Ask Matt: ‘Good Place’ Endgame, Falling to ‘Pieces,’ ‘Deadwood,’ the Future of ‘Code’ 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 Friday.
A Happy Ending for The Good Place
Question: What do you think of the news that The Good Place is ending next season? I think NBC deserves a round of applause for allowing Mike Schur and team to end it on their own terms, when the network almost surely would have liked it to stick around longer. Given the plot developments at the end of season 3, I can’t say it was terribly surprising news. Obviously, I’d like to spend as much time with these characters and in this world as possible, but the Judge (Maya Rudolph) did say that after Michael’s new experiment, one way or the other this would end. The show appears to be taking that literally. At first I thought I’ll miss watching the show, and I will, but then I thought about the shape of the show so far. It has burned through so much plot, and radically reinvented itself so often, that it feels like we’ve had seven or eight years of a normal show in that time.
If The Good Place were operating like a normal broadcast sitcom where the goal is to produce as many episodes as possible for a syndication package, we probably would have gotten to the “this is the bad place” reveal around the end of season 3 instead of season 1 and had a lot of boring episodes just treading water. I appreciate that the show hasn’t done that, and that NBC hasn’t made the show do that. I really hope they’re going to stick the landing and don’t have any reason to expect otherwise. I’ll miss it when it’s gone, but am grateful for the ride and really curious to see where this goes. You? — Jake
Matt Roush: The Good Place has always played by its own rules, with shorter seasons and delightfully game-changing twists all along the way, so I am glad to know that Mike Schur will be able to fulfill his creative vision for this most original of network comedies with a fourth and final season. I agree with the observation that The Good Place has packed so much content into its short run that it feels like it has been around longer. One of the upsides to the fragmented and overcluttered TV marketplace is that the broadcast networks and the studios that feed them are no longer as strictly bound to the mindset than anything shorter than a 100-episode run is a failure. Ratings still matter, of course, but not to the degree that it used to when it comes to nurturing offbeat gems like this. Let’s celebrate this for what it is and be happy that it wasn’t canceled too soon or forced to overstay its welcome.
Could Pieces Get a Second Life?
Question: I have always thought Life in Pieces was an underrated gem. So I was very disappointed that CBS canceled it while continuing or introducing other comedy series that are much more formulaic and unoriginal. Is there a chance that Netflix, Amazon or Hulu will pick this series up? It deserves an audience. — Virginia
Matt Roush: The writing was pretty much on the wall for this series — which unlike many CBS shows comes from an outside studio (20th), one that’s now aligned with Disney — when the network kept it off the air until late April. Its cancellation wasn’t a surprise, but it has dismayed many fans, according to my mailbag. I’m not aware of any nibbles from the streaming services to keep this going, although with four seasons worth of episodes, it could be of some value. I would also think the studio might try to interest ABC (now a sister company) in adding this to its roster of family comedies for at least one more season, but that’s just speculation. At the moment, there doesn’t appear to be any movement (or at least not that I’ve seen in the trades), but that could have something to do with the fact that the show is still airing original episodes on CBS through the end of June. After that, who knows?
A Brilliant Comeback for Deadwood
Question: I just finished re-watching Deadwood, and then the HBO movie, which was wonderful to revisit and conclude, finally. I took much delight in recognizing Garret Dillahunt in the mob scene at the end of the movie. He was on so briefly, I had to rewind to affirm that he was the geezer who commented after Bullock retrieved Hearst from the mob. So wonderful that the producers included him because he was such an integral part of earlier seasons. Well done, well done, and now, it is finished!!!! — Liz
Matt Roush: Wasn’t that blink-and-you-missed-it cameo a lovely nod to the show’s fans, and a tribute to Dillahunt for having so vividly played two very different characters during the run of the original show. These days I rarely advocate for shows to be longer, but I do wish the Deadwood movie had been a two-parter, to better service all of those marvelous characters. What we got was great, though, a fitting end to a memorable series.
The Code in Limbo
Question: I haven’t seen anything about the renewal or cancellation of The Code. We always enjoy any series with Dana Delany, even though she doesn’t have much to do in this one, and it’s nice to see the actor who plays Reverend Potter on Blue Bloods (Ato Essandoh) in a different role. Have you heard anything about its chances? — Gwen
Question: Why pull The Code? I get that ratings are bad, but why not show the remaining episodes? Is June a big ratings month? It may or may not be back in July. What does CBS gain by pulling it now? It’s not like it’s up against anything in its time slot. — Bryan
Matt Roush: As Bryan’s question indicates, CBS has pulled The Code from the Monday lineup, with reports that it will return in July. Doesn’t make a lot of sense to me, either, but however CBS decides to burn off the few remaining episodes, it’s pretty clear the network has given up on it. I’m also a fan of Dana Delany reaching back to the glory days of China Beach, and while work is work, she deserves better than this.
Question: Is the PBS show The Durrells in Corfu coming back? It is such a fun show! Even my 95-year-old mom likes it! — Becky
Matt Roush: That’s quite the endorsement, and I get it. (My mom just turned 90, and it’s harder and harder to get her involved in episodic TV that isn’t Downton Abbey.) The good/bad news is that a fourth season of Durrells is forthcoming — no air date announced yet, though most likely will air on PBS in the fall — but it will be the final season.
Question: When might the BBC production of A Gentleman in Moscow be shown in the US? Just finished reading the marvelous book by Amor Towles and heard that Kenneth Branagh is directing and starring in it in a series for the BBC, and my book club is eager to view it. Any information as to when it will hit our shores?? — Betty
Matt Roush: It’s a bit premature, since news of the adaptation surfaced just two months ago. Depending on how long production takes and who picks it up — no network or platform was announced at the time, so it’s not even known yet if it will air on a network like PBS or cable or on a streaming service — I’d imagine we’ll see it sometime in 2020. The book is high on my own must-read list — finding time to read is its own challenge — and I must say this sounds very promising.
That’s all for now — and until late June, as I’m taking some time off to visit with family. 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.