Ask Matt: Issues with the ‘Dead,’ ‘Cool Kids’ on Ice, ‘Big Little Lies’ and More

Gene Page/AMC

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.

Yearning for More Talking

Question: What happened to Talking Dead? Why isn’t it on after Fear the Walking Dead anymore? This show is a beloved show for many of us who are diehard fans of TWD and FTWD. Is AMC purposely trying to destroy the whole WD franchise? What with all the deaths of key people in both shows, the story lines that seem to drag on forever, and now replacing Talking Dead with NOS4A2 (which is an absolute dud), is AMC intentionally trying to make their ratings fall even further then they have? How long will it be until we fans of both shows throw in the towel as well? Just unbelievable. AMC needs to bring back Talking Dead!! — Rick, Florida

Matt Roush: If AMC explained why they’ve benched Talking Dead this season, I missed it. But I have a few ideas. The good news for fans is that there will be an edition of Talking Dead following Fear the Walking Dead’s midseason finale on July 21, but whether it will return on a regular basis when Fear is back in late August I can’t say. My own feeling is that maybe there just isn’t that much to talk about, and airing an installment after every single episode of a show which isn’t all that (although these days, I’m enjoying Fear more than I am the mothership) might be overkill. I’ve always found the Talking franchise and most of its ilk to be mostly self-congratulatory pandering with very little illuminating content any time I’ve watched, although I do love me some Yvette Nicole Brown so tend to watch whenever she’s on. (If she had taken over as host, as was once briefly considered, that might be an entirely different story.)

This kind of after-show has become so ubiquitous that Fox is now producing a parody (What Just Happened??! With Fred Savage), which seems appropriate. I do agree with you that NOS4A2 is a real disappointment, but airing it directly after Fear to boost its profile is likely another logistical reason why Talking Dead sat out so much of the summer. (Airing Talking Dead after NOS4A2 at 11/10c most weeks would diminish its presence even more.)

Time Flies in the Dead World

Question: After all this time on The Walking Dead, how can there still be electricity, charged car batteries, flashlights with fresh batteries, ammunition and food? All these things should have run out years ago. — Roger

Matt Roush: You have a point, but keep in mind that much more time has passed for us in the nine years since The Walking Dead launched than it has for the survivors of the zombie apocalypse, whose story has spanned just about half that much time (roughly five years, according to some sites’ calculations). The story still often concerns the risks the characters go through to forage for supplies and sustain themselves with food and even create their own ammo. It’s a survival story as much as a horror fest, and we are getting glimpses of a civilization that has carried on even as our heroes rebuild their own world. So it might not be all that unrealistic. Except for those zombies.

When TV Is Older But Not Wiser

Question: I read the recent article “Characters of a Certain Age” in TV Guide Magazine and found it to be informative. If the networks are bringing on shows for and about the 50-and-older crowd, I was wondering why did they cancel The Cool Kids? I can’t think of a show that was more suited for the 50-and-older crowd than one set in a retirement community. The Cool Kids was true to life. Will The Cool Kids be on DVD soon? — Bruce

Matt Roush: The point of that article was that there are more series nowadays with mature leads, and several of the prime examples were on streaming (Netflix’s The Kominsky Method and Grace and Frankie), which doesn’t factor demographics into its equation, though new fall shows on the networks starring Patricia Heaton, Jimmy Smits and others represent the trend as well. But circumstances differ for every series, and in the case of The Cool Kids, it was the right show on the wrong network (Fox), which developed the show to pair with the comeback last fall of Last Man Standing. When Fox got the rights to air WWE wrestling on Fridays in the fall, that older-skewing comedy block became history, and there was no place for The Cool Kids on the schedule anymore. (We’re not even sure where Fox will find room for its successful rescue of Last Man Standing come midseason.) As far as I know, there are no current plans to release the single season of The Cool Kids on DVD, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be eventually.

Question: I just loved The Cool Kids and so did a lot of people I know. All the actors were awesome in this 30-minute sitcom which I would always wish it went on an hour. Excellent stories that I think fans from 50 years old and up could relate to. Any possibility it will return? — Louise C.

