes of the work they produce—many see it as a personal attack on the current administration. As long as the Oscars do justice to “Shallow” from A Star Is Born, I’ll be content. My expectations couldn’t be lower.


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.