Ask Matt: That Thing That Happened on ‘Veronica Mars,’ New Season of ‘Pose,’ ‘Millionaire’ 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.
Veronica‘s One Twist Too Many?
Question: [MAJOR SPOILER ALERT] I am (was?) a loyal Veronica Mars fan! I thought the show was brilliant since episode one, and Kristen Bell, Rob Thomas and the entire cast created one of the most entertaining shows on TV, which was cut short way too soon. The movie that followed was a tribute to the fans and I appreciated their effort. So it is important to state that Veronica Mars wouldn’t be what it is today without the loyal and very vocal fan base. In that sense, I have always trusted Thomas’s vision no matter what. However (spoiler alert), I can’t be onboard with Logan Echolls’ death! Veronica was great, but when she helped Logan grow and turned him into a redemption story the show truly excelled! I watched Veronica because I wanted a provocative mystery show with humor and a love story as its center. I didn’t watch Veronica to see her turn into a lonely private investigator incapable of sustaining a relationship due to work. We have had TV heroines that have been able to balance work and personal lives for years.
Thomas’s assumption that we (the audience) couldn’t buy a tough woman having it all is wrong and a bit sexist. Sydney Bristow (Alias), Brenda Leigh Johnson (The Closer) and the original Charmed sisters were strong female characters that ended their shows in happy relationships. So why did Thomas kill Veronica’s true love with complete disregard to the characters’ journey and the loyal fan base that (let’s be clear) has made Veronica survive throughout the years? I get that art and the creator’s creative vision should be respected, but in this case it went too far against what made the show great while creating a fierce audience. I won’t be watching Season 5 of Veronica (if there is one) and I hope Thomas sees the mistake he has made. Sorry for the long rant. — David L
Matt Roush: In my own review of the new season on Hulu, I suggested as obliquely as I could (without spoiling) that “some fans may feel (the show) takes one twist too many.” While watching the final episode in advance, and realizing with a sick feeling what was about to happen, I admit I cringed — not so much at the tragedy unfolding but at the fan backlash I knew would be inevitable. My rule in situations like this has always been to gauge whether a significant character death has dramatic impact beyond mere shock value, and in this case I believe it does. Certainly if you’re following the coverage since the new season premiered, neither Rob Thomas nor the series’ star seem to be expressing much regret, outside of the sorrow that always comes when writing a beloved colleague out of a show. (Notably, Jason Dohring was among the Veronica Mars talent good-naturedly mixing it up with TV reporters at a summer TCA event a few days ago, so apparently there are no hard feelings.)
While I get where you’re coming from, and this “I’ll never watch again” response is common — even I have expressed similar reservations before (such as when Grey’s Anatomy killed off McDreamy, but it and we have survived nicely, and I’m still watching) — I give Thomas credit for taking the long view that the show and the character may be better off because of this tragic jolt. As Veronica Mars moves into a more classic noir direction, it opens up possibilities for Veronica herself, not necessarily always unhappy ones. To be honest, I was more worried that they’d kill off her father, Keith (the great Enrico Colantoni), and I’m pretty sure the show wouldn’t survive without that relationship, even if long-distance. Fans have every right to be upset, of course, but I expect once the mourning period wears off, they’ll be willing to follow her on her journey should the opportunity arise. I know I’ll be there.
Has Pose Lost Some of Its Magic?
Question: Have you been keeping up with the new season of Pose? If so, what has your opinion been thus far? I am a huge fan of the show and get together every week with a group of friends to watch together. As much as I still love the show and look forward to it every week, I am not enjoying it as much as I did with Season 1. I’m trying to put my finger on why, and I think there are two reasons. First, the series has become very episodic. Each week, there’s a whole new arc which is focused on and resolved in that same episode: Angel modeling, Blanca’s salon, Electra’s misadventures in sex-work, [spoiler]’s death, Damon and Ricky’s dancing. It’s like a movie of the week, and the events rarely have ramifications for the next episode. I end up missing characters because they disappear for entire episodes, and the tone of the series is all over the place (classic Ryan Murphy). I wish they could weave all these stories throughout the season as lengthier arcs, particularly because a lot of them are supposed to play out over the space of weeks/months.
Secondly, the stories have become too “big.” Season 1, while grand in its execution, was about a small group of people and their day-to-day lives in a small community. Their challenges revolved around winning trophies, keeping roofs over their heads, their health and their relationships. Season 2 has taken things over the top with murder, modeling campaigns, TV stardom, massive protests and more than one dead body. It’s lost the realism and intimacy, and that’s making it harder to connect with the characters or their stories. What’s your opinion? Is the new format and scope aiming to win over a bigger, more diverse audience, or just alienate the modest number of people who loved it in the first place? — Andy
Matt Roush: I hate to break it to you, but Pose, beyond all of its extravagant and boundary-shattering attributes, is still very much a TV show. And that includes the occasional “off” episode: Elektra’s misadventures in the dominatrix dungeon were over-the-top even by Ryan Murphy’s standards, no question. By and large, I’m still enjoying Pose this season, and was once again so moved during the recent AIDS cabaret episode that I’ll forgive the show its flaws. Although your point is well taken that the arc of Blanca assembling her family in the first season gave the series an emotional through-line that isn’t quite as evident this year as each of her “children” pursue their own careers. But how much better is the show now that it has dropped the Evan Peters and James Van Der Beek characters and its clumsy satire of ’80s greed?
