Ask Matt: ‘NCIS’ and Ziva, Lifetime’s Movie Brand, Dark Side of ‘1969,’ and Burning Questions
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 Friday.
Ziva’s Return and the JAG Comeback
Matt Roush: You’re wrong — though you probably know that by now. By all accounts, including ours, this not-entirely-unexpected comeback was no hallucination, although her arrival did come on the direct heels of Gibbs (Mark Harmon) communing with the ghost of one of his exes. Ziva will be very much alive and an active presence in the fall premiere. I thought they laid the groundwork for her return quite nicely. (Especially considering all the questions I got any time the show dropped a clue.)
Question: Ziva’s back. I can watch NCIS again. Did they not understand what a powerful female role model she is? — Vicki
Matt Roush: They knew. They missed her as much if not more than the fans. If it was up to the NCIS powers that be, the team would still include Ziva, Abby and Tony as well, I’m sure. But almost every long-running TV show has to adjust when ensemble cast members decide to take a break or try something new — just look at Law & Order: SVU as another example. In the best-case scenarios, they leave the door open for eventual comebacks like this. (For how long remains to be seen.)
Question: What do you think will be the outcome for Harm and Mac on NCIS: LA? Thank you for this column that you do. — Jean Ann
Matt Roush: Thank you for reading. In terms of immediate outcome, I expect they’ll help save the day and sail off to some sort of happy sunset when this arc concludes in the fall. But in the bigger picture, I’d be surprised if the welcome return of these popular JAG characters didn’t stimulate interest within the network and studio for even a limited reboot. It remains to be seen.
Death March with Lifetime
Question: I wanted to ask you about the movies that Lifetime are now playing. I do not like them at all. For example, Killing Mommy, Killing Daddy, Psycho Grandma, Double Daddy, etc. I do not know what happened to Lifetime. They always had true stories and fine actors. I am so disappointed in them. I very rarely see any of the movies that they used to play. As a subscriber to TV Guide Magazine, I always look at Lifetime to see what is playing. When I finally see a movie from the past that is going to play, they do not play it. I just wanted to let you know my disappointment in this once fine channel. — Linda
Matt Roush: My goodness, what a horror show. But these woman/family-in-jeopardy potboilers have always been part of the Lifetime menu, maybe not quite as dominantly as they may now appear. Generally speaking, there are several types of Lifetime movies: heartwarming rom-coms and holiday movies, rivaling Hallmark with their saccharine quotient; the aforementioned suspense melodramas (and I enjoyed your apt shorthand descriptions); and the occasional prestige film, like the Emmy-nominated Flint from 2017.
I’m happy to report that I attended an event earlier this week promoting an upcoming Lifetime movie (no date yet) from the high-quality side of the spectrum: Patsy & Loretta, a biopic depicting the friendship of two country legends, Patsy Cline (Megan Hilty) and Loretta Lynn (Jessie Mueller) — directed by Nashville‘s Callie Khouri, with Neil Meron as an executive producer. It looked promising to me, and the women were in terrific voice. That’s the sort of Lifetime movie you’re yearning for, I’m sure, and I’d like to think this could stimulate a new trend, although the junk-food movies are much easier and cheaper to produce and seem to attract a steady audience of those with less discriminating palettes.
The ’60s Weren’t As Bad As All That
Question: The ABC News series 1969 was very one note. It basically talked about all the negative stuff and nothing positive. Look, I’m a black man who was a teenager in the ’60s so believe me I KNOW struggle. And there was some darkness at the time, but it wasn’t all negative and as bad as the miniseries wants everyone to believe. It’s a false narrative. Did they forget all of the impact of the civil rights movement and MLK, etc. and how that positively influenced things moving forward? I guess they don’t remember that. — Leon
Matt Roush: This seems a fair critique, but keep in mind that the series wasn’t meant as an overview of the 1960s, but very specific and focused looks at moments and events that defined a very turbulent year, including the Manson murders and Chappaquiddick, but also triumphs like the moon landing — and this was just the first of many, many remembrances of that achievement — and Woodstock. I was not quite a teenager yet in 1969, but I remember many happy moments myself — not the least of which was watching the moon walk from a Florida motel room on a family vacation — but can also recall the chaos of the times, following the assassinations of 1968, the controversy over Vietnam, and the divisive attitudes of a nation as Nixon took office. (And we all know how that ended.)
A Collection of Burning Questions and FAQs
Question: I love the show The Village. The writing and acting are beautifully done. Any news on the show? — Debbie C
Matt Roush: Sorry to tell you that late last week, NBC dropped the ax on three of its underperforming midseason shows, including The Village, Abby’s and The Enemy Within. I’d bet that NBC had the highest hopes, and made the toughest call, regarding The Village, which the network no doubt saw as its next This Is Us with its emotional heart-tugging storylines. I found it a poor and obvious substitute, but others rallied to its cause. I’ll admit I was surprised at this cancellation as well. And before you ask, it’s unlikely it will be rescued, as it was an in-house production from Universal TV, and with such a large cast to service, it’s doubtful anyone would pick up that bill.
Question: Will ABC be producing another Dancing with the Stars after the fiasco of their last season? Seems like popularity won over talent. I miss Derek Hough, as he always brought the best out of his partner. I wouldn’t be upset if Erin Andrews is no longer on the show. — Connie
Matt Roush: Lots of confusion over Dancing‘s status, since it took the spring off — which was probably a wise move, although obviously feelings are still raw over the way last season turned out. But yes, Dancing will be back in the fall, and the arguments will almost certainly continue over whether the size of a contestant’s fan base can unfairly weigh his or her chances against better but less well-known dancers. And while there aren’t a lot of details yet about the upcoming 28th season, I assume Erin Andrews will be back with Tom Bergeron. And with Derek Hough now attached to NBC’s World of Dance, I’m afraid we might not see him on the dance floor that made him famous for a while longer. He is very much missed.
Question: Will there be a second series of What We Do In The Shadows? I just loved that show and laughed out loud in spite of watching it by myself! Sure hope so. — Betty
Matt Roush: I was laughing right there with you, and I’m delighted to confirm that FX did renew this inspired and hilarious vampire comedy for a second season. It’s one of my absolute favorite new shows of this year.
Question: Do you think Lucifer will get another season on Netflix? — Don
Matt Roush: It is almost impossible to predict Netflix’s moves, but if history is a guide, I’d expect Lucifer to get another season or two at least, since the investment has already been made in the franchise, and when the time comes to end it, that would be announced in advance. That would be the right way to go. But since we really never know anything about actual ratings with Netflix, it’s anyone’s guess. [UPDATE: Since writing this, it has been announced that Netflix indeed will conclude the run of Lucifer with a fifth and final season next year.]
And Finally …
An update to a recent question about OWN programming. The network reached out to update the status of Greenleaf, which will return for a fourth season in August, on a date yet to be announced. Stay tuned.
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.