Matt Roush: Very unlikely. The show was produced by the Fox studio for the Fox network, and now that the studio has been folded into the Disney empire, the only hope is that ABC or another Disney property would suddenly become interested in it. If that were the case, we’d probably have heard by now.

No Lie, We’re Obsessed With This Show

Question: This season of Big Little Lies has been outstanding so far, and more than justified my first-time-ever subscription to HBO to access it. But I have one admittedly minor nitpick: What happened to Tom, the cafe owner played by Joseph Cross in season 1? Madeline, Celeste and Jane went into his cafe all the time in the first season, and he even went to trivia night with Jane as a date in the finale. But he hasn’t been seen or even mentioned since then. If the actor was unavailable or they had some other reason for dropping him from the story, that’s fine, but it just seems bizarre not to mention it. It could be taken care of with a single line of dialogue: “He moved to such-and-such place to do such-and-such thing.” I suppose his absence stands out to me because the rest of the show has done such a wonderful job remembering and building on what happened in the first season that it’s just odd to leave that thread dangling. Your thoughts? — Jake

Matt Roush: Unlike someone who obviously watched the first season right before diving into the second, I had completely forgotten about the Tom character in the two years between seasons. But you’re right, especially given that he was Jane’s escort in the big Season 1 finale, it would have made sense to at least have paid lip service to him this year (which they haven’t done yet). In my own world of Hell’s Kitchen in NYC, favorite eating and drinking spots disappear without notice all the time, so it’s possible that happened in Monterey. And clearly the writers have established a new romantic interest for Jane in her surfing co-worker, Corey (Douglas Smith), so on a pure story level, that would also explain why Tom is no longer in the picture.

Question: In Big Little Lies, Madeline’s daughter eavesdrops on her mom’s phone conversation and then tells her classmates that Ziggy is a brother to Celeste’s twins. How did Madeline get this fact? — Julie

Matt Roush: After the climactic first-season death that bound all the Monterey moms together with their big lie (initiated by Madeline), it seems to me that Jane must have opened up to all of the women in this close circle about Perry’s rape, of which Ziggy’s birth was the only happy consequence. That makes the most sense to me, and maybe it was articulated elsewhere and I’ve forgotten.

Why Blood Seems Familiar

Question: Is it just me, or does Blood & Treasure seem like a gender-flipped remake of 2017’s summer guilty pleasure (and gawd-awfully named) Hooten & the Lady? To be fair, B&T has thrown in a worldwide terrorist conspiracy, an ancient Egyptian cult, Nazis, Antony and Cleopatra, and at least two kitchen sinks. The vibe is almost identical, though.

On an entirely different subject, I wish networks would revive the practice of re-airing last season’s finale the week before the new season’s premiere or, for really popular shows, a special recapping the previous season. Between year-round programming and razor thin budgets, I realize this is a pipe dream, but some of us could use the help. Krypton had been off the air for over a year, and watching the premiere, I remembered so little of last season’s finale, I began to doubt I’d actually watched it. I was extremely lost. To a lesser extent, the same applied to Elementary and Legion. I’m guessing Instinct will follow suit. It can’t just all be middle-age dementia, can it? —Woody

Matt Roush: Good on you for even remembering Hooten & the Lady, but the fact is that Blood & Treasure is so formulaic and derivative that it’s hard to think of what it doesn’t remind me of. Including ABC’s recent Whiskey Cavalier. But at least this escapist lark has been renewed for a second season.

I also empathize with you when it comes to rejoining shows a year or more later and needing a catch-up. It’s not so much a consequence of age as it is the amount of TV we’re now digesting, and depending on the show, the long waits between relatively short seasons. I find myself going to a Wikipedia-type source or recaps on our or other fan sites to reacquaint myself with many series before jumping back in. Watching TV can feel like homework at times (even if it isn’t your actual job), and I agree it would be an excellent practice for networks to air the previous season’s finale in advance or make it readily available online or On Demand. It wouldn’t be that hard and it would provide a great service.

That’s all for now—and until after the July 4 holiday. 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. And everyone have a happy 4th of July weekend!