Ask Matt: The End of 'Supernatural,' a Less Dark 'Shadows,' Plus 'Gotham,' 'Superstore' and More
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.
Saying Goodbye to Supernatural
Question: With the surprise announcement that next season will be Supernatural's last season, I wondered how it came about. I've seen before that the president of The CW has said that as long as Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles wanted to keep making the show, they could. So I would assume the actors made this decision, especially since it's The CW's second-highest rated show. But I haven't seen it stated anywhere as to the specifics. So now I'm curious if they were indeed canceled. Many headlines are using the word canceled, but I wouldn't consider a show canceled if the lead actors just decided it was time to end. Do you have any information about the reasons behind the ending? As a fan who has watched since literally the first episode, I'm sad it's ending. But I'll feel better if it was indeed the actors' decision and not the network's. At any rate, 15 years is an amazing run. — Beth
Matt Roush: The semantics are mostly irrelevant, but you’re right that when a show decides on its own volition to end, and announces its final season so far in advance, it hasn’t been “canceled” per se as much as that it is simply ending its run. The most any TV fan can hope for is that a favorite series enjoys the luxury of going out on its own terms, and by the looks of it, that’s what’s happening here. 15 years is an eternity for most TV shows, especially one that primarily hinges on three main characters (the Winchester brothers being first among equals) carrying the series for so long. I couldn’t blame them for wanting to move on while they still have some energy.
As this season ends and the final year approaches, I imagine we’ll be hearing a lot more from the principals—the actors, the producers, the network—giving more insight into why this is happening now. As poignant as the announcement was, this should be more a cause for celebration of what Supernatural has accomplished than mourning the natural end of this chapter of the franchise. I wouldn’t be the least surprised to see the characters reemerge at some point in movies for The CW or Netflix or wherever. But for now, let’s let them enjoy the victory lap next season and give them the break they deserve.
Will TV’s Shadows Live Up to the Movie?
Question: I am surprised that What We Do In The Shadows will now be a series on TV. I was given the original DVD by my niece and laughed really hard at the references to “mirrors” and “being invited in.” My family grew up with vampire movies and this was a hoot. I only hope the new “guys” will be as hilarious as the original cast. — Sheila, Prairie du Chien, WI
Matt Roush: As you might be able to tell from my rave review, I’m crazy about the new series, which premieres on FX Wednesday. When the network announced this project, I’d never even heard of the 2014 cult film from New Zealand—there are months anymore when I begin to wonder, “What’s a movie?”—but I caught up with it before screening the episodes featuring a new cast and locale (Staten Island substituting with perfect banality). The mix of the mundane and macabre continues to work beautifully in this comedy of vampires and other creatures of the night living among us. (It’s like an edgier The Munsters but very much its own thing.) While it may be impossible to duplicate the affection you feel toward the original, this comes very close—and the addition of a day-walking “energy vampire” as a boarder is a brilliant twist on the formula. Check it out.
Saying Goodbye to Gotham
Question: What is Fox thinking? Two episodes left of Gotham and they're yanking it off-the air for a month? Talk about a momentum killer! Scheduling decisions like this are why viewers turn away from network programs to find alternatives. I realize Fox has no real reason to care about a canceled show from a rival studio, but you'd think their advertisers would like to keep more eyeballs on the tube. — Woody
Matt Roush: Can’t argue with you there. Sort of feels like the opposite of making the series finale an event. (Even airing the last two episodes as a one-night movie would make more sense.) But welcome to the New Fox (i.e., the network standing alone since it was separated from its studio), which will soon be devoting Thursdays—and two more nights of the schedule—to episodes of low-rent reality in the form of Paradise Hotel.
Question: The CW picked up Supergirl after cancellation, any chance they would do the same with Gotham? I think it would fit in great with their other programming. — Bobbie
Matt Roush: To your last point, yes, since The CW is pretty much a comic-book/superhero network now with very few exceptions—and those best exceptions (Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Jane the Virgin) are on their last legs. But the circumstances are different. CBS dispatched Supergirl to The CW after just one season, while Gotham has had a full five-season run that was designed to take the story to where young Bruce Wayne evolves into the Caped Crusader, at which point it’s no longer an origin story. As explained earlier in discussing Supernatural’s end, this end point was decided upon by the show’s creative team in announcing a final season a year ago. So I don’t see it resurfacing anywhere unless it takes a decidedly different form.
Question: We watch NBC’s Superstore every week and enjoy it a lot. However, we’ve always wondered if the show is taped at an actual store or on a soundstage. We’re always amazed at the amount of inventory that is seen in the background. It’s very realistic or someone’s gone through an awful lot of work to purchase and display all the goods. — Ray
Matt Roush: Ah, the magic of TV, and the craft of superior production design. The pilot episode of Superstore was indeed reportedly filmed in a repurposed Kmart store in Burbank. But once the show was ordered to series, the expansive Cloud 9 set was designed—and at the end of Season 2, partially destroyed by a fake tornado—on soundstages on the Universal lot.
The Happy Heartlessness of Seinfeld
Question: I’ve been rewatching Seinfeld lately and falling in love with it all over, but realized something. That while many shows copied Seinfeld's style and some even tried to copy the exact premise, one thing we haven't seen since that series is a show with zero heart or lesson learning. I guess the closest we have is Larry David's Curb Your Enthusiasm which I don't find nearly as funny as Seinfeld but even that's not a real sitcom. Is it that Seinfeld was a total anomaly and that no other TV series could get away with lack of heart or character development? — Mitch
Matt Roush: Interesting question, and it’s pretty clear given how tame network development tends to be these days that a show as abrasive as Seinfeld would be a tough sell anymore—and don’t forget that the series was a dead-show-walking in its early days, a calculated risk by NBC in its underdog period that became a mega-success almost by fluke. And while the show famously does shirk “lesson learning” and traditional “heart,” if the characters and actors hadn’t been likable and enjoyable despite their despicable and selfish actions, Seinfeld probably wouldn’t have become the classic that it is. As for shows in that tradition, obviously Curb has much of that in its DNA as both reflect Larry David’s comic sensibility. But to me the comedy that most exemplifies the Seinfeld style, and maybe takes it to even greater extremes, is HBO’s Veep, returning for a final season on Sunday. These are among the most vile, cynical, profane beings anywhere on TV, and they never learn from their self-induced pitfalls, only getting more monstrous by the year. And yet because they’re played by pros whom we love to revile, Veep like Seinfeld is a laugh riot of a show that’s likely to endure.
And Finally …
Question: I would like to know if Netflix is going to continue its series Frontier, which has three seasons so far. — David
Matt Roush: I’m sure you’re not alone. But at present, that decision doesn’t appear to have been made, and that call will likely come from Canadian co-producer Discovery Channel (Netflix is the international distributor, including to the U.S.). For the first two years, Frontier was renewed before the season even began—but I imagine its future may be complicated by star Jason Momoa’s escalating career as Aquaman and beyond. He’s attached to a new series for Apple’s new TV venture and is currently filming a new big-screen version of Dune, so if there even are any plans to continue Frontier, they may have to wait for when or if he’s ever available.
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.