And I’m not sure I agree that the plots of each episode don’t resonate into the next, especially where [redacted]’s death is concerned, since [redacted]’s ghost keeps showing up. And the storylines have yet to be resolved involving Angel’s modeling career and Blanca’s attempts to set up shop despite her antagonistic landlord — Patti LuPone‘s character another classic Murphy ogre whose motivations make no sense, though all hail her rendition of Sondheim’s “I’m Still Here,” even if Frederica seems better suited to a season of American Horror Story. For me, Pose is still one of the best and most distinctive shows of the year, as it was a year ago. But is it perfect? Hardly.
Question: I’m so disappointed that Who Wants to be a Millionaire has been canceled. Any chance someone else like Game Show Network might bring it back? — Betsy
Matt Roush: This differs from the typical “will someone rescue my favorite canceled show” question because we’re now talking about the world of syndication, which involves complicated issues of ownership and distribution. It was Disney’s call to suspend production after 17 seasons in syndication, and what happens next with this piece of intellectual (no pun intended) property remains to be seen. This is purely speculation, but I’m thinking the company may be merely resting the franchise for a while, and I’d be surprised if Millionaire doesn’t return in another form on another platform after some time has passed. Given the success of ABC’s summer game shows in prime time, that could be an option for a network comeback. Or maybe it will become an element of Disney’s streaming service. Game Show Network seems a less likely option, because it’s owned by rival studios (Sony and WarnerMedia), but anything’s possible. For the moment, though, its absence creates a void for fans of high-quality quiz shows.
From the Land of Lost Pilots
Question: I was very interested in what I read about the pilot Triangle starring Mike Vogel. Since it wasn’t picked up for the fall, is there any chance we will see it later this year? — Rickey
Matt Roush: Not at this point. ABC didn’t pick the show up for midseason, either, officially passing on the project, so it’s not going forward. (For the record, Triangle would have been a Lost-like adventure about a family shipwrecked in the Bermuda Triangle and discovering a secret world inhabited by disappeared travelers from throughout history who are looking for a way home.) Pilots that don’t make the cut are rarely shown anymore, so we’re left wondering what might have been.
To Stream or Not to Stream
Question: I would like to add one more point to the Orville-on-Hulu controversy — and that would be to the platform you would now need to watch this show and that would be streaming, which in this case for me would be watching this show via laptop which I am telling you I would never do. I currently subscribe to Comcast cable and they offer access to Netflix and Prime Video via cable but not Hulu — only by streaming. Since I have a big-screen TV and this is my preference, I am out of luck. Frankly, for the life of me, I do not understand how you can enjoy watching things on a laptop or a small-screen smartphone, which by the way I do not even own. Oh yeah, I am older and on a fixed income, which is more proof of how the older generation is forgotten and everything is geared to that 25-to-49 age group. — JVO
Matt Roush: So as not to expose my absolute ignorance of technology, I’d advise you to look online to find ways to watch Hulu on your TV — I use a Roku device, but there are many other options so you’re not stuck watching on a laptop, which I agree is not the optimum way to go for many. Once that’s figured out, the real issue isn’t so much how to watch a streaming platform than how many of them any consumer is expected to subscribe to. Which brings us to our final topic…
Question: I’m so tired of reading about people’s complaints regarding multiple streaming services. It’s been gradually increasing, and the writing was really on the wall when Hulu went from all-free to pay only. While I understand the monetary limitations, I don’t see why people feel the need to subscribe to all of these services. There is no way you have enough time to watch everything offered. Simply pick a service (or 2 or 3) and watch what’s available on that service. Maybe this means dumping Netflix when Disney+ comes out, maybe it means not paying for cable. But really, the choice to spend all this money on TV you’re not watching is a tad ridiculous. — Amy
Matt Roush: Look, I get why people are frustrated. And this is a good time to point out something that we who obsess on TV sometimes forget: that most people don’t watch networks, they watch shows. And that applies to streamers as well. No matter which or how many services you might choose (or not) to subscribe to, or whether you decide to dump cable and cut the cord in favor of streaming options, there’s bound to be a show or several shows on another service that you wish you wouldn’t have to start a new subscription to be able to see. Adding channels to a cable bundle is one thing, but signing up for what now seems to be an infinite number of streaming services is causing no end of consternation for the people who love TV. Where it stops, no one right now exactly knows.
That’s all for now—and be aware that for much of the rest of the summer, this column will post less regularly. 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.